January 3, 2009

<<< 2008<<< The Good, The Bad, The Dashing and the Drunk -with photos!

Favorite beers-=

This is an impossibility…so I will note a few beers that took me by surprise by style.

Pale ale-Iron hill's IronboundWhen Lance returned from Thanksgiving break- he returned to his Gay St. post...he was excited about his Ironbound. He said it was one of the best beers he had all year. And this Lance guy is pretty modest. I was curious. I went to pick him up on a Friday night to sample some myself. And he was right. It was as fresh as fresh gets. Not bitter. Downright delicious. I hate when he’s right.

Wild Best use of muscat grapes second year in a row.

Captain Lawrence Cuvee de Castleton. There’s a reason this beer won a gold medal in 2007. There’s also a reason why I started and ended my 2008 with it. I love it. I really really do.

Bourbon please- No, I am not going with the much sought after Founders Kentucky Bourbon Breakfast stout. Here's why...

When it was on tap at Monks, I was on my way there, and it kicked.

I figured- Groundhog’s day at the Grey Lodge. I’ll get there early and wash my eggs down with Founder’s Finest. Nope. The last drop dripped prior to my arrival. So- I decided I wouldn’t give myself the 3rd opportunity to strike out. I would forget about the Kentucky Bourbon breakfast stout forever. It couldn’t let me down again. But, another month passed and I eventually had it at a Founders night at South Philly Tap Room. What a lineup that nightRubeaus, Devil Dancer, the Centennial IPA.

I enjoyed it immensely. But the bourbon beer that really fed my bourbon baby was the Founders Backwoods Bastard. Their Dirty Bastard with a little tender lovin’ Kentucky care. I had to do a quick review for Philly Weekly- so I grabbed a mix-a-six from the Foodery and headed to the Institute to share the goods with Heather- the Mrs. of the owners. We were both having a bad day until the bastard helped drink it away. She put it on tap within a week I think;)

There's IPA's and then there's Troegs Nugget Nectar and Bells Hop Slam

I can’t believe I like this, but I do. I probably could only drink oneokay maybe twoSouthern Tier Choklat took me by surprise this spring. At 11% it was a beast.It was over the top tootsie roll and I liked it.

Welcome and welcome back-=-A few great breweries made their way into the market, or back into the market. Bear Republic, Elysian and Russian River were welcome additions to towers around the city and surrounding areas.

Favorite style

To consume: Schwarzbier in general. Black Bavarian waded its way into my liver on more than one occasion. I even had a 25 minute phone chat with a sprecher this summer. Nice people. Nice beer.

To cook with. If the recipe called for sherry- I would use Sly Fox dunkel lager. If the recipe called for chardonnay- I would use dunkel lager. Risotto? Dunkel Lager.

I would sip it, add it, stir it, eat it, sip more of it.

It was a good fall of cooking.

End of year local scene stealer….Victory’s dark Yakima Twilight- double ipa. In the twilight of 2008, I sat at the Memphis Taproom bar and ordered a beer I had never tasted, nor ever heard of and I was rather impressed.

Favorite beer memory- t o u g h one. Phillies Broad st. We had beer club at the new Tied Housethen took the show on the road with a back pack full of Sly Fox cans and wore bike helmets to protect us though we had no bikes.??? Honorable mention for a great night of celebrating a Vote for change with the election of Barack Obama. Tria, Joses and Monks with a Ham Shank thrown in...A really fun night.

Favorite New bar- also tough-geez…Why did I just put myself on the spot like that.

Memphis tap room (they’re like Ben Hur sweeping the Oscars here.) Fried Pickle Spears and a bar owner that tells you what your drinkin’ as soon as you sit down. And whether he just tapped a keg, is trying to kick a keg or is just excited about a beer, you’ll be drinking it gratefully. Earth (bread + brewery) also gives me that “everything’s right in the world feeling.”

And a nod to newcomer Lucky 13. Clark will make you feel right at home.

Favorite old bar- Brigid’s. It’s our local. It’s a u. You meet the person next to you and 9 out of 10 times you hope to run into them again over a Taras Boulba or Lost Abbaye Serpent stout.

Favorite bartender-Ron Johnson, Standard Tap. Just when I think I have had my last “one more”he starts with the half pintsmy goodness. Also- an honorable mention to Zach of the Good Dog, for always being somewhat disappointed when whiskey is overlooked or the tab is asked for.

These are also the two bars that are most likely to get sick of seeing me...

I love your beerand your writing’s not too shabby either-=

Tomme Arthur. I’m not sure if it’s his detailed summary of a Thomas Hardy’s tasting from 1968 till 2003 or his Charlie Brown analogy while trick or treating with his 2 year old daughter..but he certainly writes a good read.

