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Craft Beer Experience 2010

Philadelphia Magazine & City Tap House

On an afternoon when the last gasps of summer made the City Tap House's beautiful green roof terrace a bit too uncomfortable for leisurely lounging, the action inside was enough to please the palette of any craft beer lover. Even if the weather didn't demonstrate autumn's splendor, the pairings of pumpkin ale and Oktoberfest lager with falafel and smoked sausage created the perfect seasonal backdrop for Philadelphia Magazine's Craft Beer Experience.

On any other day, the sixty taps at the City Tap House would be enough to satisfy the most diverse of palettes, from the intrepid explorer to the consummate beer geek. For this special occasion, representatives from beer distributers and breweries both local and exotic bolstered the selection, turning the restaurant into the type of beer festival that one normally expects during Philly Beer Week. A few features made this particular festival unique and remarkable, specifically the satisfying beer and food pairings and the intimate setting. There were few lines to wait in at this event, and even the queue on the way in was made easily bearable by butlered samples of Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout and Bell's Two Hearted IPA.

Armed with tasting glasses and tap-maps, the Drink Philly crew attacked the formidable beer selection that included way more than just your regular flagship beers. Upon spotting the lauded Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron (a strong ale aged in the largest wooden casks in the world), we knew that this beer festival aimed a bit higher than average.

The exhibitors here didn't hold back on the premium brews, and the locals shined in all of their glory. Yard's came guns a-blazing with an aged keg of the exquisite Old Bartholemew Barleywine, a high-gravity flavor bomb of hops and malt fit for sipping in front of the fireplace. Allentown's BrewWorks sampled their criminally underrated double-IPA, Hop'solutely, and their Devious Imperial Pumpkin Ale, rapidly entrenching itself as a cult seasonal favorite. Weyerbacher Brewing sampled their Belgian-style Tripel Merry Monks and the intense Double Simcoe IPA, as well as their Imperial Pumpkin Ale fresh from a bronze medal showing at the Great American Beer Festival.

Interesting beer came in from out of town as well, such as the Left Hand-Terrapin collaboration aptly named Oxymoron, and India Pale Lager. Sierra Nevada offered their 30th Anniversary Jack and Ken's Barleywine and their seasonal (and recent Drink Philly Drink of the Week) Tumbler Brown Ale. Bell's Brewery raised the stakes with their Third Coast Old Ale, a strong dark potion that you don't see on tap in this area too often. 

If there was a grander agenda associated with this event, it was Andrew Farrel's crusade to elevate the idea that craft beer is just as luxurious an accompaniment to fine food as a bottle of wine, and more affordable and diverse. In a suds-soaked town like Philadelphia, this concept was not a hard sell. Throughout the day, brewery representatives tirelessly praised Philadelphia's beer culture, known and envied around the country. It was a good day to be a beer lover, and there was plenty to go around. Here's looking forward to the second annual next year.

09.28.10 


About Beer Geek Steve:
Steve spends as much time as his wife will let him tracking down rare beers and trying to analyze the intersection between quality beer, hype, and viral marketing. When he's not reviewing beer for Drink Philly, he writes about his adventures in chasing bottles and taps at his blog, Beer Geek Steve. You can also follow him on Twitter, where he tweets about happenings in the craft beer industry and often locates some of the best barrels in southeast PA.



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