Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Philly Beer Week: Just a taste

Philly Beer Week ended yesterday. Called the largest beer event in the country, the 10-day festival featured hundreds of individual events at dozens of venues around Philadelphia: tastings of hard-to-find or special brews, presentations by brewers, multi-course dinners with beer pairings, and much more. In recent years, I've developed a connoisseur-like taste for fine craft beers and ales, so I used the event as an excuse to take a weekend trip from NYC to Philly.

Had I the extra vacation time, I would have enjoyed spending the whole week in Philadelphia, as some of the best events took place on weekdays. I managed to sample quite a bit during the short visit, but I left feeling as if I'd taken but a couple of sips of what the entire event had to offer.

Some highlights of the visit:

Victory Beer Brunch:We enjoyed a hearty meal at Marathon Cafe themed around the malty offerings of Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Company. Starting with a "Bloody Victory" (a Bloody Mary made with Victory Prima Pils instead of vodka), I then had Golden Waffles (made with Victory Golden Monkey) and Prima Potatoes (fried up with Victory Prima Pils and crusted with gruyere cheese—absolutely delicious!).

Oskar Blues. My current favorite beer—introduced to me by Cassie—is Dale's Pale Ale, made by Oskar Blues out of Lyons, Colorado. At one of the weekend's events, we not only got to try two different Oskar Blues brews aged in whiskey barrels (Ten Fidy, an Imperial Stout, and Old Chub, a Scottish strong ale), we also had the opportunity to hang out and chat with Marty Jones, cofounder of the brewery.

Standard Tap. Though there wasn't an event happening when we visited Standard Tap, a bar in the funky Northern Liberties neighborhood, we stopped in for a beer—and instantly fell in love with the place. Situated in a restored historic building, the watering hole features several distinct bar areas and many cozy alcoves. It was reminiscent of a comfy British pub, and made us lament the absence of such a place in our own neighborhood.

I've spent much of this past week sampling more tasty craft beers in the comfort of my own home, trying to recapture that brief flash of beer magic we experienced in Philly. Fortunately, the popularity of craft beers is growing, so it's becoming more and more easy to find that magic no further than your nearest beer store.



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