Beards, bellies and flannel to dominate beer ‘fashion show’

On Sunday, 14 beer-drinking guys will don flannel and strut a catwalk in a bar in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties. Men from the local beer scene, including bar owners, brewers, and beer reps, will compete in “Flannel Animal” at Heritage, the first event of the newly revamped Philly Beer Week, now called Philly Loves Beer.

What to expect: beards, bellies, homemade pajamas.

“The fashion show is a little tongue in cheek,” said Philly Loves Beer executive director Kristine Kennedy. “But in talking to some of the contestants, they are taking it very seriously.”

Philly Loves Beer still produces Philly Beer Week in the summer – with its dramatic opening of a keg with a ceremonial sledgehammer – but under its new name the organization can more easily produce events year-round, like summer pop-up beer gardens and a March Madness beer-bracket contest.

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Much of the energy of Beer Week, now in its 10th year, tends to be directed toward specialized, international brewers. Hosting events year-round allows Philly Loves Beer to shine its spotlight on local, upstart breweries.

“One of the strong suits of Philadelphia is how much international beer has been available in the local market for a really long time. You might say it grew an audience to allow local breweries to flourish,” said Kennedy. “But it is hard for local breweries to get on taps during Beer Week when people are looking to try something unique that they can’t get outside Beer Week.”

Kennedy also said changes in Pennsylvania liquor laws has made hosting beer events easier. Brewers’ licenses, which are more restrictive than those for bars and restaurants, have been loosened somewhat to allow them to host public events.

“They don’t have to find an outside partner to do that anymore,” said Kennedy. “It opens up a lot of opportunities for us to work with our local beer community to do more beer festivals and beer events.”

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