Read Joe Sixpack every Friday in the Daily News
Direct from the Best Beer Drinking City in America
Reporting and drinking beer in Philly and beyond
I WAS HACKED
Sorry, for that malware warning, folks - my WordPress blog has been hacked. I'm trying to fix it.
In the meantime, I'll be posting items here.
July 15th, 2008 Joe Sixpack
Business Week picks up on a theme I explored two weeks ago on the InBev acquisition of Anheuser-Busch. While many in the U.S. are in an uproar about the so-called loss of American institution, it’s important to remember that A-B is not just an American corporation. It’s a world player with investments around the globe.
Thus, while InBev obviously wanted the Bud brands in its portfolio, it was also undoubtedly eyeing A-B’s overseas business. Especially in China, the world’s largest beer consumer.
Before the merger, according to BW, InBev had been lagging as the No. 5 brewer in China. It was faring so poorly, it couldn’t even work up a sponsorship in next month’s Olympic games. By acquiring A-B, - which, in addition to its own Chinese breweries, also owns the giant Harbin brewery plus a 27% stake in Tsingtao - InBev leaps to top of the pile.
Coming soon: Bud Red - it’s Budweiser, now with even more rice.
July 12th, 2008 Joe Sixpack
This just in - this year’s winner at the annual Nodding Head kegfest: Triumph Saison.
And, yes, there was rampant cheating.
July 12th, 2008 Joe Sixpack
Spent an hour or so at the Khyber (2nd and Chestnut, Old City) Friday afternoon and it occured to me I could’ve spent all day there. Check out this taplist:
Wow. Honestly, if you went into a bar and found just ONE of these beers on tap, you’d be happy.
On the off-chance that a couple of these are kicked by the time you read this, the on-deck list includes Middles Ages Beast Bitter, Victory 10 Year Alt, Brooklyn Summer and Long Trail Double Bag.
July 11th, 2008 Joe Sixpack
Great values in beer is the topic, and just to cut to the chase, here’s the dollar-stretching sixpack:
Having taken a shot at the Jersey beer scene a few weeks ago, this week’s column also points out the savings on the other side of the Tacony-Palmyra. It may be a beer bar wasteland, but South Jersey is the place to go for cheap singles and sixpacks. Here’s some of my favorite takeout stores:
July 10th, 2008 Joe Sixpack
The World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St., University City) is hosting a pretty cool series of beer dinners in August. It’s three shows featuring the jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter and his trio, along with dinner by chef Matt Babbage and beer. Dinner is $40 and tix to the show are $18. Or you can go a la carte and enjoy free beer samplings from 7-8 p.m. each night.
Info: 215-222-1400 or here.
July 10th, 2008 Joe Sixpack
“There is a spiritual side to craft brewing which is difficult to define but I think you know it when you see it.” - Hugh Sisson, Clipper City.
Amen. That’s Hugh speaking about big beer incursions into craft brewing, a la Miller Brewing’s so-called Lite Craft line. In his latest newsletter, Hugh notes that the Brewers Association has attempted to define craft brewing, basically by saying you can’t make authentic craft beer if you’re a megabrewer. There was a lot of harrumphing over that, with some suggesting that size doesn’t matter. If A-B can make, say, a pale ale that is as good as Sierra Nevada’s, shouldn’t it qualify as a craft?
I don’t think so, and neither does Hugh: ”I believe that much of what has happened to US beer in the last 25 years has more to do with entrepreneurs reacting against the ‘beer status quo,’ as well as a passion for fuller flavor, than it does with technical definitions.”
Craft beer implies craftsmanship. There is a big difference between a rocking chair made by Thos. Moser and the knockoff you can buy at Pier One. For me, it’s not just about the end product, it’s about the motivation and, yeah, spirituality.
McKenzie gold medal on tap
Just chatted with Ryan Michaels, the ecstatic brewer at McKenzie Brew House (240 Lancaster Ave., Malvern) following his 2-medal showing at the GABF. His Saison Vautour, which won as the best Belgian-style Saison, is pouring at the brewpub as we speak. To answer the big question: It's his own recipe, not predecessor Scott Morrison's. Michaels also won bronze for Wee Heavy (10.5%). Both will be bottled and available in time for the Christmas holidays. This is a huge win for this talented, young brewer.
Philly-area brewers scooped up 13 GABF medals, the most ever. Notables included two each for McKenzie, Sly Fox, Victory and Stoudt's. The Brew Works nailed the pro-am competition with area homebrewer Chris Bowen. And Philly beer writers continued their dominance with Philly Mag's Marnie Old winning the beer fest's journalism award. Look for details in Friday's column.
Here's the full list of Philly winners:
I didn't take very many cogent notes last night at the first night of the GABF. All I can make out is "Elysian: An ungodly pumpkin ale. Sweet, like a pie you'd want to bury a body part into."
Philly Beer Week
Locals are using the GABF as an opportunity to spread the word about Philly's huge bash. We brought out Iron Hill, Dogfish Head and Nodding Head (and Tastykakes) for a press conference today. Out-of-towners are getting excited about hoisting mugs the Best Beer Drinking City in America, March 7-16.
Canoe beer report
Everybody's buzzing about the Miller/Coors merger. Here's my take an in interview I did with the Wall Street Journal online.
My fantastic web guy, Nathan, and I are gearing up for some great additions to JoeSixpack.Net, including better coverage of new beers and (gasp!) a blog. Stay tuned.
Oct. 5th is the 165th anniversary of one of the world's greatest beers. Drink up!
Sat (9/22) - Fall Fest at Sly Fox. Hillbilly golf, anyone? 1-10 p.m.
Sat (9/22) - Chocolate & cheese @ South Philly Tap Room. Afternoon.
Sun (9/23) - Sippin' by the River. Beer and wine at Penn's Landing. 1-5 p.m.
Mon (9/24) - Italian beer dinner at Chick's Cafe. Excellent menu at emerging Queen Village beer joint. 6:30 8:30 p.m. seatings.
Fri (9/28) - Beer tasting at Morris Arboretum. Victory, Yards & Anchor will be pouring. 6:30 p.m.
Sat (9/29) - Oktoberfest at Ludwig's Garten. Block party on Sansom Street. All day.
Sat (9/29) - 2nd Annual Victory Brewing Fall Fest. German food, Victory beer, carnival performers, kid fun. 2-9 p.m.
Sun. (9/30) - Ambler Oktoberfest. Joe Sixpack guzzling & talking beer on the boro sidewalks. Noon-5 p.m.
Sun (9/30) - National Toast to Michael Jackson. Taverns nationwide raise a glass to the late British beer writer. 9 p.m.
Sat (10/6) - Kennett Brew Fest. One of the best annual beer festivals in the region. 2-6 p.m.
New in town
The Belgian Cafe (2047 Green St., Fairmount) opened Monday (9/10) night to a packed house. For those who thought it would be easier to park here than near Monk's Cafe in Center City, forget about it. Your best bet at night is either Spring Garden St. or Fairmount Ave. I didn't get a chance to eat, but the mussels looked damn fine. I'll report later on Philly's newest Belgian joint.
