Philly Beer Week 2009
On Friday, the fine folks at South Philly Tap Room invited us to throw down at their Founders Beer Dinner, and we're so very thankful they did. Chef Scott Schroeder designed a whopping nine courses around the Grand Rapids-based brewery's lineup, which included rare or out-of-production beers.
Anyone who's gotten their ass kicked by a Breakfast Stout knows that the Founders beers are typically huge in both flavor and ABV, so Schroeder's approach to the eats was equally keyed up. SPTR is perhaps the premier Philly bar when it comes to Founders beers on tap, so the chef did not take the task lightly, starting on his duck prosciutto, for example, a full three weeks leading up to the dinner. He managed to work the booze into a few courses, too ï¿½ a salsa borracho for an angus beef "ceviche" was flavored with the Black IPA, which had never appeared outside the Founders brewpub before this evening; the mustard on the simple, delicious ham and cheese sandwich was produced using their complex, amarillo-hopped Red's Rye; the pool of jus accompanying the NY strip course was made with Founders Porter.
Favorite course of the evening ï¿½ the ceviche plate was absolutely killer (Schroeder used to work at Pasion), but I gotta hand it to that ham and cheese on rye. It was the perfect, handheld appetite stimulant, and the decision to pair it with a rye beer was a clever one.
Favorite beer? I'm calling a tie between the Dirty Bastard, a tremendously malty, trickily smooth 8.5 percent ABV dark ale ("Let's make something not for the masses," Founders' Dave Engbers said of the thought process behind the beer), and the Curmudgeon, a similarly powerful quaff that conjured thoughts of a barleywine. (I left my credit card behind the bar after the dinner, so I returned on Saturday afternoon to fetch it and ended up catching another pint of this stuff at the bar.)
Other beer geek notes ï¿½ we were treated to the Rubaeus, made with fresh raspberry purï¿½e, for the oyster first course, even though Founders has ceased production on it in favor of the Cerise, made using cherries sourced from Michigan farmers (it'll be released in April) ... Kentucky Breakfast Stout, aged in oak bourbon barrels, was a kick-ass dessert beer ... you better get to SPTR soon to take advantage of the 14 or so Founders beers they have on tap.
Full rundown of courses and beer pairings after the jump.
Indian Island oyster, roasted beets, black pepper
Paired with: Rubaeus
House-made duck prosciutto, cucumber, mint, chili oil (started it 3 weeks ago)
Paired with: Cerise
Ceviche tasting: Mexican bay scallop, truffled guacamole; smoked angus beef, salsa borracho, radish salad, cotija; tuna, cherry tomatoes, serrano ch iles, red onion, lime
Paired with: Black IPA
Doubled smoked country ham and cheese on rye, beer mustard, dill pickles
Paired with: Red's Rye
Goat empanadas, baby spinach, goat cheese ranch
Paired with: Dirty Bastard
Dry-aged NY strip, potato gratin, mushroom porter jus
Paired with: Porter
Cured foie gras, roasted scallions
Paired with: Curmudgeon
Roth Kase private reserve, apples, honey
Paired with: Hand of Doom
Meredith's pecan pie
Paired with: Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Meal Ticket photo contributor Mike Persico made a wicked slideshow of Philly Beer Week for Keystone Edge, an online publication devoted to entrepreneurship and innovation happening across the commonwealth.
Eyeball up Standard Tap owner William Reed hefting The Keg Hammer of Glory, Hitachino Nest brewer Toshiyuki Kiuchi meeting the minds behind Beer Week and a few rare drafts that are now nothing but a glimmering memory.
Meal Ticket readers,ï¿½ share your sweet Beer Week snaps! The best will be published here. Send jpegs along to felicia[dot]dambrosio[at]citypaper[dot]net.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's a little sad that Philly Beer Week is almost over. But let's not dwell on the inevitable ï¿½ there are still many, many kegs that need to be kicked this weekend.
So I want to know ï¿½ what are your plans for the last three nights of PBW09? Me? I'm getting ready to head over to South Philly Taproom for a Founder's beer dinner. Saturday I'm gonna take it easy. Then on Sunday ï¿½ the Zythos Belgian Beer Festival at Penn Museum, the same venue that hosted last week's Brewer's Plate.
