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Recapping Rolling Barrel’s BBQ in the Ballpark

15 July 2012

By Greg Taffer

The Tailgate: A tradition that transcends all generations, and has different meanings for all. A father and son going to one of their first sporting events together cooking on the grill, a group of young friends indulging in libations, adults letting go and feeling young again; a day of great fun no matter how you slice it. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to say that gourmet foods come to mind in or outside of the ballpark, but the 5th Annual BBQ at the Ballpark changed all that for me. On Saturday July 7th, Rolling Barrel put on a very special tailgate, showcasing some of the best local beer and food offerings.

After taking it all in, my trusty photographer Jason Pearlman and I made our first stop at the Davey Dogs stand. I tried their signature offering, a hot dog wrapped in bacon, chicken, and cheese served on an Italian roll with a choice of either hot wing or barbecue sauce. I opted for hot sauce, and was surprised that it was nowhere near as heavy as I envisioned it being. The use of an Italian roll (instead of a hot dog roll) proved to be a good choice to hold the thinner barbecue and hot wing sauces. Shortly after we stopped by the Victory tent and I tried Summer Love, while Jason tried Whirlwind. I am usually not the biggest fan of Victory, but Summer Love really hit the mark for me: perfectly drinkable golden ale, with great a malty body and subtle but impactful floral notes. I only tried a small sip of Whirlwind, and found it to be a bit too tame and relenting, as I like my witbiers to be on the stronger more unfiltered side, but your mileage may vary.

With one round of beer and barbecue down, I decided to make use of Zsa’s Gourmet Ice Cream and The Bent Spoon for a palette cleanse, and also to beat the sweltering summer heat. The Bent Spoon’s offerings included a Blue Apricot Sorbet, Chocolate Earl Grey, Fresh Mint Nib, and Ricotta ice cream. I sampled all flavors, and was particularly taken with the Fresh Mint Nib and Ricotta Flavors: The Fresh Mint Nib was somewhat of a new interpretation of mint chocolate chip making use of a much more rustic mint flavor, and strong pieces of cocoa nib in lieu of chocolate, while the ricotta was a rich, luscious buttery flavor with a consistency similar to that of gelato. Jason sampled Zsa’s Sour Cream Blueberry and Salted Caramel flavors: The Sour Cream Blueberry unfortunately didn’t have much flavor, and it was mostly an empty, buttery, flavor with a very small blueberry aftertaste. The Salted Caramel flavor had an excellent Butterscotch quality with a sharp but welcomed sea salt aftertaste.

By far, the main event was Sweet Lucy’s BBQ offering. Nearly every traditional barbecue staple was available: Pork and Beans, Brisket, Pulled Pork, Macaroni and Cheese, Ribs, Pulled Chicken, Hot Dogs, and of course their signature barbecue sauce. For me, the highlights included a beautifully browned macaroni and cheese, ribs (which seemingly had a great rub) that nearly fell off the bone, and succulent brisket. Their barbecue sauce, however, left a bit to be desired. I found it to be rather generic and weak, with no real unique flavors. Jason and I paired our barbeque with offerings from Weyerbacher. We had Last Chance IPA and Blanche. Blanche, a Belgian-Style golden witbier that is unfiltered and has a strong blueberry flavor, took the cake for the most unique beer I tried at the event.

The Last Chance IPA would be a sure hit for lovers of hoppy beer, but I unfortunately didn’t detect the grapefruit, pine or citrus notes that the description sheet promised.

All in all, I was thoroughly impressed with this event. Despite it being 21+, there were people of all ages, many different foods and drinks available, even obscure offerings like Philly Beer Cakes, publications such as Philly Beer Scene, live music, and games. Rolling Barrel definitely understands that even if morale is down, and the home team isn’t doing so hot, there is still fun to be had, and a weekend tailgate is always cause for celebration.

Photos courtesy of Jason Pearlman.

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