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This week, it's all about the beer and brewers

CL: We're joined by two guests who help put some fizz into our local brew scene. Suzanne Woods (a.k.a. "Beer Lass"), a Philly-based beer blogger, also a rep for Sly Fox in Royersford. Suzanne was a judge at the Inquirer Brew-vitational taste-off

Here is an excerpt of Craig LaBan's online chat, this one the Philly Beer Week 2010 edition.

CL: We're joined by two guests who help put some fizz into our local brew scene. Suzanne Woods (a.k.a. "Beer Lass"), a Philly-based beer blogger, also a rep for Sly Fox in Royersford. Suzanne was a judge at the Inquirer Brew-vitational taste-off of new local beers. Whitney Thompson, a brewer for Victory Beer, is one of the few active professional female brewers in the region. We'll get their unique take on Women in Beer, great beer in general, and their best bets for the Beer Week festivities. So - what're you drinkin', friends?

Suzanne Woods: I'm sipping on a De Dolle Special Reserva 2006.

Whitney Thompson: I'm currently enjoying a 2010 750mL bottle of Iron Hill West Chester Saison, goes great with my lunch (and so many foods!).

CL: Suzanne, you have quite an amazing 'beer palate' - winning this year's Mystery Beer blind-taste competition at the Memphis Taproom by correctly identifying 27 of 30 beers. How does one train their taste buds to be so sharp? Are there techniques we can all work on to hone our own tasters into shape?

SW: I've pretty much devoted the last 10 years of my life to beer. Everybody has their "thing" and I chose for my thing to be just that. They say women have more tastebuds then men, which gives them better palates. I am not sure if I believe that. I was just having a convo with Tom Peters and I agree with him that it's a mere matter of articulating what you're tasting, not gender specific. As far as tasting tricks, I'd pay attention to your surroundings constantly on a sensory level. Also - some beer experts suggest drinking wine from time to time then revisiting beer . . . how about that?

Reader: Whitney, can you tell me about the collaboration beer with Stone and Dogfish Head?

WT: Saison DuBuff is a super-cool collaboration with Victory, Dogfish and Stone breweries. The brewmasters have been teaming up at each location to make this herbaceous brew on-site and Victory's brewery is the next stop! On June 10, Bill Covaleski, Sam Calagione & Greg Koch will be at Victory to brew the Buff in the morning, and will be joining fans for lunch and happy hour on the same day. Reader: Suz and Whitney, what do you make of all these collaboration beers? Are they just a marketing gimmick or a sign of camaraderie in a competitive world?

WT: I would certainly say that the collaboration beers are a sign of camaraderie in the craft brew industry. I think it's great to see brewmasters team together and form something new, funky and exciting.

Reader: Thanks for taking the time to chat about beer! I'm a newcomer to CC and will be taking in my first beer week. What should a newbie make sure not to miss?

I say go for anything that involves beer and food! The pairing of the two makes for such a wonderful experience. I'm teaming up with Denise Jones from Moylan's (a California brewery) for a beer dinner at Cooper's in Manayunk which will be great fun, food and booze!

SW: I have a few things that pop out to me. 1) Monell Chemical Sense Center is joining Jodi Stoudt at London Grill for a little beer/food tutorial on Monday June 7th at 3:30. It's one of the only non-Sly Fox events I am attending all week. And it's totally female-run. 2) Trivial Pursuit with Sam Calagione at Resurrection Ale House with a slew of DFH beers on tap that Wed afternoon at 2. 3) Smoke em if you got em at YARDS on Sunday the 6th. 20+ smoked beers, and BBQ from greats like Sweet Lucys and El Camino. 4) For the Ladies and Gents - a let-loose rock-and-roll type event with the IPA beer club at Johnny Brenda's 8 pm on that Thursday June 10th. 5) There are several festivals from which to choose . . . I'm curious about the global beer expo on that first Saturday at the Simeone Auto Museum. It's the first time Philly Beer Week has used the venue, and their should be a bevy of beers you don't normally get to try. 6) Nodding Head is doing a cool early happy hour event with vintage beers and stinky cheese with brewing rock stars Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey and Sam Calagione. 7) Must mention the Bells event at City Taphouse. The most Bells ever on draft.

Reader: Love Beer Week! Wondering if you all can suggest a new restaurant to try during Beer Week?

Reader: Try Kraftwerk. They have 50 taps and some really good options.

CL: Definitely one of the interesting new ones to try-Fishtown is really starting to kick it up. . . . Other good new beer spots worth checking out-Hawthorne's (for brunch), Devil's Den (OK, not a new place, per se, but a new chef that's made it worth eating a meal again).