Philly Beer Geek Success Stories

As spring blossoms begin to fade and pollen layers our spiffy white cars with yellow dust, beer geeks in Philadelphia get the itch for some serious beer games. These are not just any games. You won’t find Beer Pong or California Kings in their repertoire – at least, not at this time of year.

These people are serious – so serious, in fact, that they have earned the reputation as “Beer Geeks,” ready to compete for the most challenging beer championship the city has to offer. These men and women are ramping-up for the annual Philly Beer Geek Championship, hoping to capture the prestigious title and over $3,000 in beer-centric prizes … and that treasure trove has the potential to grow to over $5,000 worth of prizes, as it did in 2013.

The prizes are a pretty cool perk for someone who loves beer, but the benefits get better. The winner of the Philly Beer Geek Championship also has the privilege of collaborating with a commercial brewery to design and brew the Philly Beer Geek Beer for the next year, along with an invitation as food critic Craig LaBan’s honorary Guest Judge at the Philadelphia Inquirer Brew-vitational … and they get to Judge at the Philly Beer Geek Championship the year after their win.

If you ask the founders of Philly Beer Geek for the secrets of winning, they will tell you … continue reading

2014 Philly Beer Geek Contestants Ramping Up

Competitors are ramping up for the 2014 Philly Beer Geek Finals Championships.  In their mission to prepare, they are aware of the many new breweries and brewpubs in the area.  Familiarity with these newcomers is critically important, so they are on a mission to  practice “tasting” all they can before their stage appearance at The Field House, 1150 Filbert Street in Philadelphia on June 5th at 8 pm.

Congratulations are in order for winners of Preliminary Rounds, including Hannah Graff, who will represent Dock Street Brewing, and Jeff Szakal, who plans on a strong showing for Prism Brewing.  They  are backed by runners-up Ryan Daniels from Dock Street, and Chris Watabe from Prism.

Some breweries and taverns are hand-selecting their winners this year. Naked Brewing has Jess Streeter warming-up in the on-deck circle, and Old Eagle Tavern of Manayunk has signed on Greg Bishop.  Both had strong showings in the 2013 competition.

Floodwaters Destroy Semi-Finalist Competition Plans

The 2014 Philly Beer Geek Semi-Finals Competition is taking a detour, due to Mother Nature’s foul humor. Originally scheduled for May 14th at Manayunk Restaurant & Brewery on Main Street, Manayunk, the Semi-Finals Competition will be replaced by additional Preliminary Rounds at bars and brewpubs across the city and surrounding metropolitan areas.  Winners of Preliminary Rounds, along with EZ Pass and EZ Champ designees, will then take the fast lane, moving directly to the 2014 Philly Beer Geek Finals Championship at the Field House in Center City, Philadelphia on June 5th at 8 pm.

Registration has been pushed back, and is open until May 22, 2014 – or until 12 Sponsors/competitors are signed-up.

One of those competitors will emerge as Philly Beer Geek 2014 Champion, loaded to the hilt with beer-centric prizes worth over $3,000.  That lucky winner also has the opportunity to brew the 2015 Philly Beer Geek Beer with the pros, and carries the prestigious title of Philly Beer Geek 2014 for an entire year. That shiny bronze-and-wood plaque proves it.

April Showers Bring … May Floodwaters!

Ole’ Mother Nature must have PMS this year.  On April 30th, her wild personality, raging out-of-control in southeastern Pennsylvania, put Manayunk Restaurant and Brewery underwater for the ninth time since opening in 1996. This time, her vengeance was second only to the damage elicited by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy looked pale by comparison.

Manayunk Brewery had just completed a massive expansion of the brewery, in celebration of her 17th birthday.  And she deserved it.  In 2013, Zymurgy Magazine, A Brewers Association publication, had listed Manayunk Brewery in the 19th spot for having the Best Portfolio of Beers in the country.  Those are pretty high honors when you consider the Brewers Association stats counting 2,548 operating breweries in the USA in 2013.

