On Saturday July 15th, we had the distinct pleasure of attending the annual Summerfest Live! Beer & Music Festival at Xfinity Live! Philadelphia.
With indoor & outdoor beer gardens, seven zones with over 200 summer and early fall beers to taste, food trucks, and musical acts, there was a lot of entertainment to be had.
Heck, if you wanted to drink with your face painted like Spider-Man, that is entirely doable here.
This is a great beer festival for large groups of friends looking for an outside open-bar summer party and for those that are still new to beer festivals.
With drinking games throughout, lounge areas galore, it’s the perfect spot to kick up your feet and have a drink, or roam around with your friends, choosing from the hundreds of beers throughout the entire festival, trying some new ones, or just sticking to old favorites, stopping at the numerous dance areas on the way to drop it like it’s hot.
Everyone who worked the event was helpful, friendly, talkative – but a disappointing note is that none of the servers actually work for the breweries – they are all Xfinity employees, there to look pretty and serve you cold beer.
It’s not a bad time, just not one for the serious beer explorer, looking to learn about what they are drinking.
My two cents? I would invest some in those attendees who would really care about the craft in craft beer, not just those looking to drink the day away and party.
I have noticed a drop in attendance from past years (three years ago this event had at least 5-10 times the attendance of this year), and it may be related to this feeling.
Without brewery representation, the event feels a bit hollow, especially when compared to other events like the Philadelphia Zoo Summer Ale Festival.
Some of my best beer festival experiences have been the stories told by the knowledgeable reps and employees from the breweries themselves as I try the beer they are talking about.
It would be great to even dedicate some of the indoor space you have available to give lectures, Q&As and tastings with input from some of the local brewmasters and brewery founders.
Keep it small to start, gauge the response. Maybe a room dedicated to food pairings for VIP members.
You have SO much available space that really seems under-utilized and the event seems targeted toward a single demographic (21-30 year-old Partiers who miss their University days).
Make the festival a chance for the brewers to shine, not just an advertisement for the Xfinity Live! entertainment center as a fun place for drinking (Although it really is. If I were 10 years younger and didn’t have a wife and 8 month old at home, I probably would have better fit in with the crowd).
But with the size of this venue, they could easily market to multiple demographics and bring up the attendance once more, bringing in your traditional party crowd alongside your veteran craft beer enthusiasts and older couples.
It can be done, as we saw at the Zoo.
That being said – the music was never too loud , and the beer kept flowing, so we had a good time.
A HUGE upside to the lower attendance, instead of overwhelming crowds of people and lines for every beer as in years past, it was easy to flit around the entire festival as much as we wanted this time.
Thanks to the short lines and wide variety, I was able to taste and take notes on more than my fair share of new brews for review.
In the Review Queue:
- 2SP Brewing Company – ASAP IPA
- Alesmith Brewing Company – IPA
- Brewery Ommegang – Fruition
- Brewery Ommegang – Pale Sour Ale
- Brooklyn Brewery – Summer Ale
- Conshohocken Brewing Company – Life Coach
- D9 Brewing Company – Hakuna Matata
- Empire Brewing Company – Slo-Mo IPA
- Epic Brewing Company – Escape to Colorado
- Flying Fish Brewing Company – Daylight
- Moss Mill Brewing Company – Mossmill Light
- Sly Fox Brewing Company – Royal Weisse
- Thomas Hooker Brewing Company – Passport Pilsner
- Tröegs Independent Brewing – Sunshine Pils
- Twin Lakes – Greenville Pale Ale
- Victory – Home Grown Lager
My Top 3 Summerfest Live! Beers
Alesmith Brewing Company – IPA
Hops, hops, hops. Pouring a clear copper, this smells of grapefruit and pineapple with an earthy backbone. The bitter and citrus flavors play off of each other perfectly.
All around well-balanced and easy to drink, this is a true standout of an IPA, worth checking out for yourself. 4.5/5
Brooklyn Brewery – Summer Ale
Pours a clear gold, and smells of strong pale and sweet malts, citrusy and spicy hops, and the right amount of earthiness. Unmistakably in the style of the English Pale Ale. Clean and crisp, but never boring, biscuity with the hints of citrusy and spicy hops.
Absolutely refreshing and easy to drink. A no-nonsense classic summer beer. Perfect to fill the cooler for your next summer blowout or beach party. 4.2/5
Tröegs Brewing Company – Sunshine Pils
Another with the golden clear yellow color, the Sunshine Pils. With pilsner malts coming in strongest, as the beer warmed a nice spiciness came through that was very inviting, with a matching taste.
The more I had, the more I wanted. Well hopped, but far from bitter. Clean with no aftertaste, this is another solid summer session beer. 4/5
Looking forward to Oktoberfest Live!
I am very grateful to Xfinity Live! for providing us with free tickets to this event. We had a lot of fun, and I hope to return to try a whole slate of new beers when they hold Xfinity Oktoberfest Live (assuming I can get through all of these reviews before then).
I’ll be sure to update the list below with links to the full reviews as we get them published.