Continuing our Atlantic City Beerfest episodes, Gary talks with Tim Kelly, brewer at Atlantic City’s Tun Tavern Restaurant & Brewery. My Michelob Minute features Dana Smith, beer connoisseur. Check out Still Crazy After All These Beers every Thursday for new episodes.
Still Crazy After All These Beers: At the 2010 Atlantic City Beerfest, were joined by Paul Mancuso, one of
the top brewers at Michelob. My Michelob Minute spotlights a couple of homebrewers and the recently incorporated Blind Cat Brewery. And Gary attempts to get to the bottom of why that Easter Bunny guy keeps
As introduced by Gary:
Here is the latest episode of “Still Crazy After All These Beers,” featuring: Tara Nurin, our newest on camera reporter.
If your video is glitchy, try viewing here: http://www.viddler.com/explore/crazyafterbeers/videos/18/
We’ll be announcing news regarding our move to television shortly.
I have two upcoming appearances that could be of interest to you. I’ll be hosting a phenomenal beer tasting at Harrah’s in Atlantic City on August 1 as part of the Food Network Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival. Check out the excitement by going to www.acfoodandwine.com.
Prior to that, I’ll be in New York on June 20-21 for the New York Bar Show, offering two seminars. Special guests at the show will be Dan Ackroyd and Danny DeVito. The event site is www.newyorkbarshow.com
By Tara Nurin
“Philadelphia is to beer what Sonoma is to wine,” says Keith Wallace to anyone who’ll listen. Considering the source, the proclamation, perhaps incendiary outside Pennsylvania, might sound outright puzzling within city limits. That’s because in 2001, Wallace, a winemaker, wine columnist, and author of two upcoming wine books, founded and still runs Philly’s best-known vinology school. So why is he extolling his territory’s beer lust at the expense of its pursuit of viticultural knowledge?
Because, acknowledging a craft revolution, he’s invited beer to take a permanent seat at The Wine School’s table.
Wallace’s partner, a burly bald man named Dean Browne, asserts the alliance as he introduces himself to a group assembled in one of The Wine School’s classrooms on an early March night.
“Welcome to the Philly Beer School,” he says. “Tonight’s topic is Illegal Beer.”
As Browne speaks, dozens of bottles of obscure brews from Scotland, Japan, and Delaware linger behind him, waiting to be poured into students’ glasses. Despite the encroachment of a poster for The Wine School and a wall-sized vintage advertisement for a defunct wine co-op on his lecture space, Browne spends the next two hours pouring samples of Gooseberry Ale and Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Brew, passing around baggies of juniper berries and wormwood, and dissecting in a jocular manner the history and legacy of pre-hopped beers.
This is how Browne, a brewer at Philadelphia Brewing Company (PBC), has occupied himself for many a Friday night since he and Wallace founded the Philly Beer School last March. The two met while Browne was taking a class at The Wine School and, sensing the opportunity to fill a vacant niche in a craft-beer-thirsty city, they partnered to open the Philly Beer School. Browne operates the beer school while Wallace maintains ownership of both programs.
“It’s wonky, it’s fun, and I noticed that brewers were going through my wine programs because there really wasn’t anything out there for them,” Wallace says via phone.
To that end, he and Browne schedule bi-monthly one-time classes like Beer Wars: Old World Vs. New World Brews and Beer and Homebrewing 101. Students comprise aspiring brewers, elderly couples, first dates, groups out for girls’ night, and sons treating their dads to birthday celebrations.
In just one year, Wallace says he’s taking in a profit and all of his classes are selling out despite no advertising budget, no quid-pro-quo with breweries, no public relations firm, and practically no local press. What he does have working in his favor is a dedicated repeat business, a solid pull from his wine school roster, and a regional pool of potential clients whose curiosity is piqued by an onslaught of mainstream craft beer news.
What he also has going for him is a unique identity as the only full-time beer school operating outside of academia in the U.S. Whereas other programs are either far more formal or far more casual, Wallace’s is the only business to exclusively offer regularly scheduled beer classes geared toward consumers and homebrewers.
Wallace intends to be the first to add another particular dimension to the beer experience, as well. To mark the first anniversary of the opening of the school during last year’s Philadelphia Beer Week, he plans to announce the creation of the nation’s only homebrewer certification program during this year’s beer week, which has been moved from March to June.