After shutting down brewing operations to install a brewhouse that would expand brewing capacity from 1,800 barrels to over 4,000 barrels annually, Manayunk Brewery had just ramped up operations in February-March of 2014.  Head Brewer Evan Fritz worked with his team to get the new equipment humming, while demand for his line of canned beers soared.  He could hardly keep up with production and remembers a lot of sleepless nights – planning in his mind how he would ramp-up to capacity – and that made him very happy.

Then the rain began. Managing Partner Mike Rose had prepared for the next flood.  Flood walls were put in place, designed to hold back water from a river that could possibly crest at 12 feet – two feet above flood stage.  But the river was relentless. At top crest, it finally stopped around 16 feet.  Water in the brewery was 6-1/2 to 7 feet deep, getting trapped behind the flood gates which had to be taken down to allow drainage in the aftermath.

At that point, beer in kegs and cans exposed to water would have to be dumped.  Fermenters were no longer safe either, and those that had not yet been filled were floating like Noah’s Ark, banging into walls and other equipment.  A few heavy animals may have helped, but it happened too quickly to bring in the elephants.

But there is always a silver-lining.  Although the 2014 Philly Beer Geek Semi-Finals Competition has been cancelled, Preliminary Round winners, EZ Pass competitors and EZ Champ reps will go directly to the finals, leap-frogging into the opportunity to go for the gold, without the chance of being kicked out of the running in a close semi-finals match.

The playing field is open for Registration until May 22, 2014. Twelve lucky contestants will be FINALISTS.  Go for the gold!

 

Philly Beer Geek Creates Free Will I Am

If you are a true Beer Geek, you know how it feels. You find yourself searching the web for beer-quiz trivia, covering the answers, while sucking down a Belgian Dubbel cooled to precisely 49° F. You are startled from a sound sleep by the laughing-voice of Lew Bryson in the darkness, asking for details about Stein Beer.  And you know the role Fritz Maytag played in the microbrew revolution. You can even name the members of Philadelphia’s “class of ’96 boom.”

But the most exciting moment comes after all the blood, all the sweat, and all the tears – that moment when it all comes together, when you know you have finally made it … after coaxing your friends into supporting you at showtime, having your wife drill you on trivia when you’d rather be having sex, thinking of creative ways to bribe the judges without it seeming like an out-right bribe!  And then it happens:  Your name is announced as Philly Beer Geek Champion.  “Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yesss!” you scream to yourself.

To most, brewing the Philly Beer Geek Beer with a commercial brewery is one of the best perks of all – even beyond the huge treasure trove of prizes, the Philly Beer Geek plaque, and the glory. Sometimes you even get a bonus.

That’s how it played out for Michael Lawrence, Philly Beer Geek 2013, when he seized the opportunity to brew two beers for Philly Beer Geek 2014.  Here’s the story in his own words:

Beer Fox:  Mike, tell us about your experience with the 2014 Philly Beer Geek Beer.

Mike Lawrence:  I met with John Stemler from Free Will a month or so ago. He was great and wanted the Beer Geek to be fully involved. As you guys know, my Dad passed away on February 23, 2013, while I was doing the Beer Geek thing, so I wanted this beer to honor him somehow. He owned a bar – Billy’s Chili Pot on Frankford Avenue – my entire life and he was my first beer influence.

I grew up the son of a tavern owner.  In fact, he gave me my first beer.

BF:  Tell me more.

ML: Since his name is WILLIAM and they are FREE WILL, I suggested a beer named “I AM” which would read “FREE WILL I AM … Like “Free William” …

Find the rest of the interview at:

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art183208.asp

The Beer Fox Interviews Michael Lawrence

Less than two weeks ago, eight illustrious celebrity judges identified another passionate beer lover and embraced him as their own in the ”City of Brotherly Suds.”  On that starlit night in Center City, Michael Lawrence was named 2013 Philly Beer Geek at the Field House.  His fan club, which included his Jenn, his Mom, and dozens of supporters, was a rowdy bunch, stirring up plenty of emotion to propel him to victory. And what about that zombie brother of his?