Look for the Belgian Cafe (2047 Green St., Fairmount) to open next week. The official date is Wednesday (9/12), but I'm hearing you might find a cold one a day or two earlier. The joint, in the former Tavern on Green, is from the folks behind Monk's Cafe in Center City.
Had a chance for two short Labor Day visits to relatively new joints on the Main Line. TJ's Everyday in Paoli features 25 drafts and a very nice takeout selection. Try the clams in Victory HopDevil and please don't ask how they manage to feature Alaskan Smoked Porter and Bear Republic in the cooler... Only got a look, not at a taste, at the very stylish Teresa's Next Door (126 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne). Yet another extensive list with Cantillon on tap! Make sure you check out the cheese plates.
Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter, has passed away. I'm deeply saddened - he was a newsman at heart and a huge influence on my career. I've written a short obituary. I'm sure I'll have more to write in the near future.
The bitter 18-month contract dispute that pitted Shangy’s, the Emmaus specialty beer distributor, against the giant InBev beer conglomerate over the right to distribute Hoegaarden in eastern Pennsylvania is over.
Shangy’s has agreed to sell its licensing rights for the popular Belgian ale, ending a battle that had threatened Pennsylvania’s so-called three-tier system of beer distribution.
In an agreement expected to be finalized shortly, those rights will be transferred to Anheuser Busch wholesalers in the region, including Penn Distributors in Philadelphia.
Shangy’s had held exclusive right to distribute Hoegaarden to retailers since 1996. According to court records, the brand accounted for about 45 percent of its sales.
InBev’s former American importer, InBev USA, had sought to terminate those rights, claiming Shangy’s had overstated its sales of Hoegaarden. Shangy’s countered that it was the No. 1 Hoegaarden distributor in America and that its promotion was responsible for the brand’s appeal.
At one point, InBev USA charged that a Pennsylvania rule requiring out-of-state breweries to sell their beer through a wholesaler (the middleman in the “three-tier” system of distribution) before it reaches the retailer was a violation of the fedeal interstate commerce clause because in-state breweries are permitted to sell directly to retailers.
That claim is now moot.
The agreement is part of a seismic shift in distribution rights throughout the region and beyond. Last year, A-B signed a deal to import InBev’s European brands (also including Stella Artois and Leffe) in America. A-B has since sought to obtain regional distribution rights for those brands, especially Hoegaarden, which it sees as a vital brand in its competition with the Coors-owned Blue Moon brand.
While the agreement ends costly litigation for his company, Shangy’s Nima Hadian said he’s saddened to lose the brand.
“It’s like losing your horse,” Hadian said. “When you have rights to a brand like Hoegaarden, it opens a lot of accounts that may not have any interest in craft beer. Once they see a brand like Hoegaarden sells and makes them money, they want to know what’s next. It piques their interest and we’re able to put in a lot of other little brands they might never had had.”
Why give up the fight?
“In the end, we did think we could win the case, yes,” Hadian said. “But do you want a partner who hates you? No. Overall it was the right decision.”
An attorney for InBev did not respond to an email request for comment.
Shangy’s still holds rights to wholesale about 200 other brands.
New on local shelves
Watch out, you'll step in pumpkin. Look for gourds from Southampton, Blue Moon, Dogfish Head, Shipyard, Weyerbacher, Saranac. Oktoberfest is here, too: Left Hand, Sam Adams, Victory, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Stegmaier, Flying Fish and more. Also: Run up to Capone's Restaurant takeout (224 W Germantown Pike, Norristown ) for the extremely rare Bell's Batch 8000. Meanwhile the Beer Yard is stocked with Picobrouwerij Alvinne Podge Imperial Stout, a 10 percenter from Belgium.
Dock Street is open
Just got back from the new Dock Street Brewpub (50th & Baltimore, West Philly), and it's got a real good feel. It's a big, funky garage-like joint (a former firehouse) with a casual menu (wood-over pizza, panini, salads) and fresh beer. On tap: wit, stock lager and rye IPA. I wouldn't call it a destination, but I think this will be one of those neighborhood gems that make the Philly beer scene so vibrant. It's worthy of your support.
Dock Street opening set
You lose one, you gain one. Just days after Indy closed, Foobooz is reporting the new Dock Street Brewpub (50th & Baltimore, West Philly) is slated to open on Monday (8/20) at 11 a.m. First beers on tap: Rye IPA, wit, kolsch and imperial stout.
River Horse sold
Sixpack on TV
Independence Brew Pub in Center City was shut down on Friday (8/10). No details yet, but employees, including brewer Tim Roberts (who was in the middle of a brew at the time), were evicted with no notice. Signs on the door say the closure is temporary. This does not look good.
*Thanks to John Ahrens for this tip.
Heard at the bar
"I just got here three hours ago." - Some guy sucking down a Miller Lite on ice at Capone's in Norristown.
Founder and co-owner Tom Kehoe is splitting with his partners, Bill and Nancy Barton, and will move the 13-year-old brewery to a new, to-be-chosen location. No interruption in production is expected.
The Bartons will keep Yards’ brewing facility in Kensintgon and begin producing a new brand.
Look for these new bottles around town: Haand Norwegian Wood (made with juniper berries) and Double Extreme Imperial Wheat Stout, Weyerbacher Twelve rye barleywine, Taras Boulba (Belgium) and New Holland Lucid.
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is Zymurgy magazine's "Commercial beer of the year," as voted by its readers... Word is draft Longtrail from Vermont is headed back to the Philly market... New on local shelves: Founders Rubaeus raspberry ale, Otter Head and Butternuts from New York, in cans
June 16 - Harrisburg Brewers Festival. Excellent outdoor fun in the state capital.
June 21 - Tom Kehoe of Yards Brewing examines "The Sweet Life," a look at sugar in beer, at Tria Fermentation School.
June 21 - Third Thursday Beer Tasting at The Farmhouse in Emmaus.
June 21 - 13th Anniversary party at the Drafting Room (Exton), with a special ale from Troegs.
June 19 – Victory Brewing at McGillin's Old Ale House's Extreme Beer Month.
New on local shelves
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Stout, Arcadia Cocoa Local Triple Chocolate Stout, De La Sene Tarras Boulba IPA, Southampton Abbot 12 quadruppel, Lancaster Rare Rooster rye, Summit Scandia Wit.
A little further away
Allentown Brew Works (812-816 W. Hamilton St., Allentown) opens Friday (6/15). The brewpub is the brother of Bethlehem Brew Works.
The recently opened Triumph Brewing (117 Chestnut St., Old City) is serving an excellent German Pils right now... Teresa's Next Door (124 N. Wayne Ave, Wayne) the new Belgian place I mentioned a couple weeks ago, is now open with 24 taps...
Philly bike race weekend
It’s Extreme Beer Month at McGillin’s.
