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The 3rd Annual King of Prussia Beerfest Royale is now a memory. But boy, did I have one of the best times ever this year! KOP-BID knows how to put on a great outdoor beer event, which is held on the grounds of the KOP Mall, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Having just completed their third year and getting bigger and better each time, this Beerfest is the place to be. Starting with the Donnerstag Happy Hour on the first Thursday of October, followed for two full beer-tasting sessions on the first Saturday of October, this event promises good food, good music, good beer and a good time.Recap: King of Prussia Beerfest Royale 2014

My evening started with a delectable dinner courtesy of Steve Olsen and his staff at Maggiano’s Little Italy King of Prussia, where the awesome Sarah took care of Stephen and me, serving up fresh white sangria, and warm, melting pan-fried mozzarella. For our entrees, I tried the new Lighter Take Shrimp Fra Diavolo, with 50% less pasta and hand-cut fettuccine smothered in shrimp, garlic and a warm, spicy sauce.

At 400 calories, this made my day- just enough pasta and shrimp in every bite! Stephen enjoyed his creamy, hearty gnocchi and sausage. We rounded off our meal with cappuccinos and brownie bites with a strawberry balsamic reduction and the apple crostada.

Afterwards, we were happily full and headed back to our home for the night, the Hyatt House. This hotel is amazingly gorgeous and relaxed, located close to the mall, restaurants, Valley Forge Park and minutes from Philadelphia. We had a top floor room with a two-story ceiling facing towards the mall. This room is a home-away-from-home, including a marble bathroom, full kitchen (with a full-sized fridge and dishwasher) with a living room. Gorgeous, romantic and comfortable, after a soak in the hot tub we happily drifted off to sleep. We awoke to a soaking rain, but luckily that cleared out just at the stroke of noon to welcome session 1 beer tasters.

This year, I was asked to be a guest food judge, and many people asked me how I got to become a food judge: I love outdoor events, I love KOP, and I love food (and I KNOW food!)! I was judging the carefully crafted edibles, searching the event for the most inspired food dish. There were many small plates to choose from…and which one did I pick…?

With fellow food judges Amy Strauss, Chris Murphy, Donnie Black, Neal Santos, and Caroline Russock, we chomped and guzzled our way through delectable small plates and international and craft beers. My favorite beer was Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer, sweet and spicy with a slice of lime, this drink was delightful for the warm afternoon. I also quite enjoyed Frecon Farm’s apple ciders such as Early Man.Recap: King of Prussia Beerfest Royale 2014

I tasted a great many edibles- the Shake Shack’s hearty grilled hotdog with fiery jalapeños layered within a heavenly cheese sauce and crunchy onions and a nutmeg-spicy pumpkin custard for dessert; Maggiano’s offered full-bodied meatballs and sausage, and a slow-cooked brisket over a crispy grilled brioche with greens, caramelized onions and a rich cheese slice,  California Pizza Kitchen with a creamy guacamole and crunchy chips, Season’s 52 fresh, flaky salmon over divine chilled cranberry quinoa; and Tony Luke’s hearty staple, the always awesome, yet tricky, Philly cheesesteak with a huge amount of meat, cheese and caramelized onions on a warm roll…just how I like it.

It seems some of the dishes were dished up just to serve thirsty, perhaps tipsy beer drinkers, while other restaurants carefully crafted their edibles.

After a good two hours wandering around and eating and drinking and sitting and talking, I was worn out! Fellow judges and I sat down to dish about our favorite food and drink. We all lined up in front of the bandstand and final food judge, FOX 29’s Chris Murphy, would taste and decide the winners.

Conshohocken Brewing Company took Best Craft Beer for its Chocolate Crush Imperial Porter and Best International Beer was awarded to kronenbourg 1664.

Chris tried Neal’s pick of the hot dog, exclaiming that the Shake Shack should stick to burgers (I loved this spicy hot dog!) and he then tried my pick of Maggiano’s brisket…and he declared my pick the winner! Maggiano’s won Best Inspired Dish of Beerfest Royale 2014!

Then all the session 1 drinkers had drunk their fill and were ushered out to bring in the next round of tasters for session 2. Overall, this was an amazing event, full of beer, food and fun.

Special thanks to Stephen Trimble for photography, Brooke Hersh and her staff at KOP-BID, and Nicole Paloux and Zofia Wleklinski at Red Balloon PR, Steve Olsen and his staff at Maggiano’s and all those that make KoP Beerfest Royale the best Beer event in the area!

Catch the rest of the 2014 KOP Beerfest photos on our Facebook page!

Website: www.kopbeerfest.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kopbeerfest

Twitter: @KOPBeerfest


Christine Tarlecki is a food and entertainment writer from Phoenixville and guest judging food and wines. Follow her on her wedding blog: stevechristine2015.wordpress.com or food blog at Engchik Eats at Engchik.blogspot.com. Twitter @engchik.

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