Philly Beer Geek Semi-Finals Competition 2009

Philly Beer Geek Semi-Finals Competition 2009

It was the Semi-Finals Round of the Philly Beer Geek Competition, held at Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant on Thursday, March 5, 2009. Twelve participants entered the room of brick and windows with confidence, moving assuredly to their positions at the front of the room. Every one of these Semi Finalists had proven themselves worthy to stand as the lead beer geek, able to stand-up to the panel of judges who light-heartedly sported Mardi-gras beads and black top hats, decorated with glitter and bottlecaps. Six Finalists would be chosen by these six illustrious Semi-Finals judges: Suzanne Woods, of Philadelphia’s Women’s IPA Club; Larry Horwitz, award-winning Brewmaster of Iron Hill Brewery, North Wales; Dr. Joel Armato, Beer Ambassador of New Holland Brewing Company of Michigan; Lew Bryson, leading drinks writer and author of state and regional brewery guides; Scoats, Owner of the Grey Lodge Pub and inventor of Friday the Firkinteenth; and Chris Firey, Brewmaster of Manayunk Brewery of Philadelphia.

All Semi-Finalists had prepared for the competition by re-inventing themselves with a beer-stage-name which they presented to the judges, along with how that name fit in their world. This simple exercise was incredibly revealing, delivering beer philosophy, thought process, and sense of self, all in one simple motion. Their names included descriptives that played on their own names, such as The Beer Hore and the Beer Pope; esoteric appellations, such as Femme Fermental (a woman focused on fermentation), Mad King Dougwig (a parallel to Mad King Ludwig) and Nugget Nate (a variety of hops); and names that described their physical or philosophical character, such as The Human Growler, Beer Island, and Captain Alehole.

Semi-Finalists who competed for 2009 were:

• Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant in Manayunk: Andrew Pope
•Tria Fermentation School, Philadelphia: Jay White
•The Whip Tavern, Coatesville: John Mickel
•The Institute Bar, Philadelphia: Gina Talley
•Devil’s Alley in Philadelphia: Mike Hore
•Bridgid’s in Philly’s Fairmount section: Doug Hager
•Grey Lodge Pub in Northeast Philly: Steve Hawk
•Standard Tap in Northern Liberties & Philadelphia Brewing Company, Philadelphia: Brian Mahon
•Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in suburban North Wales, PA: Jim “Beer Island” Weber
•Spinnerstown Hotel & Tap House in Spinnerstown, PA : Nate Gefvert
•World Café Live in Philadelphia: Matthew VanKounenberg
•Isaac Newton’s in suburban Newtown, PA : Brad Martin

The beginning round consisted of random Trivia questions, beer and brewery pairing, and Free Form questions from the judges. Following an intermission, contestants were expected to taste Beer A and Beer B to differentiate between the ale and lager, express themselves with a beer joke, tall tale or poem, then convince the judges why they deserved to be selected as a Finalist in the Philly Beer Geek Competition.

Clearly, some came to entertain. Brian Mahon brought his beer-talking fake parrot and used it to charm the judges when the correct answer escaped him in the trivia rounds. Gina Talley wrote a beer-centric poem based on the rhyming styles of Dr. Seuss. Calling for an assistant from the audience, Steve Hawk had a friend unroll a poster of himself in which he was spread across a bar in classic “bikini-babe” pose, sans the bikini, but threatened to show the judges more…to guffaws and laughter from the gallery. In the Free form round, Mike Hore talked of opening up a bar and calling it “The Hore House.” When Doug Hager had his chance to convince the judges why he should be a Finalist, he begged them to make Gina Talley a Finalist, stating that she was the best looking of the group.

Emcees Carolyn Smagalski and Jason Harris had announced, early on, “The decision of the judges is final.” That said, the judges took their role seriously. The panel themselves called for a final question of two of the contestants, so they could feel confident that they had chosen the most worthy to move on to the Finals.

These contestants moved on to the Finals round on March 12, 2009, confident that they had a chance to win the Grand Prize worth over $1,000 in prizes, and the title as Philly Beer Geek 2009:

•Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant in Manayunk: Andrew Pope
•The Institute Bar, Philadelphia: Gina Talley
•Bridgid’s in Philly’s Fairmount section: Doug Hager
•Grey Lodge Pub in Northeast Philly: Steve Hawk
•Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in suburban North Wales, PA: Jim “Beer Island” Weber
•Spinnerstown Hotel & Tap House in Spinnerstown, PA: Nate Gefvert

Contestants anticipate what trivia they may be expected to expound upon.

Semi-Finalists determining which is lager and which is ale.

Judge Larry Horwitz has fun with fellow judges and prompts contestants to fire a question at Chris Firey.


Upper photos(From top): Finalists who reigned victorious to move into the Philly Beer Geek 2009 Finals Round round are(left to right): Doug Hager, Steve Hawk, Nate Gefvert, Andrew Pope, Gina Talley, and Jim "Beer Island" Weber; Jim "Beer Island" Weber; Nate Gefvert shows Judge Scoats his beer tool; Andrew Pope, Matt VanKouwenberg and Jay White leap at the chance to gain points

All photos courtesy of "Barney" Tom Conville of Tom Conville Publishing Services LLC 

You Should Also Read:
Philly Beer Geek 2009 Rewards Beer Geeks
Philly Beer Geek 2008 Steve Robson
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