The course will start this fall and will consist of four weeks of classes and four weeks of immersive lab work at a brewery. The certification doesn’t afford recipients anything but bragging rights — yet — but Wallace says he’s developed wine certifications that have caught on throughout the industry.
“What we’ve done with The Wine School is build up our certifications, then people started adopting our programs nationally,” he says. “We tend to be the forerunner.”
As a pioneer in using education to simultaneously deconstruct and advance the mystique of wine and craft beer, Wallace knows better than anyone that there remains one key difference in approach, based on whether the conversation centers around Philadelphia or Sonoma County, hops or grapes.
“Keith has been trying to break down the walls of the snob factor in the wine industry,” Browne says of his partner. “We’re not trying to break down the snob factor here. We’re trying to build it up.”
– Tara Nurin is a Camden, NJ-based freelance journalist who covers women and craft beer as the host(ess) of the Michelob Minute on the Internet and cable TV show “Still Crazy After All These Beers.”
As published on www.philadelphiaweekly.com on April 13, 2010. Forgive me, I’m trying to figure out how to link to pages but it doesn’t seem to be working.
A hearing held Tuesday in Harrisburg on raids that took place at three Philadelphia craft-beer bars and an 80-year-old beer distributor last month evolved into a forum that could begin the process of radically changing the amount of time it takes to close dangerous nuisance bars in the state.
While distinguishing between the Memphis Taproom, Resurrection Ale House and Local 44 bars that were raided for inadvertently selling unregistered beers and so-called “nuisance bars” that are repeatedly cited for major code violations, legislators grew outraged that it can take up to a year to close a bar where “you can find bodies riddled with bullets in the bathroom” while the three indisputably reputable taverns that were the targets of the raids had initially had $7,000 worth of specialty beers seized on the spot.
“You have people on death row appealing their sentences and they don’t get to go free during that process,” said an incensed Rep. Larry Farnese (D-Phila.) after the joint hearing by the House Liquor Control and Senate Law & Justice committees. Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement Major John Lutz, whose division of the state police handles enforcement of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board regulations, agreed to work with legislators to review and recommend changes to the laws that govern license suspensions at nuisance bars.
It was one of the only areas of agreement between Lutz and the legislators, who spent parts of the almost three-hour hearing chastising him for his use of 12 armed agents to rectify what they called a “clerical error” made by the bar owners, Leigh Maida and Brendan Hartranft, and Dominic Origlio, president of Origlio Beverage, whose company sold them the unregistered beers.
“You and your unit were wrong. You knew going in you didn’t need four armed agents in each bar,” Rep. Taylor said. “A teenager with a clipboard could have done this thing.”
Lutz defended his division’s actions, saying that Maida and Hartranft had been breaking the law by selling seven types of unregistered beers. His agents initially (and incorrectly) confiscated 16.
“So what?” yelled Rep. John Taylor (R-Phila). “So what? It seems to me that your agency might be looking for the low-hanging fruit. It’s clear there’s something wrong with the management system.”
Politicians went slightly easier on Joe Conti, CEO of the PLCB, opting to criticize the system rather than the man. Committee members asked Conti if he would consider upgrading the PLCB’s reporting system to limit confusion by ensuring that all stakeholders can access the same information. An online database of properly registered beers will be ready in a few months, Conti said. A complete overhaul of the website has been delayed by budget reductions but should be accessible in one to two years, he said.
When asked if the PLCB’s operations systems can currently manage upgrades like scanners that can identify codes off beer labels, Conti said: “Clearly, no. The system is not capable.” But he agreed to meet with committee members to discuss more immediate changes, like the inclusion of photos of beer-bottle labels along with the registrations.
Hartranft says this has been a productive but expensive and aggravating episode. He has not been allowed to retrieve some of his confiscated beers, and he’s still waiting to learn if he and his wife will face additional fines or penalties. He says that despite this, the “Philadelphia Beer Raids,” as they’ve come to be called, appear to be the catalyst for some needed reform.
“The really great thing is that Leigh and I have a reputation that defends itself, like a self-cleaning oven. I would hate to see someone who’s involved in the bar business who maybe didn’t have the history in the business that I have, who’s maybe thrown to the wolves,” he said after the hearing. “It’s good to address some of the systemic faults so that something like this can never happen again.”
The joint committee will host an open forum with PLCB board members Wednesday to address general areas of concern.