The Countdown to Philly Beer Week: Sometimes there’s just too many choices!

Once when I was in first grade my grandparents took me to NYC.  I don’t remember toysoldiermany of the details but one thing that still stands in my mind was going to FAO Schwarz.  For those of you too young to recall, FAO was simply the greatest toy store on the planet.  Back before the net, the FAO catalog that would come before Christmas was pure crack for us kids.  But to actually travel to the Mecca itself- to walk in through those glass doors was like entering Nirvana.  The experience could be quite overwhelming, making it hard to know where to go and what to gawk at first.

That’s kind of how I feel now as I am poised on the eve of another Philly Beer Week.  For the next ten days our city (and metro region) will be deluged with amazing beer some of which is appearing here for the first time or is a one-off brewed just for the occasion.  There are chances to meet some true luminaries and to indulge in carefully paired beer dinners.  There’s also the chance to have some fun doing things like racing to assemble IKEA furniture after chugging two high proof beers and other such creative nonsense.

The problem is that it is actually overwhelming for me to try and assess what to do.  There are after all, only so many hours in the day, so much time I can take away from work and from family and of course only so much abuse my poor liver can endure.

Four or five years ago it used to be easier.. pick a few premium events featuring world class opportunities to taste or talk and make the time.  Now I feel like the first grade me all over again… I look at the PBW schedule and have no idea where to begin.

Look- I am not asking for a pity party here.  As problems go, this is a good one to have.

The best thing for me to do is to admit from the start that no matter how hard I try simply cannot do everything I want to.  Welcome to adulthood, Kirk.  In years past this would have driven me nuts. I would have lost sleep trying to figure out how I can be in two places at once or how I can skip out early on some critical meeting in order to try and get a taste of Super Dooper Barrel Aged Monkey Butt Ale with Brett (on the off chance that is actually a beer name I apologize for infringing on your IP).

But you know what, somehow it doesn’t matter quite so much anymore.  I’ve tried a lot of beers and I will get to try a lot more and even though I may miss out on some amazing brew that I will never get to taste again, what really matters is that my life is still pretty well complete and quite fulfilling anyway.

And so this year I will get out to the Brew Off and together with a Rabbi and a Minister I will again walk into a bar, but beyond that I may only get to a few other events.  And you know what- I’m OK with that.

But, if you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and go to something- anything- cause its all pretty good and this week is something that Philly does better than any place else on earth!

Thanks for indulging me and allowing me to use the blog as my confessional and who knows… maybe I’ll see you out there for Philly Beer Week.


PS-  I just learned that the iconic FAO in NYC is closing 😦

It’s Team Jesus vs Team Moses. The Biblical Brew Off is Back!

In what we hope will be bigger and better than ever.  For the second time homebrew teams from Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church and Congregation Rodeph Shalom will be laying it all on the line to see which faith makes the better beer.  Team Moses will be putting up three of their best in the rematch in hopes taking the title away from Team Jesus in the 2nd Annual Biblical Brew Off.     arm-wrestle

If you’re not familiar with the event from last year, each congregation will brew 3 beers which will then be blindly evaluated by experienced judges according to BJCB standards.  The team with the highest total points from their 3 beers will be declared the winner.  There will also be a people’s choice- each person in attendance will get to vote for their one favorite beer. 140510_biblical brew off_030

But we will not simply be competing for bragging rights.  Every penny above our actual expenses will go to charity.  Team Jesus will be competing for North Light Community Center while Team Moses will be competing for Jews in All Hues. The purse will be split with 2/3rd going to the winner’s charity and 1/3 to the other – that way everyone walks away a winner.  Of course we encourage donations and will give someone from each charity a few minutes to talk about their mission.

This year promises to be bigger and better than ever since it will be part of Philly Beer Week.   Join us on May 30th at 7pm at Rodeph Shalom (615 North Broad Street).  Tickets are only $35 ($40 at the door) and can be purchased here.  That gets you unlimited samples of the different beers, BBQ from Deke’s (a local favorite) and a commemorative pint glass. Best of all its all to benefit local people in need and those who struggle to fit in.


Big thanks to our judges (Nancy Rigberg, Danya Henniger and George Hummel)  Brian Biggs (who drew the logo), Home Sweet Homebrew, Michael Mafodda of Blue Stone Creative Group who got us the glasses and shirts, Erin Wallace and Barren Hill for donating the People’s Choice prize and to James Zelniak of Punch Media for all of their support!

Nerd Alert!

Once a nerd, always a nerd.  My middle and high school years were spent dressed in fiendcamouflage and memorizing the contents of the Fiend Folio.  I went to Renaissance Faires, in costume, complete with chain mail I made myself.   If that doesn’t make me a nerd, I don’t know what would.

In the decades since much has changed about my life.  My clothes come from Nordstrom Rack as opposed to I. Goldberg. I haven’t played D&D in almost a decade (though I still have my  Fiend Folio) nor can I remember the last time I shouted Huzzah! or walked around Mount Hope with a smoked turkey leg and leather mug.

But the fact is, I’m still a nerd.  I just swapped memorizing facts about fictional monsters for memorizing the ABV and IBU’s of hundreds of different beers.  Instead of reading countless trashy novels of Gor,  I now devour the equally lurid but far longer and better written Game of Thrones.  Once a nerd, always a nerd.

But every once in a while my nerd-i-verses collide.  And so it was that last month I found myself immersed in the great nerd-convergence as fragments of my past mingled with the present.

Like millions of others my wife and I were looking forward to April 12th with great anticipation.  If you need to ask why April 12th was significant then I fear that what I am about to share will just leave you shaking your head.  But please read on nonetheless.

As the date for the premiere of Season Five of Game of Thrones drew closer we started planning how we could celebrate this momentous event in the style it deserved.

DSC_4200And so it was that my many nerdy facets starting coming together.  The fact that I am now a beer nerd came in handy.  I went to the cellar and broke out my collection of all five (to date) GOT themed beers from Ommegang.  My wife did her part by breaking out her GOT cookbook- a Feast of Ice and Fire.  And Ren Faire background kicked in by providing chain mail, a shield and sword to decorate the table.



The end result was either totally awesome or kind of sad (though how anyone could failDSC_4221 to be impressed by bacon lattice topped beef pie is beyond me).  It all depends on whether or not you are a nerd.  Because no matter how much your tastes may change over the years the fact remains: once a nerd, always a nerd.  And you know what, I’m just fine with that.