Philly Beer Week 2012 Events: Forum of the Gods!


With just 9 days to go until the start of Philly Beer Week, we will be counting down by sharing with you any details about upcoming events as we hear about them. Yesterday I received a press release about the 2012 Forum of the Gods which will feature five prominent people from the world of Craft Brewing. Below is more information about this event…

TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE FOR THE THIRD-ANNUAL FORUM OF THE GODS

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Tickets are now available online for the third-annual Forum of the Gods, a round-table talk between some of the biggest names in brewing that has become one of the signature events of Philly Beer Week (PBW).  This year’s Forum will be held on Wednesday, June 6 beginning at 2 p.m. at Philadelphia Bar & Restaurant (120 Market Street, 215-925-7691).  Tickets are $25 per person, and include admission as well as samples from each brewery represented.  As in the past, tickets are expected to sell out quickly for this signature event, and can be purchased online at www.phillybeerweek.org; tickets will not be available for purchase at the door.

“The Forum of the Gods is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit down with some of the best and brightest in brewing and pick their brains about what makes truly great beer happen,” says Executive Director Don Russell. “This frank, fun and educational round table talk has been a highlight since it debuted in 2010, and it gets better every year.”

This year’s “Gods” include:  Colby Chandler of San Diego’s Ballast PointMark Edelson of Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s Iron Hill Brewery & RestaurantRosemarie Certo of Philadelphia’s Dock StreetPaul Kavulak of Nebraska Brewing Company;  and Greg Koch of California’s Stone Brewing Company.  Guests will enjoy samples of each brewery’s specialties as the Gods address their questions and offer an in-depth look into the brewing business and the art of creating craft beer.

For those who are already making plans to attend other PBW signature events, such as the kick-off Opening Tap, the $100 per person VIP Opening Tap / Forum of the Gods Package is a no-brainer: it includes Opening Tap admission, access to this year’s first-ever VIP Session in advance of the official “first tap” of PBW 2012 and guaranteed seating at the Forum of the Gods.

Philly Beer Week 2012 will be held from Friday, June 1 until Sunday, June 10.  PBW is a 10-day celebration of “America’s Best Beer-Drinking City,” kicks off on the first Friday in June annually.  Established in 2008, it’s the largest beer celebration of its kind in the United States, featuring hundreds of festivals, dinners, tours, pub crawls, tastings and meet-the-brewer nights throughout Greater Philadelphia.  PBW highlights the region’s diverse beer scene – its world-class breweries, neighborhood taverns, trend-setting restaurants and rich beer culture and history.

For more information about Philly Beer Week, including the ever-expanding schedule of events both during PBW and throughout the year, a list of participants and other details, please visit www.phillybeerweek.org, follow them on Twitter (@PhillyBeerWeek; PBW tweets should include the hashtag #PBW) and like them on Facebook (Philly Beer Week).

Beer Review – Ballast Point Indra Kunindra


Elf on the Shelf Photo and beer courtesy of @TheAlemonger

This past Saturday night, Mrs. G-LO and I joined Mr. and Mrs. Alemonger for dinner at Casona, a Nuevo Latino restaurant in Collingswood, NJ (click here to read The Wookie’s review). Since we devoured a delicious meal that consisted of Empanadas de Pollo, Yuca Frita, four types of Continue reading

Beer Review – Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale


Photo courtesy of http://beer47.com/

Recently, I redeemed a Father’s Day gift certificate for lunch at the Wishing Well. As I had opted for a Shame Burger, I needed a bigger beer to compensate for all of the meat. To that end, from the extensive beer menu, I selected a beer from Ballast Point. Having had the Ballast Point Yellowtail on a trip to San Diego, I was somewhat familiar with the brewery and felt that the Calico Continue reading

Beer Review – Ballast Point Pale Ale (Yellowtail)


While in San Diego, we stopped at Café Coyote and with dinner I opted for a Ballast Point Pale Ale (Yellowtail). From the Ballast Point site: Continue reading

Beer Review – Ballast Point Sculpin IPA


Prior to the 2010 Philly Beer Week, I’d never heard of Ballast Point Brewing Company. My first exposure to their beers was when I had a Sculpin IPA at Good Dog Bar. It was love at first sip! I had my second at Devil’s Den later that summer, and it was just as good the second time around. On both occasions, the Sculpin IPA was available on draught and I gave it an A+ because it is easily one of the best IPAs that I’ve ever had.

Since it’s now widely available in bottles, I was curious to see how it would compare to what I had on draught. Once again, the Sculpin IPA did not disappoint! Slightly cloudy copper color. A fluffy head that lingers for quite awhile. Strong grapefruit and hop aromas. Well carbonated. The flavors are very crisp and clean. Grapefruit and medium hop bitterness dominate the flavor palate. For a beer with a 7% ABV, the alcohol taste is kept in check, which makes this beer very drinkable, i.e. I can definitely have more than one and not get tired of it. I give the bottled version of Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA a solid A.

