Glen Macnow of the of the mid-day show (along with Anthony Gargano) on WIP 610, the Philadelphia sports talk radio station, does an annual summer search for the best popular food items in the area, stuff like pizza, hoagies & cheesesteaks. He tastes dozens of examples of the selected item, picks his top choices and then those choices, and all the items tasted over several weeks, are available to the public at a Saturday afternoon gathering at a local restaurant where panel of celebrity judges chooses its winner and the public chooses its. Macnow busts his ass at this task and has done, from my perspective, a thorough, balanced and fair job every time.
This year, the focus is on….beer.
Local breweries and brewpubs and homebrewers (a great twist) will be asked to bring three beers to the radio studio a couple of afternoons a week where they will be presented for tasting by Macnow and Gargano. To simplify the task and avoid everybody bringing only their biggest and boldest brews, they’ve set up three categories: light-bodied, strong/dark and seasonal/one-off. Don Russell, who used to do a weekly beer segment on the show, is their guide/advisor for the event.
Both hosts talk about beer a lot and like the good stuff. They are not experts by any stretch (Gargano always goes to Belgians when the beer topic comes up but Chimay seems to be the only brand he knows), but that’s a good thing and a reason why I’d urge all the brewers, brewpubs and accomplished homebrewers to get into the game. I see this as an opportunity to bring the best beers this market has to offer in front of an audience which, I’d guess, is not as aware of the possibilities at many levels as we all might wish. The fact that the selections will be made and honors awarded by the radio guys and a “celebrity” panel rather than overly informed beer geeks should provide an interesting perspective on how crafts strike less dedicated palates.
There is a thread about this on BeerAdvocate (there’s a thread about damned near everything on BeerAdvocate) in which many are arguing that the judging panel should be made up of proper beer folks (Russell, Bryson and others, even the liked of me) but I think that would be exactly the wrong idea. They’ve already got Russell on board (and I wouldn’t object to his being part of the celebrity panel), but having the judging done by a broader range of people than you’d find at some formal beer event is the way to go.
There will be plenty of opportunities to talk about and explain craft beer. Brewers or brewery representatives will present each trio of beers on the show and can provide their stories and those of their beers. If that’s not enough, the hosts could consider interviewing publicans, wholesalers and retailers or beer writers/bloggers a couple of times to provide even more inside stuff. But there is no reason that this event should be handled any differently than were those in previous years in terms of choosing the winners. This is meant to be fun, not the Great American Beer Festival.SHARE