Great Column Topic-= Don Russell Daily News Nov. 7th

“Big Bottle Trend: Beer that looks like wine

Favorite Photo of the Year-= Yards paved the way for better beer back in 1994. Now they're brawling their way back to the top. Credit: Brenda Carpenter

a few other Great photos

Casey Parker meets the legendary Bobo- and they fall in love

Two great guys...Patrick Mullins (Sierra Nevada) and Brian O'Reilly (Sly Fox)

Favorite tipsy "Lance" memory- We were at the Fieldhouse...the Convention center sports bar that can boast 40 tvs, but not one decent beer on the day they opened their doors. To boycott the establishment and mock the bartender, Bazookaphobic lanced chewed his way through some bubble as he sipped on a Peach Twisted Tea- while Jennie Hatton looked on in slight embarrassment.

Happiest Lance Memor- Receiving a text from Denver that he won the Gold for Saison. And second-when I

would be reading his journal and receiving his messages while he was riding up to Cooperstown. Wait- does that mean I like him best- when's he's not around ?

Worst hangover-There's some serious competition here. But I am going to go with BEER WEEK day 9. Still-at 9 pm sitting outside the Museum of Archeology, I honestly felt the worst I have felt in my life. It was beyond a hangover. My body was pleading for a recess.

Sure Phillyist named me Queen of Beer Week, and Scoats made me a nifty crown. But I was nothing short of a royal mess.

If Iron Hill’s Paul Rutherford and Chris Lapierre were morphed into one face after a few drinks and a possible meth bender…...it would look like this...(note the guy had a ponytail).

sort of, no?

Best Beer Sales Rep-= He’s more than a sales rep. He’s an enabler. A marketing guru. To me, a beer icon that actually deserves endless recognition…Philadelphia Brewing Co. made a splash on the scene with their session beers this year with the help, salesmanship and no bullshit coolness of Chris Morris. Sometimes his texts are so funny I want to save them. But then I think its weird. I mean I can only take the adoration so far, right Jennie?

Best bite-= was not at a bar. But a cozy little sushi joint about two blocks away from the Belgian Café, called Umai.

Although lance isn’t a champagne person. It was a good option for the sushi. We ordered a Godzilla roll. And in its monstrous deliciousness, there was crab tempura wrapped in sticky rice and topped with strawberries, avocado, macadamia nuts, and honey drizzle. Its been almost a year-and I still can’t stop thinking about that sushi.

Best drinking uniform-= A tee shirt sported by the Local Brewers' pub crawl during Philly Beer Week with Steve Mashington’s face attached to the head of a baby…Sort of bizarre, but let it be known that he really works hard to keep looking that gingery good.

Best place to have Aventinus by a little ash-= Devil’s Den. Have you been there and drank beer by the fireplace yet? How about now?

Best Facelift-= Dawson St. is looking rather sleek after closing down this summer. Also to note…I’m pretty happy about the enhanced menu from Khyber’s kitchen. Who doesn’t love a pork roll dog?

Stand by your Man: Dan Conway

Favorite new Beer Activity -=Beer of the Bike.

A fun group of cyclists that enjoy the glug as much as their gear. Though I only made it out on 2 rides this year- I did ride 60 miles in one day to Sly Fox Phoenixville.

Oldie But Goodie-= the Lookalike snapshot that Jack Curtin has wanted for years.Chris Brugger of Troegs and Chris Lapierre of Iron Hill.

Cease and desist that didn’t resist-=Perhaps Aspen wasn’t on everyone’s beer destination list. But it was our local other than Brigids. I loved their grilled cheese and tomato soup, their pulled pork quesadilla, their burger, their crab cakes, you get the point They had a random selection of wonderful beer if you but knew to askOrval, Rochefort 10, Local oneor if you wanted to sit with a few pints of O'Reilly’s stout you could do that too. A cease and desist order was placed on their door in the midst of Philly’s Tampa Bay trampling..and has yet to be lifted..

Best drink-= Best place to get dreamy duck and drinks- be it beer, wine, Madeira or a good ol' gin fizz. remains Southwark. Truly in a liquor league of its own. Timeless. One is likely to catch and chat up Nancy and Bill Barton, Curt Decker, Tom Peters, or the Dibruno boys there on any given night. And,you never know when they might be tapping a firkin!

Best New Snack- Fried Green Beans @ Prohibition Tap Room...with an honorable mention to Kite and Key's Corn on the Cob.

Best Dessert- Pancake bread pudding at RACE ST.

The most unique take on wings-= Tied House for their tandoori wings with yogurt dipping sauce.

Best Head apparel- My bottle caps queen crown that Scoats made for me during Philly Beer Week's Ides of March event at the Grey Lodge.

