Saturday, March 10, 2007

Philly Beer Week 2008

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!

23 comments:

mark said...

WOW! A 10 day Beerapalooza with everything you could want and more! Real Ale! Beer Dinners! Historic Tours! Pub crawls! And all of it taking place in our proverbial backyards. You were right - we didn't think BIG enough. Not nearly BIG enough! I better put in for that week off. Cry for Joy - I think I'm starting to tear up already...

Richard said...

What a great idea and what a fantastic event for Philly and the region. Lew, to tell you the truth, I really don't care who is elected the next mayor for the city next year and whether he or she embraces this event or not. This is a special and spectacular event that is all about the people of the Philly area. It's about their heritage and the culture of this region. Beer has been part of the fabic of the day-to-day life since day one of the founding of this nation in this city.

A week of celebration....of understanding and appreciation of one special quality that is very unique to Philly is very awesome indeed.

Lew, if you need any assistance, especially in organizing and planning the sojourns into the surrounding suburban setting, please let me know what I can do to help.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. This almost seems like over kill. I'm not sure how many people would be up for 10 straight days of beer events. I think your die hard geeks would try to attend as many as possible, but your average Joe? He has to get up and go to work the next morning. He would probably pick and choose, and attend maybe 1-3 events. Don't breweries, beer bars, brewpubs, already do this? Have beer dinners, pub crawls, tours, tastings? Putting them under the banner of "Philly Beer Week" accomplishes what? Makes people more aware? Unites breweries, beer bars, brewpubs, and puts all their events on "one page"? I think the bottom line here, is what is in it for the businesses that are going to participe? Is it going to give them more business, and make them more money? Lets hope so. If not? What is the point for them getting involved in this? Especially since they have their own promotions, events, pubcrawls, etc. Philly doesn't have the "trolley ride" in place already? I know in many places, "the party train"/trolley that takes people to and from bars in the city is a regular Friday/Saturday night thing. Why not a beer trolley with local bars, breweries, and brewpubs, every week? I really don't see anything new, or ground breaking here. I don't see this as "big". I hope it is successful, but I think it just might be too much of a good thing.

Lew Bryson said...

Putting it all under "Philly Beer Week" gets more attention, gets more participation from outside, gets more press and attention for local brewers and beer bars, and, hopefully, interest bars and restaurants that don't currently have craft beer on tap. It may also unlock some marketing money to really get people's attention in a large regional area.

We don't expect anyone -- or at least many -- to do 10 straight nights. The aim, certainly the aim from the Philly tourism council, is to get folks coming in from out of town to stay over for a few days for events, one weekend or the other.

I help Malt Advocate magazine do WhiskyFest in Chicago. This one day event has grown into four days of whisky events in Chicago. The local whisky bars and restaurants love it, the local liquor stores love it, and Chicago whisky enthusiasts love it. It attracts the master distillers and whisky experts (like Jackson, Murray, Hansell, Regan, Cowdery) that they want to talk to. We hope Philly Beer Week can do the same thing.

But if you don't think ten days of multiple daily beer events is a big deal, well, don't go. No problem.

Patrick said...

Lew-

Count me in. Let me know what I can do to help.

Anonymous said...

Putting them under the banner of "Philly Beer Week" accomplishes what? Makes people more aware? Unites breweries, beer bars, brewpubs, and puts all their events on "one page"? I think the bottom line here, is what is in it for the businesses that are going to participe? Is it going to give them more business, and make them more money? Lets hope so. If not? What is the point for them getting involved in this? Especially since they have their own promotions, events, pubcrawls, etc.

What I don't understand is wanting to tie in places outside the Philadelphia area. Maybe I read this wrong, but is there going to be a push for events held outside of Philadephia, for a "Philly Beer Week"? If so, I don't get it. I see a real disconnect here. I mean, if I am sitting in a bar in Rehobeth, DE or Harrisburg, PA, how am I participating in "Philly" beer week? I'm all for those breweries, brewpubs, beer bars outside the Philadelphia area being involved in the events going on in the city. But if they are going to hold these events at their locals? What is the point? I think if you are going to have a Philly beer week, then the focus should be on anything, and everything Philadelphia. Especially if the goal here is to bring more people into the city of Philadelphia, and to celebrate the history and beer culture the city has to offer. If you are going to celebrate the heritage and culture of the region, then the focus needs to stay as local as possible. If not? Then you might want to rename the week, to "Craft Beer Week", and then when it comes to beer, all bets are off.

Lew Bryson said...

Patrick,

Thanks. We were hoping (okay, figuring) you'd be in.

Lew Bryson said...

If you are going to celebrate the heritage and culture of the region, then the focus needs to stay as local as possible.

