American Craft Beer Week 2015

Today begins the 10th annual American Craft Beer Week, which is themed this year as Cheers to the Sweet Land of Li-beer-ty. This year it will take place May 11-17, and “all 50 states will hold events including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers and more to honor the ever-advancing craft beer culture and unite tens of thousands of beer lovers nationwide.”

“American Craft Beer Week has provided independent beer fans across the country a chance to support their local breweries since 2006,” said Julia Herz, publisher of and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “With celebrations happening in all 50 states, this is truly an annual national event that recognizes all those involved in making craft beer from small breweries in the U.S. such a success.”

You can also follow news of ACBW and see what events have been scheduled and the list can be searched by state. The BA this year has also “created an interactive graphic with fun facts to commemorate each state and their commitment to craft brewing.”

Click here to see the ACBW poster full size.

And here’s a larger view of what they had to say about California.


Beer Film #17: Shit Beer Geeks Say

Today’s beer video was originally created last year for Good Beer Week in Melbourne, Australia, and I think I may even have posted it before. But given the positive response to yesterday’s humorous Hipsters Love Beer, I thought I had to post this one again. Shit Beer Geeks Say was a ” short film by Good Beer Week and Bridge Road Brewers about the beer geeks we all know and love who might sometimes take their craft beer a little too seriously!” Enjoy.


A Little Love From Philly Beer Week

A native of Pennsylvania, Philly Beer Week is my second favorite beer week (after our own SF Beer Week, of course). Since attending the very first PBW, I’ve tried to come back every other year, which should have been this year. Alas, I have a book due at the end of next month, and I didn’t feel I could spare the time to frolic (ahem, I mean work) in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton, is out there right now doing a beer dinner, and my good friend, fellow beer blogger Bryan Kolesar — who writes the Brew Lounge, sent me the photo below (taken by the incomparable Jennie Hatton) of Sean, Bryan and the Hammer of Glory. Thanks to Bryan’s keen fashion sense, at least I can be there in spirit. Thanks guys, I sure wish I could be there with you.


SF Beer Week Opening Event Announced

The opening celebration to kick-off SF Beer Week for 2012 has been announced. Having outgrown our space last year, this year it’s been moved to a new, larger location at the Concourse pavilion at the Concourse Exhibition Center in SOMA. Here are the details:

On February 10, 2012, over 50 Northern California breweries will converge on the Concourse in San Francisco for the Opening Celebration of SF Beer Week, which kicks off a ten day marathon of beer tastings, small festivals and food pairing dinners across the Bay Area. From 6-10pm, beer lovers will discover newly minted nanobrewers pouring alongside legendary craft brewing pioneers.

Early bird tickets are now available for $55. Each attendee will receive a commemorative glass and enjoy unlimited samples of new, rare and classic beers. Tickets are expected to go quickly. The event is one of the largest and most anticipated gatherings of the region’s beer community. A complete list of attending breweries will be published in mid January.

This year the Opening Celebration has moved to a larger venue in San Francisco’s SOMA district. The Concourse pavilion will provide a more spacious experience, easier access to the breweries and more food options will be available. Artisan producers from around the Bay will serve up a range of delicious choices for purchase, while live music fills the air.

Tickets are available online, the early bird price is $55. See you there.


Beer Week Explosion

Out at GABF last week, I heard about a few beer weeks that were new to me. As I’ve been tracking them for some time now, that surprised me. When I first put together a list a couple of years ago, there were a couple dozen. By the time I wrote the entry for beer weeks in the Oxford Companion to Beer, there were around forty. Before I left for GABF, my list included around 55. After hearing about those new ones, I decided to do some more digging and my list now includes 78 beer weeks around the world. Of those, six seem to have been held once or aren’t continuing and three more are “unofficial,” but have all the elements of a beer week (CBC Week, OBF Week and GABF Week). That still leaves 69 ongoing beer weeks, plus I also found eight more that have been announced, have Twitter feeds or Facebook pages but have not set a precise date yet. So that takes the total back up to 77 beer weeks. Of those 77, 68 are in the U.S. and 9 are outside America; in Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK. Fold back in the 3 “unofficial” ones and we’re at 79, meaning it will take over one and a half years to go to every beer week. Now that’s a lot of beer weeks. If you want to see my list of beer weeks, click here.


Older Bud No Weiser

dogfish-head-green flying-fish iron-hill stone victory-hand yards-philly
The last event I attended during Philly Beer Week was the Older Bud No Wiser panel discussion at the World Cafe Live. Here’s how the event was promoted:

1996 was an historic year for Craft Brewing. It was in this year that Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head, Bill Covaleski from Victory, Mark Edelson of Iron Hill, Tom Kehoe of Yards, and Gene Muller of Flying Fish all took that epic leap of faith and started their own take on a craft brewery. Fourteen years later they’re all still in business and doing better then ever. Can you imagine what it would be like if they hadn’t? What a world it would be . . .

