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2011 Philadelphia Craft Beer Festival

Posted in Food and Drinks on March 7th, 2011

I’ve been interested in micro-brews for a few years, and I like trying new ones. I think it started because a restaurant I liked to go to had a really easy guide to the different types of beers and what they tasted like. This made it very easy for me to ask questions and find something that I enjoyed. A basic knowledge of wine eventually followed (this book helped) but at the time I felt intimidated asking a server or bartender about the different varietals of wine.

On Saturday I went with a group of friends to the Philadelphia Craft Beer Festival. I had only been to one before, The New York Brewfest this past summer. I do love New York, but the Philadelphia festival was much more enjoyable. The event was crowded but not oversold. It was indoors, but I felt safe – the New York event was on Governor’s Island there were times between waiting on endless lines that I felt as if I would be trampled – especially waiting to get in or for a ferry to leave.

There were many beers to sample, including some of my favorites like Franziskaner, Ithaca and Blue Point. One of the things I like about these events is that you can discover a beer that you enjoy that’s brewed close to home. It’s a good way to support local businesses and reduce your number of food miles.

I tried a few that I have never had before and these were the ones that stood out:

Innis & Gunn

Innis & Gunn makes beers that are aged in oak barrels that previously contained navy rum. The taste is rich and delicious. It’s not something you would drink at the beach but I am going to be asking my local beer distributor if he has any very soon.

High Point Brewing Company

I’m a fan of wheat beers, no matter their country of origin, and was interested to try the Ramstein Hefeweizen. It was very smooth with the almost hint of butter that a lot of premium wheat beers have a satisfyingly medium bodied finish. It compares favorably with Franziskaner and I like it better than Stella or Blue Moon. Their brewery in New Jersey is open for tours once a month, so I think that might be my next beer related excursion.

Stone Brewing Company

This one was a surprise. I thought I was on line to try the Stone Smoked Porter. But what I got was a pour of the infamous Arrogant Bastard IPA. I don’t really like IPA’s in general but this one was excellent and I am happy that I tried it. I did eventually get to the Smoked Porter which I enjoyed as I expected to.

The one complaint I had about this event was that a map of the tables would have been extremely helpful, but was not given to the attendees. My friends and I were there the entire time and could not find Allagash or Original Sin. Ithaca and Troegs were almost impossible to find. I know that the point of these events isn’t to go and only drink beers you already know that you like, but if you really have a hankering for something that’s difficult to buy when you feel like it, it’s disappointing to know that the beer you want is somewhere very close to you but just out of your grasp.

I would recommend the Philadelphia Craft Beer Festival as a great activity for people who like beer or who are interested in learning more about what kinds they enjoy. Don’t forget your pretzel necklace!

8 Responses to “2011 Philadelphia Craft Beer Festival”

  1. Ceetar Says:

    Yeah, they didn’t have good signage up to denotate things. They just had tables and left it up to the brewery, at least in NY they had a standard booth format so we could find what we needed to. (Also, a map).

    I felt NY was less organized in entering/exiting, but it was generally less crowded because it was outside. Philly definitely had us shoved up against people pretty much constantly.

    NY had better beer too, at least in my opinion. (and I think there were more, but i could be wrong there as well)

    you really shouldn’t have any butter taste in most beers. diacetyl (what leads to the butter flavor, same thing used in movie theater popcorn) should not be present. As according to http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style06.php#1d the Beer Judge Certification Program style guide. It’s usually caused by the yeast not fully finishing fermentation before being removed from the beer, among other reasons, but it’s generally viewed as a flaw and such a beer would take a hit in a review.

    Of course, brewers can do whatever they want, there is no laws about how a particular beer has to be. Some may prefer a little diacetyl, figuring it gives it’s beer a nice taste. This isn’t generally true of wheat beers though.

  2. MissCherryPi Says:

    This is my first attempt at writing about beer, and my vocabulary isn’t yet perfected. Maybe butter was the wrong word. The Ramstein didn’t taste like movie theater popcorn.

  3. mike Says:

    The taste of butter is diacetyl, a brewing flaw that is caused by fermentation that is too rapid where the yeast do not completely metabolize sugars into CO2 and ethanol. Good hefe’s should have a good clean barley and wheat base with notes of tangy citrus, little bit of clove, ripe banana, possibly a touch of bubblegum, but butter or butterscotch flavor is generally seen as a mistake in brewing where the brewers didn’t raise the temperature of the fermentation enough to let the yeast finish cleaning up the byproducts of fermentation.

  4. MissCherryPi Says:

    Ok, point taken. I made an edit to the text – I didn’t mean to say it didn’t taste right. What I meant to say is that the finish was slightly fuller bodied than the initial mouth-feel.

  5. Ebonmuse Says:

    Although I’ve heard good things about Stone, I’ve never been able to get into IPAs. I did like the Innis & Gunn a lot, though. Besides that, my favorites were the Bruery Black Orchard – a black wheat beer, what a great concept! – and the Weyerbacher Merry Monks, which reminded me of Chimay, another of my favorites. The River Horse Tripel Horse would probably be my honorable mention; I’ve never met a Belgian-style beer I didn’t like. 🙂

  6. Jackie Says:

    We’re huge fans of Stone and tried a lot of their beers while we lived in Illinois and Indiana – states where beer is sold at the liquor store and as a result have much better beer selections than NY. A close neighbor of Stone (I think they’re in the same town, only a few miles apart) is Lost Abbey, which also produces a slightly cheaper (though equally awesome in quality) line of big bottles under Port Brewing Co. I haven’t seen either of these in NY yet.

    Also, as long time fans of quiet weekends spent in Lamberville, NJ – we were really disappointed to find that River Horse has no brewery tours or store front to get some on tap from the source!

  7. JW Says:

    Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale is actually an American Strong Ale. There are a few other ones, but it is a pretty new/rare brew style.

    Whereas IPAs have piney, green flavors, ASAs are going to have a browner, less “fresh” bitterness along with a little higher alcohol presence on the palate.

    Anyway, I’m happy to see you getting into craft beer. Since you’re new to belgians, have you tried anything from Unibroue? La Fin Du Monde is one of the best beers on the PLANET.

  8. MissCherryPi Says:

    That’s interesting. I’ve seen Arrogant Bastard marketed as an IPA at bars (written on a blackboard or beer list for example) so that’s why I thought it was one!

    I will keep an eye out for Unibroue.

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