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Pumking Ale Monkey Bread

Pumking Ale is one of our all time favorite autumn brews. It’s like drinking the most delicious boozy pumpkin pie ever known to man. Although it is not from a Pittsburgh brewery, it still feels very homey to us. For the past couple of years, we have gone up to Lake Chautauqua to relax and spend quality time with our family and friends. It just so happens that Southern Tier Brewing Co. is a quick trip up the road. Our summers would not be complete without a visit to their stunning brewery. As a big bonus, STBC releases their Pumking Ale early so we are able to drink it fresh from the source. To pay homage to one of our favorite breweries outside the ‘burgh, we created a decadent pastry- Pumking Ale Monkey Bread smothered in Pumking Ale Caramel Sauce. Not familiar with monkey bread? It’s like a giant cinnamon roll and you tear off each little cinnamon sugar bread bubble, kind of like how monkeys pick at their food. Just like Pumking Ale has bewitched our tastebuds, this recipe too will have you completely spellbound.

Ingredient List

1. Dough Ingredients 

  • ¾ cup Pumking Ale by Southern Tier Brewing Co.
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 package (2 and ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 and ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

2. Pumking Ale Caramel Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Pumking Ale
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 3 and ½ TBSP butter, room temperature

3. Dough Ball Coating Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1 and ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon


1. Directions for Dough

  1. In a large saucepan, combine Pumking Ale, whole milk, vegetable oil, and granulated sugar. Heat until hot but stop right before it boils
  2. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool until the mixture is warm to the touch but not too hot (about 15-20 minutes or so)
  3. Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the liquid and allow to sit for 5 minutes
  4. Stir in pumpkin puree until combined
  5. Gently stir in 4 cups of AP flour and ground cinnamon into mixture. 
  6. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 1 hour. After 1 hour, the mixture should be very puffy and doubled in size. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until totally combined. Set aside. While that’s resting- Time to work on Pumking Ale Caramel Sauce!

Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread 1st boil        Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Yeast        Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Pumpkin

Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread 1st Flour        Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Mix        Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Towel

2. Directions for Pumking Ale Caramel Sauce

  1. In a medium size saucepan, combine the sugar and Pumking Ale over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves
  2. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, without stirring. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 to 6 minutes (however watch out, it burns easily)
  3. Remove the mixture from heat and carefully whisk in heavy cream (watch out it will bubble). Then stir in butter. Transfer the beer caramel to a dish and let cool slightly. Set aside

Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Caramel Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Sugar Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Heavy Cream

After the dough has rested for an hour and you’ve added the final flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder….it’s time to coat the balls in the butter and cinnamon/sugar

3. Directions for Dough Ball Coating

  1. Melt butter in a small bowl. Set aside
  2. Combine granulated sugar and ground cinnamon in another small bowl. Set next to butter bowl
  3. Pull off small dough pieces and roll into balls, about 1.25 inch in diameter. You will need 40-45 balls total, so be mindful of the size
  4. Dip each ball, one by one, in the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat (You may need more cinnamon-sugar depending how heavy you coat each ball) and place balls in a greased bundt pan. Set aside
  5. Pour half of the Pumking Caramel Sauce (1/2 cup) over the coated dough balls

Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Balls   Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Pour

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Place Bundt Pan on baking sheet (so no drippings fall into your oven) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester is inserted and comes out clean

Cool for 5-10 minutes and invert onto a large serving plate or cake stand

Now eat like monkeys and pull off each little ball of goodness and dunk them in the remaining Pumking Ale Caramel Sauce!

Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread Final Close Up

Cheers N’at                                                                                                                        D&T


Nunkin Pumpkin Cake

I love the fall and everything that goes along with it…including the beer selection. And I will be the first one to admit that I count the seconds until brewers release their fall offerings, especially the pumpkin ones. But it turns out that those so called pumpkin beers aren’t really pumpkin flavored….at all. Usually, they are ales loaded with tons of wonderful holiday spices that closely mimic grandma’s beloved pumpkin pie.

