No hops at all to a whole buncha lotta hops.

Thursday night, Earth, Bread + Brewery.

Friday Afternoon, the Sly Fox Hops Project gathering.

Today, recovery mode.

That’s it. See ya…

What? You want more? Damn, I thought I could sneak by…

I did my penance session at The Beer Yard a bit later in the day Thursday, then caught a 3pm train downtown to meet up with Steve Rubeo at the Market East station. Along the way I got a real object lesson in the foolishness of wearing your worn-out heavy rain/snow shoes when the tread has totally worn off the bottom, taking an ass-over-teakettle flop-er-oo at the station as I hustled to the ticket window. It was one of those old man falls, breaks hip, goes to hospital, never comes out things, except nothing was broken and I popped right up. Sure did feel dumb though.

Steve and I caught R7 train to Mt. Airy and trekked three blocks up to Germantown Avenue and then another couple of blocks down Germantown to EB&B. Simple and easy, although we had to use umbrellas on what was one of the rainiest days the year–maybe ever–in these parts. Where Germantown and whatever street it was intersected, we were briefly waylaid by Suzanne Woods, who was doing a Sly Fox promo at a beer retailer on the corner. As we were leaving, she instructed us to “try the Seed or the Mexican,” which sounded a lot like directions for scoring drugs but which was all about the flatbread, which is as much an attraction at EB&B as is the beer, it seems.

We were way early, ahead of the masses aside from famed-beer-writer-being-held-back-by-his-collaborator Mark Haynie, who drove up with his wife from Ocean City because he’s crazy and drove back home afterwards because he’s even crazier. Ms. Peggy Zwerver greeted us (and bought us our first round, what a gal) as we did a very fine cheese plate and split a small Seed Flatbread (garlic olive oil, pine nuts, roasted pumpkin & sesame seeds, herbs and mozzarella cheese) which was super fine. we later sampled from a House Special Pizza (lots of peppers of all colors and other goodies) which was brought out when the crowd arrived and it too was grand. Love the way they cross cut the pies into small strips, making for easier eating. Tom Baker told me they got the concept from Paul Saylor at American Flatbread in Vermont, the place where this craft beer and flatbread thing got its start.

The beers? I had all four house brews on tap when we arrived and a sample of the porter when went on shortly after we arrived because one of the original four kicked. They were, in the order I chose, The Bradley Effect (a black Gruit ale which was my absolute favorite and about which more later), Here’s Brucker (a wonderful alt), Schuylkill Bitter (ditto on the wonderfulness) and just a taste of a Dubbel whose name I cannot remember, the one that kicked. The beer which replaced that one was Berkun’s Finger, a Baltic Porter which is not–I repeat, is not–Perkuno’s Hammer revisited. For one thing, it’s only 7%, For another, no black-eyed peas were harmed in the brewing. And finally and most important, Bryson did not have a hand in it.

About the Gruit. I laughingly told Tom it had “a great hop profile” because, of course, there were not hops at all. just five herbs (Peggy rattled ‘em all off for me but the only one I can remember at the moment is yarrow) and dark malt and grand and mildly chocolate-y it was. It became my beer for the rest of the night and if I still had my home dispensing system, I would gladly steal me an empty sixtel and sweet talk Tom into filling it for me and then come back here and sit out the rest of winter happily.

It was a Sly Fox Promo Night that drew us out in the awful rain and a goodly crowd turned out to enjoy the lineup. A lot of familiar faces and if Haynie came the farthest among those, certainly the Inevitable Ruch was second in that regard, a pair of older gentlemen, unlike Your Humble Correspondent, who can still brave the night with impunity. Brian O’Reilly was on hand, of course, and both Ms. Woods and that nice Tim Ohst showed up too. Steve and I had planned to ride back to the Beer Yard and my car with Brian but each found an aternative solution to free Brian from all that responsibility, Steve with Tim and I with Iron Hill’s Larry Horwitz (who is, as I understand it, required by statute to show up and support O’Reilly in all his endeavors).

(SIDE NOTE: Fortuitiously enough, at least with regard to this posting, Beer Fox Carolyn Smagalski chose this very weekend to post a photo of Larry and me from last year’s Philly Beer Week Philadlephia Beer Geek competition on her FaceBook page. If nothing else, this gave Steve Mashington something to do so he could while away the lonely hours; check out the comments.)

I do not really grasp the whole FaceBook concept, by the way, but somewhere along the way I create one of my own and keep getting requests to be friends with people, some of whom I even know, and even (for the first time ever) listed my birth day there, which is how it all got out there a few weeks back. I did not list a year and how they came up with whatever year they have is still a mystery to me.)

Any, even though Larry took the great circle route home (coming from the city, we managed to approach Wayne from the Paoli side), I managed to drive the subsequent 20 miles safely, if slowly, and awakened Saturday in time to go out and get some money in the bank(good) and out of PayPal via ATM (bad, but necessary) and head over to Sly Fox Phoenixville for the final IPA Project gathering. Along the way, because I had to drop off some tailoring that needed doing, I discovered the Last Recession Proof Business: dry-cleaning. I had to stand in line ten minutes while people stood at the counter and threw money at the owners an every hanger on the multiple and very long moving racks behind the counter was filled. The $52 bill I was presented was a bit of a clue as well.

At Sly Fox, I found my best buddy and good pal Lew Bryson at the bar (the accolades are because he had a late “get well” present in hand for me–I will say only Redbreast, for the cognoscenti) standing with Matt Guyer, who had told me less than 24 hours earlier that there was no way he could possibly get away from work to attend). America’s Most Beloved Beer Writer (© Liquid Diet – the Blog, 2008 )–the “nice” gloves are officially off again–posts extensively about his visit, which is nice because now you can all just go there and I can just be superficial (straight line alert; go for it, guys).

I will also steal this photo of Matt, me and the legendary Bill Moore which Lew took there and posted because I like it a lot. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to tell those who ask “I’m the skinny guy in the middle.”

I had the Odyssey 2007 on cask (very good), Odyssey 2008 on cask (not as good; check with me next year), Cluster and Mt. Rainier (both good, the latter better), which is my usual approach (it is apparently one that Lew has been mulling over for years according to him post), chatted up some pals and came home.

I was planning on not drinking today but I must admit that writing this post was achieved with the aid of a glass of Yard’s IPA. That means the doors are opened and anything can happen. Also, since I know somebody will ask, the headline above refers to no hops at all in the EB&B Gruit to a whole shitload of hops in all those Sly Fox IPAs.

OFF TOPIC BONUS: I don’t know how many of you are college basketball fans, but this has been a helluva three days for the profile of the Atlantic 10 Conference. First St. Joe’s loses by a mere three points to #16 Villanova, then Temple upsets #8 Tennessee today and Massachusetts follows with an upset of #23 Kansas, the defending national champion. Understand, I would have been desperately upset if the Hawks had pulled off that upset of Villanova, but I am impressed overall. I had thought that would be the toughest Big Five game for the Wildcats, but now the Owls looks scary.

As it turns out, I am an alumnus of both institutions, so it’s a win/win situation.

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