Last Week in Untappd – 11/24 – 11/30 – (The Untappening)

CaponesWell, it finally happened.The day I anticipate in a continual 364 day loop, that most wonderful of beer days, Black Friday, has come and gone and I think we took full advantage of its bounty. In the past, this meant waking up at the crack of 9 and sheepishly making our way to Capone’s in Norristown for a solid 6 hours of drinking in an atmosphere that can best be described as a bar from a bowling alley crashed into a 70’s diner and someone hung up Vaseline smeared TVs from the 80’s. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Not that I see much else beyond the beer list, looking to see what’s kicked and trying to anticipate what’ll kick next as I order 4 or 5 beers at a time. Yes, Black Friday is Capone’s day for me. Except for this year…

A detour to find the highly-coveted Bourbon county Vanilla Rye (we failed) eventually took us to Teresa’s Next Door Black Friday Sour Event and to indulge that artisanal siren call that is Tired Hands before ultimately arriving at the threshold to Capone’s. We were successful in getting a 4pk of BCBS, a bottle of Avery’s Tweak, and 2 bottles of Abyss. Not too shabby. Here are the best of the best from a full day of rare beer drinking and Untappening (20+). The Tired Hands beers will be coming in a separate piece as a follow up to my original brewery visit.

Cantillon Fou FouneCantillon – Fou’ Foune
Location: Teresa’s Next Door
Style: Lambic
Score: 4/5
Original Comment: Metallic, tropical, lemon/ orange acidic, slight dank yeast aroma, Salty/sour sting front, tongue raking mineral, dry, biscuity fin. Good

Additional Comment: The final part of my original comment that I didn’t have room for is “…but not great.” I don’t always understand the hype behind many of Cantillon’s offerings. They are typically good but no better than any other expertly crafted sour I’ve had. This is the first where I feel like I had a fleeting glimpse of something special even if the overall experience didn’t wow me.  I will admit that knowing Fou’ Foune is the highest rated sour on Beer Advocate (#14 as of this publishing) brought some expectations with it. I think a blind taste test could yield interesting results, but I don’t have the bank account nor the resource to make that happen. Glad I had it and definitely a tasty sour, but in the future I’ll probably pass over it for something new.

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Days of Drinking Past: A Philly Beer Camp Experience

All You Need to Know (Is It Worth the $65)

Sierra-Nevada-Beer-Camp-Across-AmericaPeople are busy and don’t always have time for the personal ramblings of a beer fanatic. For that reason, let’s start with the wrap up for those who missed out on the biggest roaming beer fest in these United States and want to know if it is worth attending next year (assuming there is one). The Sierra Nevada Beer Camp rolled into Philadelphia as a huge undertaking that came with equally huge expectations. For the most part, those expectations were met and in some ways exceeded. It was a safe, enjoyable beerfest handled well by the staff and the other attendees. It wouldn’t have been half as good if the Beer Campers had acted like drunken idiots instead of the respectful and friendly crowd we all turned out to be. Well done us.

Before I continue the lovefest, I do have to address one significant area of disappointment. If you are not aware, Sierra Nevada created collaboration beers with 12 respected brewers from across the country and released them in a case. The idea is that Sierra Nevada and the brewers would go on a 7 city tour, bringing in any local brewers that wanted to join them for a big celebration of beer. For Philadelphia, only 7 of the 12 Beer Camp collaborators had a presence. The brewer I was most excited to sample, 3 Floyds, was not in attendance, nor was Asheville, New Glarus, Ninkasi, or Cigar City. Basically everyone that doesn’t already distribute in PA (Cigar City does to a small degree) was a no show.

While I can understand that from a business perspective, why spend the money and effort when the festival goers can’t legally drink your brews in their homes (PA has a law that you can’t even bring beer from other states over the state line into PA), I was let down as a beer fan. With so many restrictions, stupid beer laws and lobbyists trying to protect the market share of lackluster brewers, this was a chance to try some beers from heavy hitters we don’t normally get. I have no idea if their absence was due to regulations or brewer’s choice, but it doesn’t diminish my frustration. End rant.

Minor grievances aside, out of the dozen or so beerfests I’ve been to, this is easily one of the best. It sprinkles in major players on the national beer scene with local brewers and gourmet food trucks in a secluded park setting practically at the door step of one of the biggest beer cities on the East Coast. $65 isn’t an outrageous price for 5 hours and 80+ brewers, however taking food money into account brings the actual cost closer to $80.

This might be too much to ask if the food wasn’t as good as it was, or the event wasn’t as well run as it was, or the collaborator and local brewers didn’t bring their A-game like they did. Had big beers like Pliny the Elder, Supplication, and Sucaba not been there, maybe I would need to reevaluate the cost vs reward, but either way the experience was a positive one. For all the ways this could have gone wrong, it just worked, and worked fantastically. Should this become an annual Philly event, I’ll have another yearly, must attend beerfest along with PA Flavor and the Ren Faire BrewFest. Cheers to next year!

For those with some time to kill that want to know what it was like on the ground, read on.

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Hikes the Elder

Hikes the Elder CloneWe finally got to try our Pliny the Elder homebrew clone and it was worth the effort! Made with Hikes the elder, my dad, we brewed the actual all-grain recipe provided by Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo. If you are wondering about the process, we used loads of Centennial, Simcoe, Columbus, and Cascade hops, even adding some to the mash, and dry-hopped the crap out of it.

I’ve had Pliny the Elder several times, twice on draft and once out of a bottle, and I can say that this version closely resembles the draft from what I remember. I’d really need to have both side by side, but this is easily the tastiest brew we’ve done yet. We are gaining confidence and I look forward to experimenting with some original creations. Next up, I think we may try a coriander and herb Wit.