If you haven’t signed up for my bus trip out to Stoudt’s and Sly Fox on June 16, sorry, it’s sold out. But there are plenty of other events throughout the month; you’ll have a chance to meet the area’s finest brewers at McGillin's Old Ale House (1310 Drury St., Center City), the city’s oldest tavern.
The Fun starts Tuesday with Dock Street. Here’s the full schedule.
June 5 - Dock Street. Grab a pint of Illuminator Double Bock and get the inside word on when the revived brewery is going to open its new West Philly brewpub.
June 26 - Yards. Grab an authentic ESA, dry-hopped in its ol' Hoff-Stevens keg. Then find out when they're going to make that crazy Pynk again.
Just got word that Vince Rapinesi passed away over the weekend at 82. That name may not be familiar to you, but it's safe to say that without Vince, Philadelphia wouldn't know what good, fresh draft beer tastes like. His Springfield Beer Parts fixed most of the kegs and tap lines in the city. Brewers, bartenders, fraternity houses and home brewers all knew Vince. Remarkably, he never tasted a sip of beer!
Services are 7-9 p.m. Thursday (5/31) at Donohue Funeral Home (8401 West Chester Pike, Upper Darby) with an 11 a.m. mass on Friday (6/1) at St. Katherine of Sienna (9700 Frankford Ave., Northeast).
Here's the column I wrote about Vince in February 2001.
Another new joint
I enjoyed a very nice pulled pork sandwich and a glass of Rock Art Magnumus this week at the new Yello'Bar (2425 Grays Ferry Ave., Grays Ferry). It's a smart-looking corner bar with a decent menu, a dozen taps (Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, La Chouffe) and about 50 bottles. Along with Grace (2229 Grays Ferry Ave.) and the Sidecar Bar & Grill (2201 Christian St.), you could put together a pretty decent pub crawl in this suddenly revitalized 'hood.
Here come da judge
Congrats to Linda Carpenter, wife of Yards Brewing's Tom Kehoe, who was the top vote-getter among Democratic nominees to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. She'll run for election in November.
New label in town
No, General Lafayette brewpub isn't getting into the bottle biz. This is a for a one-off marking the colonial tavern's upcoming 275th anniversary in September. Brewer Chris Leonard says it's a H-U-G-E barleywine, and he'll be packing just 275 bottes... Speaking of the General, assistant brewer Russ Czajka has realized a longtime dream: he's retiring from his government job and will brew fulltime. Congrats!
Dock Street is moving along with its new brewpub in West Philly. The brewing kettles and fermenters were delivered this week... There's a new patio at Gen. Lafayette Inn & Brewery, perfect for enjoying an IPA in the fresh air... Rum Bar on Rittenhouse Square is hosting Red Stripe Tuesdays: $3.50 bottles and free wings... Look for Weyerbacher's latest -- it's Muse, a farmhouse ale made with wheat and oats.
New on local shelves
Look for Troegs Brewery’s Scratch Beer Series of beers based on forgotten recipes from the brewers’ old scratch pads. The first one, a steam beer, should be available on tap before the end of the month… Twin Lakes Brewing in Greenville, Del., celebrates its first anniversary with its new Caesar Rodney Golden Ale, served in northern Delaware taprooms… Good news out of Latrobe, Pa., where the old Rolling Rock plant will once again brew beer. Boston Beer says it will make some of its Samuel Adams varieties at the brewery, now owned by City Brewing Co.
When the home team takes the field on Monday, look for baseball's best beer selection to get even stronger. The Citz is adding Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Stoudt's American Pale Ale to the draft lines.
Other newbies: Otter Creek Copper Ale; Wolaver's Pale Ale; Summer Ale and Boston Lager from Samuel Adams; Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat; Grolsch, and A-B's Red Bridge, the gluten-free lager.
Yards, Victory, Dock Street, Flying Fish,Troegs and Sly Fox all return for '07.
More fictional bartenders
I knew I'd forget a couple beer splashers in this week's column, and readers were quick to fill in the blanks. I do confess, though, I'm not a Harry Potter reader, so I never heard of Madam Rosmerta, publican at the Three Broomsticks.
Mike from Brookhaven rapped me soundly:
How could you leave Buck the Bartender out of your top 20????? What Bartender could speak more to the heart of Philadelphia sports than our good friend Buck???? I am hoping for an addition to your list!
As I told him, Buck -- a dearly missed oldtimer who poured suds at the Daily News for many years -- was hardly a fictional bartender. Believe me, he was the real thing! But I probably should've given him a nod.
Other omissions follow...
Anonymous from NE Philly:
Ethel, bartender at the Crow's Nest in Gloucester, Mass. and mother of one of the doomed fishermen in "The Perfect Storm." To patrons, she's the universal mom and no matter what, she administers soup and drinks. The real Ethel Shatford Preston died in 1999, a few years after son Bobby Shatford (Mark Wahlberg in the movie).
Eddie (Frank Stallone), the bartender from the movie Barfly. Another knucklehead who is like so many bartenders I’ve seen in life, not a bad guy, but thinks way too much about his own toughness and knowledge base. He’s another one who would be entertaining to watch him interact and share his ‘vast knowledge’ of life.
Ron from Jersey:
Great list, but the best of all is Mike Callahan, the owner of Callahan's Place, introduced in Spider Robinson's CALLAHAN'S CROSSTIME SALOON.
Richard from Valley Forge:
Donald the Bartender in the flick “ 10 ” , played wonderfully by Brian Dennehy.
Jeff from Colorado:
I also seem to remember a bartender in the Officer's Club from the early episodes of "Mash". I think his name was "Mr. Kwang." Despite his nation being torn apart by war, he was always impeccibly dressed in a white coat and served a great martini. (Not that I'm a martini fan.) In later episodes Klinger took over the bar and also Igor.
Must disagree with your rankings.....Brian Flanagan at #20 way too low, he'd be in my top 5...
I think if you check out some of the episodes of MASH that did flag the Marines from time to time.
And finally, this from Linda Sue:
Hey Joe, if you think Kitty poured drinks for Matt for 20 years and never offered him a trip upstairs...well... if you ever watched the show you would see that there was a lot more going on there than met the eye....lol
As proof, she submits the following:
Philly Beer Week
Plans are in the works for the city's biggest beer celebration since the end of Prohibition. It's Philly Beer Week, 10 days of festivals and special events focusing on craft beer, home brewing, Belgians, Germans and more in the Best Beer Drinking City in America. March 2008
Brewers round table
I moderated a casual panel discussion on Philly beer and other matters at Saturday's Philly Craft Beer Festival. Tom Kehoe (Yards), Gene Muller (Flying Fish), Bill Moore (Lancaster), Bill Covaleski (Victory) and Mark Edelson (Iron Hill) all shared some interesting insight on topics ranging from creative inspiration to extreme beer. Bryan Kolesar taped the event and it's posted at his blog, The Brew Lounge.
And here's another podcast, this one from the Daily News, with my take on the local beer scene.
