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Philly Craft Beer Festival 2008

Another beer post, and Philly Beer Week is still a week away!

Saturday we went to second Philly Craft Beer Festival (last year’s festival was so much fun). This year, I didn’t have much of a strategy; about all I did was try to avoid breweries I know fairly well (skipping Yuengling, Lancaster, Victory, and Yards). For some reason, we were able to taste more beers this year. While it seemed just as crowded (and I mean crowded), no line was much more than five people long, so in about three hours, we were able to taste 33 beers, listen to the band, and split a corndog. Not bad. Another bonus this year was that I found some beers I liked well enough to buy a whole case of, but more on that in a moment. First, here’s the list in order of tasting:

Thirty-three beers seems like a lot, but that’s only 66 ounces split two ways—barely three beers in a three-hour stretch. Even though we barely felt a thing, flavor fatigue set in, and we reached saturation. We’ll try for 40 next year. ;-) I should mention that $40 is a lot to pay for 33 ounces of beer, but the tasting opportunites of the festival make it worthwhile for me.

At a festival like this, it’s pretty hard to find a bad beer, and I was very pleased with most of the beers on this list. Still there were a few high and low points worth mentioning.

I stayed away from most IPAs (currently my favorite style), but couldn’t resist trying a few. I liked them all (except the Butternuts), but my favorite was Stoudt’s, and I plan to pick up a case of this. Despite being a distinguished local brand, I had almost no experience with Stoudt’s before. Check out this profile of Stoudt’s at American Hops.

Two other exceptional beers were Erie Brewing’s Presque Isle Pilsner and Southampton’s Arrogant Bastard. I think the way to win my heart is to take any style, hop it up a bit, and I’ll lap it up.

Finally, my most exciting discovery was Ithaca Brewery. I really liked both of their beers, especially the Red Ale, probably my favorite overall at this year’s festival. It would be fun to make a pilgrimage to Ithaca (I have fond memories of the Moosewood restaurant there).

There were only three clunkers, and while it was probably just me, I didn’t care for the Anchor Porter, Long Trail’s Blackberry Wheat (watery), or the Butternuts IPA (just didn’t meet my expectations of what an “IPA” should taste like).

Sorry, no pictures this year. I didn’t even bring a camera. Special shout out to the Bullets, who rocked hard. This year’s festival sold out early, so if you’re thinking of going in 2009, don’t delay.

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