Bar Review – Devil’s Den, South Philly


Is Tuesday the new Friday? Is Wednesday the new Friday? This is the recurring question whenever someone suggests grabbing a few drinks on a weeknight that doesn’t happen to be Friday. As far as I’m concerned, Friday night is just a state of mind… let’s drink! Tonight’s destination: Devil’s Den on 11th and Ellsworth Street in South Philly.

Devil’s Den is located in the former home of an incredibly mediocre (and totally forgettable!) Italian restaurant called Felicia’s. As a bar, Devil’s Den is outstanding! They have a massive selection of beers (16 on draught and 50+ in bottles), and they cover everything from American Lagers to Flemish Sours. The fact that they serve half price draughts from 5-7PM, Monday to Friday, is an added bonus. When we arrived at 6PM, the bar and dining room were doing a brisk business. Since there was only one bartender working, it took awhile to get that first beer. For my first beer, I chose a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA from San Diego. I first had this beer at Good Dog during Philly Beer Week and it doesn’t disappoint. It has all of the things that I love about IPA (that addictive hoppy flavor!), and adds a crisp and refreshing citrus note (grapefruit in particular). I give this beer an A+, because it’s easily one of the best IPAs around.

After the first round, we decided to stay and have dinner. Sadly, the food was a disappointment. We ordered some French Fries and Hot Wings as appetizers, and we both had the Grilled Burger Trio for our entrees (no cheese on the fries or burgers for The Alemonger. Freak!). It’s not that the food was bad, it just wasn’t very memorable. The fries were OK, the wings were OK (though not very spicy for something called Hot Wings!), and the burgers were overcomplicated and also just OK (Good Dog and Standard Tap should start giving lessons on how to make a great hamburger!). Maybe the Devil’s Den “A-Team” cooks are off on Tuesday night, because they managed to screw up our burger orders (cheese and side salad for me, no cheese and a side of fries for The Alemonger). Not only did they reverse our orders, they also delivered them about 20 minutes apart. I should have cancelled my order when I had the chance and saved $10.

If you plan to go to Devil’s Den, skip the food and stick with the beer. I give their bar a B+ (one bartender during Happy Hour? Are you kidding me!), and I give the food a C-. A better plan would be to grab some Vietnamese food up the street at 11th and Washington, then go to Devil’s Den for some after dinner beers. Sorry Devil’s Den. Get your kitchen in order.

Vicuña Matata! 10 hours at Philly Beer Fest…


Taking a day off from work to visit the many excellent bars in Center City Philadelphia in search of that special, yet elusive, beer on a sunny, 75 degree spring day is the “man equivalent of a spa day” (this quote is courtesy of Mrs. Alemonger). And that’s exactly what we  did this past Tuesday afternoon! FYI, We = LimpD for the first 3rd of the day + The Alemonger for the entire day + The Wookie for the 2nd third of the day.

10AM Breakfast at the Down Home Diner in the Reading Terminal Market + White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie from The Famous 4th Street Cookie

What better way to prepare for a day long beer hunt than with a hearty breakfast? Black coffee, a slab of scrapple, 2 poached eggs, and two pieces of buttered rye toast. Not sure what purpose the cookie served (complex carbs???) , but it was delicious!

11AM Finn McCool’s Ale House on the corner of 12th and Sansom Street

We stopped in with the hopes of sampling some of Rogue’s finest. I think we got there a wee bit too early since they were just getting their delivery. While we waited for the tapping of the keg, we started with Franziskaner Hefe-Weiss and Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA. Once the Rogue was ready, we moved on to a Rogue Dead Guy Ale. For whatever reason, I was in a ridiculously silly mood and experienced what I think is the first “Rogue Dead Guy Ale Neti Pot“. All in all, a good start to the day.

Noon Ladder 15 @ 1528 Sansom Street

Snacks by Chef David Ansill and beer by Avery Brewing Company.

This is my 2nd visit to Ladder 15. Although this bar/restaurant has a really cool look, I am disappointed with the food. Chef Ansill’s two previous restaurants were so much better (Pif in South Philly and Ansill in Queen Village). Besides the hunt for rare and delicious beer, my other goal for the day was to upset the delicate culinary sensibilities of The Alemonger by ordering anything that may offend his palate (i.e. scrapple, eggs, cheese, offal, etc.). So of course I had to order the pig trotters!  Sadly, they looked nothing like these pig trotters:

Though the Ladder 15 version tasted pretty good, they looked more like fried zucchini than the foot of a pig. Chef Ansill needs to resurrect his insanely good Ossobucco sliders. As far as the beer, I had a delicious Avery New World Porter. The Alemonger and the Avery rep had an extensive conversation (I was too busy dreaming of the pig’s feet that weren’t on my plate, so I didn’t do much eavesdropping) which resulted in the swag to end all swag: an official Avery Brewing Company tap handle for The Alemonger. It made for some good conversation at our other stops that afternoon. He was the envy of all Beer Geeks!