Dawson St. Pub benefit
The Manayunk beer bar hoss a night of music to benefit the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation on Sunday (3/4). Tom Gillam, Ben ARnold, Chris Kasper, Electric Sex Power and Jeremy Hollis will appear. Look for drink specials and other goodies. Dawson Street Pub (100 Dawson St., Manayunk). Info: 215-482-5677.
The origins of lager
Maureen Ogle's "Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer" questions Philadelphia's claim as home of the first American lager. Beer historian Rich Wagner will rip her a new one (OK, I made that up) Saturday in his lecture, "Lager Origins in Philadelphia." It's at Yards Brewing (2439 Amber St., Kensington) at 2 p.m. Free. Info: 215-634-2600.
Fake cops, real ale
Sharp-eyed beer lovers will notice that Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale makes a cameo appearance in "Reno 911!: Miami." How'd it get into the movie? The details are sketchy, but it sounds like brewer Sam Calagione once had a run-in with Lt. Dangle and company.
Thomas Lennon, Richard Ben Garant and Niecy Nash - actually their uniformed alter-egos, Lt. Jim Dangle, Deputy Travis Junior and Deputy Raineesha Williams - stopped by the Fraternal Order of Police lodge on Spring Garden Street last month to promote their movie. In a Q & A for the Daily News, I grilled them with predictably laughable results.
Lose 1, Gain 2
The Black Door on Bainbridge Street, only marginally a Belgian cafe, is closed. But Zot is opening nearby at the former Lombard Street home of Le Champignon. And there's word of a new Belgian joint opening in Wayne, next to Teresa's Cafe.
Sly Fox IPA Project '07
Brewer Brian O'Reilly kicked off his annual varietal brews this week with an IPA made only Galena hops. Each year, O'Reilly brews 11 different IPAs with a single hop variety, then combines them all for his annual Odyssey IPA. Look for them on tap at Sly Fox in Royersford & Phoenixville, as well as the Exton Drafting Room, Conshy Boathouse, Union Jack's on the Manatawny and the Grey Lodge Pub.
Your sweetheart's not into fruit beer? For Valentine's Day, try a chocolate stout. Most of these rich, hearty brews get their flavor from dark-roasted malt. But some, like Rogue Chocolate Stout (that's my pal, Sebbe Buhler, on the label), contain a bit of real chocolate, too. Look also for Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.
New on local shelves
Lost Abbey, the new California brewery, is in town. Look for Red Barn, a saison, and Avant Garde, a biere de garde. Troegs Nugget Nectar is also back for another go-round. And look for Dogfish Head Burton Baton (a hoppy wood-aged ale),
Keeping abreast of the news
Two locals made the Top 10 list at Playboy.Com's 10 Best Microbrews in America: Troegenator Doublebock and Victory Prima Pils. Yours truly was on the selection panel, but I haven't actually read this linked item. Like most guys, I only read Playboy for the photos.
Belgium Comes to West Chester
Friday's column will have more details, but here's an event you won't want to miss: Brewer's Reserve at Iron Hill West Chester (3 W. Gay St.) on Saturday (1/27) features Belgian ales from more than a dozen area craft brewers. This is an excellent opportunity to taste some imaginative brews and see for yourself why they're calling Philly, "Brussels, U.S.A." Info: 610-738-9600.
New from Yards
Look for Chateau Kenso '07, a bronze-colored Belgian-style ale brewed with spices and honey, the first in promised series of one-offs. At 9 percent alcohol, it's the Kensington brewery's strongest beer. It's on tap in the city at the Khyber, Devil's Alley, Race Street Cafe, Grey Lodge Pub, Brownies (Old City), the Pub on Passyunk East, South Philadelphia Taproom and The Abbaye, and Isaac Newton's in Newtown, Buxco.
A good cause!
Raise a pint in honor of New Brunswick hero fireman James D'Heron on Sunday (1/21) at Harvest Moon Brewery. A portion of the sales of its Jimmy D's Firehouse Red goes to the Childrens Burn Camp at the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation. D'Heron lost his life in an explosion while saving 15 people in 2004. Info: 732-349-6666.
Here's a beer-tasting fit for Wallace & Grommet: DiBruno Bros. (1730 Chestnut St., Center City west) pairs Sly Fox brews with a selection of its fine cheeses. 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12. Tix: $45. Info: 215-665-1659.
Best of the year
The January edition of Bon Appetit calls American pub food the top trend of the year. And what's the premiere example of the so-called gastropub in America? Philly's Standard Tap (2nd and Poplar, Northern Liberties). The mag shares recipes from tavern chef Carolyn Angle. Also getting a mention: Grace Tavern (2229 Grays Ferry Ave.).
St. Louis goes viral
Those wondering what Anheuser-Busch was going to do with Rolling Rock, look no further than this.
New Philly brewpub II
Last week I reported on plans for a new brewpub in the Northern Liberties vicinity. Much closer on the horizon is the new Triumph Brewing at 117 Chestnut St., Old City. Brewing equipment showed up this week, and plans are to open in January. Patrick Jones, a big winner at the GABF in '05, will be moving down from his current post at Triumph-New Hope.
New Philly brewpub
Former Fancy Pants/Yards brewer Joe Beddia is moving forward on plans to open Brasseries des Mars on Front Street just north of Girard (technically Kensington, but right on the border of Northern Liberties). He recently purchased the Red Bell brewing equipment from the Wachovia Center, and he's near closing on a property right below the Frankford El. Beddia told me he wants to brew mainly farmhouse-style ales, like Saison Dupont, and serve a limited menu of specialty cheese and cured meats. Wisely, he's not announcing any time table for opening. "We've got a whole lot of work ahead of us," he said.
Word on the street
Barley Creek says it’s making another go at wider distribution. Got a tavern where you’d like to see this Pocono brewery’s beers? Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org… Leinenkugel is making a full frontal splash in Philly with its Sunset Wheat, a very citrusy Belgian-style wit. Expect to see more tap handles in coming weeks… Forget Starbucks, McGillin’s Old Ale House (1310 Drury St.) has gone WiFi. So is the Fox and Hound Smokehouse & Tavern (1501 Spruce St.)… Friday (11/10) is the 231st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps (they were founded right here in town). Celebrate down the shore at the Tun Tavern (200 Kirkman Blvd., A.C.) with $2 pints and Marine favorites like "S.O.S."
Mark your calendars
I’ll be appearing with George Hummel from Home Sweet Homebrew at Tria’s Fermentation School on Nov. 27th. We’ll be chatting about Philadelphia’s craft beer scene and why we think this is the best beer-drinking city in America.
Word on the street
River Horse is packaging its two Belgian-styles in a single case. Look for the Belgian Block at your distrib...Stuck with the family at Appleby's? Now, look for Flying Fish on tap...Troegs Mad Elf to hit the streets Nov. 1. Yes, it'll be available in special 3-liter bottles again... The new Iron Hill-Phoenixville (130 E. Bridge St.) is up and running and brewer Tim Stumpf is already producing a helluva Lodestone Lager...Looking for a job in the brewing biz? Check out Careers in Beer.
