Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat:
CL: I wanted to pass along a couple of gripes that struck me as odd considering our wealth of beer culture: Why is there no good take-out beer venue in Old City (where Triumph isn't allowed to do growlers, and the uninspired bottle selections at Rotten Ralph's and Nick's Roast Beef are definitely P.C.-pre-craft)? . . . Also, has anyone noticed that Chinatown remains one of the city's last Craft Beer-Free Zones. With all the great Asian beers and beer-friendly food, someone needs to do something about that.
Reader: I can't think of a bar worth visiting in Chinatown let alone a craft beer place.
CL: Actually, the third-floor bar at Vietnam Restaurant is a hidden gem, though I'm more likely to be drinking a bottle of "33 Export" than craft beer. But wouldn't that be nice?
Reader: Have you gotten out to any of the Beer Week dinners? So many, but they can be kinda pricey.
CL: Haven't gotten to many special events yet - but I'd be very curious to hear from those who have. . . .
Reader: Varga bar had a block party on Saturday, drank lots of interesting craft beer and a Victory Root beer. Had some great burgers and homemade chips, there was a chicken wing eating contest which the bartenders threw water balloons at. . . . good times.
CL: Sounds like a good time at one of the city's best new beer bars to open in the past year (10th and Spruce). . . .
Reader: The International Beer Expo at the Navy Yard was OK. Only a few good craft brewers (Blue Point, Ithaca, Voodoo), a whole tent of macro brews; only a few worthy international brews. The Philly Craft Beer event is a much better scene.
Reader: The Memphis Taproom Vintage Beer Brunch was excellent - possibly better than last year: 5 courses of great food, well-paired with exceptional, rare beers. The standout beer: De Dolle Oerbier 2007 Gran Reserva.
Reader: The No Repeat Beer Week at Memphis also has some great finds. . . . I enjoyed a funky, slightly sour Lost Abbey Saison before the brunch and a refreshing pint of Etienne Dupont cider on cash.
CL: Thanks for the Beer Week nuggets. Memphis is certainly one of our great neighborhood beer bars. . . .
Reader: Speaking of beer, I'm going to the Phils game tonight. What is the best beer at Citizen's Bank Park???
CL: Funny you should mention it, but I was just at CBP the other night to watch J. Moyer shut the Padres down! I was in the nosebleed seats-but I was definitely well-hydrated. And, I must apologize to Victory. Last week, I conceded that I slightly preferred Sly Fox's Pikeland to the big V's Prima Pils. That may be true in general, but, in the heat of the right field stands, I preferred Victory's Prima - hoppier, crisper, with a bracing echo of lemon peel on the very end, even a little pepper spice. Honestly, you're not going go wrong with a local pils from a Brewerytown kiosk (I like Tröegs' Sunshine pils, too). A bit of advice: Be sure to get the good brews before you leave the main corridors. Craft brews are scarce in the cheap seats.
Reader: Beer at Phillies games: Flying Fish Farmhouse or Anchor Steam, you gotta go to the specialized beer places, but its soooo much better than Bud light.
Reader: I have had 3 great meals at the CITY TAP HOUSE in the last month (the pizza is right up there with Slice and others.) The beers and the outdoor fire pits are a perfect match. . . .
CL: Speaking of good buzz, this ambitious new venue from the folks behind Public House and Mission Grill has been generating a nice chatter here. Still a bit new for me, but I'm looking forward to it-seems like a perfect fit for that rapidly developing corner of University City. I believe, Al Paris (Mantra, Rococo, etc.) is behind the menu.
Reader: My French mother is coming to town, and I would love to take her to a great French restaurant to show her that we can eat great French food in Philly. Any suggestions other than the usual suspects (Parc, Le Bec-Fin, etc).
CL: I'd start with Bibou for dinner, head to Beau Monde for a lunch of Breton buckwheat crepes (and cidre), then meander across the street to Bistrot La Minette for some thoughtful updates to old-time classics of la cuisine bourgeoise. Then . . . if you reserve in advance, there's always the pressed duck over at Zinc (on 12th Street.) I've been dying to try this prix-fixe ducky feast - the press is a vintage version of the device made famous at La Tour d'Argent, and you don't see many around these parts.)
Reader: And the crowd screams "BIBOU!!!"
Reader: Is it possible to enjoy a good French meal with beer instead of wine? I say yes, my wife says no.
CL: Of course you can! The French - especially the northern French and Alsatians - have a long tradition of good brewing. I'll be curious to hear back from those who attend the "Joe Sixpack" beer dinner at Le Bec to see how Geoges Perrier handles the pairings.