Booze Banter

Brew News: Philly Beer Week Saves Belgium!


One Sunday morning , my better half (the one who puts up with the incessant blogging and beer/whiskey hoarding), pointed out that on the front page of the newspaper was an article on Belgian beers. This little slice of life brings up a host of questions:

  • What’s a newspaper?
  • How old a dinosaur are you?
  • What in the good name of Belgium does Philly Beer Week have to do with anything?
  • Is your Mrs. still attempting to passive aggressively do you in?

First, for those of you that are too young to remember, prior to Al Gore’s invention of the internet, newspapers were the premier source of information. The Philadelphia Inquirer, while poorly run and embarrassingly behind in technology, is still the home of a number of first rate writers (think bloggers with English degrees, literary training and Pulitzer prizes who do not live in their mother’s basements).

Second, I am not THAT old. I may have had a number of parts removed and/or replaced, leaving me with the foot speed of a giant Galapagos tortoise, and The Wookie may check in periodically to see if there is a wake (and subsequent whisk(e)y looting) in the not too distant future, but I just enjoy reading something I can actually hold. While I like the feel of the crisp paper, I do not enjoy the residual ink that remains on my fingertips.

Tom Peters of Monk's Cafe.

 

Third, the gist of the article centers on what a great beer town Philly is, and how the changing tastes of European beer drinkers nearly doomed the Belgian style beers (especially the Lambics). It seems that as Belgians tired of their own beer and began to move more toward soda-sweet beers and mass produced lagers, the Belgian brewers were slow to adapt and were pushed close to the brink of extinction. Along comes the famed Michael Jackson (the beer writer not The King of Pop) and his Book and the Cook tasting banquets. Philly gets turned on to Belgian beer and the Belgian beer industry is saved. Of course, it didn’t hurt that some of the local bar owners (namely the guys at Eulogy and Tom Peters of Monk’s Cafe) stepped in and kept the Belgian beer flowing.

Brasserie Dupont's beer offerings.

 

Now, with Philly Beer Week the preeminent beer event in the region, a contingent of locals headed over to Belgium for six days. Amongst the local ambassadors were several “lottery” winners who had been selected for categories such as Best Home Brewer and Best Pro Brewer (How do I get in on that lottery next year?).  The goal was to sample as much beer as possible while focusing some of the effort on a collaboration with Brasserie Dupont to brew a special Belgian beer just for PBW. From what I read, the trip was a smashing success on both counts. The group was able to make a dent in the brewery count (Belgium is about the size of Maryland and has 130 brewers making over 1,100 beers), and there are nearly 200 kegs and 1,300 bottles of the Speciale on their way to Philly for the June event.

One last point…

While I am still not sure about my wife’s intentions, I figure if you have to go, why not go full.

84 Days til Philly Beer Week. Mark your calendars!

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