Joe Sixpack on books, brews and other summer beer events

Grey Lodge owner Mike Scotese taps a keg at a past Firkinteenth.
Grey Lodge owner Mike Scotese taps a keg at a past Firkinteenth.
Posted: July 13, 2012

BOOK NERDS know that if you're looking for beer at the library, you head for Section 663 in the Dewey Decimal System. You'll find it filed under Useful Arts, a designation that I don't think anyone could argue with.

Or, for a taste of the real stuff, head out back at the Indian Valley Public Library in Telford at 6:30 p.m. on July 28for the library's annual Brews for Books fund-raiser. This year's theme is West Meets Local, with a selection of beers from both coasts.

I'll be leading a breakout session focusing on my favorites. How does California's Lagunitas compare with Ambler's Forest & Main? Will San Diego's Ballast Point sink in Maryland's Heavy Seas?

The fest also features plenty of food, live music and a brewing demonstration by Keystone Home Brew Supply. Tickets are $35 online at brewsforbooks.org, or $40 at the door.

And, because you know you always wanted to crack open a cold one at the library, I have a pair of freebies for one lucky reader. Drop me an email with "Brews for Books" in the subject line to the address at the bottom of this column.

Speaking of California breweries, they're still winning most of the praise from U.S. beer drinkers.

Zymurgy, the favorite magazine of homebrewers and, I'm guessing, Scrabble fans, annually compiles a list of the best beers in America. This year more than 16,000 beer freaks voted. Here's the top 10:

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder

2. Bell's Two Hearted Ale

3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

4. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

5. Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale

6. Bell's Hopslam

7. Sierra Nevada Celebration

8. Stone Ruination IPA

9. Sierra Nevada Torpedo

10. North Coast Old Rasputin

All but three of the top-10 brands (from Dogfish Head and the pair from Bell's) are brewed in California.

Not surprisingly, all but Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are hop bombs (and, yes, that includes dark and delicious Old Rasputin Russian imperial stout, which tamps down its bitterness with loads of roasted malt).

Outside of Dogfish Head, the only local breweries that make the top 50 are Troegs (No. 34 for its N ugget Nectar) and Victory (No. 42, for its Prima Pils, one of only three lagers on the list).

Check the whole list out at joesixpack.net

 

Friday is the 13th, otherwise known to beer drinkers at Friday the Firkinteenth, the day the Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair lines its bar with firkins (small barrels) of cask-conditioned ale. This year's lineup of 21 casks includes Manayunk Philadelphia Porter spiked with coffee beans, Victory Ranch Double IPA,Troegs Perpetual IPA and one of my favorites, Fuller's London Porter. Kegs tap at noon and will flow all day, but be warned: There's usually a line at the door by 10 a.m.

The Porch, a public redevelopment effort to transform that big swath of concrete and asphalt on the south side of 30th Street Station into something other than a taxicab hit-and-run zone, will host a beer garden today through Saturday. It looks to be a fine spot to catch a bratwurst and a cold one on the way home from work …

Meanwhile, I'll be pouring free samples of Founders beers tomorrow from 4-6 p.m. at Bell Beverage (2809 S. Front St., South Philly) …

In the bar business, Christmas comes every July, thanks to the increasingly common practice of saving a few kegs of last holiday's ales. Look for Troegs Mad Elf and other favorites at area bars throughout the month. At the Iron Abbey in Horsham, they'll be tapping kegs of Belgium's Delirium Noel and Noel Des Geants on Friday.

The Philadelphia Zoo's Summer Ale Festival is July 21, with beer from more than 20 breweries and food from two dozen area restaurants. Tickets are $65 and available online at philadelphiazoo.org.

With all of the big, palate-challenging flavors of craft beer these days, sometimes it's easy to forget the No. 1 task of our favorite beverage: refreshment! I'll be exploring the sweat-reduction properties of several beer styles at a summertime session of Happy Hour Yoga on July 27. It's a one-hour yoga session led by Mrs. Sixpack (ex-Daily News staffer Theresa Conroy) followed by a one-hour tutored beer-tasting with snacks at the new home of Yoga on the Ridge (493 Domino Lane, Roxborough). Tickets are $25, available at yogaontheridge.com. Southern Tier of New York is packaging a new Super Pack variety case with a selection of its strong beers, including Unearthly imperial IPA, Iniquity imperial black ale and 2 XIPA. Also new on local shelves: O'Dempsey's Big Red Ale, Inukshuk IPA and Your Black Heart Russian imperial Stout from Georgia; Timmermans Oude Gueuze and Bockor Framboise Max from Belgium; and Idaho's Laughing Dog CSB, which stands for Crotch Sniffing Bastard.

Sign of the apocalypse: Corona is now the No. 1 import beer in 38 countries around the world.

"Joe Sixpack" is by Don Russell, director of Philly Beer Week. For more on the beer scene, sign up for his weekly email update at joesixpack.net. Email: joesixpack@phillynews.com.

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