In 2011, Scott Smith, Owner and Head Brewer of EEBC finally conceded to brewing a pumpkin..ish beer after years and years of relentless requests from Pittsburgh craft beer drinkers. Now Scott is a pretty witty guy (to say the least), and he certainly does not like to be wasteful. He’s also a well seasoned brewer who knows that pumpkins have an extremely subtle and delicate flavor profile, which is no match for the strong flavor profiles of traditional malts and hops. So Scott abandoned this rather absurd practice of including pumpkins in pumpkin spiced beer and focused on concocting a masterful blend of spices that taste just like the pie…but without any of the unnecessary pumpkin additives. Therefore, his pumpkin beer was dubbed Nunkin Ale so all those who enjoy it know that “no pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, squash, or gourds of any type were senselessly slaughtered” to brew this magnificent beer.

This whole pumpkin beer thing seems pretty ironic, so we decided to be festive and stay with this theme. Since Scott won’t put pumpkin in Nunkin…..we made Nunkin into a Pumpkin….cake. Although pumpkins are not big flavor contributors to our wildly popular so-called pumpkin beers, they sure do come in handy when baking a pumpkin cake. This cake is moist, decadent, and spiced just right. Only with this recipe will the combination of Nunkin and pumpkins ever make perfect sense. 

Pumpkin Beer Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Pumpkin Beer Cake 2


  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup Nunkin Ale by East End Brewing Co.
  • 4 cups pumpkin (not the pie filling)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine all ingredients in a extra large bowl
  3. Divide and pour the batter equally into 2 greased bundt pans
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 stick of salted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • red & yellow food coloring (follow box’s directions to make orange)
  • 1 package of whole pecans

Icing Directions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, blend butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and food coloring until well incorporated (save pecans for decoration)

Assembly of Pumpkin Cake

  1. After cakes have cooled, trim the top part of each cake (just enough to make it a flat surface)
  2. Flip one cake upside down and spread cream cheese icing on the top
  3. Set second cake on top (now it should look like a pumpkin!)
  4. Spread icing on the outside of cake
  5. Place pecans on cake to look like ridges on pumpkin
  6. Squeeze a Grolsch bottle (or any green beer bottle) in the middle
  7. Serve and enjoy with friends!

cut cake   icing cake Pumpkin Beer Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Cheers N’at


Drunken Balsamic Bacon Jam on Peppercorn Rye Ale Bread

Appetizers are the perfect way to prepare guests’ taste-buds for an indulgent feast. But traditional appetizers like wine and cheese can be so….. formal… and sometimes stuffy.  So we switched out wine for beer and cheese for bacon to make an epic drunken treat that will easily spark conversation among your guests. Here’s what to expect- It’s a balsamic bacon beer jam slathered on top of a creamy layer of goat cheese. It’s adorned with peppery arugula and all this rests nicely on top of a hearty slice of Peppercorn Rye Ale bread. It’s a symphony of flavors- savory, salty, sour and sweet; it’s truly the perfect starter to any meal. It has all the flavor complexities without all the conventional stuffiness. Enjoy the finer things in life…like bacon and beer in spreadable form.

What You’ll Need

  • Balsamic Bacon Beer Jam (see recipe below)
  • Peppercorn Rye Ale Bread slices (see recipe below)
  • Goat Cheese, 8 oz
  • Arugula ( 2-3 cups)

Bacon Beer Jam


  • 16 oz bacon (smoked or peppered)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onions
  • 1 cup Dahntahn Brahn from Milkman Brewing Co.
  • 1 tsp spicy yellow mustard (saved a packet from Chinese takeout)
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2- 2/3 cup light brown sugar (depends on how sweet your tooth is)


  1. In a large pot, cook the bacon. You may need to work in batches to avoid overcrowding.
  2. Remove cooked bacon from pan and roughly chop. Set aside. Keep 1 TBSP of bacon grease in pan- discard the rest.
  3. Put pot back on stove and cook the onions for about 3 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent.
  4. Add garlic and cook very quickly- 30 seconds.
  5. Add beer, spicy mustard, malt vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir well to deglaze bottom.
  6. Simmer on low with lid 3/4 of the way to allow steam to escape for about 45 minutes. The mixture should reduce and look thick and almost syrupy.
  7. Using a food processor or hand blender, pulse mixture to break down large pieces of bacon.
  8. Set aside and let cool.

