Every year, Pittsburghers come together to celebrate something truly worthy of a weeklong celebration: Pittsburgh beer. Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week (PCBW) was formed by local breweries, distributors, bottle shops, and beer-centric restaurants that wanted to support the growth of craft beer in our region. During PCBW, Pittsburgh beer lovers can indulge in beer tastings, beer pairing dinners, exclusive speciality brews, and meet-and-greets with the men and women behind our incredible hometown breweries. The goal of PCBW is simple: highlight our region’s unique craft beer culture and to expand Pittsburgh’s craft beer reach by education, collaboration, and responsible libation. There were over 250 events to choose from across the city. We wanted to attend every single one, but unfortunately we have not yet mastered being in two…or ten places at once. Scientists need to figure this out stat because when PCBW2015 rolls around, we don’t want to miss a thing.
However, we did make it to as many events as we could possibly fit into our already bustling schedule. Here is a picture recap of all the fun (and of course educational) things we did this week!
Day 1. We kicked off PCBW with a beer and food tasting at Market District Settler’s Ridge. There, we sampled the collaboration brew by Church Brew Works and Apis Meadery called “Honey, I Spiced the Wit”. It’s a Wit style beer that is infused with braggot. What’s braggot you say? Braggot is made by combining beer with mead along with spices and herbs (don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this style, it’s pretty old-school). This brew is specifically made with local wildflower honey, lavender, cardamom, and oh yeah-lots of love… This beer weighs in at a whopping 8.0% ABV. To us, it tasted like a refreshing summer day, light and airy. There was a harmonious balance between the honey character and malt flavor with the hop bitterness taking backstage to the sweetness of the honey.
Then, we sampled four small plates paired with Deschutes Brewery beers. They were all so delicious!
We ended the meal with Southern Tier’s Pittsburgh Left Ale paired with a dark chocolate bark. Southern Tier specifically brewed the Pittsburgh Left for this very special week! It is a Belgian Style Brown Ale brewed with Black Mission Figs. It has lots of fruity esters and spicy phenolics. This beer was named after the famously altruistic Pittsburgh drivers who allow and encourage others to take the“Pittsburgh Left”. This small driving courtesy is just one of the many examples of how awesome Pittsburghers really are.
Day 2. Our next adventure was the Pedal Pale Ale Keg Ride by East End Brewing Co. Since the brewery’s opening in 2004, East End Brewing Co. (EEBC) has been passionate about being an environmentally sustainable brewery. EEBC truly cares about Pittsburgh and keeping it a beautiful place to live. A fun way to spread the news about how they operate as a near-zero waste brewery is by delivering the first Pedal Pale Ale kegs of the season by…..bicycle. Participants do not know where they are heading, but they are guaranteed some great sights and a cold beer at the end of the journey.
The mystery destination was the new Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District. Recently, EEBC started selling their highly coveted wares there. So, it was only appropriate that we would sample the 2014 Pedal Pale Ale there. IT WAS AWESOME. Maybe it tasted so good because we biked 8 miles all around town to finally try it. But I’m pretty sure it’s just that good.
Also, we got to sample the PCBW collaboration brew by East End Brewing and Lavery Brewery called Rojo Ahumado or Red Smoke. It’s a Chili Smoked Amber Ale made with four different peppers. You can really taste smoky wood flavors with a hint of pepper heat. Definitely a tasty and creative offering for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week.
During the ride, we ran into some pretty awesome Pittsburghers!
The reward of a hard-earned beer was sweet, but the whole experience was even sweeter. We will definitely be biking for beer again in 2015.
Day 3. Moving right along in our PCBW adventures, we dined at a beautiful restaurant in North Park called Over the Bar.We grabbed an awesome burger and a few pints of Sly Fox beers that were featured for PCBW2014.
We had a great time with the hosts: Restaurant owner Marty, Sly Fox Ambassador Corey, and Galli Beer Distributors Chris and Jay. And we got to try the “Helles Bock” released to this restaurant specifically for PCBW. Very, very tasty.
