When Pat Burrell came by aboard the Budweiser beer wagon, all of us raised our cups to the champions.
My mission on a bright spring day in May was to find a draft beer to serve at the opening reception for Mrs. Sixpack's new business, a yoga studio in Roxborough. I found a sixtel keg of this hiding in a corner at the Beer Yard distributorship in Wayne.
The brew poured big, malty and aromatic with an exceptionally mouth-filling body. I should've worried that this dark beer would frighten all those delicate creatures who fold themselves into Downward Facing Dog.
1. They ain't so dainty. Pound for pound, yoga students are the strongest people I've ever met.
2. This weizenbock is a brew that anyone will love - beer freaks, wine lovers, even those who profess, "I hate beer." Pound for pound, it was the tastiest beer I enjoyed all year.
PBC Walt Wit
It was a classic hazy, hot and humid July afternoon in Philly when I slogged out of the sun and into the cool dark of the Institute at 12th and Green streets. The joint had opened a couple of weeks earlier, and a row of taps beckoned.
Now, this corner is on no one's map of hip destinations. The neighborhood is known variously as Brandywine or Poplar or just plain North Philly.
But I traveled all the way here on the Rt. 61 bus because I'm fascinated by the owners, Heather and Charlie Collazo.
For them and the locals who occupy the barstools, the Institute is a community center - a place to talk about neighborhood issues and share ideas. They've even sponsored crime-prevention meetings.
The taps beckoned and the Collazos welcomed me with this thirst-quenching witbier from Philadelphia Brewing. The heat disappeared but the warmth remained.
Count me as one of the early skeptics of Triumph's brewpub in Old City. I'd enjoyed some of Triumph's beer at its first two locations in Princeton, N.J., and New Hope but had doubts that it had the mojo to compete in the city.
I was completely wrong, of course. And I remember telling that to Jay Misson, Triumph's head of brewing operations, the night in early June when he invited me down to tap a wooden barrel of the brewpub's hefeweizen.
Triumph's beer - especially its lagers - had blown me away from the day the place opened, I told him. He didn't need me to tell him that; this guy was one of the fathers of craft brewing, going back to the early '80s. But he smiled politely, and we clinked glasses and enjoyed the fun of a packed bar.
Four days later, Jay Misson died suddenly. I'll never think of him again without the taste in my mouth of that wondrous hefeweizen.
The mayor was running late. It was the official keg-tapping for Philly Beer Week, and a crowd of thirsty beer fans was getting impatient.
I grabbed the mike and declared, "This is Philly, we don't have to wait for no stinkin' mayor to drink beer!"
Twenty minutes later, Mayor Nutter arrived and admonished me and the crowd: "It's not official until the mayor shows up. You're going to have start drinking all over again!"
The crowd roared, Nutter grabbed the mallet and with one strong whack drove the tap into a frothing keg of Yards Extra Special Ale. He poured me a glass and we toasted the mob.
It was official: This was Philly Beer Week, an unprecedented celebration of America's Best Beer Drinking City.
I could tell you how it's one of the remarkable new, exotically flavored Scandinavian imports that was heavily influenced by the American imperial India pale ale craze.
Or I could mention that I actually visited the brewery in Drammen, Norway, and marveled how the hard-working brewers could produce such fine ales in a space about half the size of a Wawa.
I could tell you about the aroma of European hops, the balance of malt, the tart flavor and the bitter finish.
Or I could simply confess the truth, that Doppel Dram happens to be the beer I'm sipping as I write this column. And whatever's in my glass is always my favorite.
Here's hoping you find your favorite in the new year. *
"Joe Sixpack" by Don Russell appears weekly in Big Fat Friday. For more on the beer scene in Philly and beyond, visit www.joesixpack.net. Send e-mail to email@example.com.