Peppercorn Rye Ale Bread 


  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups AP flour, divided, additional for dusting
  • 1/2 cup warm water (not hot it will kill the yeast)
  • 12 oz Peppercorn Rye Ale from Milkman Brewing Co.
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black peppercorns


  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine yeast, 1/2 cup flour, and warm water. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in the beer, remaining flour (4 cups) and salt/ pepper into yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, stir on low until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover and let rise for 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
  3. Remove dough from bowl and generously flour the top and bottom. Place floured dough on a baking sheet and form into a loaf shape. Cover loosely with a towel and let it rise again for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425. Place a small pan of water on the bottom shelf of oven.
  5. Slash a few decorative slits on the top of the dough loaf. Place the baking sheet on the rack above the pan of water. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until loaf is golden brown.
  6. Carefully transfer to cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.

beer jam 5


  1. Slice Peppercorn Rye Ale bread into one-inch slices
  2. Spread goat cheese on bread
  3. Spread beer bacon jam ontop of goat cheese
  4. Garnish with spicy arugula
  5. Enjoy this hearty appetizer with friends and family

About the Beer- Milkman Brewing Co.

Dahntahn Brahn is Milkman’s American Brown Ale. It pays tribute to Pittsburgh’s industrial days by adding a hint of cherry-wood smoked malts to the brew.

Peppercorn Rye Ale is a Milkman’s brewing original. Rye makes up over 40% of the grain in this spicy brew. But rye isn’t the only spicy ingredient found here- the brewers threw in green, white, and black peppercorns into mix. This brew won Pittsburgh’s 2011 BruFest Judges’ Award.

Cheers N’at


Beerf Jerky

Beer and meat make the ultimate pairing. Not only do well-crafted brews bring great flavor to the table (literally), they also make a wonderful, tenderizing marinade. Beer has enzymes that help break down the tough fibers found in most  red meat, which makes beer even more tempting to cook with. Trust me, this is the most tender and flavorful beef jerky you will ever try. This recipe choice came to us in a very Roundabout way. It was my birthday, and I really, really wanted to visit Roundabout Brewery in Lawrenceville. Tim jumped at the idea and off we went, two kids under two in tow. When we arrived, we were greeted by the very awesome owners, Steve and Dyana. They told us about their current brews on tap and the remarkable story behind Roundabout Brewery. Dyana mentioned that they were originally looking to set up shop in the building where Cure restaurant now resides. Ironically, a few months ago we had the most breathtaking meal at Cure for Tim’s birthday. There were far too many connections to ignore; Lawrenceville, birthdays, awesome owners- Roundabout Brewery and Cure needed to be united for our next dish. Thus, our recipe had to be Beerf  Jerky- a beautiful combination of beer and cured meat. It’s spicy, savory, and far fresher than store bought. A perfect party snack to pair with a few pints.


  • 8 oz (1 cup) Rusted Route Amber Ale
  • 1 lb very lean London broil (sliced against the grain, very thinly)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Sriracha sauce (can add more if you like it hot hot hot)
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried chile flakes
  • 1 tsp salt

*Don’t have access to Rusted Route Amber Ale? Just use your favorite Amber Ale but make sure you make it out to the brewery in some roundabout way!


  1. Buy a growler of Rusted Route from Roundabout Brewery
  2. Go to your local butcher and ask him or her to slice against the grain 1 pound of lean London broil into thin strips ( If they won’t do it- freeze the meat for 30 minutes and then cut into thin strips). Trim off fat (it cannot be cured)
  3. Put strips between 2 clean kitchen towels and press out as much moisture as you can. Using a meat tenderizer, (or your favorite sturdy mug) pound it out a little to make it thinner
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Pour mixture into large ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 150 (the lowest ours would go is 170 so we kept the door ajar with a wooden spoon)
  6. Pat dry strips of meat and place them on a cooking rack (make sure they do not touch)
  7. Dry the meat strips in the oven for 3-5 hours (ours took 4) or until the meat is dried, but not brittle (should be able to tear into strings)
  8. Let the jerky cool and then share it with friends! Make sure to wash it all down with the remaining Rusted Route
  9. Can be stored in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks but you probably won’t need that much time

*This recipe is a tribute to Steve and Dyana from Roundabout Brewery and Justin Severino from Cure Restaurant. Posts soon to come about their awesome places!

