PHILLY BEER WEEK is about the city’s beer scene — its breweries, bars and restaurants, pub-friendly neighborhoods and Belgian cafes. It’s a celebration of the city’s long beer-drinking history, its unrivaled diversity of beer styles, its festivals and beer dinners. It’s a chance to meet your favorite brewer, raise a glass with the mayor or carry the vaunted Hammer of Glory.
More than anything, though, Philly Beer Week is about the beer.
I’ll make a rough guess that more than 2,000 brands of beer will be poured across the city and suburbs starting Friday. You can try, but I doubt you’ll be able to drink ’em all over the following 10 days. So here’s a short list of the can’t-miss beers of Philly Beer Week.
Try a new beer
Dozens of breweries will take the opportunity to roll out new brands or introduce varieties to the Philadelphia market. Among the notables:
Allagash Yakuza. Issac Newton’s (Newtown, Bucks County) is promising several rarities from the Portland, Maine, brewery on Friday. This dry-hopped tripel is so rare, there’s only one review of it posted on BeerAdvocate.com.
Boxcar Mango Ginger IPA. The West Chester brewery is known for fairly standard varieties (IPA, brown ale, pale ale), so this tropical treat offered a chance for it to stretch its legs. Look for it June 7 at the Wrap Shack (120 S. 18th St., Center City).
Funky Buddha Raspberry Berliner. The tiny Florida brewery steps into Philly with several batches of tart, fruit-flavored Berliner Weisse. Monk’s Café (16th and Spruce streets, Center City) will pour them on Sunday.
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co. Former River Horse brewer Jeremy Myers moved down the Delaware to Croydon, and he’s finally ready to unveil his kegs. The first will pour Friday at Opening Tap (Independence Visitor Center, 6th and Market streets), and then at events throughout the week. Look for County Line IPA, Mudbank Milk Stout and Tribute Belgian Tripel.
ShawneeCraft Entire Porter. Situated along the Delaware in the Poconos, this small brewery entered the Philly market earlier this year. This dark beer was aged in bourbon barrels; it’ll be served on a nitrogen tap for a smooth body at Devil’s Den (11th and Ellsworth streets, South Philly) on Saturday.
Yards Rye Pale Ale. The city’s oldest production brewery hasn’t released any details on this keg-only beer yet. We’ll all have to wait till Prohibition Taproom (501 N. 13th St., Spring Garden) kicks off its annual Yards Firkin Faceoff on Friday. If you miss that one barrel, Resurrection (2425 Grays Ferry Ave., Grays Ferry) will pour it on Saturday.
Test your palate
Think you know beer? Bring your own blindfold and take a big sip.
3x8. The Farmers’ Cabinet calls it "ridiculously cool." I call it over the top. The restaurant’s Cabinet Artisanal Brewhouse teamed with Stillwater and Evil Twin breweries to make eight variations each of a single beer style. The result: 24 one-offs that will pour June 7.
Blind EYE PA. Evil Genius challenges you to guess which hops are in this full-flavored ale, with the winner getting the chance to help create one of the new Philly-area brewery’s next seasonal beers. Get your first taste Thursday night from a fresh firkin at Doobies (22nd and Lombard streets, Center City).
English Ale. The Chemical Heritage Foundation (315 Chestnut St., Old City) on Friday teaches the science behind one of the world’s great beer styles.
Stella Artois. Yeah, you’ve tasted it a million times, but do you know how to pour it? Learn from the Belgian brewery’s draft master at SugarHouse Casino (1001 N. Delaware Ave., Northern Liberties) on Monday.
Terrapin Golden Ale. It’s one of the familiar flagships from the Athens, Ga., brewery, but it’ll take on a new flavor when brewers tap it at City Tap House (3925 Walnut St., West Philly) on Saturday night. They’re pouring four firkins of the cream ale with a different variety of hops in each.
The Brett Project. Aaron Fourier, one of the area’s most creative home-brewers, teaches how to brew tasty, thirst-quenching sour beer with a horizontal tasting of his ale spiked with Brettanomyces yeast on Sunday at Keystone Homebrew Supply (Montgomeryville, Montgomery County).
Join the cult
Whether it’s because they’re superbly made or simply rare, certain beers attract the beer freaks. Line up for one of these:
Bell’s Hopslam. The Michigan brewery’s double IPA is released during the winter, but Birra (1700 E. Passyunk Ave., South Philly) will pour it alongside a firkin of Brew Works Hop Explosion during the Avenue’s daylong pub crawl on Sunday.
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. An imperial stout brewed with chocolate and coffee and aged in maple syrup-bourbon barrels. When it last hit the city, beer lovers followed delivery trucks hoping to score a bottle. Grab a glass at Founders’ $100-a-seat beer dinner at South Philadelphia Tap Room (1509 Mifflin St., South Philly) on Wednesday.
Hel & Verdoemenis. That’s Dutch for Hell & Damnation, an understated description of this motor-oil-like imperial stout from the Netherlands De Molen. Share a bottle with the brewer, Menno Olivier, at the Belgian Café (21st and Green streets, Fairmount) on Monday.
Nugget Nectar. There’s a lot of hubbub each January when the Hershey brewery releases its imperial amber ale. If you missed it (or want to relive the fun), stop in at the Irish Pol (45 S. 3rd St., Old City) on Monday night.
Pliny the Elder. Philadelphia is Russian River Brewing’s only non-California market, and this IPA (along with Sanctification, Redemption, Supplication and others) will kick quickly during a daylong fest at Via Marconi Pizza Pub (Lansdale, Montgomery County) on Sunday. It’ll pour again on June 10 at Local 44 (44th and Spruce streets, West Philly), along with Exportation, Philly Beer Week’s 2011 collaboration with Sierra Nevada and Russian River.
Society & Solitude #3. Still in his early 30s, Hill Farmstead’s Shaun Hill, an alumnus of Haverford College, is already attracting medals and rave reviews from avid fans. He’ll bring a wide selection, including this imperial IPA, to Teresa’s Next Door (Wayne, Delaware County) on June 9.
Not enough beer? Here’s a bunch more that I’m looking forward to and where to find them:
Arcobrau Schloss Dunkel. Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South St.), Monday.
Cigar City Smokabaga (chili-spiced red ale). Hulmeville Inn (Hulmeville, Bucks County), Monday.
FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout on 12-year-old Elijah Craig bourbon barrels. The Trestle Inn (339 N. 11th St., Spring Garden), Sunday.
Foundation Ale collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Russian River: Fox and Hound (15th and Spruce streets, Center City), Wednesday.
Free Will Sour Farmhouse Ale. Old Eagle Tavern (175 Markle St., Manayunk), Wednesday.
Jolly Pumpkin Noel. Jose Pistola’s (265 S. 15th St., Center City), Saturday.
Lavery Liopard Oir saison. Bridget Foy’s (2nd and South streets, South Street area), Monday.
Nodding Head Will, made with wild yeast from Clark Park. Nodding Head (1516 Sansom St., 2nd floor, Center City), Wednesday.
Oskar Blues Wild Turkey-aged Old Chub. Pinocchio’s Beer Garden (Media, Delaware County), Sunday.
Stillwater As Follows. a.Kitchen (135 S. 18th St., Rittenhouse Square), Saturday.
Stoudt’s Pomegranate Double IPA. Oyster House (1516 Sansom St., Center City), Tuesday.