Hit us with your itinerary in the comments. And be sure to check out all the Philly Beer Week coverage on Meal Ticket up to this point.
Received an e-mail earlier this week signed "The Patron's of Bridgid's" with the heading "Beer Mugs ï¿½ Glass or Pewter?"
Bridgid's is the Fairmount tappy that is, for my money, the best neighborhood bar in the city, what with its combination of excellent handles and discerning customer base [full disclosure: it is not my neighborhood bar, alas].
The collected drinkerdom there put their heads together to settle a couple of things: Are pewter mugs better than glass mugs? Does beer in a pewter mug taste better the longer the vessel is held in one's hand? Does sex influence this? I'll let them take over now:
The patronï¿½s of Bridgidï¿½s restaurant in Philadelphia, PA are composed of people with sophisticated palates and an understanding of finer beers. Discussing the finer points of hops, barley and ingredients that makeup more flavored beers, the patrons wondered if the temperature of the beer influenced the taste. To further the question, they asked if the taste of the beer changed over time due to the handling of the beer as the warmth of the beer drinkerï¿½s hand warms the beer thereby altering the taste.
Based on these questions, the patrons started an informal clinical trial comparing glass beer mugs to pewter beer mugs. The purpose of the clinical trial was to determine if a pewter mug, which maintains temperature and insulates the beer from the warmth transferred by the drinkerï¿½s hand, provides a better drinking experience than traditional glass beer mugs. Specifically, Bridgidï¿½s compared the taste in a chilled glass mug and a chilled pewter mug at 1, 3, 10, 15 and 20 minutes. The results are as follows:
Total Group - Results
1 min ï¿½ 50% glass, 50% pewter
3 min ï¿½ 40% glass, 60% pewter
10 min ï¿½ 20% glass, 80% pewter
15 min ï¿½ 67% glass, 33% pewter
20 min ï¿½ 33% glass, 67% pewter
Men - Results
1 min ï¿½ 29% glass, 71% pewter
3 min ï¿½ 29% glass, 71% pewter
10 min ï¿½ 14% glass, 86% pewter
15 min ï¿½ 67% glass, 33% pewter
20 min ï¿½ 17% glass, 83% pewter
Women - Results
1 min ï¿½ 100% glass, 0% pewter
3 min ï¿½ 67% glass, 33% pewter
10 min ï¿½ 33% glass, 67% pewter
15 min ï¿½ 67% glass, 33% pewter
20 min ï¿½ 67% glass, 33% pewter
As indicated by the results, pewter was the favored mug among the total population. The results changed however based on gender. Men, almost consistently preferred the pewter mug and women preferred glass mugs. While no clear determination as to why women preferred glass, it is hypothesized that presentation was a factor. This hypothesis is based on comments made by the women during the trial and further supported by Tom Kehoe, founder and brewmaster of Yards Brewery in Philadelphia, PA.
Noted during the trial was that women commented on the aesthetically pleasing appearance of the amber beer served in a clear glass mug. This assertion was supported by brewmaster Tomï¿½s experience which, as stated, ï¿½the presentation often influences the drinkerï¿½s perception.ï¿½
The result leads us to a single question, can you separate taste from presentation?
- The Patrons of Bridgidï¿½s
Last night, Felicia D. told you all about today's Friday the Firkenteenth event at The Grey Lodge. Here's an update on how the 30-cask adventure is progressing so far, thanks the Northeast Philly bar's Twitter account:
Get up there.
An irrational and consuming fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia. The tongue-twister has small chance of being spoken correctly on your soberest day, and after the frenzied consumption of Friday the Firkinteenth, odds dwindle significantly.
Mike "Scoats" Scotese, cellarmaster and evil genius behind the brilliant beer list at The Grey Lodge, dreamed up a way to change the hard-luck reputation of every paraskavedekatriaphobic's worst nightmare. On every Friday the 13th (four this year!), he dishes out at least 13ï¿½ firkins filled with ales both monster and mild. The Beer Week edition of the Firkinteenth will feature 30 casks, tapped seven at a time, starting at 9 a.m. When one kicks, it's on to the next, in whatever order they emerge from the walk-in.