Cheers N’at


Spent Grain Pizza

Spent grains are the leftover malt (grains) after most of its sugars, proteins, and nutrients have been extracted. The spent grains can make up over 80% of a brewery’s total by-product. Conscientious brewers like Scott Smith, owner of East End Brewing Co. makes sure that his spent grains are given a very useful (and delicious) second life. Scott sends his spent grains to 4 local farms: 2 dairy, 1 hog, and 1 chicken. He also gives them out to local beer bloggers who want to incorporate it in their cooking (If you ask very nicely, he may be extra generous and hook you up too). If you are a homebrewer- you’re definitely in luck because you’ll have an ample supply of these flavorful nuggets. We found that one of the best ways to highlight spent grains is to throw them in a tasty pizza dough. The grains give the crust an awesome, chewy texture that is second to none. You gotta try this recipe out, I promise it’s time well spent. 

spent grain pizza


  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (not hot- it will kill the yeast)
  • 1  1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup spent grain, wet
  • 1  1/2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • shredded mozzarella
  • pizza sauce

Toppings (Pick what you love, we did…)

  • fresh basil
  • roma tomatoes
  • hot pepper flakes
  • parmesan cheese


  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine yeast with warm water. Let mixture sit for ten minutes (it should start to bubble and froth)
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and knead with a dough hook for 8-10 minutes on medium/low speed. (If you don’t having a standing mixer- mix the dough by hand in the bowl and transfer it to a clean, floured surface to knead by hand)
  3. Cover with a towel and let rest for 2 hours
  4. Punch down dough and spread it out on pizza stone (or pizza cooking sheet) and let rise again for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees
  5. Spread sauce, add cheese and other desired toppings (If you want fresh basil- add it to the pizza once cooking is completed)
  6. Bake for 14-20 minutes, or until crust is evenly browned on the bottom

Cheers N’at

Pittsburgh Beer : The History Here

“To know your future, you first must understand your past” – George Santayana. As you may know, Pittsburgh has always been a beer drinkers’ town. When Pittsburgh was newly established, several local microbreweries slowly started to emerge. Then in the late 1800′s, all those small scale breweries joined forces to form one massive brewing empire. When the big Pittsburgh beer hit troubled waters, microbreweries seized the opportunity to satisfy thirsty Pittsburghers once again. Pittsburgh’s complex brewing history is chocked full of surprises; we’ve got name changes, location changes, fraudulent owners, and some very passionate brewers that passed on their craft to future generations . Here’s a snippet of Pittsburgh’s brewing history and how our breweries came full circle.

Pittsburgh Beer History

Point Brewery (1765-1835) Let’s start with the very first commercial brewery- Point Brewery at Fort Pitt. The British Army built the first brewery at Fort Pitt to keep the soldiers happy and manageable. After the government decommissioned Fort Pitt in 1792, they sold the land and all the salvageable materials (including bricks) to inquirers Peter Shiras and Robert Smith. Once Peter and Robert obtained the land, Peter took all those bricks and built himself a nice home and a brand spankin’ new brewery. The brewery included three separate buildings; the malt house was especially handsome with two-stories and a belfry. Peter’s 20 year old son, George, was commissioned to be the head brewer. In 1802, Peter Shiras retired and sold his land to O’Hara. George (the brewer and son of Peter) retired as well and his two sons stepped up to be the next brewsters for O’Hara and his heirs. The brewery stayed in operation until 1835, when it was moved closer to town.   Picture Credits

fort pitt_______________________________________________________

pittsburgh beer iron city logo

Pittsburgh Brewing Co.(1844-Present) This Pittsburgh Beer Giant started in 1844, when German immigrant Anton Benitz opened a brewpub named Benitz Brewing on 17th street. Investors for Benitz Brewing, Augustus Hoeveler (Banker and business man) and John Miller (Brewer) partnered together to brew “Iron City Beer” which was served at the Iron City Beer Hall and Restaurant. Then, they were joined by German immigrant and brewer, Edward Frauenheim and his 17 year old apprentice Leopold Vilsack. After combining forces, they legally changed their name from Benitz Brewery to Iron City Brewery. In 1866, Iron City Brewing was such a popular watering hole, it outgrew its original location and moved to Liberty Avenue, where its headquarters remain today.

