WHEN Mayor Nutter cracks open the official first keg of Philly Beer Week at Opening Tap at the Independence Visitor Center on June 4, the big splash will launch 10 days of beer drinking at more than 875 separate events throughout the city and suburbs.
Eight hundred seventy-five.
It's kind of a daunting number, one that challenges me both as director of Philly Beer Week and as a certified beer freak.
It's impossible to hit them all, of course.
So, as the vaunted Hammer of Glory - the iron keg mallet that has become the symbol of "America's Best Beer-Drinking City" - makes its way through the streets next week on its annual Olympic-torch-like run, I'll join thousands of beer fans in the task of sorting through the massive calendar at www.phillybeerweek.org.
Here's my sudsy nirvana.
Six beers I gotta try
- BS1, a hoppy, extra special bitter by Stoudt's, Troegs, Yards and Victory, brewed at Sly Fox. It'll be the official first keg at Opening Tap, hammered open by Mayor Nutter.
- Exit 6, a "Wallonian rye beer" brewed by Casey Hughes of Flying Fish with help from Ric Hoffman, of Stewart's Brewing, and Gordon Grubb, of Nodding Head.
Every one of FF's Exit Series has been a winner; this one - made with rye, saison yeast and the Japanese zest hop Sorachi Ace - won't disappoint. It'll pour at Nodding Head on June 5.
- ExPorter, the collaboration Baltic porter brewed at Sierra Nevada in Chico., Calif., by a bunch of local beer folks. My contribution amounted to tossing a bucket of hop buds into the steaming brew kettle, damn near losing my wedding ring in the process.
Look for it at the Grey Lodge (Mayfair), London Grill (Fairmount), Monk's Cafe and Fergie's (Center City), Teresa's Next Door (Wayne), Isaac Newton's (Newtown) and elsewhere.
- Standard Porter, a London-style porter, brings Standard Tap owner William Reed back to the brewhouse with Brian O'Reilly from Sly Fox. Reed, the former brewer at the old Samuel Adams Brewpub, in Center City, will tap it at his restaurant on June 4.
- Fatty Boombalatty, possibly the greatest beer name ever, is a strong but "dangerously drinkable" Belgian-style witbier from Wisconsin. Meet its brewers at the Lucky 7 Tavern (Fairmount), June 9.
- The Dissident, an oud bruin, is the first beer from the highly regarded Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., to pour (legally) in Philadelphia. At the City Tap House (University City), June 6.
Rock star brewers
More than 75 brewers will be carousing through the city, including:
- Jim Koch (Sam Adams), Wendy Yuengling (D.G. Yuengling & Sons), Tom Kehoe (Yards), Phil Markowski (Southampton Ales & Lagers) at the Forum of the Gods, a roundtable moderated by Joe Sixpack at Johnny Brenda's (Fishtown), June 10.
- Sam Calagione, of Dogfish Head, and Tomme Arthur, of Lost Abbey, bring their funky vintage ales to Nodding Head (Center City), June 9.
- Armand Debelder, the lambic blender from Belgium's 3 Fonteinen, will headline at Teresa's Next Door (Wayne), June 7.
- Franz Inselkammer, the Bavarian brewer from Ayinger, will host at the Iron Abbey (Willow Grove), June 9.
- Lord Chesterfield from Yuengling will be tut-tutting at various venues, including Locust Rendezvous, June 9.
- Philly beer salesmen are rock stars in their own minds, so they'll get what they deserve at the Dunk the Beer Rep charity fundraiser at London Grill (Fairmount), June 10.
Beer geek heaven
The City Tap House (University City) will pour 31 different varieties from Bell's Brewery of Michigan, June 7.
The ultimate liver buster
The Craft Beer Express will cart beer lovers among 10 city bars June 9. Just try to hit them all. www.craftbeerexpress.com.
Sign of the apocalypse
Joe Sixpack at Le Bec Fin. That's right, the premiere French restaurant will pour French ales with three courses by Georges Perrier and Chef Nicholas Elmi. And they're going to let me in to host the dinner, June 9.
Weirdest back-to-back events
Mrs. Sixpack will lead an hour of torso stretches and elbow bends at Happy Hour Yoga at Yards Brewery. An hour and two blocks away, at Delilah's Gentlemen's Club & Steakhouse, the ladies will be stretching, bending and lap dancing during Boulder Beer's Sweaty Betty Blonde Night. I'm going to limber up at both, June 7.
6 reasons to drag my butt into the suburbs
- Beers on Broad Street (Kennett Square) is an outdoor fest featuring American craft beers, June 5.
- Meet the Brewer Bar Crawl (Phoenixville) is an afternoon of rubbing elbows with brewmasters at 10 P-ville bars, with shuttle service, June 5.
- Haddon Pub Fest (South Jersey) will show off eight great beer bars just off the PATCO line, June 5.
- Russian River Sunday at the Hulmeville Inn (Bucks) will demonstrate why the Northern California brewery is the niche darling of craft-beer cognoscenti, June 6.
- Suburban Kickoff at TJ's Restaurant & Drinkery (Paoli) brings in brewers and reps from Stillwater, Cigar City, St. Somewhere, Voodoo, Boulder, Dark Horse, Ballast Point and 12% Imports.
- Belgian Beer Brunch at the Drafting Room (Exton) with the Bruery, Ommegang, Conteras, Brouwerij Bockor and a chocolate fountain. June 13.
One event I won't attend
The Ladies Tea at the Belgian Cafe (Fairmount) is exactly like an afternoon tea, only replace the Earl Grey with St. Bernardus 12, and double the cackling, June 5.