Gabba Gabf hey!
Here's a quick rundown of Philly-area award winners at the Great American Beer Festival:
Russian Imperial Stout, Iron Hill, Media.
Schwarzbier, Rock Bottom, King of Prussia.
Tröegenator Double Bock, Tröegs Brewing.
Raven (Baltic Porter), McKenzie Brew House.
Bourbon Ivan, Iron Hill, West Chester.
Bengal Gold I.P.A., Triumph, New Hope.
Berliner Weiss, Bethlehem Brew Works.
World Wide Stout, Dogfish Head.
Smoked Porter, Stewart's Brewing, Bear, Del.
Dunkel Rico, Stewart's.
Festina Lente, Dogfish Head.
Oh, and one other winner
Yours truly won the print journalism award from the Brewers Association for a series of my Joe Sixpack columns.
6 things in Denver
1. Went to the Colorado-LAs game and watched some guy I never heard of knock in 9 runs for the Dodgers, the most RBIs in one game for the team since Gil Hodges. That, along with the Phils’ loss to the Nats later in the day, pretty much knocked us out of us the wild card. Beer: Sandlot Stout, from the Coors Field brewpub
I didn't see it, but I heard there was a wedding at the GABF session last night. Stacy Ross, a brewer at Grizzly Peak Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, got hitched to a fella named Tom Block. Instead of rice, malted barley were tossed over the married couple. Oskar Bluesman Marty Jones, who gave me the heads up on the ceremony, cracks that
triends can purchase wedding gifts for the couple through their bridal registries at Brewers Supply Group and Hop Union.
For the birds
McNabb & company aren't the only ones who have to get their act together down at the Linc. Hundreds of angry customers waited 20 minutes or more in relatively shallow lines at one of the few stands offering local craft beers (Victory, Flying Fish, Yards) on the lower level. The clueless workers had no idea what they were selling, didn't know the prices and - worst of all - had no proper bottle openers! At one point, they were sharing one of those emergency plastic key-ring openers. I gave them my trusty brass Sam Adams opener to speed things up. But when I checked back in the second half, it was still taking them an average of 6 minutes per customer. One reason for the slow pace: they carded every (and I do mean every) customer, including a certain gray-haired 50-year-old beer reporter.
Down the shore
Just got back from the Tun Tavern in A.C., where brewer Ted Briggs has released his latest barleywine, called - fittingly enough on this day - Freedom Ale. It's 11.5% alcohol, aged in Jack Daniels kegs. Beware: it's served way too cold, so order this with a pale ale to start, then gawk at the gorgeous barmaids while you wait for it to warm to a suitable temp. Very strong vanilla notes with a nice spicy kick. Delicious.
Dear Joe Sixpack: You suck!
Actually, reaction to my Guide to Freshman Beer-Drinking was mostly positive. Most of the negative comments, I'm guessing, were a result of a Drudge Report link, which incorrectly reported the Daily News was advocating binge drinking. Here's a handful of the comments (I've removed names).
Congratulations on getting that one past editors and published!
I just hope that every kid who reads your column clips it out and puts it in a drawer somewhere, so when he gets killed in a drinking-related accident his parents will find it in his personal effects and know EXACTLY whom to sue. You have advocated the commission of crimes, sir, and should be fired.
Very gutsy! I lke it! About time somebody spoke reason.
An article like this would cause outrage in Indiana.
Your column on college drinking rules and especially the call out to Newman's day was great. I'm sure the Princeton deans will hear about that one and you might expect a call from Paul Newman's lawyers.
I politely and strongly disagree with your article. It will cost lives. Sincerely, A Recovering Alcoholic
Great job! It is all useful advice. As a long time college prof, what I find makes it even better is that it is also honest... I will certainly recommend it to my students next week. The longer I teach - and travel to Europe - the more US pseudo-prohibition laws look stupid. The Germans have it right. Legal beer at 14 and no auto licenses before 18. Those kids learn what alcohol can do for and to them before they ever take a driving lesson. The norm in the rest of Europe seems to be 16. If I were in charge, that's what it would be here. It is also good of you to point out the propaganda that is used against drinking here. I used to ask my students on Day One what percent of high school students drink. The minimum is 70%. I hope your editors don't cave to any pressure if you get negative feedback. You are performing a public service.
grew up with a family who didn't hide the alcohol and for that matter
Dickhead- telling 17 and 18 year-olds that getting “drunk” is a proper form of socializing is pathetic and so are you.
One of the most compelling indicators as to the fact that current policy is so completely wrong is the transformation that European students made over the course of the freshman year -- that from moderate drinkers able to do so socially while maintaining humor and common sense, to completely belligerent binge drinkers. Rather drinking socially as they are used to, like other students under the "zero tolerance" policy they feel they have to binge off site rather than risk being caught drinking in moderation. In other words, the behavior we hope that co-eds magically adopt the moment they turn 21, is already present in these students but is otherwise rooted out within a semester's time by the misguided policies found on every college campus.
Your article should be part of the orientation packet on campi everywhere.
Personally I don't exactly argue with your argument but the antialcohol lobbies want to consistantly slam any argument... If alcohol's age going to 18, yes there'd be a increase in a few things, but it would taper off.
Schmidt's brewery RIP
Beer historian Rich Wagner sends along this link to video from his 1987 tour of the old Schmidt's plant in Philly. Gone but not forgotten.
Seth Joyner in your den
How would you like to watch the Dallas-Eagles game in your home with former Eagles Seth Joyner and Keith Byars? What would you say if I told you that you had to invite ex-Cowboy Jay Novacek, too? That's the trio that will show up if you're the winning bidder in the Oct. 8th segment of Miller Lite's Man Laws debate. Each week during the season , Miller will send a crew of manly men to the winning bidder's home to watch a featured NFL game. And they bring the food and beer. The bidding begins soon on eBay.
We've got a winner
Last week's Sixpack of the Week, Widmer Hefeweizen, goes to John Rosborough of Boothwyn, Delco. Congrats! I already kicked my supply of Erdinger, so this week's freebie is a past Sixpack of the Week, Moretti. Tune into Joe Sixpack's Happy Hour for details on how you can win.
Farewell B to the E?
Miller's Brew Blog reports that A-B appears ready to drop its weird B(e) label. The apparent new name for the caffeinated brew: Bud Extra. Does anyone actually drink this stuff?.
Best beers in America?
Men's Journal picks the top 25 this month. Two Philly-area beers nail No. 2 & 3, behind the superb Firestone Walker Pale Ale. Here's the complete list, locals in bold:
Looking at that list, I count 7 that I've never tasted (Nos. 7, 8, 14, 19, 20, 24 & 25). How about you? Drop an email and tell me YOUR favorite.
(FYI, Firestone Walker is NOT available in Pennsylvania. But you can slip down I-95 to State Line Liquors in Maryland and pick it up!)
