August 8, 2007

Fall Preview of Beers for Rittenhouse Mag..


My life is beer.

I retired from drinking mass-produced swill ten years ago, and have been dedicated to the craft beer / specialty import segment ever since. I spent 15 months working for the Goliath of the Craft Beer Industry, and now I get a paycheck signed by one of the David’s. But “David” is a very nice guy and makes one heck of a stout. I remember my first La Fin Du Monde much better than my first Yuengling. But not as much as my first Rochefort 10.

I plan my vacations around festivals. If my mother sees me in Arizona, it’s probably because the Great Arizona beer fest is that weekend. Not because I want to visit the fake ghost town again. Few things make me happier than Goat cheese and Saison. (Stop your wine and cheese parties already). I’ve had beer for breakfast (God bless the Caffinator). Just last week I was drinking a delectable Founders Scotch Ale, Dirty Bastard, while my boyfriend sat next to me eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Crème Brulee’ ice cream. I am the presiding drinker of a beer club exclusively for women (more on that later.) I am currently in school to become a certified Beer Judge. My fridge is full of beer from three continents. I have been asked by Beers of the World Magazine to judge the World Beer Awards.

It’s crazy. But it’s my life.

Sure, I’ll have an occasional glass of Tempranillo, maybe some Savvy B in the summertime, whisky once in a while (sometimes on pancakes), but my preferred potable can be found by the pint.

So it was not a surprise when Claire asked me to write a fall preview of beers and some places you can drink ‘em. I had some in mind and I figured I would check in with industry peers. Then, I was taken by surprise when I asked my friend Dan, sales guy for Shangy’s Beer Distributors (just call them your Hoegaarden Angels), to recommend a fall beer for me to discuss. He said, “Can I recommend a cider instead?” He told me of the farmhouse cider out of Flushing Michigan. J.K. Scrumpy’s. The J.K. stands for CiderMaker, Jim Koan. Scrumpy is a strong English Cider. To date my favorite cider was the Clos Normand. (Beau Monde, Royal Tavern). Another notable is the Entienne Dupont (Monks). This one actually took me back to my tothood when we would miss naptime and take field trips to the orchard. This didn’t have quite the body of our local Ziegler’s, but it was reminiscent of yesteryear.

Jim Koan uses nothing but 100% Apple Juice and yeast. They blend 25 varieties of apples. Their mystery main apple though is an old fashioned Northern Spy. But, they also use Macintosh and others. All apples are grown organically to bring out the purest flavor. This cider weighs in at 6%.

Most of today’s ciders sold in America are produced by an apple concentrate. That doesn’t necessarily mean their horrible, they are just a bit too sweet for me. But J.K. Scrumpy’s is a proper cider. Hard cider was quite the popular drink in America in the 1800s. It was the most abundant and affordable beverage next to water. Families would tap a keg on Sunday and it would be gone by week’s end. But it was one of the first liquids to disappear with the temperance movement, pre-prohibition. We are now the only country in the world, which you can mention “cider” and the first thought would be a non-alcoholic beverage.

To pick up a bottle of JK Scrumpys for your very own refreshment, head to the city’s favorite mix- a- six beer emporium, the Foodery. (10th and Pine or 2nd and Poplar). And although these words are preceded by, “The Scrumpy Season.” You’ll be happy to know that’s all year long.

But, I love the fall. Many people long for lazy days with later sunsets and sun kissed cheeks. They don’t mind waiting in immobile traffic to feel the sand between their toes. Not me.

I hate the sand.

I’d rather bike through a gradient of leaves with the season’s debut of my favorite hoodie. And there’s nothing better than a good haunted hayride. AND- there’s no better way to calm my nerves before a haunted hayride then with a fall fermentable. In addition to cider, the other obvious two, are pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest beers.

This fall, Philadelphia will have plenty of opportunities to taste a variety of takes on the aforementioned styles.

By the time this goes to print, Dock Street Brewing Co. will have resurrected at 50th and Baltimore. Give them about a month or so to get their pumpkin ale ready.

On September 23rd, Sippin’ by the River will officially welcome fall while bringing out all types to the benefit of Chrons and Colitis at Festival Pier. That’s a beer/wine combo day. For the rest of the year until the next Sippin’ by the River, you will probably reference that day for one reason or the other. (I’m being kind here).

Look for the locals, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin ale, Dogfish’s Punkin’ Ale, Sly Fox’s Octoberfest, Stoudts FestBier, Flying Fish Octoberfish. But- it doesn’t necessarily have to have Pumpkin or “fest” in the name to be appreciate as we retire our shorts.

I will be just as glad to have a Troegs Rugged Trail Brown Ale in my hand during said hayride.

Then, one week later, one of my favorite events of the year, Around the World in Eighty Yards" will take place on Saturday, September 29rd from noon till 8:30PM. Get there closer to noon. The entire mid town village throws a party…Fergies, Vintage, Raw, Ludwigs, El Vez. There will be beverages and bites to eat from each “country.” In addition to food and beverage, there will also be a lively arts scene.

There are plenty of autumn activities to keep your pallets busy. Fall fests will be going on at local brewpubs like General Lafayette and Victory. There are some great beer bars outside the city that Rittenshouse residents can take the R5 to. There’s Theresa’s Next Door in Wayne, TJ’s Everyday in Paoli, or the Flying Pig in Malvern. Check blogs such as,,, and to get the scoop.

And for the ladies’ eyes that are grazing upon this, consider taking a Wednesday evening sometime to join In Pursuit of Ale, the women’s beer club of Philadelphia. Hang out with women who thumb down a lemon in their Hefeweizen, who chose Cantillon over Cosmos and beer festivals over shopping extravaganzas. Info is available at Learn the parallels of wine and beer. Even the most dedicated Pinot drinker, might just pick up a Fine German Pilsner.

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