You have to crawl before you walk.

And I almost did that yesterday. The Phoenixville Pub Crawl was on my schedule, with longing eyes cast at the 12% Imports event at Teresa’s Next Door and Beers on Broad Street in Kennett Square, but it was after 2 in the afternoon when I left the house (there were things to do in preparation for the impending visit of high-maintenance guest Carl P, not least of which was teach Buddy to attack on command) and so I figured if the shuttle bus to Bridge Street arrived while I was at Sly Fox Phoenixville, I’d catch it; if not, I’d just stay put.

From what I can figure, I missed the last one by about five minutes. The Crawl always seems to start out on Rt. 113 for most people (parking is likely a real attraction) and so the Fox, and I assume The Epicurean, are slammed up front and then settle down to more normal Saturday attendance until a lot of people come back in the end. I stayed for an hour or so, then came home to see how Buddy was doing with the Carl P effigy I’d rubbed with raw meat and left him with (good dog!) an then went back around 5:30 because I knew that all or most of the brewers who were in town would be there for an after-crawl party.

This is what I saw and learned:

Brotherly Suds 1 (I’m going with the full name from here on out as was the case on the SF blackboard; BS1 has so many possibilities for nasty comments) is a really nice and flavorful beer at 6%, definitely sessionable no matter what you’ll hear in other quarters. It was suggested to me by at least two people that you could actually taste various characteristics that reminded you of beers from each of the five breweries involved in its making (Sly Fox, Stoudt’s, Troegs, Yards, Victory) and I will, if I can, get a growler before it disappears and check out that theory.

Standard Porter, this year’s collaboration between Brian O’Reilly and Standard Tap’s William Reed, was equally enjoyable on the handpump but, in all honesty, I miss Standard Ale, the beer they made the first two years. Call me a traditionalist (on the other hand, with Chester County Bitter now available regularly, the Porter will likely turn out to be a nice change of pace).

Sly Fox Berliner Weisse, a beer that is something like 18 months old and has never been quite “there” in various brief forays out into the cold cruel world before this, has suddenly emerged as an impressively drinkable and refreshing beer and, at 3.7%, will even meet the standards of the dictatorial sorts in terms of being a “session beer” (I’m going to finally tell you why I hate that term and all the fuss built around it one of these days real soon). It will certainly do the job until one of my summer delights, Grisette, is on the taps; it’s being brewed next week, I am told.

Speaking of summer delights, poor tired and haggard Bill Moore, a physical wreck under the unconscionable regime of a five-day work week he now must bear up under as head guy at Lancaster Brewing, informed me that Lancaster Kölsch was canned this past week and should be on sale everywhere soon.

And Weyerbacher’s Chris Lampe finally let the cat out of the bag, revealing that Dan Weirback, who misspelled my name again in a recent press release (not that I’m counting), is locked in the brewery under guard whenever there is an event such as PBW so that he does not get out and mingle with the public, which has turned out badly for the brewery in times past. Makes sense. Chris said he had some of the new Kilo Summer Saison for me if I had only caught up with him on the pub crawl. That was his story and he stuck to it.

The husband of the famous Whitney Thompson, a guy who is also apparently involved in the brewing industry in some capacity or other, showed up late. Several people went out of their way to talk to him and try to make him feel a part of things. It was both touching and kind of sad.

The arrival of Iron Hill’s Mark Edelson brought us a moment which sums up as well as anything the essence of craft brewing, the “we’re all in this together” attitude that is unlike what happens in any other industry with which I am familiar. The pub’s new Automated Growler Filler was operating for the first time yesterday, but with a few recurring glitches that had O’Reilly running behind the bar regularly to set things straight. Within minutes, Edelson, who’s more familiar with the equipment because one was installed in the new Iron Hill Maple Shade, was back there with him, tools in hand, trying to get it right. Can you even imagine the co-founder or one business helping his nearest competitor deal with an operational problem without even the briefest hesitation in any other industry?

Mark, by the way, was very forthcoming about Iron Hill’s current plans for expansion in a brief conversation we had. He said nothing about it’s being off the record or in confidence, but I will be at least somewhat circumspect in reporting it. I think pretty much everybody knows that the company is looking toward Maryland and he confirmed that. At the same time, he also said that the rumored Main Line location is a no-go because the sides were far apart on rent. That’s a real shame, both for the Main Line and for Iron Hill, which could only benefit in a major way from a readily accessible presence so close to the city. As for other options still under consideration….well, maybe Chris LaPierre will not be a lonely warrior in godforsaken New Jersey for too much longer or maybe a city slightly to the north of here which has been steadily emerging as a good beer town just might get a boost in that image.

Finally, I received earth-shattering news which will, among other things, change life at The Beer Yard forever by year’s end. Our community’s most peripatetic beer couple will be settling down just around the corner and, like good neighbors should, plan to stop by a for a nice long chat with soft and cuddly Mark Sauerbrey just about every morning. I, for one, can’t wait.

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