The Dude and I just returned from the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference in Philadelphia, PA. It was an awesome four days filled with beer, beer, and more beer! The Dude was in beer nirvana because not only was he drinking his favorite libation, but he could talk about it with every other beer geek in the country.
Not only did we drink but we ate pretty well too. Our hotel was right next door to the famous Reading Terminal Market. So many food stalls, so little time! Gorgeous produce, phenomenal meats and cheeses, bakeries and fresh roasted coffee. You could spend a day in the place just sampling at every stall. You would then need a wheeled cart to roll you out the door! We managed to grab breakfast there every morning. Yes, I’ll admit – one morning our breakfast was a Philly cheese steak with provolone, onions, and hot peppers. Ahhhhhh, bliss!
Dinners were awesome too and the highlight was dining at two Belgian beer bars/cafes. We spent our first evening at the famous Monk’s Cafe, owned by Tom Peters who also presented the keynote address at the conference. On tap there were probably 10+ beers including my favorite of all time, Lindemans Framboise Lambic. What can I say about this beer? Lambics are a sour beer created using wild yeasts that are only found in a particular region of Belgium. Added to the sour beer is the sweet juice of raspberries (framboise). Trust me, you want to try this beer!
Not only did they have a variety on tap, but they have a beer list unlike any I’d ever seen before. There had to be over 150 beers available in bottles. A great menu and great beers. Win-win!
We also had a great dinner with friends at another Belgian cafe, Eulogy Bar. Once again, I found Lindemans Framboise Lambic on tap. Can I just say I was in heaven? Good food, beer, and wonderful friends. The Dude was especially impressed that the food menu was two pages but the beer menu was over four pages. Priorities!
There were several really interesting seminars at the conference. By far the most interesting (and delicious) was a session on mead and how to make it. The session was held by Michael Fairbrother who owns Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Not only was he passionate about mead, but he was down to earth and so darned funny. Best of all? He brought samples of various meads for everyone to try. My favorite mead is called Desire – a mead blended with blueberries, black cherries and black currants. WOW!
What is mead? Mead is honey, water and yeast. That’s it! Of course the art comes in adding in various fruits to change the flavor profile. Meads can be dry or sweet (obviously), still or sparkling. I was so inspired by Michael’s talk that I am going to try my hand at making mead within the next few weeks. Blueberry season is upon us in this part of the world, and I’m formulating a recipe!
Be sure to check out the links for some of the great places that we visited. Oh, and ask your local liquor store to carry Moonlight Meadery products! Their meads are awesome!