Monday, June 4, 2012

Philly Beer Week Day 1: Devil's Den

We decided to start off the this year's Philly Beer Week the same way we started off last year's by going to Devil's Den for the Bella Vista Beer Bash. It was so awesome last year that I figured it was a good choice for this one. I got there plenty early this year to ensure I got a seat and got one right on the side of the bar. By about 6:30, the place was pretty jam packed so it was a good thing I got there when I did. Here's what it looked like then.
Okay well that doesn't actually show the crowd real well but it was busy, I swear.

There were a number of beers I wanted to try, but I decided to start with two of the stouts they had available: Fifty-Fifty BART and Cigar City Apple Brandy Marshall Zhukov.
I'll get into why I ordered two at once in a bit and it's not because I'm a lush. Well, not just because at least. The Zhukov is on the right with the BART on the left. Let me start with saying the apple brandy Zhukov was freaking delicious. The nose was sweet and boozy with the brandy being super forward. The body had a huge amount of chocolate followed by some brandy sweetness and then finished with a little heat and some vanilla. Big chocolate aftertaste too. Just absolutely great and, for me at least, surprisingly easy to drink for as big a monster as it was.

Unfortunately, the BART wasn't as impressive to me. I'd heard great things so was quite surprised but to me it was just sort of lackluster. Light bourbon nose with a similarly light body. Maybe it was because the Zhukov was so strong that it killed my taste buds, but whatever it was I didn't like this one nearly as much.

Unfortunately, at this point, we come to why I ordered two together. The event started at 7 and as expected was quite busy. I'm pretty patient but after thirty plus minutes of waiting, I knew I didn't want to get a small pour and then wait another thirty minutes after finishing that to get a second. So, reasonably enough, two at once. However, after Jo and I finished our drinks, it took way longer than thirty minutes to attempt to order our second round of drinks. I don't actually remember how long it ended up being, but I gave up after probably thirty minutes. It just seemed like Devil's Den needed one more bartender actually serving drinks for the people at the bar. Who knows. Maybe it was just me that thought the service was super slow but it was pretty disappointing. (See my friend Josh's blog for someone that didn't seem to have an issue with the service and some thoughts on other beers.)

But, well, that's Philly Beer Week for you. You win some, you lose some and even though we sort of lost at Devil's Den, we ended up walking over to Hawthorne's and having a great time even if we got soaked on the way. Got to drink a bottle of Deschutes The Stoic there too so win-win! Look for more about the first weekend which went quite a bit better after this event. I'll be at CityTapHouse tonight for Goose Island! Bourbon County!

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