"As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." The little bar that could just turned into a bigger bar. With two floors, wii by booth and a dance floor

Kudos to Heather and Charlie Collazo of the Institute for being determined to run a good beer bar at 12th and green while running a family of five children.

Best new buddy- Boy-Collin Flatt of phoodie.info. the chap came up to me feeling pretty good and drunk at the Armory Oktoberfest and introduced himself, we immediately came to realize we shared a few industry opinions and have been chummy ever since. He’s real, mildly arrogant yet kind-my new favorite boy beer buddy. A shout out to Rick Sellars of Draft Magazine for being good beer people as well.

Gal: Jen Slavic of Triumph brewing company. Is it okay to have a non sexual girl crush? This gal is charming and witty. Intelligent yet down to earth. At home- whether drinking martinis at Tinto or Cans on 2 street.

Most flattering moment-There’s a reason why Bob Gedof wrote “I don’t like Mondays.” They’re tough stuff. I’d work all day and tend bar all night. By the time I got to Jose Pistolas- I would pray for some sort of rejuvenation or run across the street reluctantly to big bucks and get a caffeinated beverage of sorts. But one week, I found a second wind via a Quizzo team at Joses. They had taken a liking to me over the weeks. They were an interesting bunch. Drank PBR, lived in Camden and made Jose's their home on Monday nights. On a dreary November day, they brightened it with glitter and magic marker, by making tee shirts and declaring Nov. 10th Suzy Woods appreciation day. I'll never know why they took such a liking to me, but I was flattered.

Best Beer Lady-=Carolyn Smagalski. She’s a true lady and truly an amazing spirit. We are fortunate to have her "foxiness" in our industry.

Best Beer Guy-= Bryan Kolesar. What does he do? What doesn't he do?What project management duties is he neglecting so he can bring you up to date tap lists and events? Plus he’s sincere. And a great example that nice guys don’t always finish last. Have you met Patty?

Bryan’s been on the scene a bit longer, but an honorable mention goes out to Dr. Joel of New Holland curing thirsty livers with his New Holland magic potion every chance he gets.

Greatest Beer Conversion: I know she still drinks PBR from time to time, but my sister, Michelle, is now buying craft beer by the case. She said it felt "very 27 of her."

Best beer giftsEast End brewing company’s “Gratitude” by way of Bill. A 6-pack vertical tasting of 120 minute and World Wide stout 2004-2006 via Johnny Medlinksy, Firestone Walker’s 11th anniversary ale via Tom Peters, and a random Triple Karmeliet from my new friend Andrew.

Favorite Jersey Bar- High St. Grille. Get in on their Craft Beer Tuesday Tastings. They have traditional Irish Music and great company, like Joe in the photo below. Everything is just about perfect until You remember that you’re 45 minutes away from home. And that ain't so sweet.

Best City event- Of course Philly Beer week was monumentalbut that was 10 days so I am just going to have to disqualify it. And go with the Labor Day Mystery Beer weekend at Memphis Taproom. I remember when it was in concept. Spanky would talk about it over the summer, but when it cameI was definitely hooked. 33 beers -3 days. I devoted those three days of my life to testing my palette and I didn’t do too bad...Besides the beers, Ricky's tank top was pretty sweet.

Best Burbs Event

Sly Fox Goat Races. The most fun you can have on the first Sunday in May. God Bless the Bock! Honorable mention goes to TJS stellar list for their 5th yr. anniversary party.

Favorite Sly Fox beer- Gang Aft Agley, no Schwarz, no- Gang Aft Agley.

Favorite fance shmance with a good beer selection- remains a toss up between Amada and Southwark and XIX (although I've yet to experience Osteria to its fullness).

If I'm slummin' it, I'm slummin it with-=

Miller High Life

Food network star mentioning beer the most- If I am watching tv- I'm watching the food network. And Emeril Lagasse mentions beer more than anyone else.

Smartest Guy on Sansom St possibly the city-= Curt Decker. He always has something to offer. A witticism, a story, an insight. One of the best work hard/ play hard examples out there.

Funniest bar owners with an Eagles addiction- Joe Gunn and Casey Parker of Jose Pistolas. I knew these guys liked the eagles and all, but when lil Joe Gunn quatro was born in April-he had an Eagles jersey on just about a minute after he had a name. That’s dedication.

Bar owner most likely to give you a lesson on the principals of infrared technology- Will Reed

Best Link to “I'll have another stout”-= goes to Jack Curtin on a slow day in August for linking to my “Name that Nipple” painting entry. He saw it as the beginning of a period for beer industry nudity. He feels its time has arrived.

Best Email- from Lew Bryson after he thought it was a bit creepy that I remembered both his birthday and his anniversary

Guess I'm still a little freaked from when you knew it was my birthday and had it on yer blog. Mind you, if I'm gonna be stalked, you're on the top of my "preferred" list!”