Carolyn Smagalski, Beer Fox and co-founder of the Philly Beer Geek Competition, could hardly wait to interview the champ.  By midpoint intermission, Mike Lawrence was oozing with confidence. He had already won intermission kudos from Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer, for the work he did on his movie, “Beeradelphia.”  He had nailed the mini-tasting, and it could only get better from there; but competition was tough, and it was anyone’s guess as to who would be named the winner. There was nothing easy about it.

Click here to read the three part interview that opens up the real Philly Beer Geek to the world:
Philly Beer Geek 2013 Mike Lawrence – Interview
Mike Lawrence Aces the Competition – Interview
The Serious Side of Mike Lawrence – Interview

Hoparazzi Videographer Wins 2013 Philly Beer Geek

For most videographers who live behind the lens, competing in front of an audience and camera can be a bit unnerving. Not so for Mike Lawrence, who dramatically seized the stage in his self-styled rendition of “Night of the Liquid Bread,” capturing the title as 2013 Philly Beer Geek on Thursday, June 6th at the Field House in Center City Philadelphia.

The noise from the wired-up fans was deafening as a million stars lit the sky through flashing lights and pounding music.  At least, that’s how it felt to Lawrence, as his name flowed through surround sound announcing him as Philly Beer Geek 2013. The excitement was infectious. In a Facebook thread, one woman wrote, “It was so exciting that my husband ran up on stage like he knew Michael for years!”

Continue reading:  Hoparazzi Videographer Wins 2013 Philly Beer Geek

Philly Beer Geek 2013 – Inspiring the American Dream

Philadelphia, PA— Beer in the City of Brotherly Suds has inspired the American Dream for a biochemist, a documentarian, and a former veterinary technician, along with three other professionals. Each has a burning desire to become Philly Beer Geek 2013.  Ready to prove their mettle, these six Finalists will stand face-to-face at the Field House in Philadelphia on Thursday evening, June 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm in the 2013 Philly Beer Geek Finals Championship.

Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company/Sam Adams Beer – yes, “the guy in the commercials”- will also be making an appearance at the 2013 Philly Beer Geek Championship as an honorary judge and the ultimate Philly Beer Geek of them all.  His former Sam Adams Brewpub on Sansom Street was the first brewpub in the city, making Jim Koch’s role as a true Philly Beer Geek a solid claim to fame.

Finalists appearing onstage this year are: Michael Soo, Michael Lawrence, Colin Presby, Aimee Richard, Andrew Pope, and Jessica Streeter. These geeks represent bars or brewpubs from every segment of the metropolitan region or suburbs, and each has the opportunity to win a 2013 Prize Package worth over $5000 this year, the biggest win since the competition began in 2008.

The 2013 Beer Geek also has the honor of serving on the jury of celebrity judges in the 2014 competition, designing the 2014 Philly Beer Geek Beer, and adding a brass-and-wood plaque to his/her wall of accomplishments.  Their sponsor is honored with a matching plaque.

If you can spell the Latin word for Ale yeast or know what style of beer is associated with Burton-on-Trent, you might have what it takes to become next year’s Philly Beer Geek.  In fact, watching the competition this year is like going to Prep School for Beer Geeks.

The three-hour competition promises to be a rowdy combination of beer trivia, beer tasting, opinion and laughs traded among 8 judges and the 6 finalists.  Philly Beer Geek Grodzinski, the second official collaboration beer of Philly Beer Geek, will be on tap.  Grodzinski was designed and brewed by 2012 Philly Beer Geek Steve Mashington and Head Brewer Doug Marchakitus of Manayunk Brewery.

During the competition, the finalists will be addressed solely by their newly embraced stage names, monikers that represent who they are in the world of beer:  A Brewer Named Soo from Dock Street Brewpub in University City; Bockman from Standard Tap of Northern Liberties; Pope from Iron Abbey of Horsham;  Professor Jess-ter Foole of Ales from Sly Fox in Phoenixville,  PA; Dr. Decoction from Time Restaurant & Whiskey Bar from Center City; and Hoparazzi from The Grey Lodge Pub in Northeast Philly.