Host Greg Koch of Stone [which was also founded in 1996] will be your master of ceremonies as we turn back the clock to see what these monsters of craft brewing were doing and where their lives would have ended up, if not for hops.

Victory’s Blog also has a write-up on the event and you can watch the trailer below to see what was planned for the event.

Below is a video trailer for Older Bud No Weiser.

And it was also promoted with this hilarious fake class of ’96 yearbook, showing all of the brewery founders’ high school photos.


I arrived from the Kite and Key event, where we met the rest of the brewers assembled there. We got beers at the back of the theater as people streamed in and founds seats.

Toasting the Class of '96: Greg Koch, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam Calagione
Toasting the Class of ’96: Greg Koch, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam Calagione.

Once the theater filled up and everyone was in their seat, the first beer was served and the five brewer/brewery founders took to the stage.

Greg Koch MC'd the Panel of 5 Philly Area Brewers

Greg Koch served as emcee for the evening (although I took over for a short time twice throughout the long night) and after a short introduction about what a bad year 1996 was for the craft brewing industry, he introduced each of the five and they told their own story about starting their individual breweries that same year.

The Panel: Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski & Sam Covaleski
The Panel: Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski & Sam Covaleski

The evening went by quickly with all participants taking questions from the crowd, as the beer flowed freely. For each question asked, each brewer brought along several bottles of their own beer to give to participants who asked question, which — not surprisingly — led to even more questions. Bill at Victory tells me that they filmed the entire show and that they’re editing it down to a more manageable size. It should be an interesting record. One hilarious part of the evening that deserves a wide audience is the video below, which is a spoof of what might have become of the five brewery founders if they had not been successful with their respective brewers entitled “Craft Beer Class of ’96: Where are they now?

Below is a slideshow of the World Cafe Live event. This Flickr gallery is best viewed in full screen. To view it that way, after clicking on the arrow in the center to start the slideshow, click on the button on the bottom right with the four arrows pointing outward on it, to see the photos in glorious full screen. Once in full screen slideshow mode, click on “Show Info” to identify each photo.

Philly Beer Week Wrap-Up

As ever playing catch-up, here is my wrap-up from the two additional days I spent in Philadelphia for Philly Beer Week. Monday I covered with Hammer Time, and after a quiet Tuesday attended the Lambic Beer Dinner at Monk’s Cafe. Wednesday morning I let my art freak flag fly and took the train to the suburbs for a quick visit to the Barnes Foundation, which I wanted to visit before it’s moved to its new location against the wishes (and the will) of Albert Barnes. When I got back, I headed straight to Standard Tap, in the hopes of getting my own Bear Ninja Cowboy t-shirt — success! — more tater tots and a shopping excursion to the Foodery across the street where I happily ran into two folks from Founders Brewing, Michael Bell and Dave Engbers, doing a tasting there.

Outside Standard Tap.

Then it was off to Nodding Head, where owner Curt Decker had invited me to his Sam, Tomme & Old Beer event, which featured some amazing nibbles (the Keen’s Farmhouse Cheddar was sooo good and so was the pork tenderloin with fig reduction) and ten rare beer from Dogfish Head, Lost Abbey and, of course, Nodding Head.

Nodding Head co-owner Curt Decker
Curt Decker, with Sam Calagione and Tomme Arthur at the Nodding Head bar.

I wasn’t able to stay for the entire event, because I had a 7:00 event I’d committed to, but it was very tempting to stay longer. Some of the beers served which I was lucky enough to try included Dogfish Head’s Immort Ale 2006 and Black & Blue 2008. Then there was Lost Abbey’s Red Barn 2009, Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine 2006 and Lost Abbey Judgment Day 2007. And I finished off the event with a Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA from 2008.

Jack Curtin, Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Curt's assistant brewer
Jack Curtin, Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Curt’s assistant brewer, Gordon Grubb.

After that, I headed out for my next event, but had to make a quick detour at Fergie’s Pub to say hello to Carol Stoudt from Stoudts Brewing.

Carol Stoudt & me
Carol and me at Fergie’s Pub.

Then I grabbed a cab to the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology & Anthropology for the main event of my evening: The Great Lambic Summit.

The Great Lambic Summit
The Great Lambic Summit featuring Armand Debelder (3 Fonteinen) Frank Boon (Brouwerij Boon), and Jean Van Roy (Brasserie Cantillon), along with Dan Shelton (Shelton Brothers).

After that, I cabbed back to the after party at Monk’s Cafe, where many out-of-town brewers had congregated.

