Philly Beer Week was established in 2008 as a celebration of “America’s Best Beer Drinking City,” and is now the largest event of its type in the United States. The world-class breweries of the region are showcased in a wide variety of beer dinners, festivals and other events around the greater Philadelphia region. This year, PBW has been expanded to include two weeks, with festivities to start Friday, June 3 and last through Sunday, June 12.
The week kicks off with the “Opening Tap” at 7 p.m. at Independence Mall, where Mayor Michael Nutter will tap the first keg using the Hammer of Glory, the official keg mallet of PBW. The event then continues at the Independence Visitor Center, where Victory, Weyerbacher, Troegs, Sly Fox and 17 other regional and local breweries will be included in a beer tasting. The lucky attendees of this event will also get a taste of Brotherly Suds 2, a collaboration beer brewed at Stoudt’s Brewing by Brett Kintzer with help from Tom Kehoe, Bill Covaleski, John Trogner and Gordon Grubb of Yards, Victory, Troegs and Nodding Head, respectively. This beer is the official beer of PBW; it is a lager crafted using a yeast culture from the old Schmidt’s brewery in the Northern Liberties.
The most surprising event of the week, at least to me, is the With Love Beer Garden. This beer garden is being set up in the courtyard of the Four Seasons Hotel, which will be covered in a pavilion, and will feature a “Meet the Brewer” event each night from 4 to 8 p.m. from Monday, June 6 to Friday, June 10, with food provided by Rafael Gonzalez. Monday night features Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing Company and the re-release of his “Summer Love Ale,” originally brewed for PBW last year and back by popular demand. Tuesday, Chris Wilson of Weyerbacher will be celebrating their 750 mL bottle lineup, including “Merry Monks,” “Double Simcoe” and others. Wednesday to Friday features the brewers of Dock Street, Sly Fox and Yards, respectively.
University City itself contains a large number of PBW events, many of which are close to Drexel. Bridgewater’s Pub, located in 30th Street Station, features Samuel Smith specials June 3, tap takeovers by Tommy Knocker and Summit breweries June 7 and 9, respectively, and Franziskaner Fest June 10. City Tap House is hosting events every night of PBW, including “Attach of the Clones” June 5, which is a taste-off between commercial beers and homebrew clones of each.
MidAtlantic Restaurant & Tap Room is hosting a pair of beer dinners, including one featuring Stone Brewing Co., a beer brunch featuring Stoudt’s (starts at 11 a.m.) and an interesting happy hour June 6 featuring canned craft beers. The Blockley Pourhouse is setting up a beer garden June 9, and the World Café Live is hosting the Philly Food Experiment June 5. The event that I’m most looking forward to, however, is Local 44’s Russian River Sunday. While the bar is holding a number of other events during PBW, RRS is legendary, with people lining up well before the 11 a.m. opening time to get a taste of these fantastic beers. My all-time favorite beer is a Russian River brew, so I’m a bit biased.
Now, not everyone likes beer – or so they claim. Lest these people feel left out of the festivities or continue in their misguided thinking that they hate beer, PBW includes a large number of beer dinners this year. These take place all week and vary greatly, with events such as: “Brew & Chew; Victory vs. Troegs” at Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse Monday, June 6 for $20, where guests will try two beers from each brewery, vote on their favorite and enjoy $3 pints of the winner along with included tapas dishes for the rest of the night, to an upscale evening of a $100 per plate collaboration between Chef Marc Vetri, Carol and Jodi Stoudt of Stoudt’s Brewing Company and Ian Brendle of Green Meadow Farm at Osteria Sunday, June 5.
This year’s Philly Beer Week promises to be bigger than ever, so make sure you get out and try some good beer and great food, and if possible head over to one of the various “Meet the Brewer” events to learn more about the men and women who make this wonderful beverage. More information about tickets and other events are available at www.phillybeerweek.org.