The 12th edition of Philly Beer Week is off and running!

The week long festival,  hosted by Philly Loves Beer  runs until this Sunday, June 9th. This year the city will play host to over 2,000  buds n’ suds themed activities taking place across the Philly region at participating bars, beer gardens, breweries, bottle shops, restaurants, museums, art galleries and more. I was fortunate enough to start the weeks festivities (also my birthday week!) with a bang at the signature kick-off party, Opening Tap which took place this year at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia, the event’s largest venue to date.

The event (one of the best beer-centric events I’ve ever attended,) featured over 65 breweries (inside and outside,) serving  limited edition, seasonal favorites, and regular pours. The party featured some of the most unique samples, and obscure breweries I’ve ever had the pleasure of acquainting myself with at any of these events, and it was an absolute treat to get a chance to hang out with and chat it up with some of the brewmasters during the “VIP” Hour when the crowd was small, and it was still quiet enough to carry on a conversation.

A lot of these tasting events, it seems, have people pouring samples that have absolutely nothing to do with the brewery, let alone know anything about the beer, the way it’s brewed, the ABV, etc. It was super refreshing (pun intended) to speak with knowledgeable lads and ladies who could talk about the uniqueness of the hops used in a certain batch, or what happens when you add lactose into the fermentation process. The expertise of the brewers and their associates really added to the event.

I have never been to any of the previous Opening Tap events, but Stephanie Sersen, of Lifetime’s “Married at First Sight,” Season 8, an avid attendee and Philly beer enthusiast, prefers the Fillmore, last years venue, to the 2300 Arena. She felt the staff was more organized and that the event flowed better. “There were also other things included last year like food samples. I just like the Fillmore venue, but the tapping of the keg was way better this year!” When asked about her favorite beer or brewery, she remarked that she is “always impressed with Roy Pitz, especially the sours, and anything by Levante. The Earl Grey beer is insane!” When asked what company is on her radar as the best up-and-coming brewery, she told us to keep an eye on Imprint Beer Company. “They are just super consistent.”

For me and my guest, the stand-outs of the night were Founders “Mas Agave” (tastes like a margarita!,) Zed’s Vietnamese Farmhouse ale, Muoi Tieu Chanh (peppery, herbaceous, and citrusy- tastes like how your favorite candle smells, but in a good way!) and Sly Fox’s “Baby Sparkles” which wins the award for best name, and best backstory for said name- tastes great too!

In addition to chugging unlimited samples, the audience was also treated to a DJ spinning jams from the 90s and 2000s, and even live band karaoke for about an hour and a half (which I happily participated in, I do a mean Adele cover, just sayin’!)

Overall it was a great night out, parking was easy to come by, the crowd was mature and chill (no one passed out puking on a lawn, or crying over their soggy pretzel necklaces, which is always a plus.) 10/10 would recommend, and definitely wouldn’t mind checking it out again next year- especially if they move it back to the Fillmore, since that venue was “even better!”

Check out other PBW events happening this week near you at phillylovesbeer.org. Cheers!

By Melody Dougherty-Connell

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