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March 11, 2007 - Plans Announced for "Philly Beer Week" in March 2008
A group of beer industry movers and shakers are planning to introduce Philly Beer Week in early March 2008.

The "week" will run from March 7 through March 16 and is expected to involve a series of several beer-focused events each night throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

It will kick off with a March 7 "simul-tap" of firkins in Philadelphia's City Hall courtyard and at breweries in Harrisburg, Princeton, Allentown, East, Wilmington, Lancaster and all across the five-county area around the city.

The news was released informally and with few specifics by Bruce Nichols, head of Museum Catering Company, at the annual Michael Jackson events this weekend and yesterday by beer writer Lew Bryson online.

According to Bryson, the event was "conceived and backed by a combination of people [including himself] who've been making beer happen in this area for years. Tom Peters of Monk's Cafe. Bruce Nichols of UPenn Museum Catering. Curt Decker of Nodding Head. George Hummel of Home Sweet Homebrew. Mark Edelson of Iron Hill. Chris Depepe of the Philly Craft Beer Festival. Tom Kehoe of Yards. Don `Joe Sixpack' Russell. Matt Guyer of the Beer Yard. Gene Muller of Flying Fish. Bill Covaleski of Victory. Carol & Ed Stoudt. Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head."

The concept apparently developed in reaction to the demise, at least for this year, of Philadelphia's famed The Book & The Cook event, due to the loss of a site for the B&C Fair which provided most of the financing for that ten-day extravaganza (B&C still maintains that it will happen in the Fall but industry insiders say, off the record, that such is unlikely, given that it is already late in the to set aside the necessary block of hotel rooms and schedule events at a variety of venues). The two Museum events were a major B&C player--the Saturday Tutored Tasting's three sessions drew the largest attendance of any event each year--and a Sunday night Jackson-hosted Belgian beer dinner at Monk's CafeĀ“, while not officially part of B&C in recent years, has always been one of the city's great beer celebrations.

While the Monk's dinner is not specifically announced in Bryson's online report, it is almost definitely going to be on the schedule. Nichols told the Beer Yard yesterday that whether or not the Museum dinner would re-occur was questionable at this point. The Tutored Tasting will take place on Saturday, March 8, as things now stand, and Rich Pawlak's popular Golden Age of Beer in Philadelphia bus tour be run that day a swell. There is also talk of a real ale festival, possibly on Sunday at Yard's Brewing, according to rumors.

Activities through the coming week, according to Bryson, will involve "five to ten events a night. We're thinking about a Belgian trolley night, with a trolley running a circuit between Philly's best Belgian beer selections, and a craft trolley night, the same thing for American micro taps. There'll be beer dinners, tastings, and 'meet and greets' where you can meet brewers from across the area, the country, and the world. Guest brewers will be brewing in local breweries a month before to release special beers during the Week, more will brew during the Week in brewery open houses. We hope to have sponsorship connections with mass transit to make getting around easier and safer.

"Then the final weekend will feature the return of this year's Philly Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, and Pawlak and the vans and I will head west for the Great Western Suburbs Beer Hunt, a swing through Chester and Montgomery County brewpubs and bars we've been longing to do. Sunday everything winds up with the Brewer's Plate, the annual Slow Food and beer event. And yes, that's actually ten days, not a week."

A Philly Craft Beer website will be up soon, he added, while noting that the schedule and events are still in flux.--JACK CURTIN