The first annual American Beer Month, brainchild of the Colorado-based Institute of Brewing Studies, staked out a place for itself on the calendar with a massive kick-off in Philadelphia in mid-summer. “American Beer Month is an attempt to unify that diverse community of participants in the American Beer Industry behind a single theme–of beer brewed in the USA!” exclaimed IBS director David Edgar. And it seemed to have worked, at least if the attendees at the first such event are any indication.
One hundred brewers and friends converged Saturday, July 1 in the City of Brew-therly Love for a kick-off rally on the tall steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum made memorable by Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky.” More than 20 states were represented at the festive event held under the blazing July sun, including such “New Brew” luminaries as John Hall (CEO, Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago); John Hickenlooper (vice-chairperson of IBS and founder of Wynkoop Brewing Co., Denver); Roger Briess (owner of Briess Malting Co., Wisconsin); Dean Biersch (executive vice president, Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., San Jose, CA); David Edgar (director, IBS); Larry Bell (chair, Institute for Brewing Studies and founder of Kalamazoo Brewing, Michigan); Ken Allen, (former president IBS and current board member); and Daniel Bradford, president of the Brewers Association of America.
An enthusiatic group representing 35 breweries and 21 states crowds the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum prior to a pub crawl.
After numerous speeches praising the range and quality of American beer today, and a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by local singer Amorika Amoroso, Larry Bell read a letter from August Busch IV that expressed “warm wishes for success.” John Hickenlooper followed with a spoof of the Declaration of Independence (appropriate in the Cradle of Liberty), that included these stirring words: “These beers shall not perish from the face of the earth.” Representatives from New Jersey, Missouri and Florida then proudly read aloud decrees from their governors that officially proclaimed July 2000 the first annual American Beer Month.
The 30-minute ceremony concluded with a group American Beer Pledge, composed by Larry Bell: On my honor, I do hereby pledge, that for the month of July I will celebrate the breadth and diversity of the beers and ales of the United States of America., that I will recognize the heritage, tradition and future of brewing in our republic, and that I will savor the flavor of American-made beer responsibly, moderately and exclusively. Hail to beer, America’s beverage!
A massive pub crawl ensued, aimed at partaking of the delicious American beers being featured at bars and brewpubs throughout the city. A highlight was the two-hour Great American Blind Taste Test sponsored by Boston Beer Company and Beer Philadelphia. Held at the Irish Pub, Jim Koch presided while 100 consumers compared five imports to five domestics. The patriotic results? American beer came out on top in four out of five categories.
Left to right: the vatmobile (courtesy of Carol and Ed Stoudt) stands proudly, Carol Stoudt kicks off ABM’s festivities.
The previous evening, Carol and Ed Stoudt (Stoudt’s Brewing, Adamstown, PA) hosted a poolside Brewers Reception at their rambling Victorian home. Ed presided over the never-empty grill while luminaries feasted on grilled bratwurst, shrimp salad and a delightful display of American beers from Stoudt’s, Anderson Valley, Kalamazoo Brewing, Blue Collar, Neversink Brewing and others. Max the dog (one of five) happily lapped up Stoudt’s Scotch Ale (his favorite) from the keg well, then amused the guests by plunging repeatedly into the pool. The evening concluded with speech from the balcony by Hickenlooper and Bell, in which they led the lucky guests through a repeat recitation of Bell’s American Beer Pledge.
American Beer Month festivities officially concluded with a national toast midnight Saturday July 29. Expect more festivities next year, says Larry Bell: “I’m looking forward to this being a major annual event for our industry.”