Monday, June 13, 2011

Free Beer! (The PBS-39 MicroBrew Festival)

A little less than a year ago, I started Beer on my shirt… with the following mission statement:

So the idea is that someone with very little experience in drinking “good beer”, I just so happen to fit that description, starts to explore the world of beer beyond the Millers and the Buds. As of right now, I have very little knowledge about beer but plan on learning as I go and sharing as I learn. From this point forward my beer drinking endeavors will focus on American craft beers or micro-brews along with the occasional interesting import.

Again, that was, and still is, the mission. And it has been a lot of fun learning and sharing - which sounds much more astute than just saying that drinking beer has been a good time. However, behind it all has been one singular and self-serving goal: FREE BEER!

I entered my thirties a few years back with three big goals:

Goal 1: Achieve wedded bliss. I actually checked that one off the list a few days before my 30th birthday with nuptials to Wife. However, it did take a few weeks until I could be certain it was bliss.

Goal 2: Achieve domicile. We bought a house earlier this year. It is still standing and we live in it, so I considered that goal conquered.

Goal 3: Achieve child. Wife and I made a very lovely Baby. She is very smart and strong and is currently preparing for her life as a Maneater/Rich Girl, with repeated listens to the Greatest Hits of Daryl Hall & John Oates.

With this holy trinity of goals achieved, free beer is really the next logical goal to strive for as a thirty-something male that doesn’t shave his face daily. In my forties, I imagine the goal of “free beer” will be replaced with “sports car”.

(Obviously, if I were a daily shaver, becoming the best possible shaver I could be would be the next logical goal, before free beer, for reasons that should be totally apparent (if you’re not convinced of the validity of the “becoming an amazing shaver (if you’re a daily shaver)” over “free beer” argument, see me privately via email or social networking sites). To be clear, this logic does not apply to users of electric/battery powered shaving devices.)

I just went triple parenthetical on all your asses.

Regardless, I am extremely proud to report, that with the help of the Nice People over at Go Indie and the generosity of PBS-39, free beer has been achieved by Beer On My Shirt… in the form of a complimentary VIP ticket to the PBS-39 MicroBrew Festival this past weekend at Coca-Cola Park (home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies.)

Now, I had already purchased 5 VIP tickets before I got the good news, but it was still an exciting day here at the Beer On My Shirt offices. I called my mom. She didn’t answer. She thinks a blog is some sort of swamp/beach hybrid environment or an animal that resides in such a locale.

So I rounded up my posse, because Beer On My Shirt rolls mad deep, and we headed over to Coca-Cola Park. Pony P, Wife of Pony P (also playing the part of designated driver), Jon “Crazy Legs” Fox, Brother Joe, Brother T-bone, and myself, along with 200 other VIP’s, entered the fest, got our tasting mugs, and immediately started sprinting like it was Black Friday back when people had money.

Actually, there was no sprinting. There was no need. Because only 200 people were let in for the first hour, the atmosphere was very relaxed with lots of room to move and time to talk to the brewers and fellow brew drinkers. The VIP tickets were a few bucks more, but in my opinion well worth it, and going forward I will be purchasing VIP tickets to brewfests whenever the option is available.

My first stop was at Boaks Beer, a small batch brewer from New Jersey. They offered a Belgian wheat beer called Double BW, which was very light, refreshing, and with some nice crisp flavors. Everyone I was with had a sample and everyone agreed it was a great start to the day. I stuck around to try Two Blind Monks, a Belgian Dubbel with a subtle combination of tartness and chocolate. I may just make the trip to Stockerton Beverage, one of the two PA distributors listed in their pamphlet, at some point this summer to pick up a case of each of these. Boaks also had an Imperial Stout available, Monster Mash, but it was tough to get a feel for it out of the little sample mug - it had weird combo of heavy flavors and light mouthfeel that I wasn’t a fan of. Overall, my stop at the Boaks’ table was definitely one of the highlights of the day. The Double BW also won the award for the best wheat beer of the fest.

