Monday, June 16, 2014

Philly Beer Week: report from the other coast

     Back in Philadelphia for the birth of granddaughter Elowen Jane, I also had time to take in some bits of Philly Beer Week (May 30-June 8).  For seven years this event has highlighted craft brewing in and around this historic old city: one of the longest-running events of its kind.  And seven years is long enough to begin building traditions.
    The Hammer of Glory is one of those traditions.  Over 150 pubs, breweries, bottle shops, bars and restaurants host one or more beer week events, and the Hammer is supposed to visit every location at some point.  Not every event--that was close to a thousand!
    The beer writers also filed some good stories.  The Philadelphia Inquirer's Craig LaBan filed a good story about how the saison style had almost been abandoned in Belgium in 1988, due to lack of interest. when Dan Feinburg, who was importing Duvel beers, ran across the style at the Brasserie Dupont brewery in Tourpes, Belgium and realized that this flavor could be a big hit in the USA.  He persuaded the Dupont brewers to make bottle some saison for export, and the rest is history.
     Pennsylvania brewers predominated, but other states made a good showing.  Dogfish Head in nearby Delaware had a strong presence, and New York brewers like Southern Tier and Brooklyn also had multiple events.   Two Michigan brewers, Bell's in Kalamazoo and Founders in Grand Rapids, were often seen, too. I noticed, in bottle shops and places with extensive taplists, how little they see here of the Pacific Northwest brewing scene.  California, yes, they get Stone, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, and 21st Amdt., but the occasional Rogue bottle is about all you see from further north.  Which made Deschutes' big introductory splash this year noteworthy.   Deschutes brought plenty of kegs of Black Butte, Red Chair, Chainbreaker, and their other familiar brands to do some tap takeovers, stock the few bottle shops (Pennsylvania beer marketing laws are another story altogether), and generally make its presence felt.
    When I have the capability to post pictures, I will add some from several of the events I took in.  The granddaugher pix will go on other sites:).

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