Navigate Philly Beer Week like an expert

Posted: June 01, 2012

HOW DOES a beer drinker navigate 10 days of nonstop suds? I asked a few pros for some tips. And by pros, I mean guys (and a gal) who are among the most die-hard beer fans I know.

All agreed a bit of planning is essential.

"I actually sat down and looked through the events at phillybeerweek.org, and also made a list I heard through the hop vine," said Natalie DeChico, of Langhorne, who last year won the annual Philly Beer Geek contest.

Stephen Lyford, of Bellmawr, N.J., who serves as Philly Beer Week’s unofficial photographer, also checks his Facebook invites and Twitter feeds, then creates his own Google calendar.

Retired Philadelphia city worker Bob Benash, of Moorestown, N.J., said he tries to put together a daily list but, ultimately, "I just fly by the seat of my pants."

They also suggest building a schedule around "can’t-miss" beers — usually cult beers or rare pints they’ve always wanted to taste. "Can’t-miss" is subjective, of course:

Benash: Funky Buddha, the new Berliner Weisse from Florida.

Lyford: Alchemist Heady Topper, served fresh from a cask-conditioned firkin.

DeChico: Nebraska Brewing Mélange A Trois, aged in French chardonnay oak barrels.

The biggest pitfall, they agreed, is trying to do it all. "There are too many ‘must-attend’ events," Lyford said. "Sacrifices must be made."

Benash advised a bit of patience. Some bars may advertise 30 or more beers during a single session, he noted, but because of limited handles, it may not be able to tap a specific keg immediately. Hang in there.

More advice?

Take public transportation, a cab or a bike. It’s easier to get around and you don’t need to find a parking spot.

Focus on one neighborhood for the day. Sections like Northern Liberties, Fairmount and South Philly boast many events daily, allowing you to create your own pub crawl.

Visit the With Love Beer Garden at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia any evening from Monday to June 8 for info on events throughout the city.

Download the Philly Beer Week smartphone app. It’s free, completely searchable and, thanks to GPS, automatically tells you the location and time of the next, closest beer event. n

— Joe Sixpack

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