May 29, 2015 |
Opening Tap. Varga Bar's Pints & Pinups Block Party. Fishtown FestivAle. The Great Beer Expo. These are the anchors of Philly Beer Week that deserve all the attention they get. But each edition of the vaunted citywide celebration gives beer lovers a chance to dig deeper into the local scene - a new bar, a new beer. You'll find plenty of gems if you comb through the hundreds of events at PhillyBeerWeek.org and its free smartphone app. Here are a few I've found. Events are pay as you go, unless ticket prices are listed.
May 15, 2015
In the last two years, the number of breweries in New Jersey has more than tripled. Good luck finding their beer down the Shore. That's because quantity, not quality, is still the key to beach-town beer consumption. The raucous, rocking bars of Wildwood, Sea Isle City, and elsewhere along Ocean Drive are all about Stoli Razberi drinks and buckets of fizzy yellow liquid. Yes, you'll spot an occasional local beer mixed in among the taps. But a true craft-beer bar down the Shore is as rare as a seagull without an attitude.
May 8, 2015
YOU AND I walk through the woods and we see trees and bushes and thorny things. Tess Hooper, a young environmental educator at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, in Upper Roxborough, sees the makings of a fine beer. "This is a staghorn sumac," she said, nodding toward the kind of tree I've seen sprout dozens of times on vacant lots. "It bears these red cones that are like fruit. You could make beer with them. " Hmm . . . I must've missed that merit badge in Boy Scouts.
April 24, 2015 |
The Franzone family of Bridgeport and Conshohocken has made it to the third generation in the pizza business, as Charles Franzone III opened a branch of Franzone's Pizzeria at 114 Levering St. in Manayunk (215-508-1050). It's the same deal - thin-crust pies, sweet sauce applied in a spiral - as the original founded by his grandfather in 1955. Unlike most other quickie spots in Manayunk, Franzone's closes at midnight - the building's historical certification does not allow later hours.
April 24, 2015
LAST WEEK'S column focused on beer travel overseas. Of course, you don't have to go that far this summer. Right here in the good ol' U S of A, there are plenty of beer-centric travel destinations. Indeed, regional tourism agencies have set up easy-to-follow travel guides from New England to Southern California. These ale trails are more than just your usual beer-soaked pub crawl. They're an opportunity to see America and meet the people behind the nation's still growing small brewery scene.
April 17, 2015
THIS IS my year for beer travel, with group tours planned to Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria, as well as several Eastern U.S. destinations. I got things started earlier this month by leading about 150 beer lovers on a very cool river cruise to the Netherlands and Belgium. Eight breweries, two lectures, a beer dinner and many onboard bottle-shares later, and I'm left with exactly what I look for in travel: a sense of surprise. Here are a few discoveries that caught me off guard.
April 15, 2015 |
DUMB AND DUMBER were at the Mets' home opener against the Phillies yesterday. Bottom of the fourth. One out. Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy hits a double deep to rightfield. The Phillies' Grady Sizemore chases it down when two idiots, sitting field level in the first row behind a chain-link fence, try to douse the outfielder with beer. Idiot No. 1 was clearly visible on the television feed. Wearing a Mets jersey, he propelled the liquid from his cup with a feeble underhanded motion.
April 10, 2015
WOULD YOU enjoy drinking beer as much if it didn't give you a buzz? Those bitter hops, that toasty malt - do we really need the alcohol to enjoy the flavor of a glass of ale? It turns out, yes, we do. In his new, utterly fascinating book, Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat (Scribner), Pulitzer Prize-winning author John McQuaid writes that ethanol - itself essentially flavorless - changes and improves the very chemistry of flavor. First, the process of fermentation produces a host of byproducts that, although not themselves alcoholic, have flavors that are both "complex and provocative.
March 27, 2015
UNDER a leaky roof in a tired corner of Camden, there's a single barrel of whiskey quietly aging and mellowing toward what might be the next frontier for American craft beer. It's marked "IPA-skey. " James Yoakum, the owner at Cooper River Distilling, pulled a sample for me the other day and handed it over. It was smooth and a bit smoky, with the delicate yet unmistakable bitterness of hops. The spirits began life as a batch of India pale ale from North Philly's Saint Benjamin Brewing.
March 20, 2015 |
Editor's note: Beer or wine? We posed that question to Don Russell, whose "Joe Sixpack" beer column appears weekly here, and Marnie Old, a local sommelier and wine author who writes the "Cheap Buzz" column in the Daily News with Assistant Managing Editor Gar "Buzz" Joseph. With Buzz as referee, let the games begin. B UZZ: Hey, Marnie, I read that you're going to debate Pennsylvania beer vs. Pennsylvania wine on Tuesday at World Cafe Live. Marnie: Yes, it's a "people's choice" dinner during Philly Wine Week to determine which drink is the best food partner, loosely based on my first book, He Said Beer, She Said Wine . Buzz: How's it work?