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Beer Week 2008: Extreme Beer Homebrew Challenge

It’s going to be all beer all the time for the next few days here at mere cat as I wrap up my adventures during Philly’s first-ever Beer Week.

I had hoped to start Beer Week right on its opening day of March 7th by attending “Beer and Cheese: A Victorious Combo” (at Tria’s Fermentation School), because, well, I love beer and cheese, but it sold out before I could get a ticket. Monday was my next free night, so I decided to go to Jose Pistolas for “The Extreme Beer Homebrew Challenge.” My interest in homebrewing is nascent, but from experience sampling the beers of the few homebrewers I know, I was sure the beer would be both unusual and excellent. Also we do happen to have basic brewing equipment (acquired when Anne made a batch of mead last year), so I thought the evening might help inspire me to try it myself.

The event was presented in part by Home Sweet Homebrew (homebrew supplier), and I had the pleasure of meeting George and Nancy Hummel, the proprietors, as well as Casey Parker, one of the owners of Jose Pistolas. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet the other sponsor, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. I really only knew one person who was going to be there (one of the homebrewers), but during the evening, I ran into an old friend of mine who has been brewing for a while.

The place was so packed, I actually had a little difficulty getting to taste all the beers, but in between gorging myself on chicken and quesadillas, here’s what I tried:

  • Cuckoo for Cocoa Bock (Weizenbock) by Chris Clair
  • Hop Goggles Belgian IPA by Chris Coval
  • Greer’s Garage Grand Cru Belgian Strong Ale by John Greer
  • Hop God Ale by Bob Grossman
  • Belgian Wheat by Mark Kenesky
  • Paradise Pumpkin Wit by Kyle Kernozek and Michelle Dickey
  • Mint Chocolate Porter by Howard Ross, Michael Pearlman, and Ari Romm

Unfortunately, I never got to try the Scarlet Fire (with chipotle peppers) or the It Ain’t Just for Breakfast Coffee Porter. All of the beers had outstanding flavor and balance. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Belgian IPA, because as I’ve said recently, I have a weakness for hopped-up versions of things. Kudos to Jose Pistolas for hosting this event, and I can strongly recommend hitting any of the homebrew events next year.

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