SIDENOTE: For those of you new to reading about beer, “mouthfeel” is exactly what it sounds like - how it feels in your mouth. Feel free, dear reader, to make up an inappropriate sentence to follow that last one. The possibilities are endless.

Next, I had an IPA from Climax Brewing, another brewer out of New Jersey. The IPA had a similar hop flavor as Sam Adams Latitude 48, a taste that reminds me of a stronger version of the quinine flavor in tonic water, of which I am not a fan. The general consensus from my fellow festers was that it was a bit watery. Fans of Latitude 48 should check this out if you have the opportunity.

Overall, the festival was a blast. Things got quite crowded when the masses were let in, which after the wide open spaces of the VIP hour was a little difficult to adjust to. One aspect that I really enjoyed was the inclusion of the Lehigh Valley Homebrewers And Keystone Homebrew Supply - their tables were lined with pitchers filled with homebrews, and while I didn’t get the opportunity to try them all, it was a great experience to talk with the individual brewers about the different flavors and ingredients. Also, I really liked the mix of bigger craft brewers like Victory with the smaller, lesser known, craft brewers from the area, like Climax and Barley Creek - beers that normally I would not have the opportunity to try.

I’d like to say that I learned a lot, but it is difficult to learn when drinking for 3 straight hours. Even when you take notes, which I was - none of which make any sense after about the first 30 minutes. In fact, after minute 45, 3 out of 4 notes were just quotes from the Beer On My Shirt caravan of drinkers:

Somebody: “How did you get that scar on your forehead, Pony P?”
Somebody else: “Yeah P, how did that happen?”
Pony P: “Multiple things happened to my forehead.”

The one major disappointment of the day was the absence of Bear Republic Brewery, brewers of one of my favorites, Racer 5 IPA. They were supposed to be there and I was excited to see what they would bring along, but alas it was not to be. Luckily, there were plenty of other delicious brews to help drown my disappointment.

Here are a few of the other highlights from the day:

  • Victory Brewing’s Yakima Glory. I had this once before and was disappointed. Perhaps it was an old keg or just not what I was looking for that particular night, but at the fest it was delicious. Probably my favorite of the day - a nice balanced IPA with a hint of cocoa. It won best IPA for the day from the judges.
  • Victory Brewing’s Summer Love. Never had this before. A very German tasting ale - similar flavors to a pilsner, but smoother and without the bite. Very enjoyable and a nice change from the flavors of a lot of summer seasonal out there. Also, who doesn’t want an Olivia Newton John/John Travolta duet in your head for the rest of the day.
  • Speaking of tunes, Brother T-Bone got a little tuned and I walked into this: “who is writing these songs, I’d compare it to Wesley Willis - these lyrics are on a whole other level. Wesley Willis does things with words I could never do.” He was talking about how much he likes Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” For those unfamiliar, Wesley Willis penned such hits as “Vultures ate my dead ass up”, “I whupped Batman’s ass”, “The Chicken Cow”, and “Rock n Roll McDonalds”. Now, I am not trying to pass judgment on either Willis or Adele (I‘m not a fan of either), but rather on T-Bone’s comparison of the two. The mind of a genius works in mysterious ways.
  • The Ship Inn. Very English tasting ales that were very well done. I usually don’t enjoy too many English Style Ales but their Killer Bee Pale Ale and Best Bitter were both very drinkable and delicious in an understated sort of way. They are located in Milford, NJ and I plan on making the trip at some point this summer. They were super nice, too.
  • Round Guys Brewing. I had a 5 different beers at this table and they were all delicious. They are hopefully opening a tasting room in Lansdale, PA soon. Their Doppel Sticke Alt and Fuzzy Muttness Stout were definitely among my favorites of the day.
  • After the fest, we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. I ordered chips and salsa and 2 entrees (I was hungry). The waitress said if I could eat all that she would buy me desert. Yadda yadda yadda - I ended my day with free ice cream.


  1. A juried beer festival? Classy! When I lived in Southwest Colorado, the beer festival's winner was determined by which keg got emptied first.

  2. Public Broadcasting does things right!