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Monday, June 14, 2010

Philly Beer Week Wrap-Up

With Philly Beer Week officially being complete, let's look back on some of the highlights from my week...
It started off with the Hill Farmstead tasting at the Kennett Flash.  Shaun Hill amazed the crowd with his beer and an impromptu speech, which reflected his brewing journey.

As most already know, I was in Chicago for a portion of Philly Beer Week.  I'll touch on what I did out there in a bit...

So, what else did I do?  I was growing green with envy for the most part but I was able to hit Capone's for an absolutely amazing night with beers(and representation) from Ayinger, Sint Canarus, Stillwater Artisinal Ales, Dochter van de Korenaar, and 12 Percent Imports.  Plenty of excellent beers to be had that night.  The standout for me was Cigar City's - Hunahpu's Imperial Stout.  I'm fortunate to actually own a bottle of this but I'm extremely delighted that I didn't have to open my rare bottle to get to try it. 
look: 4.5
smell: 4.5
taste: 4
feel: 4
drink: 3.5
Appears a pitch black with a small tan head that quickly fades out into a mild cap. Scattered bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of molasses, herbal tea, chalk, black grapes, spicy black and dried red pepper.
Taste is of the aromas with vanilla yogurt, cinnamon, pasilla peppers, and red grapes.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, spiced, a bit of chile heat lingering with cinnamon and cumin. A bit of warming abv noticed in this.

I was also thankful that I was able to make it out to one of the many Meet the Brewer events at The Belgian Cafe.  The draw for me was meeting with the Head Brewer from one of my all-time favorite Belgian breweries, Marco Passarella of St. Bernardus.  We chatted about one of the many enigmas that has surrounded the St. Bernardus beer - The difference (if any) to the highly sought after Westvleteren beer(The 8 & 12), which was brewed by St. Bernardus from 1946 through 1992.  The difference?  The yeast.  Fermentation, grain, and sugar are the same.  In fact, St. Bernardus uses the original yeast strain in their beers today.  Westvleteren now gets their yeast from Westmalle.  In addition to having a great conversation with one of the "brewing minds" of our time, I had the chance to check out some culinary delights from The Belgian Cafe, along with another brew. 
Look at this Belgian Toast.  It's French Toast but it's got caramelized banana lambic mixed with Belgian candi sugar.  Divine.
I checked out Django mussels with frites.  Really excellent stuff with a lightly potent broth that is great for dipping bread.  I paired up a beer from Danish brewery, Nøgne Ø.  This beer was the Sunternbrew...4.15

look: 4
smell: 4
taste: 4.5
feel: 4
drink: 3.5

Appears a murky brown with mahogany edges and a light beige head that quickly fades out into a mild collar.
Smell is of caramel, smoked wood, chocolate, brown sugar, and espresso beans., I should've gotten the smoked trout with this one because it's really smokey in the flavors. Some residual sweetness lingers after the smokiness subsides but it's on the sweet, and aggressively strong end of the spectrum. Smoked meats, roast chestnuts, earthy mineral flavors pull through for a dangerously complex potion.
Mouthfeel is sticky, effervescent up front, sugary, gummy with tar and a chewy, lip smacking sting.
Belgian Cafe on Urbanspoon

I was told by my buddy, Steve (aka hopdog) that I missed a killer time at Capone's for the highly anticipated Odell event, as shown here by our fellow beer hound, Brian, who runs I Am Beer Wise.

A quick peek back at what I experienced on the Chicago trip during Philly Beer Week...

Beerhoptacular! event, which touted many local breweries, along with some of the better beers available in the Chicago market...

A cool place called Piece, recommended to me by my buddy, Tom L, who frequents Chicago yearly.  They made some terrific beer, including this Hefeweizen shown to the left.  They also make pizza in the New Haven style.  I thought about going full tilt for the clam pie but opted for the plain, which was delicious.
I managed to hit Goose Island for some terrific treats, as well.  Some of these beers were only available at the brewery, so I was glad to have checked it out while I had the opportunity.
The wonderful Hopleaf Bar in Chicago has great selections of craft beer.
Finally, the 2 pizza places that I have wanted to check out for a few years now...
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. for their Pizza Pot Pie.
Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza.

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