These well-dressed folks from Philadelphia's German bierhall Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South Street), delivered the Hammer of Glory to Opening Tap. More than 850 people attended the ceremony and regional beer celebration that kicked off Philadelphia's third annual 10-day beer festival.
Mayor Michael Nutter Gets Splashed
The mayor of Philadelphia wielded the Hammer of Glory to tap the first keg of Philly Beer Week. His efforts were rewarded with a huge splash of Brotherly Suds—Beer Week's official collaboration beer made by brewers from Sly Fox, Yards, Victory, Stoudt's, and Troegs.
Lancaster Rumspringa Golden Bock
We tried a great variety of local beers at Opening Tap. One of our favorites was Lancaster Brewing Company's new Rumspringa, which was brewed with a bit of Lancaster County honey. Don't expect a sweet beer, though—this golden bock is beautifully balanced with just enough bitter hops.
Other great offerings included Dogfish Head's Festina Peche (perfect for muggy weather), Iron Hill's Pig Iron Porter, Weyerbacher's Merry Monks, and Manayunk's special Imperial IPA.
Evil Genius Beer Company
Meeting the folks behind new breweries is another highlight of Opening Tap. It was the debut event of Evil Genius Beer Company, a new brewery started by two Villanova grad students. They're contract brewing for now, and working on opening up their own facility. They poured their Wild Session Ale, a flavorful, clean-tasting Kolsch, as well as Swashbuckler Brewing Company's toasty Mocha Stout.
Monk's Mussels and Lost Abbey Carnevale
A visit to Philly is incomplete without a pilgrimage to Monk's Café (264 South 16th Street). The mussels cooked in Cantillon gueuze are decent, but the tap list and bottle list are incredible. We indulged in Lost Abbey's Carnevale, a dry-hopped saison with spicy yeast character and an incredibly creamy smoothness, due to the addition of malted oats.
Rodenbach 2007 Vintage Oak-Aged Ale
We shared a bottle of this elixir at The Foodery (837 North 2nd Street), a great bottle shop. Put it on your Must Drink list—it's amazingly smooth and rich, fruity and luscious. The tartness of this sour beer has mellowed into a subtle, wine-like flavor.
Hop Hog at the Kingpin
At Standard Tap's Kingpin, breweries raced to see who could sell out their pin (4.5 gallons) of beer first. Our favorite offering at the event was Lancaster's Hop Hog, a full bodied caramel-grapefruity IPA with a hint of grassiness.
Roy Pitz Truly Honest Ale and Yards ESA
The Abbaye (637 North 3rd Street) is hosting a number of Beer Week events. We stopped by to try the Truly Honest Ale from Roy Pitz Brewing Company (pictured left), and the Extra Special Ale from Yards Brewing (on the right.) The Truly Honest Ale had nice notes of brown sugar and maple with a crisp hop bite, while the ESA was richer with hints of mellow black cherry and cocoa.
Both were pretty good partners for The Abbaye's Chimay-sauced hot wings.
Gaffel Kolsch at the German Society Bierfest
The German Society of Philadelphia (611 Spring Garden Street) hosted an afternoon beer garden with beers from Warsteiner, Jever, Franziskaner, Gaffel, and Spaten on tap.
Bell's Taster at Devil's Den
A dollar toward every order of a Bell's beer or taster at Devil's Den (1148 South 11th Street) on Saturday night went to fight breast cancer, so we did our part tasting through the offerings from this excellent Michigan brewery.
The Oarsman, a mild Berliner Weisse, was light and creamier than we usually expect from this style. The Oberon is always thirst-quenching on a hot day. More unusual were the Bourbon Barrel-aged Hell Hath No Fury, a seriously rich Belgian dark with plenty of bourbon and stewed-fruit flavor.
I liked the Special Double Cream Stout, with its notes of cream soda and unsweetened dark cocoa. But the star of the lineup was Hopslam on tap: the scent of this double IPA is what hopheads dream of: resiny orange oil and juniper, mellowed with a hint of toffee. It tastes like fresh citrus and creamy Werther's caramels. Watch out, though, it's a dangerously drinkable 10% ABV beer.
Starkbierfest at Brauhaus Schmitz
Our friend Joe enjoying a Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen Weiss at the Strong Beer Fest at Brauhaus Schmitz.
Smoke ‘Em If Yous Got ‘Em at Yards Brewing
This smoked beer and barbecue festival was a highlight of the weekend. We especially enjoyed Captain Lawrence's creamy Smoked Porter with a plate of Caveman barbecue pulled pork. The beer's coffee notes cut through the barbecue richness, while the smoke echoed that good barbecue flavor.
Beef with Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and Allagash Burnham Road
Our favorite beef offering of the day, from Baby Backstabbers, went beautifully with Allagash's delicious and slightly fruity Burham Road.
With more than 30 unusual, hard-to-find smoked beers and a great spread of barbecue, it was one of the best beer events we've been to.