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Highlights from Philly Beer Week 2012

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Forum of the Gods. From left to right: Colby Chandler, Greg Stone, Rosemarie Certo, Mark Edelson, and Paul Kavulak. [Photo: Stephen Lyford]

Another Philly Beer Week has come and gone and we're happy to report that we made it through in one piece. Philly Beer Week isn't a week at all, in fact it's ten solid days packed full of more beer events than you can wrap your beer-loving brain around—717 events over the course of the week.

Virtually ever bar in the city hosts events, brewers, tap takeovers, games, and all matter of beer-centric reveling. The wonderful (and slightly dangerous) thing about Philly Beer Week is that there are beers being poured all over the city that you may never see again—memorable, limited releases that are pretty much impossible to say no to. It's hard to attempt moderation when there's a 25 tap Mikkeller takeover (more on that later), classes on sour beers, and world renowned brewers sidling up to bars all over town.

We managed to make it to more than our fair share of events—here's a peek at some of the highlights.

The Farmers Cabinet, a standout beer bar all year round, hosted a Mikkeller takeover devoting all 25 of its taps to the gypsy Danish brewer's vast and varied creations. We checked out Black Hole Tequila Barrel Aged Edition, a rich, syrupy Russian Imperial Stout that was all about coffee grounds and agave smoke. The Hunt for the Big Pine, a collaboration with Moonlight Brewing, didn't overdo it on the pine notes and kept a sharp, almost saline crispness. But out of all of Thomas Schon's awesome brews, Drink it in the Sun was the beer that most lived up to its moniker: golden, bready, and insanely drinkable...pure summertime.

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The Farmers' Cabinet. [Photo: Stephen Lyford]

Our favorite Italian gastropub, Alla Spina, was home to loads of great events, including an Brewer's Night starring a holy trinity of Italian craft brewers: Leonardo di Vincenzo of Del Borgo, Teo Musso of Baladin, and Moreno Ercolani of L'Olmaia. Baladin's Nora 2011 Sour Edition is a spicy and tart favorite, but it was L'Olmaia's Karkade that was the real stand out. This sour brewed with hibiscus hit all of the marks with puckery, floral notes. Another standout event hosted by beverage director Steve Wildy was a late night happy hour with Iacopo Lenci, the mohawked brewer from Birrifico Bruton complete with plenty of Danzig and sips of Dieci, a sherried barley wine that is pretty hardcore.

Toward the end of the week Scott Schroeder of The South Philly Tap Room hosted the always hilarious Lagunitas 420 Night. An evening of super hopped up brews paired with a menu of stoner snacks and plenty of black light posters...You get the idea. We enjoyed a Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale, sweetly hoppy and potent, with a McRegan. (That'd be sausage studded cornmeal pancakes layered with foie gras, strawberries, maple syrup, and creme fraiche. Oh, yeah.)

For the diehard beer-eratti, Forum of the Gods is easily the week's most highly anticipated event. Each year five of the nation's top brewers get together for a panel discussion at Philadelphia Bar and Restaurant (PRB, natch). This year it was two Southern California dudes, Greg Koch from Stone Brewing Co. and Ballast Point's Colby Chandler, along with two hometown heroes, Rosemarie Certo from Dock Street and Iron Hill's Mark Edelson, plus Paul Kavulak from Nebraska Brewing.

Moderated by Joe Sixpack, this year's forum was predictably fantastic with loads of back and forth about everything from the dreaded "fizzy yellow stuff," (that's how Koch refers to macros), thoughts on brewing beer with elicit substances, and how to introduce middle America to more sophisticated brews. Pouring during the Forum was an ultra rare barrel aged Black Betty Imperial Stout, creamy and full of the best combination of chocolate and whiskey .

So that was our Beer Week in a nut shell...well, not all of it, but some of the late night happenings are probably best left at the bar. It was a great time with loads of memorable sips, but we're thinking that after a wild ride like that it might be time to for a juice cleanse, or a least a brief beer hiatus.

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