BeerFest: The interview
After polishing off Friday's column, I realized I hadn't used most of the material from my interview with two members of the Broken Lizard cast. I met director/writer Jay Chandrasekhar (he plays Barry, the beer-pong expert-turned-male prostitute) and Paul Soter (one of the Wolfhouse brothers) over beers at McGillin's Old Ale House. Or, I should say, I drank the house ale while they sucked on ginger ale.
Here's a non-verbatim Q&A:
Joe Sixpack: You're not drinking beer?
Paul Soter: I'm taking a bit of a break. This whole [media tour] has been such a haze.
JS: Did you drink real beer during the filiming?
PS: When we decided to make the movie, we said, 'Of course we're going to drink!' God, we can't fake it. But then we realized we'd be doing 20 takes on some scenes. So we ended up supplementing the beer with an occasional O'Doul's.
PS: Yeah, the O'Doul's made us sicker than real beer, I think. We were supposed to be drinking dark German beer, so we had to mix the O'Doul's with caramel coloring. It was disgusting. It got pretty nasty.
JS: You're from Colorado - what do you normally drink?
PS: I used to drink Coors when I was younger. I like Fat Tire [from New Belgium].
Jay Chandrasekhar: I'm from Chicago, so I used to drink Old Style. But I love Bud in a bottle. I can drink it all day.
JS: Tell me where you got the idea for BeerFest.
PS: Part of what we wanted to do was to write a love letter to beer. The inspiration came when we were working on "Super Troopers." When we were promoting the movie in Australia, we thought, "We've gotta do something different." So one time we were up on a stage and we challenged everyone to a chugging contest... One of the funny things we discovered is when you challenge somebody's national pride, every country steps up and says they've got the best drinkers.
JC: In the movie, the Germans are our archrivals. They're extremely disdainful of American beer. They make fun of us for drinking Zima. They think so little of American beer, the Americans aren't even allowed into the Fest.
JS: BeerFest features a good bit of debauchery - weren't you a little worried about making a movie about excessive beer drinking in an age when there are so many tight-asses wagging their finger at boozing?
JC: Funny thing, comedy tends to be easier to make when you have Republicans in power. They spend so much time moralizing, it's fun poke your finger in their eye... When people talk about alcohol and beer, it's universally negative. It's about wife-beating and driving while intoxicated. But the reality is a great portion of the country goes out and drinks beer... By the way, beer-drinking is fun!
PS: We've vilified something that's a terrific thing.
JS: I'm surprised there's no product-placement in the movie - you'd think brewers would be lining up to have their beer featured in a movie about beer.
PS: None of the American beermakers wanted their beer in the movie. They've perpetuated this sham of drinking responsibly, and they couldn't support a movie about drinking irresponsibly.
JC: They didn't know what we were going to do. No one wanted to see us go over the line with a Miller in our hands... Our characters do not drink responsibly.
JS: Who's the best drinker in the movie?
JC: Will Forte, from "Saturday Night Live." [He plays one of the Germans.] He is a fast chugger. He went to UCLA, that's where he got his training. The guy can just throw them back.
JS: How about you?
JC: This movie has been a death wish for us. Now, every time we walk into a bar, people are challenging us to chugging contests. Pints and shots, everyone wants to challenge you.
PS: I guess we made our bed...
JS: What's next?
"BeerFest" violates Reinheitsgebot?
The new comedy from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe is mostly about excessive beer consumption, but there is a back story about a lost German beer recipe. Now, you'd figure an authentic Bavarian beer would be made only with classic ingredients as laid out in the Gerrman Beer Purity law, namely: malted grain, yeast, hops and water. But the knuckleheads are seen brewing with malt extract, which almost certainly would've been outlawed. (In fact, one of the film's stars, Paul Soter, told me that the actors drank O'Doul's spiked with caramel coloring.) See my review on Friday.
New from Weyerbacher
The Easton micro is back with its Imperial Pumpkin Ale, first released in '05. I missed this monster (8% alcohol) last year, but Weyerbacher describes it as "incredible carmelly [with] malty notes on the palate and a strong, spicy presence that never fails to satisfy." Look also for AutumnFest, a 5.4% alcohol harvest ale.
Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Philadelphia is finally getting its hands on Bard's Tale Dragon's Gold, which is good news for beer drinkers with celiac disease. This gluten-free beer is now available at the Beer Outlet, 77 Franklin Mills Blvd., in the Northeast.
Oktoberfest is here
Sly Fox unveils its new bottled Oktoberfest on Thursday (8/17) at the Foodery (2nd & Poplar, Northern Liberties). There will be a sampling featuring ladies from IPA (In Pursuit of Ale). Afterwards, slide over to Standard Tap for some $3 pints of Sly Fox.
Meanwhile, Oktoberfest is already underway at McGillin's Old Ale House (1310 Drury St., Center City). The city’s oldest continuously operating tavern will expand its selection of German beers and add German foods to the menu, through September 30. In addition to the large selection of local and regional beers always on tap, McGillin’s will serve Stoudt’s Fest, Sam Adams Octoberfest, Flying Fish Octoberphish and Paulaner Octoberfest.
I've been out of town, visiting friends and tracking down sixpacks for the past week. Mostly, I scarfed up a bunch of out-of-state beers that haven't made their way to Philly, yet.
I also stopped in at the Capital Ale House in Richmond, Va., and enjoyed a pint of possibly the best brown ale I've ever had, from St. George Brewing. The tavern has this cool "ice rail" down the middle of the bar - basically a 60-foot long, 6-inch wide block of ice inlaid in the bar where you can set your glass to keep it cold.
Then, back in Pa., I took a crew up to Shangy's on Saturday before my radio show and came back with 18 cases in the trunk. Was it worth the trip? You tell me:
King IPA (Mich.)
Bluegrass American Pale Ale (Ky.)
Clay Pipe Pursuit of Happiness Winter Warmer (Md.)
The Duck Rabbit Wee Heavy (N.C.)
Ska Steel Toe Stout (Colo.)
Legend Hefeweizen (Va.)
Legend Golden Ale (Va.)
Blue & Gray Virginia Hefeweizen (Va.)
Blue & Gray Fredericksburg Fred Red Ale (Va.)
Blue & Gray James River Pale Ale (Va.)
Richbrau Big Nasty Porter (Va.)
Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper Robust Porter
Blue Point Toasted Lager
Bell's Special Cream Stout
Three Floyd's Rabbid Rabbit
Smuttynose Portsmouth Lager
Smuttynose Big A IPA
North Coast Red Seal Ale
North Coast Brother Thelonious Abbey
Golden Carolus D'Or
Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA
Avery 14er ESB
Alba Scots Pine Ale
Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Oud Beersel Kriek
Warsteiner Verum, my Sixpack of the Week, is one of the growing number of premium brews now available in cans. Don't worry, there's no tinny aftertaste. And if you wanna stick with the glass, there's a $6 rebate on Warsteiner cases.