Of the 30 casks, a few are making their Philadelphia-area firkin debut at the Firkinteenth, including Victory Brewing's Yakima Twilight, Florida's St. Somewhere oak-barrel-aged, dry-hopped Saison Athenee, and Ballast Point Big Eye IPA. See the full list of firkins on The Grey Lodge Web site here.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the boys of Yards Brewing are hosting Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em, a festival of smoked beers and barbecued meats. The classic German rauchbier (smoke beer) was made famous by the city of Bamberg, where green malts dried over open fires translated into beers with intense smokiness. These bacon-y brews were meant to be consumed alongside the equally smoked Bamberg sausages, but attendees at the Yards event will have a bevy of firey choices at their disposal.
Local barbecue beacons Sweet Lucy's, El Camino Real and Tommy Gunn's will be bringing on the meat; Christopher Curtin of ï¿½clat Chocolate will be plying the girls with chocolates dressed demurely in smoked sea salt. Live music and an amateur barbecue contest round out the offerings. $15 gets you into the fest, food, your first beer (more than 30 will be available) and a commemorative glass.
Acutely aware of the agonizing decision situation they put their fellow beer drinkers in, The Grey Lodge and Yards teamed up to provide a free bus shuttle between the events ï¿½ so leave the car at home and smoke 'em if you got 'em, it's Friday the Firkinteenth!
The Grey Lodge, 6235 Frankford Ave., 215-825-5357, greylodge.com; event kicks off at 9 a.m. and runs 'til the last drops are drunk, pay as you go.
Yards Brewing, 901 N. Delaware Ave., 215-634-2600, yardsbrewing.com;ï¿½ event runs 11 a.m.-6 p.m., $15
Your friendly neighborhood Meal Ticket editor was in the house for the Fifth Annual Brewer's Plate this past Sunday. One of the cornerstone events of Philly Beer Week 2009, the evening teamed local restaurants with local breweries to create sweet food pairings.
The restaurants and breweries we chat with in the video represent a small portion of the evening's participants. Check out a full list of participants after the jump.
Shot and edited by Neal Santos. And huge shoutout/thanks to Jarl Midelfort for creating our amazing new Meal Ticket video intro!
|Click to enlarge|
|Tomme Arthur with a (nearly) life-size
cutout of Vinnie Cilurzo.
|All Photos l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Last night, four rockstars of the brewing world ï¿½ dubbed "The Brett Pack" by the beer press ï¿½ converged on Monk's Cafï¿½ for a dinner celebrating their success, individually and in collaboration, brewing with the wild yeast Brettanomyces.
Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head (DE), Rob Tod of Allagash (ME), Tomme Arthur of The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing (CA) and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing (CO) held forth at the sold-out event; the fifth member of The Brett Pack, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing (CA), was not able to attend due to continuing work on his new production brewery. Sam Calagione:ï¿½ "He was dumb enough to buy some used 50-barrel brewhouse!" Shouted from the crowd: "Yeah, from some schmuck in Delaware!"
This sort of mocking, brotherly banter characterizes the five brewers' relationships ï¿½ they have shared fleabag hotel rooms in Belgium, invited strippers to their fellows' breakfast beer events and contributed to each others' successes in many ways.ï¿½ One of the featured beers of the evening was their collaborative sour beer, Isabelle Proximus, conceived when they discovered the complex, sour lambics of the Senne Valley on a trip to Belgium three years ago. Each brewer contributed his house yeast and a favorite barrel, and Arthur was named cellarmaster and blender, to watch over the beer's progression as it aged and mix the five distinct barrels into one harmonious brew.
The pale gold, sparkling result became one of the most-sought beers of 2008. A limited number of cases of 750 ml., champagne-corked bottles were produced, selling briskly in select beer bars at $35 a bottle. Though much hoppier than traditional lambic examples, "Isabelle Proximus is a beer I'm very proud of," said Arthur. "This beer can sit on the table with the best of the Belgian lambics."
Arthur also thrilled the crowd of beer geeks with a big reveal: His two brewing ventures, The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing, are in the process of inking a deal with MicroStar to keg his beers for the first time. They should be on draft in California, Philadelphia, Boston and New York soon.
Check out photographic evidence of brewers behaving badly after the jump.
UPDATE [13mar09]: The full menu and beer list after the jump. (Woulda been a nice .pdf of the menu, but Rob Tod knocked a beer over with his cast-ed left arm and wrecked mine!)
