Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Philly's Best Beer Festival. Period.

I was able to take in a few hours of FRIDAY THE FIRKINTEENTH at the Grey Lodge Pub this past Friday (the only beer festival scheduled by the dictate of an annual calendar, when Friday the 13th occurs), and by my arrival time at 5:42 PM, there were only 7 firkin (out of 20 served) left for sampling (they started tapping at noon, 7 firkins at a time). Grabbed a very impressive, creamy, silky Sly Fox Seamus Irish Stout for my first quaff, followed by an even more impressive Philadelphia Brewing JOE coffee porter, full of deep cocoa and strong coffee flavors. Sampling small glasses of each beer, I moved onto a Blue Point Oatmeal Stout, thin and pretty vague for an oatmeal stout, much less impressive than the one I sampled at the brewery in Patchogue, NY a few years ago. Took a growler home of the stuff back then, that's how impressive it was, but not last Friday night at FTF. My last beer was an Iron Hill North Wales Bourbon Porter, very rich, chewy and whiskey-like, a great "dessert" for the visit. As I began my second sip of the Iron Hill, the last firkin kicked, a great cheer went up among the assembled multitudes, and then a respectful group sigh, with the realization that the fresh cask beers were done.

But here's what I really love about Friday The Firkinteenth: it's wall-to-wall beer lovers, it's somewhat loud, and yet, everyone, to the last man and woman, are happy to be there, happy to pass glasses of beer along without complaint, happy to talk beer with out any pretense. The sheer vibe of simple enjoyment is everywhere. For me, the chance to see old friends whom I haven't seen in months and years was especially nice, bear hugs and hearty handshakes and laughter all around. Before the twins came 3 and half years ago, I was a weekly visitor to the Grey Lodge, despite its 40-mile distance from my home. Prior to FTF, I had not been to the Grey Lodge in 6 and half months. I've missed the place, and especially the many great people that are regulars there, but your life changes, and you try to make the most of it. It won't be 6 and half months before I'm there again; I'll be there for the NEXT Friday The Firkinteenth, next month!
(photo courtesy of Lew Bryson's website blog, Seen Through A Glass)


Dean Browne said...

What? No carrots in the PBC joe?

Rich said...

Surprisingly, Dean, I found not even a single carrot peel or shard in the Joe. But despite that, it was ONE FANTASTIC BEER. Met a group of women at FTF who were positively swooning over it. I haven't had every beer that PBC has made yet, but this is by far the best one of the bunch. I really hope it gets bottled (and distributed to NJ!) in the future.

Anonymous said...

Two FTFs in a row, how LUCKY is that??!