We even got to learn about Sly Fox’s innovative beer can top, the 360.
Sly Fox Brewing Company became the first brewery in North America to utilize the 360 Lid beverage can technology developed by Crown Holdings, Inc. The entire lid of the can is completely removable. A little different right? Well this innovative design enhances one’s drinking experience by allowing the full flavor and aroma of the beer to be throughly enjoyed. Also, this new lid eliminates the need for separate glassware, which makes this canned beer an even more appealing beverage choice for outdoor activities.
Day 4. Move over wine, beer makes an even better pairing with cheese. We went to a FREE Victory beer and cheese pairing at Whole Foods Wexford.
We sampled Victory’s Hop Ticket (Hoppy Wheat) with organic Chevre cheese. Next, we sampled Victoy’s Abbey’s (Belgian IPA) paired with a mild cheddar. Then, we had the Old Horizontal (Barleywine) with a really flavorful gorgonzola. Next, we had Swing (Session Saison) with a super creamy goat cheese. Finally, we concluded our wonderful beer and cheese pairing with Storm King (Imperial Stout) with Stilton cheese. If you want my honest opinion, craft beer brings so much more complexity to a cheese pairing than wine ever could. Plus, it far less stuffier…
Day 5. Our next PCBW adventure lead us to Mad Mex for Pumkings and Gobbleritos!! Yup, all the best offerings of Thanksgiving dinner during one magical day in April. Pumking Ale is by far one of tastiest pumpkin beers on the market. Oh, and it weighs in at a whopping 8.6% ABV. It will get you feelin’ festive in no time! And the Gobblerito- W.O.W. One of those things could feed a small country. Not familiar with a Gobblerito? It’s basically Thanksgiving dinner wrapped up in one big soft tortilla. Words cannot describe how tasty (and filling) it really is. Fortunately, I came prepared and wore my turkey pants.
We enjoyed the Pumkings so much that we came back later that night to meet fellow Pittsburgh Beer Blogger Jason Cercone from Breakingbrews.com for a few more. We had a really great conversation about our ever growing beer community here in the ‘Burgh. Next time you get a chance, check out his site- it’s excellent.
Day 7. Our next adventure lead us to an awesome Art Show called the PGHTEE. The PGHtee is a free tee-shirt art show housed in Commonwealth Press’s warehouse. Over 20 local artists showcased their best printed tee’s for our viewing pleasure. The tee’s were displayed on clotheslines and tables throughout the warehouse. Best part- free beer. Yes free beer. Not the tasteless, big brand kind- actual craft beer made by local brewers. Local homebrewer’s associations like T.R.A.S.H and T.R.U.B provided the flavorful brews for the night. We sampled just about all they had to offer, and we were completely impressed. Homebrewer turned professional brewer Andy Kwiatkowski for Hitchhiker’s Pub let us sample his offerings: Pittsburgh Lager, Berlinner Weisse, Robust Porter, and Kolsch. Delicious, delightful, down-right good.
Day 8. Finch Beer dinner at Sharp Edge. We were looking forward to this dinner all week! The Apertif (appetizer) was a glass of Sharp Edge’s Over the Edge Belgian Triple IPA. Next, we had a refreshing salad made with Finch’s Wet Hot American Wheat Ale vinaigrette. Then, we had Pecan Crusted Chicken with Finch’s Secret Stashe cream sauce. Finally, we finished off the meal with a decadent Stout infused chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. YUM! We did not want this meal to end. Forunately, it doesn’t have to because we had already made stout brownies with Finch’s incredible Secret Stashe!
Beer enthusiasts from everywhere flocked to Pittsburgh to celebrate its Craft Beer Week. People from all walks of life came together to sample, learn, and enjoy local artisanal libations. Our minds are saddened but our bodies rejoice as this week draws to an end (there’s only so much day-drinking one can successfully manage). Hopefully, this post leaves the reader with notion that there is something for everyone during PCBW. Our experience is just a small window of what PCBW has to offer. What will your PCBW look like in 2015?