This menu was conceived by Chef Brian Morin, of Toronto's BeerBistro, and cooked and executed by Chef Morin, Monk's Cafï¿½ Chef Adam Glickman, BeerBistro Sous Chef Jeff Bokelmann, and the wonderful, tireless Monk's cooks.
Brett Pack Dinner at Monk's Cafï¿½, March 11, 2009
Cantillon Monk's Cafï¿½ Gueuze (Brussels) DRAFT DEBUT; a special blend of aged lambic, including a very hoppy batch of lambic brewed by Tom Peter and The Brett Pack when they visited Cantillon 3 years ago.ï¿½ Served with a raw oyster, salmon tartare, cilantro and avocado over a cauliflower Cantillon brulee custard.
Allagash Interlude (Maine); a barrel-aged saison with brettanomyces. Served wtih a warm mousseline of foie gras with crouton and an Interlude sauteed pear.
Lost Abbey Red Poppy (California); a Flemish-style sour ale with sour cherries, aged one year in oak.ï¿½ Served with a rabbit terrine with cherry sauce.
Isabelle Proximus (Cali/Colorado/Delaware/Maine); a collaboration by The Brett Pack in the style of a classic gueuze. Served wtih lobster macaroni with morels and asparagus.
Avery Brabant (Colorado); a dark ale aged in a Zinfandel cask for 8 months. Served with a roasted partridge stuffed with mushroom duxelle, roasted root vegetables and fondant potatoes.
Russian River Consecration (California); aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for 6 months with thirty pound of currants added to each barrel, 10 percent ABV.ï¿½ Served with trï¿½s stinky Epoisses cheese, Consecration bread and peaches.
Dogfish Head Festina Lente (Delaware); a lambic-influenced ale made with fresh peaches and aged in oak.ï¿½ Served with flourless chocolate cake, Festina Lente sour cream ice cream and macadamia brttle.
|Sam Calagione, ruining Tomme Arthur's rabbit terrine, baby-bird style|
Adam Avery, Dana of Toronto's BeerBistro, and Tomme Arthur making
Sam Calagione and Rob Tod swap insults.
|Josh Schaffner hams it up for The New York Post|
|Christian JohnsTon for The New York Post|
By 6 p.m. on Friday night, Josh Schaffner and his Manhattan cohorts had hit three Philly beer bars, with four to go. "We started out a Monk's, then went to Jose Pistola's, and now we're here at the Sidecar," he said, clutching a pint of Arcadia Mad Hatter IPA. When I asked him how he was enjoying his visit so far, he grinned widely.
Schaffner is the director of New York Craft Beer Week, which debuted in September with a 10-day festival modeled on Philadelphia's massively successful inaugural Beer Week last March. Unlike Philadelphia, said Schaffner, where our events are focused on breweries and brewers, NYC's events are more venue-driven.
"New York has hundreds of bars that are neighborhood institutions," he explained. "Unlike Philly, where your bars are pigeonholed by serving craft beer, we have bars with craft beer that are also great bowling alleys, for example."
Whoa, back up, buddy. I reminded Schaffner that our bars are hardly pigeonholed by craft beer; it's just the opposite ï¿½ drinkers in Philly are so willing to pay for craft, that it benefits every bar owner, from fine restaurants to corner dives, to serve it. Besides, even Manhattan beer bars don't have access to the premier Belgian and worldwide brews that have turned local aficionados into the best-educated drinkers in the country.
Manhattan and Brooklyn have a bare minimum of pubs that stock expansive inventories of craft beer from around the world. Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg, D.B.A.'s Manhattan original and new Brooklyn location, Blind Tiger and The Ginger Man all pour unusual Belgian beer in addition to craft beer from the Northeast, but they are the crowded exception, not the rule.
Schaffner quickly re-emphasized what he liked about Philly beer bars. "You do have great relationships with brewers," he noted, looking over at Tim Suprise, owner of Arcadia Brewing, and Fred Bueltmann of New Holland. "We don't have those kinds of relationships ï¿½ our Beer Week is more about pub crawls, helping people discover new places that serve great beer."
Crawl away, New Yorkers. Philly Beer Week is straight up.
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