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The National Homebrewers Conference in Philadelphia: Part One

Adrian Kalaveshi, July 18, 2013 -   

In late June, my cohorts and I traveled east for the 35th annual National Homebrewers Conference. We joined 3,400 other conference goers in the City of Brotherly Love. The humidity of Philadelphia turns the dog days of summer into something nearly unbearable.

Luckily, there was lots of beer to drink. I'll discuss the conference and the learning opportunities provided by the homebrewer's trade gathering itself more in part two tomorrow; here I'll revisit some of the beer destinations we went to along the way.

We arrived in Philadelphia a day early to give us a better chance of checking out the local beer scene. Wasting no time, we headed out to Monk's Cafe right after depositing our bags at the hotel. In a short (but very humid) walk, we were treated to a great Belgian beer bar with an impressive bottle list. I started with a Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour and was relieved when we were able to get a table near the air conditioning. After a few beers, including bottles of Russian River Temptation Batch 004 and Cantillon Gueuze, we walked over to Monk's sibling restaurant, Nodding Head. We ended the night at a decent beer pub, The Irish Pol.

The following morning we boarded a train for Downingtown and Victory Brewing Co. I enjoyed the beer here, though I didn't find anything that was exceptional. I remember enjoying the Baltic Thunder as well as one of the few ESBs that they had on tap. Sadly, I have to admit that my favorite thing about Victory is their logo; I did get an awesome shirt.

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Beer being poured at Tired Hands

From here, we went to Tired Hands. This is a great nanobrewery specializing in farmhouse style ales. Perhaps the most interesting offering to me was the cask conditioned Farmhands with Rhubarb. One of the philosophies these guys have is that they experiment often and often don't reproduce a beer. Another beer we had here was called 5 Out of 5. It had peanut butter, vanilla beans, marshmallow fluff and a half-dozen other adjuncts. Verdict? Way too much for me.

We finished off the night at Standard Tap after first stopping at The Foodery (the latter being an oddly named bottle shop).

Other notable beer destinations we visited include:

Brauhaus Schmitz: great German food and beer. I had Kulmbacher's Kellerbier and Schwarzbier -- both of which scored highly with me.

Good Dog Bar: upscale bar food and a very good tap list. When we were here, they had Pliny the Elder on tap. I enjoyed an All Day IPA.

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Porch drinking at Forest & Main

Forest & Main: an awesome nanobrewery built into one of the oldest houses in Ambler, PA. They had two sampler flights: one with four British-style beers and the other with four Belgian-style beers. My favorite was the Folk Saison.

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Sampler flight at Tröegs

Tröegs Brewery: Hershey, PA has more than good chocolate. Tröegs was quite good and beat my expectations. I got the sampler flight and really enjoyed the IPAs and the Naked Elf.

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The front of the Lancaster Brewing Co

Lancaster Brewing Co: A great little brew pub. We got a huge sampler flight here and were not able to finish it all. I thought that the Gold Star Pilsner was quite good. I did not like the Strawberry Wheat.

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