Philly Beer Week One Last Once – the Philly Beer Geek Competition.

Taking time away from my busy schedule to drop in on the Monday Night Tasting Group at Sly Fox Phoenixville last night and being immediately dissed as a “typical white guy” by MNTG majordomo and grand poobah Wardell Massey, all gussied up in his dark gray business suit and white shirt and tie and looking nothing at all like a beer geek reminded me that the Philly Beer Geek competition is the one portion of Philly Beer Week that I have not yet reported on at any any length here.

Dell was one of the finalists on Thursday, March 13 at Johnny Brenda’s, and just like his comment Monday night was pretty amusing, he had a truly funny moment during the evening, also at my expense. Shucks, the only time he wasn’t funny was when it counted.

I was one of a panel of celebrity judges (which meant that they’d heard of one or two among us) who went through a series of questions and challenges with the eight contestants who showed up, each of them winning or being selected in a preliminary round at some local beer venue. From the beginning, eventual winner Steve Robson, representing Iron Hill North Wales, and Dell, representing Sly Fox Phoenixville, were at the top of every judge’s list. When we broke for a meeting to select the three finalists, we started with those two and then chose Aaron Fournier, from Drafting Room Spring House, as the third, whose vote total was just a tad higher than two others.

During all this, I can’t remember when, the contestants had the opportunity to turn the tables and question the judges and Dell chose to direct his question to me, asking me to name the Hieronymus Bosch painting or paintings used on the labels of the De Proef beers from Belgium. Yeah, lots of luck with that. He stumped me (and the whole panel), so he got points for that accomplishment and pure geekiness.

Later, each judge got to ask a question off-list (we had lists of questions in each of the various judging categories provided us) of whichever contestant came up when it was our turn. I got Dell as it turned out and, not knowing that a somewhat similar question was to be the final one asked of all of them in the showpiece event of the night, I asked him “if you were a beer and I picked you up in a bar, what beer would you be?” He grinned and didn’t even hesitate: “For you, Jack, I think I’d have to be Dogfish Head Golden Shower.” Big laugh, ten points from every judge, including me.

At that point, Dell might have even moved into first place, although Robsen’s answer to his question also scored very highly. In any case, it was still, theoretically at least, either man’s title to win.

Then each of the trio was asked to tell us a “beer joke.” Robson and Fournier each told relatively funny, if familiar, ones. Dell, well, Dell choked. His joke, badly delivered to boot: “Two men walked into a bar. Thud.” I mean, he even got the punchline wrong (it’s “Oww!“). That was game, set, match, even though he came back strongly in that final round, where the question called for each man to describe his first date with a beer of his choice, doing a riff about a night with Victory’s Old Ho(rizonal). For Robson, however, that was a tour de force, as he told of driving up to Adamstown to pick up Stoudt’s Old Abominable and went on for six or seven minutes in a ramble that was as good as many a Johnny Carson monologue.

The better man won, no doubt about it, but our man Dell was in there until his “thud.” He says he’s never entering again. We have 11 months to change his mind.

This was a great evening, by the way, and Johnny Brenda’s is a tremendous venue. It was the first time I’d seen the upstairs music stage since all the renovations first began and I was blown away. By night’s end, there was talk of trying to do a Battle of the Brewery Bands there one of these days. It’s a Brian O’Reilly concept in which there would be a panel of judges consisting of beer writers and music reviewers and the former would judge the bands and the latter the beers each brewery brought. That sounds like fun as well.

Though I’m not sure I want to get into a rut as a judge of some sort every time I venture into JB’s.

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