2PM Monk’s Cafe @ 16th & Spruce Streets

Talk about beer paradise! Monk’s Cafe is what I like to call a legacy destination. Before there was Monk’s Cafe, there was The 16th Street Bar and Grill, where I spent many an evening with some of my oldest and dearest friends.  Thankfully, Monk’s Cafe has kept this destination alive and has improved upon it in every way possible. The food/beer selections are excellent, and there is always a lively crowd on hand. The featured brewery was The Breury (how cool is that?). Of the three or four selections on tap, I chose Tradewinds. Per their website, Tradewinds is a “Belgian-style Golden Ale with a Southeast Asian twist. Instead of using candi sugar (typical for such a beer), we use rice in the mash to lighten the body and increase the gravity, and spice with Thai Basil. The result is an aromatic, digestible and complex beer made for a lazy summer evening.”. They had me at Thai Basil!  To say that this beer was crisp and clean would be an understatement. Sadly, this would be Mike’s final stop.

2:45PM A Gelato and Chinotto Intermezzo at Capogiro @ 13th & Sansom Streets

Though we may have lost a LimpD at Monk’s, we were about to gain The Wookie at Good Dog (more on that later).

After 3 bars and at least 4 beers each, it was time to give our beer palate a break. We took a quick stroll to Capogiro for some gelato and a San Pellegrino Chinotto. Capogiro makes the finest gelato that I have ever had outside of Italy. It is made fresh daily on-site and the flavors are nothing short of extraordinary. They make it with LOVE! They are even offering two Philly Beer Week inspired flavors: Rogue Chocolate Stout and Lambic Framboise gelato. With our palates reinvigorated, we were off to Good Dog!

3PM Good Dog Bar @ 15th and Locust Streets

Fried Mac and Cheese Balls! You have to love Good Dog. The crowd is eclectic (lawyers, bike messengers, artists, etc.), the food is outstanding, and the beverage selections aren’t too bad either. Although that bastard of a Wookie chowed on the Cordon Bleu Chicken Fingers without me, all is forgiven since he saved us some space at the end of the bar. The featured beers were from Ballast Point Brewing Company. Lucky for us, they had a freshly tapped firkin of Sculpin IPA on hand. Since I am new to this whole Beer Geek thing, I had never heard of Ballast Point before I stepped into Good Dog. The Sculpin IPA was the best beer that I had all day! Unfortunately, this beer rarely makes it to the East Coast due to it’s extremely limited production. I guess I’ll have to either wait for Philly Beer Week 2011 to drink it again or hop a flight to San Diego.

4:30PM Varga Bar @ 10th and Spruce Streets

Snacks, beer, swag, and the Philly Beer Girl!

Did I mention that yesterday was a truly spectacular weather day in Philly? Two days earlier, and the seven block walk from Good Dog to Varga Bar would have been unbearable. While Good Dog has the look and feel of a traditional Philadelphia neighborhood bar (deep. narrow, and minimal natural light), Varga Bar is practically wide open to the oudoors! There were at least 4 beers from Great Lakes Brewing Company on tap. Since I am a HUGE fan of Brian DePalma’s film “The Untouchables, I just had to have a glass of their Elliot Ness Amber Lager (Isn’t that just like a wop? Brings a knife to a gun fight.)! Though it wasn’t as memorable as the Sculpin IPA, it went really well with the cheese plate and pretzel nuggets that we ordered while seated at the bar. The Alemonger was horrified by our food selections, but he was thrilled to score us some Great Lakes t-shirts and meet a fellow beer blogger (Philly Beer Girl).

6PM And then there two… Doc Watson’s Pub on 11th and Locust Streets

In an attempt to avoid “the dog house”, The Wookie scurried home after our Varga Bar excursion.

Per the Philly Beer Week iPhone App (courtesy of The Alemonger), Sierra Nevada was the featured brewer. There were no reps on hand or swag to be had at this stop (I’m a greedy bastard!). We treated ourselves to some modest snacks and a wee flight of Sierra Nevada. Although Sierra Nevada makes some truly excellent beers (the Kellerweis is a personal favorite), there was nothing particularly unusual about the selections. After  three wee beers each, some rather tasty fries, and some hip-hop, we decided to move on.

8PM Black Sheep Pub @ 17th and Locust Streets

After 9+ hours of eating, drinking, and walking, I was starting to lose some steam (and capacity!). We popped in to Tria very briefly, then decided to try out the Black Sheep Pub. Although there was nothing particularly unusual about their Beer Week offerings, we did have the opportunity to pour our own Hoegarden, Leffe Blond or Stella Artois for $3/pour. I picked the Leffe Blond. Although I usually enjoy this beer, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with it this time around. After having crisp and refreshing beers like the Sculpin IPA and Tradewinds, I thought the Leffe was annoyingly sweet. Perhaps I was just hitting the wall.

9PM The Ride Home

After nine beers and numerous snacks, we decided to call it a night. Overall, our first Philly Beer Week adventure was a success! Great beer, great food, and a whole lot of laughter makes for a great afternoon. If only there was more time and money to explore more of the events. There’s always next year…