In the years of doing Philly Beer Week, the week (plus) long celebration of America’s Best Beer-Drinking City, I’ve learned one important lesson in how to make it through: pace yourself. With over 1,000 events in ten days, you can’t possibly hit up everything. In fact, you won’t even be able to make it to many of the events that sound appealing because they either conflict with each other or you need to rest or stay sober one or two nights. Instead, the best practice is to make it to a maximum of perhaps one event a night (ok, maybe two, if you do the other one during the day). Go through the list, pick and choose some favorites and enjoy those without feeling bad about missing others.
The second most important advice: find events for brewers you don’t experience often or for specialty beers. There are so many great regional brewers, and most have special events throughout the week. Likewise, there are many brewers from other parts of the country who produce beers we don’t typically get here in town. Take advantage of their presence.
Philly Beer Week has become the largest beer festival, in terms of events, in the country devoted to craft beer. Let’s all enjoy.
For area beer enthusiasts, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Next week marks the beginning of Philly Beer Week, the annual beer festival of America’s Best Beer Drinking City.
What started out as a festival with modest goals has grown into the largest beer festival of its kind in the country in terms of number of events. Check out my prior article about its origins here. This year, there are over 200 venues having well over 1000 events over two weeks.
On a perfect weather night last October, the first ever Night Market in Philadelphia took place in the Passyunk Avenue neighborhood. With the combination of good weather, terrific participating local restaurants and the city’s most popular food trucks and other street food vendors, the Night Market was an unbridled success. Tons of people walked around a great neighborhood and sampled many wonderful eats.
The second edition took place this Thursday night, in a special Philly Beer Week edition. Moving on to a different neighborhood, Night Market was held at a large parking lot on 39th and Market. Not quite the same as Passyunk Avenue and having a little bit of the feel of attending a church-sponsored fair in my youth, but that’s neither here nor there. Despite the oppressive 90 degree heat, droves of people still came out (at least until the much-needed rain fell around 8 p.m.).
Playing off the success of the fall’s edition, this effort featured large does of taco trucks and other mobile vendors though, in contrast to the first one because of the location, not much in the way of establsihed neighborhood restaurant stands. The big hits were the Philly debut of Nomad Pizza, which makes handmade Neapolitan-style pizza in its mobile brick oven (at a reasonable $9-10), taco trucks (Honest Tom, Guapos Tacos and Chris Taco Stand all had huge lines), and beverage stands (Made in the Shade Lemonade and the Blockley Beer Garden had big business thanks to the weather). What was not as as hot? Hub Bub coffee didn’t exactly have people waiting, and the multiple cupcake trucks (Sweetbox Cupcakes, Jimmies and Sugar Philly) may have oversaturated the cupcake market.
Overall, the second Night Market was a good event, especially considering the weather, but it definitely was a notch down from the success of the fall event. There were a lot of attendees, but some of the lines were insane. It’s a great idea, similar to the likes of the Rittenhouse Row Festival and other neighborhood fairs. In addition to taking place in actual real neighborhoods (maybe Chinatown, Headhouse Square, etc.), perhaps it actually needs more high quality vendors (and beer stands) to alleviate the lines.
Through its first few days, Philly Beer Week has had some pretty remarkable beer events. Many venues throughout the city have been packed, as beer enthusiasts have attended the events in droves.
Take, for example, the Founders Brewing Company event at Kite and Key. On a Monday afternoon at 5 p.m., which is hardly the most common time for city folks to be out at a bar drinking, Kite and Key was completely packed with patrons seeking to sample Founders’ high quality, high alcohol and highly rare beers. The two superstars were Canadian Breakfast Stout, a beer aged in maple and whiskey soaked wood with Sumatra and Kona coffee beans breakast stout, and Kenutkcy Breakfast Stout (KBS), an imperial stout brewed with coffee and chocolates before aged in bourbon barrels for an entire year. Both beers are among the top seven rated beers in the world, contain over nine percent alcohol and are only available for a limited time each year.
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.