The fun-filled competition focuses on both serious and comedic aspects of Philadelphia beer, and fosters overall knowledge and understanding of beer as an age-old, artisanal product.

A star-studded line-up of well-known beer personalities will serve on the Illustrious Panel of Celebrity Beer Judges in the Finals Competition.

The 2013 Illustrious Panel of Celebrity Beer Judges for the Finals – Jim Koch, Founder of Boston Beer Company and creator of Sam Adams Boston Lager; Steve Mashington, 2012 Philly Beer Geek Champion; Scoats, Philadelphia publican of the Grey Lodge Pub and Hop Angel Brauhaus; Lew Bryson, Philadelphia Beer Writer and blogger of As Seen through a Glass; Rosemarie Certo, Owner of Dock Street Brewery in Philadelphia;  Marnie Old, Beer and Wine Sommelier, author, writer and educator; Erin Wallace, Owner of the Old Eagle Tavern, Devil’s Den and Barren Hill Brewpub; and William Reed, Owner of Johnny Brenda’s and Standard Tap.

For additional info, interviews, or photos contact Carolyn Smagalski at 215.767.9671 and email: carolsmagalski@comcast.net , Jason Harris jasonh@keystonehomebrew.com , or Steve Hawk at shawkenator@gmail.com.

Philly Beer Geek is a three-part competition – Contestants must win a Preliminary Qualifying Round held at a sponsoring bar, brewpub or restaurant or be personally selected as one who has a high level of beer knowledge – then move on to the Semi-Finals, and ultimately, to the Finals where an illustrious panel of celebrity judges select and crown the Philly Beer Geek in this annual championship.

The annual Philly Beer Geek Competition began in 2008 as part of Philly Beer Week, a 10-day celebration of “Philadelphia, the Best Beer Drinking City in America.”  Co-founders Carolyn Smagalski, the Beer Fox of BellaOnline, and Jason Harris, Owner of Keystone Homebrew Supply in Montgomeryville and Bethlehem, PA, started the competition to reward “the individual who exhibits the greatest universal knowledge and passion for Philadelphia Beer.”

Are you following the Hammer of Glory?

The Route for the Hammer of Glory in Philadelphia, PA, USA

9:30 a.m. – arrives at Hop Angel Brauhaus (7980 Oxford Avenue); departs via Philly Roller Girls;

10:55 a.m. – arrives at Grey Lodge Pub (6235 Frankford Avenue); Another Beer in the Wall. Grey Lodge Pub will recreate the bad old days of fizzy yellow lager as they build a wall of macro beer in front of the Grey Lodge. The Philly Roller girls will appear to smash those bad old days of beer away. HOG will depart via Bike Caravan;

11:45 a.m. – arrives at Philadelphia Brewing Company (2439 Amber Street); departs via Kinetic Sculpture;

12:10 p.m. – arrives at Johnny Brenda’s 1201 Frankford Avenue); departs via Pedal Powered Cargo Bike;

12:30 p.m. – arrives at Bar Ferdinand and El Camino Real (1030 North 2nd Street); departs via TBA;

12:50 p.m. – arrives at The Foodery (837 North 2nd Street); departs via Stoudtsmobile;

1:00 p.m. – arrives at Standard Tap (901 North 2nd Street); departs via Love City Roller Girls and Imperial Shuttle;

1:30 p.m. – arrives at Yards Brewing Company (901 North Delaware Avenue); departs via The Widow Maker Kinetic Sculpture;

1:45 p.m. – arrives at SugarHouse Casino (1001 North Delaware Avenue); departs via Double Decker bus with the SugarHouse Sweeties;

2:20 p.m. – arrives at Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South Street); departs via Horse-drawn Carriage;

2:40 p.m. – arrives at 12 Steps Down (767 South 9th Street); departs via Rolling Staircase;

