I helped judge the semi-final round of Philly Beer Geek last night at Manayunk Brewing, along with Manayunk head brewer Chris Firey, Grey Lodge owner/genius Scoats, Iron Hill North Wales brewer Larry Horwitz, New Holland brewery rep (and Philly beer guy) Dr. Joel Armato, and the incredibly busy Suzanne Woods. We 'judged' the efforts of twelve prospective Philly Beer Geeks: quick-answer beer trivia (that ranged from ridiculously easy to shockingly tough), beer-brewery match-ups, essay questions ("Describe your favorite beer style as a bird, a meal, and a disease" was my contribution), two-up tasting, beer-related joke/tall tale/poem/song/interpretative dance, and the "Last Chance" round.
Well, it dragged at times. Some of the contestants were very young (how can you be a "Philly Beer Geek" and not know what Red Bell is?), some were shy, some brought props (Steve Hawk's poster-sized photo of himself reclining vampishly on a bar, shown above, brought the house down), and a couple clearly didn't really know that much about beer, but got through on sheer stones and quick wits. High points of the night: Hawk's clear -- weird -- passion in answering a one-word beer geek question; Doug Hager (soon ("May. Probably.") to open Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street) mentioning in the answer to a different question that he used to sing a "beer version" of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," and singing it when we asked; and one real honest contestant -- sorry, can't remember who -- saying that we didn't want to pick him "as the face of Philly Beer Geek, you want her," pointing at fellow contestant Gina Talley.
In the end, we picked five, and forced Doug Hager and Mike Hore into a sudden-death playoff for the final spot. Which was fun. So was the Krook's Mill Pale Ale they supplied to the judges: nice, nice stuff, Chris! Great time talking beer with folks, good hanging out with my fellow judges, and thanks to Jason Harris and Carolyn Smagalski for putting the whole thing together. The Finals are next Thursday at Manayunk: I guarantee some fun.