A people's fest shows lofty aspirations

Sly Fox Brewhouse 's Brian O'Reilly (left) and Will Reed of Standard Tap toast their Standard Pils, first place "new" beer in the Brew-vitational.
Sly Fox Brewhouse 's Brian O'Reilly (left) and Will Reed of Standard Tap toast their Standard Pils, first place "new" beer in the Brew-vitational. (SHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 02, 2011

As it ages, Philly Beer Week is getting fancier on us.

This year's 10-day lineup (June 3 to 12) is studded as always with populist events and tastings, such as the opening party at the Independence Visitor Center (June 3), Craft Beer Day on East Passyunk Avenue (June 5), and Night Market Philadelphia in University City (June 9).

But note the upscale options in Year Four:

A pop-up outdoor beer garden at the Four Seasons Hotel, part of a collaboration with the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., will run from June 6 to 10. Each night will feature a different local brewer, music, and a menu with a suggested beer pairing. (Victory Brewing Co. again will brew Summer Love Ale, commissioned by GPTMC's With Love, Philadelphia XOXO campaign.)

"The Chef, the Brewer and the Farmer" dinners with chef Jeff Michaud and Stoudt's Brewing Co. at Osteria in North Philadelphia are ticketed for $100 and $150 a head, and Jose Garces is hosting a $75 dinner with Flying Fish Brewing Co. at JG Domestic in University City. Good Dog Bar in Center City has tucked a $100 eight-course feast with Iron Hill amid its pay-as-you-go events. Sheri Waide and Nick Macri at Southwark in Queen Village have priced their evening with Sly Fox at $65.

"There were only a few of the big-ticket beer dinners last year," says Don Russell, the beer columnist ("Joe Sixpack" in the Philadelphia Daily News) and cofounder of Beer Week. "This shows that beer can be taken seriously."

Not that anyone would think otherwise. More than 50 cities staged "beer weeks" since Philly Beer Week's 2008 launch.

Judging by the number of events - more than 500 at last count, and growing - more restaurants and pubs are signing on for Beer Week. Unlike restaurant weeks - which inspire grumbling among staffs about discount-seeking, low-tipping customers - "my sense is that when people come out [for Beer Week], they're coming out for one or two extra nights [a week] more than they would normally go out, and they go to two or three places," Russell said.

As an alcoholic beverage, beer is social - hence the "collaboration beers" created by barkeeps and brewers for the occasion.

At Beer Camp 46, an outing hosted in California by Sierra Nevada, an ale called Lighter Shade of Pale was brewed by Casey Parker of Jose Pistola's, P.J. McMenamin of McMenamin's, Andy Jarin of B&B Beverage, Sean McGettigan of Station Taproom, Terrance Leach of BAR and Time, and James Fernandez of Grace Tavern. They'll tap the beer at Jose Pistola's on June 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Will Reed of Standard Tap and Brian O'Reilly of Sly Fox are behind Standard Pils, a German keller pils.

Brotherly Suds 2, crafted at Stoudt's Brewing by brewer Brett Kintzer along with Yards' Tom Kehoe, Victory's Bill Covaleski, Tröegs' John Trogner, and Nodding Head's Gordon Grubb, is a sudsy lager fermented with the same strain of yeast originally used by the late Schmidt's brewery of Northern Liberties in its original premium lager of 1860.


Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com.

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