We arrived in Philadelphia on Friday night at around 8:30 p.m. and decided to head straight to Devil's Den for the much-anticipated and extremely popular annual Bella Vista Bash. When we arrived, the crowd seemed considerably less intimidating than the previous year's, but it was still a healthy amount of people. Bella Vista and Devil's Den always bring out the crème de la crème for this event, and this year was no different. We perused the lengthy tap list, and as usual, some of the really sought-after beers had already kicked, such as Cigar City Peach Humidor IPA. Regardless, there was plenty to be had, so I started with a Central Waters Peruvian Morning and Brewslut opted for Internezzo from, a green apple and wasabi sour ale Carton Brewing Company. My selection proved to be the winner, as Brewslut said her beer neither tasted like green apple nor wasabi. We ran into some friends from Philly, and they were gracious enough to share some of the Cigar City and Hill Farmstead/Dieu du Ciel collaboration beer called Friendship and Reunion (F&R). Thanks Bill and Gumper! I liked the F&R enough to order my own glass (surprisingly it had not yet kicked) and it was quite tasty. Brewslut enjoyed her Voodoo Grand Master, a sour version of Gran Met aged in Buffalo Trace barrels with Brett, which turned out to be her favorite of the three she had at Devil's Den. After Bill and Gumper departed, we ran into Dr. Justin and company as we were enjoying our final beers (me, an AleSmith IPA on cask and Brewslut, Bada Bing Cherry Porter by Coronado Brewing Company). After some Ffej of July discussion, we headed back to the Spade residence (our innkeepers for the weekend) to catch up over some rare beers.
After enjoying a Victory Prima Pils from Spade's kegerator, we broke into a few bottles. Up first was a Deschutes/Hair of the Dog collaborative beer from the "Conflux Series" called Collage. An American Strong Ale weighing in at over 11% ABV, this complex beer is a blend of Deschutes' The Dissident and The Stoic with HotD's Fred and Adam, then barrel aged in a variety of wooden vessels (Rye Whiskey, Cognac, Sherry, Pinot Noir, Bourbon, new American Oak, and new Oregon Oak... JESUS!). The result is, according to the makers of the beer, "an artistic collage of cask-aging alchemy." True dat!
Up next were two classic Russian River sour ales that were collecting dust in our beer cellar since our 10th Anniversary Trip to California back in 2010. Since Spade had recently discovered Russian River and a new found appreciation for sour beers, we decided that the time was finally right to crack open these vintages. Up first was Beatification Batch 003, followed by Temptation Batch 004. Everyone was in agreement that the Beatification was superior, although both were enjoyable. As only a casual fan of sour and wild ales, I found this one to be particularly amazing! I also enjoyed a tiny snifter of The Macallan (Mr. Peart's preferred libation) between beers.
|Batch #003 is the shit! Holy sour notes, Batman!|
|It's a Firkin Riot at Johnny Brenda's!|
Up next was a visit to one of my favorites - Barcade! I can't stress enough how awesome this place is. After a pair of games of Ms. Pac-Man and Spy Hunter played while sipping on the über-delicious New Holland Barrel-Aged Night Tripper, I enjoyed a fantastic turkey waffle panini sandwich served with a side of maple syrup. Even better was the fact that this "lunch special" also included a bag of chips and any beer under $6! The sandwich alone was $8 on the menu, so it was like getting a beer for $2. I chose a pint of Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, which complemented the sandwich nicely. While I spent a dollar in quarters on the games, Brewslut quietly checked in her beers on Untappd: Yards BBA Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale and Victory Liberty Bell Ringer, the latter of which was brewed especially for this year's PBW festivities.
|Barrel-Aged Night Tripper. This is my "I like it" face!|
|Chillin' with Chewie.|
I'm doing my best impression of a Wookiee (use your imagination)!
For the after-party, we all retired to Spade's house for a Prima Pils nightcap while listening to the new 5.1 surround sound version of Rush's 2112 album. We had assumed control, indeed!
|Enjoying a nice break... an Imperial Biscotti Break, that is!|
|Behold the Hammer of Glory!|
|Brewslut man-handles the HOG!|
Thankfully, we were able to avoid some of the events that turned into shit-shows and settled on some more low-key events. PBW might be starting to get too big, but it is still an enjoyable event and a good excuse to bum around the city for a weekend. We'll be back next year to celebrate our 15th anniversary!