If you've ever wondered just how far Philadelphia has come, or how
respected our fair city is -- in the pantheon of craft beer, consider
this: Chris LaPierre, the head brewer at local Iron Hill, traveled all
the way to Belgium to develop a special brew for the city's fifth-annual
Philly Beer Week celebration.

 

"Philadelphia is the best Belgian beer
town in America," said PBW Executive Director Don Russell. "We value
beer here as much as we do the Declaration of Independence."

 

The
result of LaPierre's beer comes from the first collaboration for the
167-year-old Belgian brewery Brasserie Dupont. The smoked ale is
pleasantly smooth with a slight caramel after-taste that provides some
surprising pop at 5.75-percent ABV.

 

The Dupont Speciale Belge was
one of a variety of handcrafted beers on display yesterday for a Philly
Beer Week preview at the Four Seasons Hotel on Logan Square. Joining
them at the event were Victory Brewing Company, SlyFox, Philadelphia
Brewing Company, Dock Street and up-and-comer Prism Brewing Company.

 

"Philly
Beer Week has developed a well-deserved national buzz," Mayor Michael
Nutter said. "Philadelphia has one of the most respected celebrations
anywhere, spotlighting our brewers, great bars and restaurants
throughout the region."

 

Philadelphia Beer Week opens June 1 with
"Opening Tap" at the Independence Visitor Center and ends June 10 with
an outdoor concert at Dock Street in West Philadelphia. General
admission for first tap costs $40 per person. There is also a VIP
Session on sale for $200.

NO. 1

Caliente Golden Ale

ABV: 9.5%

Brewery: Dock Street



This is Dock Street Brewing Co. and the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia's second collaboration in their "A Beer Four All Seasons" series. The beer debuted on April 16 and is sold exclusively at the Four Season's Swann Lounge.



The spicy ale draws on blue Agave nectar, Ancho and Guajillo chiles, in the brewing process to give it a signature edge. The brew boasts a toasty malt profile with notes of tropical fruit and a robust, tangy finish. Or, in a less snobbier tone, think of those delicious spiced mango chunks from Trader Joe's -- and it packs a wallop with its high ABV.



NO. 2



Bubbly Wit

ABV: 7.4%

Brewery: Dock Street



Brewed with actual champagne yeast, the Bubbly Wit is strong in spice and citrus hops, yet comes across smooth and refreshing. It reminded us of a poor man's Hoegaarden, but that's not a knock. Its slight carbonation is very noticeable and pleasing to the tongue. Just give it a minute to settle, as the frothy white head needs time to relax.



NO. 3



Summer Love

ABV: 5.2%

Brewery: Victory



Cake. Cake. Cake. Sorry, we had Rihanna on our minds. But this offering from Victory combines earthy tones (think Pillsbury poppin' fresh dough) with pale malt flavors. It's a classic American Blonde that was born to drink while watching Hunter Pence smack home runs around Citizens Bank Park. Seasonal and delicious.