Drinkin' with the ladies
I left Mrs. Sixpack at home last night and headed out to For Pete's Sake (2nd & Christian) with the girls from IPA (In Pursuit of Ale), Philly's female beer appreciation group. We chatted about Miller's "Man Laws" over Bell's Oberon Ale, but I had to bail when they switched to Delirium Nocturnum. Watch for an upcoming report in the Daily News. And here's a tip of the hat to IPA organizer Suzanne Woods for turning me onto the newest South Philly beer bar: The Pub on Passyunk East (Passyunk & Dickinson), with 12 mostly local taps.
Backwoods & beyond
Lost on the backroads of Berks County this weekend, I finally stumbled across Union Jack's on the Manatawny (546 Manatawny Road, Boyertown, Pa.). I'll be writing more about this joint in a couple weeks. For now, let's just say that the Belgian beer wave has truly swept the region when you can find a bottle of Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus in a county where they're still driving horse and buggies
A blast from my past
I grew up about two blocks from the old Iron Gate tavern in Havertown; it's one of the first places I tasted draft beer. These days it's completely remodeled and doing business as Oakmont National Pub (31 Eagle Road, Havertown). I stopped in for a quick one last night and discovered a gem: about 15 drafts, including some unusual specialties. (Sadly, the keg of Grotten cave-aged brown ale had just kicked.) Lots of TVs, outdoor patio, kitchen, friendly service - it's worth the visit.
Chesco's Sly Fox, which already produces two canned beers, says it'll add a third to its portfolio this autumn. Look for Dunkel Lager when the temps drop. Meanwhile, brewer Brian O'Reilly expects to release this year's Oktoberfest in mid-August.
Beer to go
Earlier this month, the courts struck down a state law giving giving City Council members the right to both cite and then shut down stop-and-go's. Last week, the Daily News ed board, which has supported a crackdown on nuisance bars, agreed with the ruling. But Hung Ngo of the Asian American Licensed Beverage Association says the tabloid still doesn't get it. Here's his well-reasoned rebuttal.
Buy Fresh, Buy Local Week
And that includes beer! The kick-off to this year's event is at Yards Brewery in Kensington on Sunday (7/16), from noon - 4:30PM. This 4th annual celebration will feature wonderful local food, Philly’s finest ales, local music and more! If you love local food and support sustainable agriculture in our region, come eat and drink like you mean it! Tix: email@example.com, Info: 215-386-5211 x102.
Royal Stumble - Results!
As always, Nodding Head's first-to-kick keg blast was a suds-filled, jammed-pack affair. Tim Roberts of Independence Brewing
The theme of this year's Stumble was the hammer-and-sickle Brewletariat. And in line with the Soviet setting, there were backroom allegations of Kremlinesque shenanigans. I heard at least one brewer charge that Roberts' keg was already half empty before the contest began. Dissidents were hustled off to Siberia by thuggish security forces.
Unable to speak to the quality of Roberts' beer, I can only state that the, um, talent of Independence's distaff waitstaff may have had something to do with the quick pour. The evidence is below.
The dudes are just happy to be there. The ladies did the hard work.
Nodding Head Premiere Spanky plants a wet one on winner Tim Roberts.
Commie brewers, Marx (Casey Hughes, Flying Fish)& Lennon (Chris LaPierre, Iron Hill).
The new Foodery is open
Philadelphia's best take-out beer shop has finally opened its second location. The Foodery-Northern Liberties is now up and running at 2nd & Poplar with more than 600 different bottles-to-go. This one is less clutttered than the original at 10th & Pine, with even more fridge room for those Belgian bombers. The deli serves sandwiches (gelato soon) and there's seating. Owner Jack Lee told me he's planning to run regular tastings, possibly on the first Friday of each month. More info to come.
This week's draught picks
Grey Lodge - Middle Ages Wailing Wench.
Chap's - Sam Adams Summer Ale.
Flanigan's Boathouse (Conshy) -
Dawson St. Pub - Yards Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale.
Grey Lodge public Mike (Scoats) Scotese says he's making plans for a weekend-long Friday the Eleventeenth 10th anniversary celebration in August at his Esquire-annointed Mayfair taproom. Flying Bison and Flying Fish are both brewing up special dunkels for the occasion. Stay tuned for more details.
A savior for Latrobe?
Looks like Wisconsin's City Brewery has signed a letter of intent to purchase the former Rolling Rock brewery in Latrobe, Pa., City Brewing, based in Lacrosse, Wis., (home of the world's largest sixpack) is the nation's fifth-largest brewer, producing mainly lagers and some seasonals. Seems like a good fit at the medium-sized Rock plant - maybe a new challenger to Yuengling?
Here's the full press release from Gov. Rendell's office:
HARRISBURG - Governor Rendell issued the following statement after a conference call with officials at InBev USA, who signed a letter of intent today with City Brewery, a Wisconsin based brewer, to sell the Latrobe Brewing Company in Westmoreland County.
The Governor plans to discuss state incentives that may be available to the company as part of his ongoing efforts to help save more than 200 jobs at the Latrobe Brewing Company. InBev USA recently sold the rights to Rolling Rock Beer, which has been brewed at Latrobe since 1939.
"I am very encouraged and hope that our work to save the more than 200 jobs at Latrobe Brewing Company will be successful. I intend to speak with officials from City Brewery tomorrow to discuss our aggressive and innovative Pennsylvania Economic Stimulus program, which, I hope, will help them decide, like many other companies, that Pennsylvania is the right place to locate and expand their business.
"The hard working, highly skilled men and women at the Latrobe Brewing Company are the best reason for any brewing company to bring their product to Pennsylvania, and I am hopeful that this letter of intent will translate into a contract to purchase the company. I intend to work personally, along with my Governor's Action Team to ensure that this happens. This is not the final step, but it is a very good step in the right direction."
Latest from A-B?
Miller Brewing's Brew Blog reports Anheuser-Busch has made a trademark application for "Pier 21" - an "alcholic tea-based beverage." Presumably, it'll be something like Sam Adams' Twisted Tea line.
According to the U.S. Trademark Office's online search engine, A-B currently has 1,864 registered trademarks for products and slogans, some of which never see the light of day. Among the more recent marks:
Real craft beer?
I agree with Beaumont: This is only the tip of the iceberg. It's no wonder, as I wrote this week, that micro-brewers are looking nervously at the latest A-B move.
This week's draft picks
Dawson Street Pub - Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat.
Monk's Cafe - Piraat, Poperings Hommel Ale.
Nodding Head - Hoptimus Prime, Saison.
Following up on that gripe I posted a couple weeks ago about the rip-off ($7.25) prices they charge for Victory Golden Monkey at L'Etage, FoodBooz.Com reports Buffalo Billiards is offering Golden Monkey during happy hours for just $3. Not too shabby.
Grey Lodge - Russian River Damnation, Lake Placid Ubu Ale, Flying Fish Farmhouse.
Standard Tap - Stoudt's Pils.
The Ballpark - Victory HopDevil.
