This weekend marks the opening of Philly Beer Week, an annual festival highlighting craft beers. It’s a ten day celebration that beer enthusiasts from both Philly and elsewhere look forward to attending.
Philly Beer Week was co-founded in 2008 by Tom Peters, who owns several city bars; Don Russell, who writes the “Joe Sixpack” column for the Philadelphia Daily News; and the late Bruce Nichols, a city beer pioneer who passed away in November 2010. From an inaugural Beer Week featuring about 300 events, it has grown exponentially to over 1,000 events throughout 180 different venues in both the city and suburbs. In terms of number of events, it’s the largest national festival dedicated to craft beers.
Along with our great beer bars and local craft beers, Philly Beer Week has helped the city earn its reputation as a destination for beer lovers and “America’s Best Beer Drinking City.” During last year’s Beer Week, I met a professional beer brewer from Vancouver who was well aware of Philadelphia’s beer scene and was looking forward to partaking in several events, such as the Russian River tapping, for beer not readily available everywhere.
“It’s my aim to make Philly Beer Week the best beer celebration in America, so that when people think of beer, they think of Philly,” Russell told me last year. “I want Philly Beer Week to be the city’s largest event of the year – something that can rival the Mummers and Welcome America – so that when people think of Philly, they think of beer.”
From my past experience, here’s some lessons from Beer Week I’ve learned that I need to apply this year:
- Pace yourself – There are an enormous number of great events during Beer Week. Going out too hard for the first few days, and you’re completely burned out on beer by the middle or end of the week. Don’t try to hit too many events in the first few days (maybe limit it to no more than an average of one a day?).
- Target certain events – The Philly Beer Week website has a great search engine for finding different events, including categorizing them by neighborhood and by type of event. Look for particular events and brewers and know where they will be.
- Visit different bars/neighborhoods – Philly Beer Week is a fantastic time to go to areas and bars you normally don’t visit. For instance, Kite and Key on Callowhill and Local 44 in West Philly may be off the beaten path but have some terrific events worth checking out.
- Enjoy – Take advantage of the events during the week and fully appreciate how fortunate we are to have such a great festival.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the Night Market on Thursday and the Local 44’s Great Lakes/Ommegang Brewing Meet and Greet event on the last Sunday among others.