Best Heckler-= toss up- giving it to Dan Bengal. Jack Curtin was a contender…but Dan tried just a little bit harder. They can also duke it out for best recovery.

Best Host-= Tom Peters has the most. Whether it was Monks or Belgian Café he graciously welcomed Philly Beer Week drunkards- granted-= established and respected drunkards- into his world class establishments with first class style. His partner isn't so bad either.

Best Guests-= The Neibhur brothers, Spence and RyanWhether it’s one or two... As soon as they arrive in Philadelphia, the night is about to change.

Inability to take a photo without looking like a rapper-=This is an easy oneCasey Hughes. I don’t know if he raps in his spare time. I’m not sure if he’s trying to look sexy like TI? All I know is his new espresso porter brewed with both Sumatran and Ethiopian Espresso is indeed very sexy.

Look for it in the coming weeks.

Nicest Random Encounter-= A gentleman Jack, not Daniels, not Curtin but another local beer lover came up to me at the Armory at the Oktoberfest and had the most pleasant things to say to me. He read my blog and followed my crazy Sly Fox mission. What he didn’t know is that morning- my car window was bashed, my watch and phone were stolen. We were out too late the night before- so I needed a new head, stomach and liver.

I was feeling rather discouraged. And- he said just a few sentences to me that reminded me of why I do what I do.

You never know who’s reading and you never know what those words might mean to them.

Thanks Jack.

Delightful find of 2008: The Blue Ox Bistro in Fox Chase.

Best Tee Shirt hanging in a bar-= The Abbaye -= PPA Phucking Phascists Assholes. Ph*&$*#$% Beautiful.

Best Monthly programming: The Side Carone of my favorite spots that I don’t get to nearly enough. This year they started doing craft beer promos- tying in music, beer and food. All wrapped in one patron-pleasing package.

Best Musical Event accompanied by awesome beer-= Not for your average audience that’s for sure. A session at Ric Hoffman’s house in Delaware. If only I drank just a bit more water that night... An honorable mention for smuggling in phoenix pale ale into the First Unitarian Church for the Felice brothers.

From hoffmans house

Bottle deal of the year-= It’s only how much? Malheur
Brut Dark @ the Foodery 750 ML for $16.95 during a firesale.

Travel-= Baltimore for Max’s Belgian beer fest for Valentine’s day. Who needs truffles when you can sip on De Struisse’s Struislensis.

Brewery I should see more next year-=Manayunk Brew Pub

Many Years of Happiness for Larry Horwitz and Whitney Thompson and Nick and Meg Johnson who both said I do in 2008.

Welcome to the Wacky Woods/Sharp world--=Kellin Thomas Sharp

August 16th, 2008.

The saddest day of my year-= I drove through the Garden State to beautiful Rumson, New Jersey to say Goodbye to a friend in beer, Jay Misson. My mother had grown up on River Rd. But I hadn’t seen the area since my childhood. Many thoughts were passing through my head. And I couldn’t stop crying. I was terribly sad. And I looked across the room at his beloved Kelly, whom I had never met, and saw her strength coming directly from him. I felt his presence. And I wasn’t quite as sad. But as I type this, its still fresh. I am terribly sad once more and I simply miss him. A big thank you to Lew Bryson for letting him shine on.

The Happiest Day of my year-= My 30th Birthday. I was flooded with potable presents which was nice, but what was nicer was seeing friends from high school up to current day come out to toast my time here to date. I started the day with a text from Lance at 12 am on the dotand it just got better from there.

I am one lucky lady (minus that whole Christmas fiasco)

Cheers and best wishes for 2009.


  1. Thanks for the great memories from an awesome year. It was great being able to attend many of the events you recapped, meeting so many people, and making new friends. Looking forward to a great '09.

  2. awesome awesome list.

    so if Memphis Taproom got the nod for best new bar of 2008, I wonder if 12 months from now Local 44 will be at the tops for 2009?

  3. You're too kind. You are also my favorite beer buddy. It's been a great '08, but we have big plans for '09.

  4. Shame to see closed: Ludwig's Garten :-(

  5. Great year end stuff Suzanne!

    I miss Ludwig's too, maybe this place will be a good replacement.

    I'm hoping it will be close to the
    great Radegast Hall & Biergarten
    in Brooklyn.

  6. You like me, you really like me! I would like to thank the folks at I'll have another stout for this honor. I also would like to thank my competition (Jack)for giving me a run for my money. I can't forget my management team, the Southampton Boys Inc. They do great work. And last but not least, I have to give a big shout out to the P.P.A. for giving me all the material I needed to win. Thank you so much, good night!