Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Philly Beer Week: Just a taste

Philly Beer Week ended yesterday. Called the largest beer event in the country, the 10-day festival featured hundreds of individual events at dozens of venues around Philadelphia: tastings of special releases, presentations by brewers, multi-course beer-pairing dinners, and much more. In recent years, I've developed an enthusiastic taste for craft beer, so the event was a great excuse for a weekend trip from NYC to Philly.

Some of the best events took place on weekdays, making me wish I had enough vacation time to spend the entire week in Philadelphia. I did manage to sample quite a bit during the short visit, but I left feeling as if I'd taken just a couple sips of what the entire event had to offer.

Some highlights of the visit:

Victory Beer Brunch: We enjoyed a hearty meal at Marathon Cafe themed around the malty offerings of Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Company. Starting with a "Bloody Victory" (Bloody Mary made with Victory Prima Pils instead of vodka), I then had Golden Waffles (made with Victory Golden Monkey) and Prima Potatoes (fried up with Victory Prima Pils and crusted with gruyere cheese—absolutely amazing!).

Oskar Blues. My current favorite—introduced to me by Cassie—is Dale's Pale Ale, made by Oskar Blues out of Lyons, Colorado. At one of the weekend's events, we not only got to try two different Oskar Blues brews aged in whiskey barrels (Ten Fidy, an imperial stout; and Old Chub, a Scotch ale), we also had the opportunity to hang out and chat with Marty Jones, cofounder of the brewery (to whom I couldn't resist asking "can I steal your life?").

Standard Tap. No special events were going on when we visited Standard Tap, in funky Northern Liberties, but we instantly fell in love when we stopped in for a beer. Situated in a restored historic building, the establishment features several distinct bar areas, each with their own personality, and many cozy alcoves where you can curl up with your favorite ale. It reminded us of a comfy British pub, and made us lament the absence of such a place in our own Brooklyn neighborhood.

I've spent much of this past week sampling more tasty craft beer in the comfort of my own home, trying to recapture that brief flash of beer magic we experienced in Philly. Fortunately, the popularity of craft beer is growing, so it's becoming increasingly easy to find that magic no further than your nearest beer store.



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