In somewhat fitting fashion, Philly Beer "Week" is, in actuality, ten days, from June 3-12, as in, there's so much good beer flowing out of this city, one week alone could never contain it. Begun in 2008, it has quickly become the largest such festival in the U.S., celebrating not just the local breweries, but also the bars, pubs, taverns and clubs that make up the diverse and fiercely enthusiastic beer scene in the city. Ask ten area brewers what makes Philly such a great beer city -- the best in the country, some would say -- and you'll get ten different answers, so we took it upon ourselves to find out more about some of the best local breweries, and what makes them so enduringly magnificent.
Local Brewery: Flying Fish
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ
Owner: Gene Muller
Brewmaster Casey Hughes
Humble Origin: According to Muller, he wanted to get into the industry first as a brewer, but quickly switched gears towards actually owning a company, something he'd never done. Fortunately, there's the Internet for that. He started a very early web page in '95, what he now deems "the world's first microbrewery," which quickly took off, in part because he was one of the first breweries who thought to list themselves on this new platform. "I like to say it was the World Wide Web meets "This Old House," Muller says. Eventually the attention lead to investors, and the rest came together in about a year. Their first two beers were the popular Extra Pale Ale and the ESB. Now they are the largest microbrewery in NJ.
Known For: Innovative beers with a playful sense of marketing (for example, check out their ongoing "Exit" series, which features big-bottled brews inspired by each of the exits off of the NJ Turnpike (Exit 1, near the southwest bayshore, is repped by an Oyster Stout, for example). Brewmaster Casey Hughes has racked up attention and awards for his out-of-the box thinking and interestingly unique concoctions.
Best Loved Brews: In answer, we'll just point out that their EPA is served at Citizens Bank Park. To this day, Muller maintains one of his favorite beer-related moments was drinking one of his own beers at the ball park while watching the Phils win the World Series in 2008.
Beer Week Events: Far too many to list here, but for a comprehensive calendar of Flying Fish events, check these listings.
Philadelphia Beer Week runs June 3-12, at beer-friendly bars throughout the metro area. You can find a complete list of events on their website. Tickets to the jump off Opening Tap event are $41 ($15 for DD).
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