I promised you the unveiling of a huge Philly beer event today, and here it is:
Philly Beer Week® 2008
Imagine beer events taking over this city -- this entire area -- for an entire week (a 10 day week at that) next year -- tentatively scheduled for March 7th through the 16th.
We kick things off with a Friday night "simul-tap" across southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, with the mayor of Philadelphia (assuming the new mayor of Philadelphia isn't a teetotaler like John Street) tapping a symbolic firkin in the courtyard in City Hall as breweries in Harrisburg, Princeton, Allentown, Easton, Wilmington, Lancaster, and across the five-county area all tap up at the same time.
The first weekend is anchored by the familiar Michael Jackson dinner and mass tasting at the University of Pennsylvania Museum on Saturday, and a big real ale festival on Sunday. I'll also be running the annual Golden Age of Philly Beer pub crawl tour with Rich Pawlak on Saturday.
Through the week we'll have five to ten events a night. We're thinking about a Belgian trolley night, with a trolley running a circuit among Philly's best Belgian beer selections, and a craft trolley night, the same thing for American micro taps. There'll be beer dinners, tastings, and "meet and greets" where you can meet brewers from across the area, the country, and the world. Guest brewers will be brewing in local breweries a month before to release special beers during the Week, more will brew during the Week in brewery open houses. We hope to have sponsorship connections with mass transit to make getting around easier and safer.
Then the final weekend will feature the return of this year's Philly Craft Beer Festival on Saturday [Update: unfortunately, the timing is not working out on this at this point. The Philly Craft Beer Festival will be on March 1. We'll see what else we can swing. -- Lew], and Pawlak and the vans and I will head west for the Great Western Suburbs Beer Hunt, a swing through Chester and Montgomery County brewpubs and bars we've been longing to do. We're hoping to line up one more big beer event on Sunday, and yes, that's actually ten days, not a week.
This is going to be big, folks. Events all week, all over the area. We want to tie in places as far away as the Lehigh Valley, the Brandywine Valley, Rehoboth Beach, and all points in between. You'll have so many options you will not be able to get to them all. You'll cry for joy.
This is not just me (and a good thing, too). This is conceived and backed by a combination of people who've been making beer happen in this area for years. Tom Peters of Monk's Cafe. Bruce Nichols of UPenn Museum Catering. Curt Decker of Nodding Head. George Hummel of Home Sweet Homebrew. Mark Edelson of Iron Hill. Chris Depepe of the Philly Craft Beer Festival. Tom Kehoe of Yards. Don "Joe Sixpack" Russell. Matt Guyer of the Beer Yard. Gene Muller of Flying Fish. Bill Covaleski of Victory. Carol & Ed Stoudt. Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head.
We'll have a website up soon. With people like this behind it, I guarantee you: it may not go off exactly like I've just laid it out -- one or two events may change -- but something big and long and beery and beautiful is going to happen in Philadelphia next year. Count on it.
Philly Beer Week® Mission Statement
The mission of Philly Beer Week® is:
► To create a nationally unique 10 day event drawing attention to our region’s vibrant beer culture and craft brewing accomplishments.
► To provide a late winter Philadelphia tourism opportunity in March, focused on hotel, restaurant, brewery, tour, and event bookings from guests eager to enjoy regional and international craft beers.
► To draw attention to the variety of outstanding combinations of beer and food offered today in the Delaware Valley.
► To honor the accomplishments of regional craft brewers and others who have contributed to craft brewing.
► To promote knowledge of beer and beer history through electronic media and the written word.
► To encourage the appreciation of locally brewed and international craft beers—in other words, to enjoy beer!