The committee as currently constituted (and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation) doesn't see it that way. Way we see it, the strength of Philadelphia as a beer town is the area. We have strong beer bars well out into the surrounding area, and that's where the lion's share of the breweries are.

Besides...we're going to exclude Victory? Flying Fish? Sly Fox? Just because they're not in Philly? Nah. We want to be as inclusive as possible.

We don't think there's going to be any problems with people complaining that "this event isn't IN Philadelphia, it can't be part of Philly Beer Week!" We figure people will just say, "Cool, an event that's out here where I live."

And as far as what businesses are going to think...you can see in the comment above that we've got Patrick on board, who runs the Drafting Room in Exton. Patrick does plenty of events, and good, well-attended ones. But he evidently sees value in being associated with Philly Beer Week. We're just getting started.

I will pass along your comments to the Committee, though. Thanks for the input!

Anonymous said...

Besides...we're going to exclude Victory? Flying Fish? Sly Fox? Just because they're not in Philly? Nah. We want to be as inclusive as possible.

I don't think any brewery, beer bar, or brewpub not in Philadelphia should be exclued. All those places are not that far from Philly, so their ties to a Philly Beer Week is not a stretch. Reboth and Harrisburg? That is another matter. You would be better served getting places outside the Greater Philadelphia Area involved in events in the city. Again, if I'm sitting in Delaware, at an event at Dogfish Head, what does that have to do with "Philly Beer Week"?

Tim Hyland said...

Lew,

I think this is a great idea that could really help raise awareness, nationally and locally, about how strong the Delaware Valley is in the world of beer. Best of luck!

Lew Bryson said...

If you're sitting at Dogfish Head...you're still not making a lot of sense. Philly is a major market for both DFH and Tröegs. If they want to be in the event, what exactly does it matter? Always with the negative waves, Moriarty.

You've made your point. If you have anything new to say, say it; otherwise, we're moving on.

Steven said...

Always with the negative waves, Moriarty.

Whould'a thought you were an Oddball fan Lew?

Why izzit it's always the "anonymous" folks who are the most critical?

Bryan said...

I believe that one point that is at least implied in the mission statement is the importance of "region." In many metro areas, there can be a strong sense of anti-city as well as anti-suburbs.

We need to get past this inclusion and exclusion silliness and understand that the city doesn't exist without the suburbs and the suburbs certainly don't exist without the city.

So, if we are as great of a region as we believe we are, then why not put on an event that is like none other? This will be an event that not only showcases our great beer region, but our region as a whole.

ksqdomer said...

very exciting. Good luck. I can't imagine the immensity of planning this since I know what it takes to pull off a "little" event.

BTW, who's your charity? :-)

Tom said...

Wow - what a great idea!

Lew Bryson said...

See...that's the beauty of this. They're really all independent events, so there's no single charity. And most of them are going to involve paying for the beer (because I'm sure as hell going to push for that), so there won't be a charity. Everyone makes money, and we state that up front. So there's no wrangling about "your charity's not my charity."

That said...if I'm involved with an event that DOES benefit a charity, I'm backing American Red Cross Blood Services.

bill mc said...

I was away and missed the announcement, but it looks unbeleivable. Will there be a website with more particulars?

I was at Lake Placid at my wife's friend's father's condo, right next door to Lake Placid Brewing Co. And a short jaunt to Great Adirondack Brewing, as well as a stop at Davidson Brothers and I can tell you in my uneducated opinion they haven't missed a beat!

You were right, this is a HUGE event.

Oh, and I feel its better to be all inclusive, then there is less chance of having hurt feelings. Who knows, this could blossom into something that will rival Oktoberfest.

I will do what I can to patronize this event and consume freely!!

Beav said...

10 days to celebrate what we all (obviously) love about beer? Superb! Truthfully, I think that the extended time period will give more people the opportunity to participate who may not be the "beer geeks" or "beer festers", but love good beer anyway. I know I for one will count down the days until the real ales are poured! Go Philly! Go beer!

Joshua said...

Lew, you are a genius.

I wish I had a 2008 calendar so I could mark the date right now.

Carl Long said...

Phatz here. I think it is a Brilliant idea and will be a magnificent event. I look forward to attending as much as I can get to

Steve said...

Sounds like a fantastic idea Lew. I'll do everything I can to help.

The concept of promoting local beer and offering an entertaining scenario to do it in is what this area has been craving.

Casey Roncaglione said...

What do I do before 2008?

Lew Bryson said...

As I sit here, anticipating Philly Beer 2009, and basking in the thought that the inaugural PBW 2008 was such a huge success -- emulated all across the country, named Best Event by PhillyMag, over 350 events -- all those "Anonymous" objections seem pretty damned silly. We rocked, and Philly Beer Week grows and grows.