Gen. Lafayette - Pacific Pale Ale.
McGillin's - Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.
Ludwig's Garten - Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel.
Johnny Brenda's - Yards Philly Pale Ale,
Monk's Cafe - Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel.
Speaking of Monk's...
I dropped in last night as the joint debuted the latest obscurity from B. United: Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes from Switzerland. (This is probably the first Swiss beer I've tasted since Feldschlosschen bought Hurlimann and stopped brewing Samichlaus back in the '90s.) BFM brewer Jerome Rebetez was fashionably late (so much for that Swiss punctuality), but he arrived packed with plenty of excellent bottles. My favorite was Cuvee du 7eme, a nicely hopped ale. The strangest of the batch was La Dragonne, spiced and served warm (like tea). Look also for La Meule (the grinding stone), a hoppy Belgian-like blonde, and Abbey de Saint Bon-Chien, a strong dark beer aged in wine casks and named, strangely enough, after the brewery's dead cat.
California's Lagunitas is out with a new label, a tribute to the pot bust at the brewery you may have heard about. It's Undercover Ale, and Oakland Tribune beer writer William Brand has the 420, er, 411.
Headline of the week
"Germans Contractually Obligated to Drink Swill" is the spin AdPulp gives to word of Budweiser's $47 million deal to secure exclusive beer-vending rights at the World Cup games in Germany. Quoting the London Times: "It is brown-gold and alcoholic but, then, in the scathing verdict of German beer fans, so is paint thinner."
This week in drafts
Brother Paul's - Flying Fish HopFish, Troegs Nugget Nectar
Bishop's Collar - Oskar Blues Gordon Imperial IPA
Dawson Street - Stoudt's Double IPA
L'Etage - Victory Golden Monkey
Standard Tap - Troegs Sunshine Pils, Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat
Out of the can
Colorado's Oskar Blues Brewery is best known as the craft beer industry's pioneer canner, with its delicious Dale's Pale Ale and malty Old Chub. Now, Philly can taste those beers on tap, thanks to a new distribution deal with Origlio. Brewery chief Dale Katechis, on a quick tour of the area this week, told me we should also be seeing draft Gordon, his Imperial IPA.
The menu at L'Etage (6th & Bainbridge) lists Victory Golden Monkey at $6.50. That's steep, but it gets worse: It's only a 12-oz glass, plus the menu price deceptively fails to include the 10 percent city drink tax, which brings the total to $7.15 (my bartender rounded it up to $7.25). Those are French wine prices for a Downingtown beer!
This week in drafts
Gen. Lafayette - La Tête Fontaine
Dawson Street – Yards ESA (cask)
Draft to go
Best Bars in America
Esquire magazine, which I thought was aimed at martini-sipping metrosexuals, named two reg'lar Philly joints to its Best Bars in America list: the Grey Lodge and Southwark (4th & Bainbridge). Of the former, it writes, "If Moe Szyslak's ump-teenth suicide attempt actually succeeded and if, through some unlikely but amusing chain of events, Comic Book Guy took over his bar, this is what you'd end up with."
Rodenbach Grand Cru on tap
An exceedingly rare keg of this oak-aged, red Belgian ale just turned up at Eulogy (136 Chestnut St., Old City). This one tasted a bit less woodsy than the glass I had at the Michael Jackson dinner at Monk's in March. Grab it NOW; it'll be gone by Thursday.
Meanwhile, owner Mike Naessens tells me he's having a house beer brewed for him by La Binchoise in Belgium. It's a light golden ale he says should make a good transition for BudCoorsMiller-types. Look for Eulogy's Busty Blonde in June.
A-B on the craft wagon
What's the next specialty draft coming from Anheuser-Busch? The secretive suits in St. Louis aren't talking, but it looks like we'll be getting a blond: Beach Bum Blonde Ale.
That's the label that Anheuser-Busch recently registered with the Pa. LCB. The draft-only brew comes on the heels of Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale and Spring Heat Spiced Wheat.
Drafts I drank this week
Dawson Street Pub: Yards ESA
Citizens Bank Park: Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Flying Fish XPA
Tria: Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat
Nodding Head: Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse
Sansom St. Oyster House: Sly Fox Rt. 113 IPA
Ludwig's Garten: Spaten Optimator
Oscar's: Yuengling Lager
Refugee from the dark side
Here’s an interesting career move:
Anheuser-Busch assistant brewer Mitch Steele has left the Bud plant at Merrimack, N.H., to take over as head brewer at Stone Brewing in San Diego (under brewmaster Steve Wagner). That’s a long way to travel, and I don’t mean mileage.
Stone is the anti-swill. Over the years, it’s repeatedly mocked factory lager as fizzy yellow beer. It once offered to give you an Arrogant Bastard shirt is you traded in a used mega-brewery t-shirt.
Steele, though working for the evil empire, was a familiar face in craft beer circles. At Merrimack, a relatively small-batch facility, he was part of A-B’s Specialty Brewing Group, responsible for number of notable niche brews, including Bare Knuckle Stout.
Said Stone’s Greg Koch: “He’s moving from the largest brewery to the coolest brewery.”
Easton's Weyerbacher Brewing is out with its latest, Double Simcoe IPA, but it warns Garden State beer drinkers that they may have problems finding it at their local distributors. "With Anheuser-Busch's push to distribute microbrews in NJ, many stores are not as open to bringing in new products right now," says a Weyerbacher release, which suggests "you strongly advise your store to bring in this beer or it may get passed on for no good reason."
One of my favorite beer stores, State Line Liquors (1610 Elkton Road, Elkton, Md.) is having its annual spring Belgian sale right now. It's 20 percent off all singles ($4.50 for a bottle of Rochefort 12)! Stop off at Exit 109B on the way down I-95.
Joe Sixpack on TV!
CBS-3 consumer reporter Jim Donovan conducted a taste test on the new Heineken Premium Light in my very own basement. You can see the the not-very-surprising results online. (And I'm so proud of my brother - he's the one in the Hawaiian shirt who hated 'em all.)
New on area shelves
It's only April, but summer beers are already popping up. Look for Victory Whirlwind Wit, Harpoon Summer, Stegmaier Summer Stock Lager, Weyerbacher Blanche and River Horse Summer Blonde.
Better boozing through science
Check out "The Beer Belly." It's a removable spare tire, possibly the greatest way to sneak suds into an Eagles game since that old keg-in-the-wheelchair trick. It's only a matter of time till this handy invention is connected to this one. Then you'll be able fill up in the first half and empty in second half without ever leaving your seat!
Do it yourself
McKenzie's Brewhouse, Malvern, now open
Good news out in the burbs - the new McKenzie's Brewhouse is up and running (240 Lancaster Ave., Malvern). As with all new brewpubs, I suggest you give this one a month or so to get its act in gear. It takes a little bit for the brew master to learn the ins and outs of his new equipment. But the brewer, Scott Morrison, has been turning out excellent ales at the McKenzie's first location in Glen Mills, so expect great things from this new brewpub as well.