3:00 p.m. – arrives at Varga Bar (941 Spruce Street); departs via Speed Walker;

3:30 p.m. – arrives at Nodding Head (1516 Sansom Street); departs via the Blockley Pour House Brass Band Second Line with Nodding Head Mascot;

4 p.m. – arrives at Fergie’s (1214 Sansom Street); departs via Wee Motorcycle;

4:15 p.m. – arrives at Time (1315 Sansom Street); departs via Motorcycle Convoy;

4:40 p.m. – arrives at the Free Library of Philadelphia (1901 Vine Street); will be wheeled through the Brewed in Philly display on the second floor via decorated book truck;

5:00 p.m. – arrives at Kite and Key (1836 Callowhill Street); departs via Something Epic

5:20 p.m. – arrives at Belgian Cafe (601 North 21st Street); departs via The Reckoner

5:50 p.m. – arrives at The Institute (549 North 12th Street); departs via Wheelbarrow

6:30 p.m. – arrives at Opening Tap (Independence Visitor Center, 6th and Market Streets); will be used by Mayor Nutter for the ceremonial first tap of PBW 2013

At each location, as the H.O.G. is handed off to its next guide, the previous caretaker will offer a solemn toast: “Noble carrier, we entrust you with The Hammer of Glory, the omnipotent symbol of our beloved Philadelphia Beer Week. May our journey be safe. Work ye up a thirst, for there shall be a beer waiting for you at your destination. Godspeed!”

For people who would like to follow the Hammer of Glory, the SugarHouse Double Decker bus will be following the H.O.G. on May 31 throughout the day and provide free transportation to each stop.

Philly Beer Geek Championship Shows Philadelphia Pride

On May 14th, 2013, nineteen competitors came together at Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant in Philadelphia in hopes of moving one step closer to winning the title as 2013 Philly Beer Geek.  The title alone is one that commands respect in the Philadelphia region.

Philadelphia, known as the “Best Beer Drinking City in America,” and possibly the world, draws thousands of tourists in pursuit of the liquid bread we know as beer.  The metropolitan area and the surrounding region overflow with award-winning breweries and brewpubs.  Because of its dense population and location on the east coast, the Philly region is also privy to a diverse array of international beer.

Monk’s Café and Eulogy are largely focused on Belgian beer; Brauhaus Schmitz serves up German beer, including many exclusive releases not available anywhere else in the U.S.; and City Tap House, Blue Dog, Teresa’s, STPR, Time – along with numerous others, tap a rolling portfolio of beers from across the country and the world, including regions in Denmark, Austria, France, England, Japan, and Italy.  Some, including Standard Tap, Jose Pistolas, and Varga Bar, lean on the local element as their strong points.

Along with all this variety comes sophistication that can tell the difference between clean and tainted beer lines, wet-hopped and dry-hopped beers, or Gose and Gueuze.  If a beer-drinker’s knowledge needs development, many bartenders and servers are willing to help the process along, without being pompous or arrogant.

Philly beer drinkers are proud of their knowledge.  Their geekiness often includes personal knowledge of brewing, vacations to Belgium and Bavaria, or the ability to talk about beer until others’ eyes glaze over.  Carolyn Smagalski and Jason Harris, the founders of the Philly Beer Geek Championship, understand this propensity toward acquiring the highest level of beer knowledge in the world, and they want to reward it.  The Board of Directors of Philly Beer Week have heartily embraced the competition, as well, proud of the fact that Philadelphia beer lovers have both knowledge and passion for Philly’s beer.

Six Finalists were chosen out of the nineteen Semi-Finalists to move on to the last leg of the competition on June 6th at The Field House in Philadelphia.  Before a field of eight Illustrious Celebrity Judges, these Select Six will prove their mettle in a match that promises rewards of over $3,500 in beer-centric prizes, the privilege of designing the Philly Beer Geek Beer for 2014, and a spot on the panel of judges in 2014.

