Reel All About It: Beer a Hot Topic on Philly's Airwaves

By Carolyn Smagalski, The Beer Fox
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Jun. 1, 2010

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“It’s us or them; Philly against the world” says Rocco DiCicco, overflowing with local pride for his Philadelphia, christened on the national stage as “the best beer drinking city in America” by award-winning beer writer Don Russell. Partnered with Jonathan Nitka and Philadelphia’s FreshFly Film Production, DiCiccco has surged head first into a challenging project that promises to propel Philly Beer Week into film markets across the country.

“Philly is the best beer drinking city,” he says. “There’s a really good case for that. It’s a verifiable fact that you can purchase more varied beer here than in any other state in the Union. The dynamic culture in Philly lends itself to this event. It’s like a perfect storm for beer.”

DiCicco and Nitka live in cyberspace as Beers of Legend at Their first book, Winter Beers Volume I, grabbed the attention of the three-man production company FreshFly, which wanted to explore the city through its sense of solidarity and team spirit. Filmmakers Sean Maher, Chayne Gregg and Phil Bradshaw saw no better way than to focus on the burgeoning Philadelphia beer renaissance. The documentary follows two aspiring go-getters (DiCicco and Nitka) as they struggle to meet book deadlines and launch a local beer-publishing company beneath the hulking shadow of Philly Beer Week.

Currently in production under the working title Bottled in Philly, this film/book project continues to capture live video throughout Philly Beer Week at such events as Opening Tap, Jose Pistola’s, Zythos America, Clone Wars and the 2010 Philly Beer Geek Finals. If you want to be in pictures, this is your chance to be caught “out and about” at the most conspicuous beer venues in the city. The doc is due to wrap at the end of Philly Beer Week, and will be marketed at film festivals from San Francisco to the Hamptons. “Like” it on Facebook and watch for TV and DVD distribution through Gravitas Ventures, which propelled Anat Baron’s Beer Wars into Netflix, On Demand, iTunes and tons of cable providers.

The Beers of Legend team is only the beginning of the film, radio and podcast story brewing in the kettles during Philly Beer Week. Beer icon Gary Monterosso hosts Still Crazy after All These Beers, with Tara Nurin co-hosting the Michelob Minutes segment of the show. Still Crazy episodes employ the form of live, but taped, segments involving brewers, event attendees, chefs and beer topics at highly visible festivals, with an evergreen angle so the shows never appear to be out-of-date. Filmed by Guy Zompa and Artie Halstead, the show is sponsored by Michelob and Portopong. Monterosso plans to film at Opening Tap ceremonies, followed on the June 5th weekend by an interview with Andy Calimano of Starfish Junction Productions, event planners for the International Great Beer Expo and the Philly Craft Beer Festival. “We’re in the process of growing the show,” Nurin says. “I think the show will be much more visible.” Visibility is what counts in video podcasting. Episodes can be viewed through Blip, Viddles, YouTube, iTunes, the show page at and Verizon Fios Video On Demand. At the time of this writing, Monterosso’s brainchild will soon be entering national VOD format.

Another Philly venture, Two Guys On Beer, is hosted by Johnny Bilotta and Dave Martorana. Cameras roll every Thursday, with most episodes filming in National Mechanics Bar & Restaurant (22 South 3rd St.) at 3 p.m. Two Guys On Beer recently launched a daily format, filming several four-minute episodes of beer reviews, with discussions about beer styles, country of origin, terrior and breweries. Video podcasts are available online at Subscribe through RSS feed, Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.

Craft Beer Radio, based in Pittsburgh, will not be in town this year for Philly Beer Week. Only a stone’s throw from Philly, Craft Beer Radio is considered one of “our own” in the grand scheme of East vs. West (as long as we’re not talking about the Steelers.) Radio hosts Jeff Bearer and Greg Weiss enthusiastically supported Philly Beer Week in 2009, and have posted 15 high-quality podcasts from their stint in the City of Brotherly Love. Topics are varied and include the Brett Pack Reception at Nodding Head, Rob Tod on Barrel Aging, Randy Mosher at Dock Street, and Tom Peters at Monks Café. Access these audio podcasts on your iPod, portable audio player, or from any computer at

Keep your eyes open for our friends at Fox 29 TV for beer-centric broadcasts throughout Philly Beer Week. PBW’s Executive Director Don Russell, a.k.a. Daily News beer reporter Joe Sixpack, is no stranger to the media. He’s done segments on Fox 29 TV, WHYY 91FM and WPHT 1210AM radio, and is sure to be in the spotlight during Philly Beer Week. Nobody expects you to be home, glued to the flat screen, when you can be reveling in beer. But if you need a break, be sure to tune in.

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