Philly goes to Belgium, again

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NO OTHER American city celebrates Belgian beer like Philadelphia.

I didn’t say that, but one of the nation’s biggest importers of Belgian beer did as Philly Beer Week hammered out details on a first-ever collaboration with one of Belgium’s iconic beer makers, Brasserie Dupont.

The makers of Saison Dupont, regarded by some experts as one of the top 10 beers in the world, will brew the official international beer of Philly Beer Week 2012. It’s the first time the 167-year-old brewery has made a beer with someone outside its own family.

“It’s only fitting that Dupont make its first collaborative beer for Philadelphia,” said Wendy Littlefield, of New York beer importer Vanburg & DeWulf, which helped organize the collaboration. “Philly was the first American city to really grasp the Belgian scene.”

Indeed, the area has no fewer than a half-dozen Belgian-themed bars, and nearly every local brewery makes a Belgian-style ale, including abbey dubbel, witbier and funky Flemish sour beer. The city’s Belgian rep is so solid, it’s known among some beer fans as Brussels on the Schuylkill.

As happened last year, when Philly Beer Week collaborated with Belgium’s DeProef brewery, one lucky beer-lover will be chosen in a random drawing to accompany an area brewer on a free trip to Belgium in March. They’ll spend the day at the farmhouse brewery in Tourpes, Belgium, brewing in early 20th-century copper kettles.

The beer will be available during Philly Beer Week, June 1-10, 2012.

The drawing will be held at City Tap House (3925 Walnut St., West Philly) at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30. Beer lovers can enter the raffle there ($5 per ticket, five for $20, with proceeds benefiting Philly Beer Week). Entrants will also be eligible in a drawing for a Philly Beer Week’s “Beer-Stravaganza,” which includes a pair of tix for the June celebration’s Opening Tap festival, the Forum of the Gods brewers roundtable and a beer sampler.

Can’t make it to the drawing? Tickets will be available at City Tap House, as well as this weekend at stops along the Craft Beer Express (see next item).

Get on the bus I

It’s looking like a crisp fall weekend ahead, a perfect day for a pub-crawl. Or in the case of Saturday’s Craft Beer Express, a bounce on the bus to a dozen of the city’s best beer bars.

Each destination features a special theme of the day with some one-of-a-kind specialities. Among the highlights: the annual Wet Hop Rodeo at Johnny Brenda’s (Frankford and Girard avenues, Fishtown); the Bock-It List 10 with doppelbocks to drink before you die at Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South St.); and a Bell’s Brewing tap takeover at Bishop’s Collar (24th and Fairmount, Art Museum area). The bus runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and you can get off and hang as long as you like at any location with a $10 ticket, sold at participating bars or at

Get on the bus II

Meanwhile, the Craft Beer Bus is gearing up for a city Christmas tour. On Dec. 10, the bus will visit the Dock Street and Nodding Head brewpubs for tours and tastings of their newest holiday beers. Last stop is Bell’s Beverage in South Philly, where I’ll lead a tutored tasting of holiday brews.

Tickets are $85, which includes a full box from Joe Sixpack’s Case Sharing Club. Info and tix at

By the way, the tour is operated by former guy David Sauls, who used to shoot those herky-jerky, circa 1990s Joe Sixpack videos that you might still find on the Internets.

Sixpack’s new book

To the many readers who’ve been griping about my laziness at the keyboard, you can finally shut yer traps. I’m pleased to report I’ve finally gotten around to writing my first book since 2008 (no easy task when you’re perpetually holding a pint in one hand), and the first that’s also downloadable on one of those Kindle thingies.

What the Hell am I Drinking? is a fun-to-read (i.e., suitable for the bathroom) look at 50 beer styles, from Altbier to Weizenbock. Included in this pocket-size tome are style tasting notes and checklists of more than 1,500 separate brands.

It’s available at, bookstores and my website for just $11.95. Remember, as with all things beer, you’ll enjoy it even more if you buy it by the sixpack and share it with friends.

I’ll be reading and signing the book at the Parkway Central Library (1900 Vine St.) on Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. Afterward, we’ll head to the Kite & Key (1836 Callowhill St., Franklintown) for a fun beer tasting.

Check out my website for more book-signings and other beer events.


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