Picture Credits Pittsburgh Brewing Company Headquarters

By the 1880′s, Iron City Brewing became the largest producer of lagers, ales, and porters in all of Pennsylvania. The copious amount of beer was brewed in one of the most extensive and impressive breweries in the United States. In 1886, the brewery upped its total production from 10,00 barrels to 50,000 barrels per year. It was estimated that the brewery’s worth was over $150,000- an impressive amount for the brewing industry during that era. Toward the end of the century, the 12 local breweries (including Iron City Brewing) merged together to form the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. It became Pennsylvania’s largest brewery and third largest in the nation. Their combined assets weighed in at whopping 11 million dollars and turned out over 1 million barrels a year.              Picture Credits


When prohibition struck in the 1920′s, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company was able to stay afloat by selling ice cream, soft drinks, and non alcoholic “near-beers”. Once Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Pittsburgh Brewing Company was one of 725 breweries in America that survived.

With the dry prohibition days behind them, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company regained its strength and produced some of the best selling beer in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Brewing Co. was the first ones to utilize the “snap-top” cans. These quickly became the industry standard. Also, they were the first to market the low-carb “light beer” aka I.C. Light.                                                                                                                   Picture Credits

pittsburgh brewing snap top

Unfortunately in 1985, Pittsburgh Brewing Co. started its downfall. Ownership issues caused production to decrease dramatically. In 2007, it could no longer support itself in its Liberty Avenue factory and filed for bankruptcy. Then, the company was purchased out of bankruptcy by Unified Growth Partners. They moved production to the Rolling Rock location in Latrobe, PA. They also reinstated their original name “Iron City Brewing Co.” In 2011, Iron City Brewing was purchased by Uni-World Capital and changed their name back to Pittsburgh Brewing Company.

So if you were having trouble keeping up with all the name changes- here we go  Benitz Brewing –>Iron City Brewery –> Pittsburgh Brewing Company –> Iron City Brewing –> Pittsburgh Brewing Company

Iron City beer continues to be a staple in Pittsburgh. You can’t attend a local sporting event without seeing Pittsburghers sippin’ on their arhns.


pittsburgh beer fort pittFort Pitt Brewing Co.(1906-1957) Founded in Sharpsburg in 1902 by Dr. Herman Hechelman , a handful of businessmen, and Samuel Grenet (local politician). Although many breweries closed due to Prohibition, Fort Pitt Brewing was able to stay alive by selling non-alcoholic beverages (just like the Pittsburgh Brewing Co.) Once Prohibition was lifted in 1933, Fort Pitt Brewing dominated the local beer market until the 1950s. It opened another plant in Jeanette as it continued to flourish. In 1949, Fort Pitt was not only #1 in total beer sales for Pittsburgh, it was also #1 for the entire state of Pennsylvania.

Fort Pitt’s Brewing Co. demise began with major labor issues. In 1952, all Pittsburgh brewery workers (2,100) went on strike.  This gave national brands an opportunity to infultrate in the local market. Fort Pitt’s production dropped 40% that year. In 1957, Fort Pitt sold out to Gunther Brewing of Baltimore. In 2014, Mark Dudash of Upper St. Clair bought the trademark and revived Fort Pitt. It’s currently being brewed at the former Rolling Rock brewery in Latrobe.  ____________________________________________________

Drink Like You Live Here

Toay, Pittsburgh has come full circle with its brewing. Craft breweries are popping up all over the greater Pittsburgh area. Here’s a list of some of the awesome local breweries here in the “Burgh.

  • Penn Brewery*  (1986-Present)
  • Church Brew Works*  (1996-Present)
  • East End Brewing Co.*  (2004-Present)
  • Full Pint Brewing Co. (2009- Present)
  • Rivertowne Brewing (2012-Present)
  • Draai Laag Brewing Co. (2012- Present)
  • Roundabout Brewery (2013-Present)
  • Hop Farm Brewing Co. (2013- Present)
  • Grist House Brewing Co.(Opened April 2014 )
  • Hitchhiker Brewing Co. (Opened May 2014)
  • The Brew Gentlemen (Opened May 2014)
  • Milkman Brewing Co.(Opened July 2014)
  • Aurochs Brewing C0. (Expected to open in August 2014)

*Pioneers in Pittsburgh Beers (we are lucky to have them for this long)

George Santayana was a wise man for stating, “To know your future, you first must understand your past.” Pittsburgh has an incredibly rich and complex brewing history, no wonder why we’re such a beer drinkers’ town. We do not know exactly what the future holds for Pittsburgh breweries, but one thing I do know is that…I can’t wait.

