Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Philly Beer Week: Round One

The second annual Philly Beer Week is in full swing right now. And in typically gluttonous Philly fashion, that “week” lasts ten days. I missed all of the inaugural festivities on Friday and Saturday. Hell, I’ve barely even found the time yet to wade through the hundreds of events on offer. After a quick flurry of advance planning on Sunday afternoon, commencing somewhere around the time I recovered from the fact that it was 1PM and I felt like I’d just had breakfast and ending when I jumped into the shower ten minutes later, I decided to head into town for a little PBW action.

My first stop wasn’t on the official event calendar. I was just walking across town, got a little thirsty and figured since it was Philly Beer Week it would only be just to hit a Philly brewery. So Nodding Head it was, for a mightily refreshing pint of their BPA (Bill Payer Ale). A little too strong to qualify technically as a session beer, it would still work that way for many, bitter enough for the hopheads out there and mild enough for lager and English ale aficionados. Catching the last few tunes from the jazz piano/sax duo playing the Sunday brunch was an added bonus.

Next up was a stop at Tria, where the day’s Sunday School session was built around the work of Boulder, Coloraro’s Avery Brewing Company. With four completely different Avery brews on tap at each of Tria’s two cafés, it was tough picking just one location. As much as I wanted to try the Brabant Barrel-Aged Wild Ale (intentionally Brett-infected and aged for eight months in old Zinfandel barrels), there was nary a spot to squeeze into at Tria Rittenhouse. So on to Tria East (or Washington Square West, as they like to call it) I went. It was actually the logical choice, as brewer Adam Avery was scheduled for an appearance there from 5:00 to 7:00. Why not take the chance to meet the guy whose beers you’re drinking?

The crowd at Tria (12th and Spruce) was a relaxed mix of neighborhood regulars, stragglers from the Philadelphia Flower Show and, of course, beer geeks waiting for the taste-and-grip-and-grin session with Adam Avery.

I settled in with a tasting pour of Avery’s India Pale Ale, judiciously hopped and low-medium alcohol (6.3%) by today’s IPA standards. As it turned out, this may just have been my beer of the day – very aromatic, with a floral, wine-y nose and typical citrus overtones, finished off with just a hint of sour tang (was that a touch of wild yeast influence I detected?). I’ll be looking into a case of that one next time I hit The Beeryard.

To accompany an order of the day’s cheese selection, “Cowtipper” from Calkins Creamery in Honesdale, PA, bartendress Kim recommended Avery’s Salvation Belgian Golden Ale. Good stuff… rich, creamy and well-balanced (the cheese was tasty too). Its refreshing feel and warmly spiced flavor profile belied the 9% wallop lurking beneath.

The main stop on my Sunday tour, and the main reason I had to get out of Tria before Adam Avery made his appearance, was the Bell’s Brewing dinner at Jose Pistolas. But, just as Adam was running late on Sunday, I’m running late now, so details on Bell’s will have to wait until later.


The Wine Whore said...

Don't forget to visit Pat's or Geno's after tasting all of that delicious beer!

Joe Manekin said...

I also really liked the Avery Golden Ale. Looking forward to trying more of their beers. Have you heard about 'Collaboration, not litigation?'

Femme Fermental said...

Glad you enjoyed Tria! Figures, I work every Sunday at Washington Square, except this past Sunday because of Brewer's Plate. Enjoy the rest of Beer Week!

David McDuff said...

Would you believe I've lived in Philly for 15 years without ever stepping up to the counter at Pat's or Geno's?

Not until now. Nice to see two top brewers (Avery and Russian River) work together like that. Have you tried it?

Our paths will cross one of these days. With a big wine event smack in the middle of beer week, I didn't make it to as many sessions as I'd originally hoped. There's still at least one more write-up to come, though.

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