The Finalists, along with their stage names are:

  • A Brewer Named Soo from Dock Street Brewery in Philadelphia:
    • MICHAEL SOO
  • Bockman from Standard Tap of Philadelphia:
    • COLIN PRESBY
  • Dr. Decoction from Time Restaurant and Whiskey Bar in Philadelphia:
    • AIMEE RICHARD
  • Hoparazzi from The Grey Lodge Pub in Philadelphia:
    • MICHAEL LAWRENCE
  • POPE from Iron Abbey Gastro Pub in Horsham, PA:
    • ANDREW POPE
  • Professor Jess-ter Foole  of Ales from Sly Fox in Phoenixville, PA:
    • JESSICA STREETER

The panel of Judges, selected for the finals competition includes a special guest appearance by the ultimate Beer Geek himself, Jim Koch, founder of The Boston Beer Company, Sam Adams Beer.

The seven other Illustrious Celebrity Judges include:

Steve Mashington, 2012 Philly Beer Geek and current Manager of Growlers Bar, Philadelphia

Lew Bryson, award-winning author and drinks writer, “As Seen through a Glass”

Will Reed, co-chairman of the Philly Beer Week Board of Directors and co-owner of Standard Tap and Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia

Erin Wallace, member of the Board of Directors of Philly Beer Week and owner of the Old Eagle Tavern, Devil’s Den, Philadelphia, and Barren Hill Brewpub, Lafayette Hill

Scoats, member of the Board of Directors of Philly Beer Week and owner of The Grey Lodge Pub and Hop Angel Brauhaus

Rosemarie Certo, owner of Dock Street Brewery and one of the earliest microbrewers in the country

Marnie Old, author, speaker and Cheap Buzz columnist, and award-winning app writer and designer at the “Digital Book – World Publishing Innovation Awards” for her newest project, Wine Simplified.

Are we proud to be beer people in Philadelphia?  You bet we are!

2013 Philly Beer Geek Semi-Finals Hits High Mark

The 2013 Philly Beer Geek Semi-Finals Competition roars in on Tuesday evening, May 14th at Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant’s 2nd floor River Club with a cast of characters as different as the Cheers bar of famous sitcom fame.  All of the Philly Beer Geek competitors are highly competent players, vying for one of six spots in the Finals at The Field House on June 6th, during Philly Beer Week.

Competitors have seized their opportunity by either being identified by their sponsor as a highly competent Beer Geek, or by proving themselves in a field of competition by winning a Preliminary Round at one of the sponsoring brewpubs or restaurants in Philadelphia or the outlying suburbs.

The 2013 Philly Beer Geek Semi Finalists and their sponsors are:

Greg Piotrowski – Blue Dog Tavern in Chalfont, PA

Guy Jurvich – Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia

Dan Obermeier – City Tap House in University City, Philadelphia

Greg Bishop – Devil’s Den in Philly

Michael Soo – Dock Street Brewery in Cedar Park, West Philadelphia

Amy Nichols – Doobies Bar, Philly, & Doylestown Brewing, Doylestown

Trevor Fitzgerald – Garrett Hill Ale House in Bryn Mawr

Michael Lawrence – Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair, Philadelphia

Andrew Pope – Iron Abbey Gastro Pub in Horsham, PA

Chris Smith – Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Maple Shade, NJ

Mike Seamen – Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant in Manayunk, Philadelphia

David Wood – Old Eagle Tavern in Philadelphia

Jesse Andreozzi – Philly Beer Scene Magazine in Philadelphia

Paul Staudt – Prism Brewing in North Wales

David Politz – Rock Bottom Brewery in King of Prussia

Dan Brett – Round Guys Brewing in Lansdale

Jess Streeter – Sly Fox Brewing in Phoenixville

Colin Presby – Standard Tap of Philadelphia

Aimee Richard – Time Restaurant & Whiskey Bar in Philadelphia

The competition, focused on knowledge and passion, promises to roll along through rounds of Trivia Checkers – in which the contestants themselves will be the board pieces – beer tasting, free form questions from celebrity judges, and a final opportunity to make each one memorable.