Brendan Moylan and me in front of Monk's Cafe
Brendan Moylan wandered up while a group of us were talking outside Monk’s.

Before turning in for the night, I stopped by McGilllin’s Olde Ale House, where a pub crawl between local brewers was supposed to end. Unfortunately, I got there a little to late so I had a quick nightcap and stumbled back to my hotel.

McGillin's Olde Ale House
Late night outside McGilllin’s Olde Ale House, Philadelphia’s oldest bar.

The next day I slept in, then went for a walk to do some sightseeing and pick up gifts for the kids, ending up, as planned, at a cheesesteak place on Market Street — Sonny’s — for my fourth cheesesteak in four days. (You just can’t get a decent authentic one in San Francisco so I tend to go overboard when I’m back East.)

Eventually I ended up at the Kite and Key for the debut of a collaboration beer between Dogfish Head, Stone and Victory; Saison de BUFF. The BUFF part is an acronym for “Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor.” It’s a great saison, spicier than most, but still quite refreshing. It’s made with — try not to break into song — parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme.

Kite & Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski & Greg Koch
Kite and Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski and Greg Koch.

After that, I caught a ride with the three brewers to the World Cafe Live, but I’ll finish that story in another post.

Below is a slideshow of my last two days at Philly Beer Week. This Flickr gallery is best viewed in full screen. To view it that way, after clicking on the arrow in the center to start the slideshow, click on the button on the bottom right with the four arrows pointing outward on it, to see the photos in glorious full screen. Once in full screen slideshow mode, click on “Show Info” to identify each photo.

Hammer Time

I arrived in Philadelphia on the train yesterday afternoon not sure what to expect. My first event wasn’t until Tuesday so I had a wide open evening. So I called a few people, including the wonderful Jennie Hatton — my agent — and also with the P.R. firm for Philly Beer Week. She was two blocks away at Misconduct with Eric Wallace from Left Hand Brewing and encouraged — no insisted — I join her there. It’s been my personal experience that nobody ever says no to Jennie Hatton, so there I went. Eric handed me his terrific barley wine and the evening began, not with a whimper but a bang. The bang, it turned out, was the now legendary “Hammer of Glory,” which Jennie had just retrieved from McGillin’s. I was even honored to carry the Hammer a time or two, which being an organizer of SF Beer Week, almost felt a little subversive. But as a Pennsylvania native and big supporter of PA beer, it also felt right at home in my hands.

Me with the Hammer of Glory
Me holding the legendary Hammer of Glory.

From there, we went to Local 44, scene of the scandalous PLCB raid by state troopers a few months back, where the fame of the Hammer of Glory spread and they were pouring more Lost Abbey beers than I’d ever seen in one place before.

Local 44 owner Brendan, the Hammer & Jennie
Local 44 owner Brendan Hartranft, the Hammer and Jennie.

After a quick stop at the City Tap House, we crawled over to Standard Tap, where their Bear Ninja Cowboy contest was about to get under way. In case you’re confused, essentially it’s beerchambeau: Bear beats Ninja, Ninja beats Cowboy and Cowboy beats Bear.

The Hammer at Standard Tap's Bear Ninja Cowboy beerchambeau
Bear Ninja Cowboys, refs the Hammer and Jennie.

Knowing (and apparently sharing) my love for all things fried and potato, Jennie took me to the North Bowl Lounge & Lanes, just a short walk from the Standard Tap for some tater tots. This very cool bowling alley also has an amazing menu of tater tot dishes, on the order of Totcho’s but with a dizzying variety of choices. We went with the Wakin’N Bacon, tots with cheddar, bacon and a hard fried egg. I also ordered a special hot dog that was also cheese, bacon and a fried egg. Holy moley, they were good, some of the best tots I’ve ever had.

Jennie w/tots & a dog at North Lanes Lounge
Tots, a dog, some eggs, bacon, cheese and Jennie.

The last stop of the night was Doobie’s, a wonderfully unpretentious neighborhood bar. It was great quiet spot to end such a great night. Plus, there was a number of people there I’d hadn’t seen in a while. They were also pouring some of the last of the elusive Standard Porter, a collaboration beer for Philly Beer Week.

Standard Tap owner Willam, Doobie's owner Patty, Suzy and Brian, both from Sly Fox Brewing and, of course, the Hammer
Standard Tap owner William Reed, Doobie’s owner Patty with the Hammer, Suzy Woods and Brian O’Reilly, both from Sly Fox Brewing.

Below is a slideshow of my Hammer Time evening. This Flickr gallery is best viewed in full screen. To view it that way, after clicking on the arrow in the center to start the slideshow, click on the button on the bottom right with the four arrows pointing outward on it, to see the photos in glorious full screen. Once in full screen slideshow mode, click on “Show Info” to identify each photo.