When ‘Double Dare’ meets Philly Beer Week

Brian Kelly paints a giant foam pancake that will be used in the Dunkel Dare event at Frankford Hall. (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com)

Philly Beer Week focuses on one thing: beer.

Established in 2008, Philly Beer Week is the largest beer-themed celebration in the United States. It attracts beer fanatics from all over and has sparked other cities to start their very own. But at the end of the day, no one does it quite like we do.

With hundreds of events happening regionally—and the celebration growing each and every year—at a certain point everything starts to mash together as just one big drinking fest. It's rare that one of these events includes anything more then drinking; except for one amazing occurrence that’s become an annual tradition for Stephan Starr’s Frankford Hall beer garden: Dunkel Dare.

You may be asking yourself, what the heck is Dunkel Dare? Let me take you back to a simpler time. Back to the early 90s when Nickelodeon TV shows reigned supreme. The thought of rushing home from school to flick on the tube to indulge in such brilliant shows as Rocko’s Modern Life, The Adventures of Pete & Pete and Clarissa Explains It All fed a generation’s unwavering TV addiction. One show that stood the test of time, well into the new millennium, was Double Dare.

Double Dare was a kid’s trivia game show, hosted by Marc Summers, which aired on Nickelodeon from 1987 until 1992. The program had its original production roots right here in Philadelphia. The first batch of episodes were recorded at the studios of PBS’s WHYY-TV. In April of 1989, the show’s popularity forced it to move down to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

DD took place on a vibrant studio stage with two teams competing for a slew of amazing prizes. Contestants had to correctly answer questions or they were forced to take on a “physical challenge.” The challenges mostly involved really goofy obstacles courses that featured messy, extra large, cartoonish versions of every day items like noses, hamster wheels, and water slides. It was pure, unadulterated ridiculousness.

In 2000, the show resurfaced due to popular demand as Double Dare 2000 with a new host, Jason Harris. The show’s comeback was short-lived. It was the nostalgic memories of its stint in the 90s that made it such a classic for millennials.

Today, most of the show’s dedicated viewers are well into their twenties and thirties and their interests have shifted to more adult activities. But the childhood memories remain; which is why the creation of Dunkel Dare was so brilliant.

So what is Dunkel Dare? Well, “dunkel” is a term used to describe dark German beer. Double Dare’s regular trivia is replaced with beer trivia, the physical challenges remain and the host is none other than Marc Summers. Hence, Dunkel Dare was born. Last year’s champion brewers from Great Lakes will return to compete in a two-night event against Victory, Stoudt’s, and Yards.

Brian Kelly, 27, and Eric Welch, 28—both graduates of The University of the Arts­–are two of the Franklin Institute’s brilliant minds behind a number of the museum’s wondrous exhibits. Kelly is the technical designer and Welch is the prototype developer­. “The [UArts] program puts an emphasis on collaboration so we ended up working on many projects together. We both love science, so it's been a great opportunity to apply our design backgrounds to inspire and educate others.” When they were asked to re-create the props for the beer-themed hybrid version of the TV classic, it was an obvious yes.

For Dunkel Dare’s premiere event in 2011, they were commissioned to replicate the iconic nose prop that was filled with ooey gooey green slime or “Gak” as it’s commonly referred to on Nickelodeon. With the revived classic prop, the original host and endless taps pouring frothy delicious beer, the event was an obvious hit.

Event-goers can expect more than just the nose at this year’s event. The team was given less than a month to research, plan, and complete the new props—with the help of their trusty intern, Brandon Klevence. “We're building a six foot piece of Swiss cheese for grabbing flags out of, a pair of bird cage helmets for cramming chocolate covered rubber chickens into, and a foam ‘brick’ wall for brewers to ride a tricycle through during the obstacle course. We're also building a stack of four-foot wide pancakes, and high five hand costumes. Of course the giant nose will also be there again.”

As for the main man, Marc Summers, the boys said he was deeply involved in the whole process from conception to completion. “He's an important part of the entire event. He has sort of been the creative director. He selected the physical challenges and directs how the event will play out. He does an amazing job and he is just as charismatic in person. “

The two are continuously working on a project that’s been 6 years in development called the Your Brian exhibit. It will be the largest exhibit at the museum and it’s set to open in June of 2014.

Dunkel Dare will take place twice during Philly Beer Week: Wednesday, June 5 and Thursday, June 6 from 7-9 pm at Frankford Hall, 1201 Frankford Avenue.

The event is free and open to the public. More info can be found here.