An illustrious panel of Celebrity Judges will observe and challenge the contestants, before being sequestered to choose the final six.  These six will gain the opportunity to take home a package including:

  • A GRAND PRIZE of more than $3,000 in gift certificates and beer‐centric prizes
  • AN ENGRAVED PLAQUE proclaiming the winner Philly Beer Geek 2013
  • HONOR of creating the collaborative 2014 PHILLY BEER GEEK BEER
  • PRESTIGE & HONOUR of being PHILLY BEER GEEK 2013
  • OFFICIAL T‐SHIRT commemorating PHILLY BEER GEEK 2013
  • HONOR of being on the ILLUSTRIOUS PANEL OF BEER GEEK JUDGES 2014
  • AN ENGRAVED PLAQUE proclaiming the winner’s sponsor as Home of the Philly Beer Geek 2013

The 2013 Philly Beer Geek Championship promises to strengthen the position that Philadelphia has taken as the U.S. leader in beer sophistication.  Judges are Amicus Curiae and are not compensated for their service as Philly Beer Geek Judges. These individuals have made a significant mark in the industry and are honored as the most dedicated people in the business of beer.

The 2013 Illustrious Panel of Philly Beer Geek Semi-Finals Judges are:

Joe Bair, Solar Homebrewer and Owner of Princeton Homebrew, Trenton, New Jersey

Alchemist/owner of Princeton Homebrew who adds a whole new meaning to the term “mad scientist.”  Formerly in the Molecular Biology Department of Princeton University, Joe Bair creates the “greenest beer on the face of the planet.”

Doug Hager, Co‐owner of Brauhaus Schmitz and Wursthaus Schmitz, Philadelphia, PA

In 2009, Doug Hager competed in Philly Beer Geek as Finalist Mad King Dougwig.  Currently, he is co‐owner, with wife Kellyof Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street, listed as one of the city’s best restaurants in Philadelphia Magazine.  Brauhaus Schmitz showcases foods by Chef Jeremy Nolan, a 2013 Rising Star,  Hager is also owner of Wursthaus Schmitz in the Reading Terminal Market.

Doug Marchakitus, Head Brewer of Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant and Lead Collaborator

of the Official Beer of the Philly Beer Geek Competition since 2012, Philadelphia, PA

Doug Marchakitus is Head Brewer of Manayunk Brewing Company.  Formerly a homebrewing geologist from Virginia Tech, he fell into the competent hands of Larry Horowitz at Iron Hill Brewery in North Wales who got him hooked on the artisanal aspects of brewing.  With Horowitz, Marchakitus won a Silver Medal at the Great American Beer Festival 2008 for Abbey Dubbel.

Steve Mashington, Prestigious Philly Beer Geek 2012 & Manager at Growlers Bar, Kitchen & Living Room, Philadelphia, PA

Smashington, as he is affectionately called, has been at home in the beer world, from Stewarts to Triumph in Old City Philadelphia to Yards, primarily in Sales and Marketing.  He is the current Manager of Growlers Bar, Kitchen and Living Room in the Bella Vista region of Philadelphia.

Tara Nurin, Freelance Journalist & Epikur Writer of the Year, Camden, NJ

Tara Nurin was named Epikur Writer of the Year, and is an award‐winning freelance journalist, specializing in craft beer and sustainable food and drink.  She is a former TV news reporter, Ale Street News columnist, and Cicerone Certified Beer Server.  As a leader in the women’s beer movement, she is founder of Beer for Babes and is the official historian for the Pink Boots Society.

Keith Wallace, President & Founder of The Wine School of Philadelphia, Author, and Publisher, Epikur Magazine, Philadelphia, PA

As the President and Founder of The Wine School of Philadelphia, Keith Wallace authored Corked & Forked: FourSeasons of Eats and Drinks, ©2011, by Running Press.  He is Publisher of Epikur Magazine, and has served as both a beer and wine judge throughout the country.