Cheers N’at


Point Brewery

  • http://www.pittsburghbrewers.com/styled-3/styled-36/index.html
  • http://digital.library.pitt.edu/pittsburgh/beck/

Pittsburgh Brewing Co.

  • http://www.pittsburghbrewing.com/company/a-visual-history/
  • http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/IronCity.html

Fort Pitt Brewing Co.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Pitt_Brewing_Company
  • http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/04/29/Pittsburgh-area-beer-advocate-brews-Fort-Pitt-comeback/stories/201404290014

Beer Me for Breakfast

Pre 1800′s, beer was the breakfast of champions. Say what?! Yes friends, in those days the water was far too contaminated. Plus, tea and coffee were not widely available. So our great ancestors broke their fast by knocking back a few brews with all of those delicious carbs to help them get through their long work days. Today, I’m going out on a limb here and guessing your employer may frown upon the idea of having a beer for breakfast since we have things like filtered water and Crazy Mocha. But…with this beer pancake recipe, you can live like it’s the good ol’ days and incorporate a fine brew into your breakfast once again! The moment we tried Hitchhiker’s Tumbleweed Oatmeal Brown, we knew it was going to taste outstanding nestled inside warm, fluffy pancakes. However, these weren’t going to be just any ol’ pancakes, we topped them with a decadent oatmeal crumble that is downright addicting. Enjoy beering your breakfast.

Oatmeal Brown Beercakes (yields 5 medium sized pancakes)


  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Tumbleweed Oatmeal Brown*
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TBSP butter, melted

*Don’t have access to Hitchhiker’s Oatmeal Brown? I’m sure you could hitch a ride to Mount Lebanon. If not, use a well-balanced, clean finish Oatmeal Brown Ale


  1. Preheat griddle to medium heat (I do 375-400). Spray with nonstick cooking spray
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt)
  3. In another bowl, combine all wet ingredients (egg, beer, heavy cream, butter)
  4. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients
  5. Pour batter onto hot surface. Flip when side turns golden brown (when bubbles appear on top of pancakes, that usually means it’s time to flip ‘em and cook other side)

Oatmeal Crumble Topping


  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal (Not Instant)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup butter)


  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the butter
  3. Cut butter into mixture with a pastry blender until mixture looks like bread crumbs. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, use your hands!
  4. Spread crumble on top of a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes or until slightly browned
  6. Once cooled, crumble on top of your Oatmeal Brown Beercakes and serve with your favorite syrup! It makes a ton, so use the remaining as topping for ice cream, yogurt, or whatever strikes your fancy!

Check out our review of Hitchhiker Brewing Co.

Cheers N’at


Hitchhiker Brewing Co.

Hitchhiking relies on trusting complete strangers to get you from here to there. Ironically, it’s not all about reaching that final destination- it’s also about enjoying the journey that gets you there.

We felt a little like hitchhikers, looking to take our taste-buds on an epic adventure. We wanted to savor new and unfamilar flavors. We wanted to be taken off the grid to some uncharted place; a place where our understanding and appreciation for well-crafted beer grew even deeper. We trusted Head Brewer Andy Kwiatkowski to get us there, and my goodness did he deliver us to that place. 


The journey to Hitchhiker Brewing Co. started a few months ago during an event for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week. Andy and his fellow T.R.A.S.H (Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers) poured their highly anticipated homebrews at the PGH Tee event. We sampled Andy’s beer offerings and we were completely blown away. Speechless almost. This was not the work of a small time home brewer (we homebrew so we can attest to this). This was work of a full-fledged beer genius. After speaking with Andy for a few minutes, he told us something spectacular. He was going to be Hitchhiker’s Head Brewer, and they were setting up shop in just a few weeks. From that moment on, we knew we were starting an awesome adventure.


