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Sour-Powered Philly Beer Week

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
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Upstairs at Khyber Pass Pub for Sour Beer Class 102. Photo by Stephanie Singer

Remember Warheads, everyone's favorite pre-Sour Patch Kids mouth-puckering candy? If you are nodding your head in agreement, then surely, as an adult, you are hyped on sour beer.

Although I've given up on overeating candy, I freely admit to joining that specific class of beer geek constantly in search of the rarest or newest sour beers out there.

As I've already noted in previous blog posts — but have no problem saying again — one of the reasons we are so lucky to live in Philadelphia is because it is home to the greatest weeklong beer festival in the United States — Philly Beer Week.

Last year, my husband was one of the co-founders of the Sour Beer Class event at Khyber Pass Pub. While he no longer works there (please do, however, contact him if you need a mortgage or a home refi!), his partner, Jonny Medlinsky, continued the program and offered two classes this past week in Khyber's second-floor dining room. Tickets were $50 — a bit steep, but we went anyway — for the June 5 event.

The program was fantastic!

Upon entry, we were greeted with a flute of New Holland Blue Sunday, a stateside wild ale gently spiced with rosemary. This was the first of 14 samplings!

The ticket included a lovely spread (which I prefer to pronnounce "schpread") which, in addition to the wings, nachos and popcorn supplied courtesy of the establishment, included Dibruno Bros. cheese, Beddia Pizza bread, Peter and Becky's farm pickles, Southwark charcuterie (not kosher) and Foam Floatery sorbet (DELISH!). So, we filled a few plates and took our seat at a communal table.

As I introduced myself to the guy sitting next to me, I asked him how he heard about the event. "I searched the Philly Beer Week website for sour beer," replied Scott G. of Washington Square West, another sour beer lover.

The next beer was introduced by one of its brewers, a former Philadelphian named Mike Fava, who now works for Oxbow Brewery in Maine. Brewed with toasted rice, Fava refered to it as a piña colada and jokingly said it needed an umbrella.

The rest of the program was emceed by Nick Bokulich, a professor and microbiological researcher at the University of California at Davis, with beer flavor commentary from Gerard Olson, co-owner of Forest & Main Brewery and Pub in Ambler. Bukulich was very knowledgeable about the global and historical context of this type of beer.

I learned that while sour beer smells similar to the kefir I drink to keep my stomach calm, it does not have beneficial health qualities like other probiotic drinks do.

My favorites of the night were: Loverbeer Beerbrugna, an Italian farmhouse ale made with white plums; Russian River Supplication, a brown ale made with sour cherries; and Cantillon Classic from Brussels.

Hope your Beer Week was full of cheers,

The Bubbi Project

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