Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Brewer’s Plate

Philadelphia lays claim to one of the country’s longest and proudest histories surrounding beer and the brewing arts. By the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia could boast a tavern, most of which brewed their own ales, for every 25 men in the city. By the mid to late 19th Century, Philly was known as the greatest brewing city in the Western Hemisphere. Native son Benjamin Franklin summed up his city’s preoccupation with his famous words, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Celebration of that spirit is about to hit full swing, as Philly Beer Week begins this Friday, March 7 and continues through March 16. With over 100 events spanning ten days, there should be something of interest for just about any beer aficionado. For a full listing of events, check out the calendar at the official Philly Beer Week website.

The 4th Annual Brewer’s Plate, one of the marquee events of the week, comes to Philadelphia’s Independence Visitor Center this Sunday evening, March 9. The Brewer’s Plate is of keen interest to me as it brings together 21 of the greater Philadelphia area’s craft brewers with 21 local restaurants for a veritable festival of food and beer pairing goodness. It’s a rare opportunity to sample the goods of so many of the region’s most popular purveyors under one roof, from Yard’s, Victory and Weyerbacher, to Ansill, Tinto and Cantina los Caballitos. I tend to shy away from grand tastings but this one sounds like a blast. If you’re up for the VIP ticket option, you’ll be privy, among other extras, to a beer and food-pairing seminar presented by Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver and local sommeliere Marnie Old.

There’s a locavore bent to the event, as all of the participating restaurants and breweries must hail from within 150 miles of the city – not bad from a food miles perspective. Putting the icing on the cake, all proceeds go to benefit Fair Food, a local non-profit organization dedicated to bringing locally produced food into the Philadelphia marketplace.

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