We decided to finally visit Hitchhiker Brewing about a month after its grand opening. We wanted the authentic experience of Hitchhiker when the crowds have died down a bit and the brewing process was functioning like a well-oiled machine. We wanted to see their locals- not just those who are interested in shiny, new things. We are so grateful that we did. The bar was packed with loyal locals, but we had just enough room to squeeze in the corner to grab a few colds ones and some tasty bites to eat.

Now let’s get to the good stuff; shall we? Hitchhiker Brewing Co. is a brewery/brew pub nestled in the bustling town of Mount Lebanon, about five miles south of Downtown Pittsburgh. Owners Gary and Serena Olden opened their doors May 10th, 2014 and have not checked their rear view mirrors since. 

As we walked through their doors, we knew that this is exactly where we were supposed to be. The brew pub was sparsely decorated with only the fundamentals present. Personally, I loved the simplicity. I felt like I could take a long, deep breath in there. It helped that they had the large window and side door open to allow the summer breeze to filter throughout. The large main bar was adorned with reclaimed joists from an old Belle Vernon farmhouse. The walls were dotted with sacks of brewing malt and antique signage. The brew pub’s ambiance was classically comfortable. It’s a place where anyone could sit down, relax, and rest their bones for a little while.


Toward the back of the pub, there was a staircase that led down to the basement- where all the beer magic happens. The brewery uses a 3 barrel system run solely on electric power. If you know a thing or two about breweries- you’ll know this is extremely rare to find. The room right next to the brewhouse is the fermentation and conditioning room. A large walk-in refrigerator houses the beer served in the brew pub and all of their glorious hops. I had the feeling that Andy spends a good amount of time down there considering he turns out about 20-30 kegs a week. Discussions about expansion have already happened. But we know that these things tend to happen when you brew beer this good.


Speaking of beer; let’s discuss what we sampled on their tap list

  • Alternate Route Altbier (5.5% ABV) Malty, German brown ale
  • Cobblestone Kolsch (4.8% ABV) Crisp with earthy hops
  • Soles Farmhouse Saison (3.9% ABV) Brewed with juniper berries and orange peel
  • Roadie IPA (5.4% ABV) Perfection in a pint glass
  • Rucksack Porter (5.5% ABV) Robust and full-bodied
  • Centerline Black IPA (5.9% ABV)Roasty flavor w/ a hoppy finish
  • Tumbleweed Oatmeal Brown (5.1% ABV) Balanced with a clean finish ** We grabbed a growler of this to cook with**

We worked up quite an appetite from sampling all of that great beer. And we were in luck because it just so happens that Hitchhiker serves some delicious small plates. Everything sounded really tasty, so we decided to just order it all. We started with the beer nuts; they were a perfect symphony of sweet and salty goodness.


Next, we devoured the fresh hummus and pita plate. Then, we sampled their local cheese and meat board. Life couldn’t have gotten much better at that moment.  The meats and cheeses paired perfectly with the well-crafted brews resting in our hands.


Finally, we concluded our indulgent eating spree with their gourmet hot dogs topped with house-made giardiniera. Hot-Diggity-Dog! that was one mighty fine hot dog.


We came to Hitchhiker Brewing for reasons beyond the drawl of awesome Pittsburgh beer. We came to learn more about the genius behind the great beer- Andy Kwiatkowski. 


Andy has been brewing for over four years now. He inherited his passion for brewing delicious beer from his father, who also was a homebrewer. Andy challenged and refined his brewing skills when he became a member of T.R.A.S.H (Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers). Also, Andy was a cellarman for East End Brewing Co. where he oversaw sanitization and packaging. Currently, he is an active board member for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week and The Steel City Big Pour. Plus, he’s a certified beer judge. Basically, he’s kicking arse and taking names. But he’s truly an artist. And he’s never completely satisfied with his masterpieces. He’s constantly looking to improve or shake things up. Every batch has been altered slightly in hopes to draw a little bit closer to complete perfection. I begged him to leave the Roadie IPA just the way it was. It was pure perfection in a pint glass. It seems like Andy lives in a constant state of forward progression, steadily evolving the craft beer scene here in Pittsburgh. Stagnation seems like an impossible concept at this point in his beer career. I’m eager and excited to see what the future holds for him and Hitchhiker Brewing Co.

We were travelers, looking to start a new adventure in this craft beer world. Andy was a stranger to us; yet he kindly let us “hop” in for an epic ride. He shared his personal journey which lead him to brew professionally for Hitchhiker Brewing. Through his mouth-watering beers, he reignited the passion we have for well-crafted, small-batch beers. We walked through Hitchhiker’s door thirsty, and we left with much more than our physical thirsts quenched. We now have an even deeper appreciation for one of the oldest (and tastiest) drinks known to mankind. Pittsburgh is so very fortunate to have brewers like Andy to revolutionize the craft beer scene here in our city. Start your own journey and pick up a Hitchhiker today.


** A big shout out and thank you to Hitchhiker’s servers Joe and Abbey for such an entertaining afternoon. We can’t wait to visit you guys soon!


Cheers N’at





PGH Pub Pops

On July 4th 1776, America declared its independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1992, Fat Head’s declared its independence from lame, tasteless beer when it opened shop in Pittsburgh’s notorious South Side. Since then, our thirsts remain quenched thanks to Fat Head’s creative (and award-winning) brews. As we started getting ready for this summer’s 4th of July celebration, we reminisced about all the barbecued meats, fresh fruit, stocked beer coolers, and popsicles that we indulge in each year. And BOOM- the idea hit us, like fireworks over the Ohio! Why not create a refreshing beer popsicle that the adults can enjoy too. There is no better beer that screams summer quite like Fat Head’s Bumble Berry. It’s brewed with fresh honey and sun-ripened blueberries. Basically, it’s the best tastes of summer captured in bottles of beautifully crafted beer.We stayed true to this brew by incorporating the same ingredients already found in this refreshing beer to ensure popsicle status worthiness. A touch of honey and fresh blueberries makes this the tastiest brew you’ll ever have on a popsicle stick. Please lick responsibly.


  • 1 bumble berry* bottle
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • blueberries


  • popsicle molds
  • popsicle sticks


  1. Open Bumble Berry bottle, pour beer into a large mixing bowl
  2. Squeeze fresh lemon into bowl of beer
  3. Add honey
  4. Stir until well-combined, set aside
  5. Place a few (or lots) of fresh blueberries into popsicle molds
  6. Pour beer mixture into molds
  7. Add popsicle sticks to mold
  8. Place in freezer
  9. Once popsicles are frozen, Enjoy!

*Bumble Berry is a Honey Blueberry Ale brewed year-round. It’s a light,yet flavorful ale with a great blueberry aroma and a hint of sweetness . It was voted “Most Refreshing Beer” in 2010 by Global Warming Open


Cheers N’at


Bam! Beer Basil Chicken

Hop Heads and Hot Heads unite with this dish! It’s light, spicy, and wildly complex. It can be served solo as an appetizer or can be paired with rice and veggies for an exotic summer cuisine. The beer marinade gives this dish an incredibly rich dimension of flavor and also keeps the chicken nice and juicy. Once you taste this, you’ll  think twice about paying for that thai food takeout.


  • 1 can Paleo IPA from North Country Brewing Co.*
  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced (or 1/4 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp teriyaki sauce
  • 1  1/4 tsp chile paste with garlic
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1/3 cup sliced fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper


  1. Place cubed chicken in a medium size bowl. Pour can of Paleo IPA over chicken. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (we did 3)
  2. Drain beer from chicken and set chicken aside. Discard beer
  3. Heat large skillet over medium high heat
  4. Add oil to pan. Swirl to coat
  5. Add shallots and garlic to pan and cook for 30 seconds
  6. Add chicken to pan, season with salt and pepper and cook for 13 minutes or until cooked thoroughly
  7. While chicken in cooking, combine fish sauce, sugar, teriyaki sauce, chile paste, and water in a small bowl. Stir.
  8. Add fish sauce mixture to cooked chicken. Cook for one minute or until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat
  9. Stir in fresh basil
  10. Enjoy!

*Paleo IPA is an American Style IPA (6.4% ABV). This ale is dry hopped to give it an incredible aromatic quality. It is brewed up in Slippery Rock, PA. Don’t have access to this IPA? Use a balanced, aromatic IPA.

Love the sauce? Double the recipe so you can put it over your rice or veggie sides!

**A big thanks to our friend Tracey for grabbing us a six-pack of Paleo IPA from her trip to North Country Brewing Co.

Cheers N’at