Pints & Pairings hits Downtown Pittsburgh

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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Booming as it is, the Downtown restaurant scene is like a lot of Pittsburgh always has been: Interrelated and not that big.

So you wouldn't want to say anything bad about, say, Meat & Potatoes to the folks at tako or Butcher and the Rye.

That's because all three are owned and run by the same folks, and so that's how all three came to participate in a delicious-sounding event.  

Chef and co-owner Richard DeShantz is pairing all three of these places with Delaware's Dogfish Head Craft Brewery to present Pints & Pairings on June 7. 

The restaurant group is selling $120-per-person tickets to an outdoor family-style picnic at Meat & Potatoes that starts with a welcome beer from Dogfish founder Sam Calagione's "Secret Stash," followed by five courses prepared by the three restaurant sisters, one of whom (Butcher) was nominated for a James Beard award, paired with other Dogfish brews. 

The menu:

First course:

Crudo – scallop / tomatoes / watermelon / lemon / jalapeno

Pairing: Namaste (4.85 percent alcohol by volume, 20 international bitterness units) Belgian-style white beer

Second course:

Bo Ssam – pork shoulder / oysters / red dragon sauce / scallion ginger sauce / kimchi / pickles / cilantro / bibb lettuce

Pairing: Festina Pêche (4.8 percent ABV, 8 IBU) Berliner weiss-style beer

Third course:

Clam Bake – lobster / shrimp / housemade sausage / potatoes / corn on the cob

Pairing: American Beauty (9.0 percent ABV, 55 IBU) imperial pale ale inspired by the Grateful Dead

Fourth course:

Smoked Brisket – potato rolls / Carolina BBQ / coffee BBQ / chipotle BBQ / ranch slaw / dill pickles / bread & butter pickles

Pairing: Raison d’Extra (15-19 percent ABV, 40 IBU) Belgian-style brown ale 

Fifth course: 

Rhubarb Pie with lemon crust and strawberry sorbet

Pairing: Dogfish 120 Minute IPA (15 to 20 percent ABV, 120 IBU)

For more event information and for tickets, go here.  

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Next up: Erie Craft Beer Week

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week just ended, and by all accounts was a bigger-than-ever success.

Next up: Erie Craft Beer Week. 

The little city on Lake Erie has enough craft-beer action in and around it that eight breweries are participating in this inaugural celebration, May 11 through 17.  

The eight Northwestern Pennsylvania brewers also came together to brew an 814 Collaboration Beer, a pear India pale ale that will be available at the breweries and many bars and restaurants. 

Participating are Erie Brewing Co., the Brewerie at Union Station, Lavery Brewing Co., Erie Ale Works, Voodoo Brewery (Meadville), TimberCreek Tap & Table (also Meadville), Sprague Farm & Brew Works (Venango) and Blue Canoe Brewing (Titusville). 

Erie's week coincides with American Craft Beer Week.  

Local events so far: 

Weds., May 13: 814 Collaboration Brewery Release Night

• Erie Brewing Co. Parking Lot Party: $10 sampling includes pizza and cupcakes from Steve-O's Pizza and Icing on the Lake. 5 to 7 p.m.

• The Brewerie at Union Station Release Night: 4-11 p.m.

• Lavery Brewing Co. Release Night: 5-10 p.m.

• Erie Ale Works Release Night: 5 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, May 14: 814 Collaboration Bar & Restaurant Release Night

• Look for the 814 Collaboration pear IPA on tap at area watering holes.
 
[UPDATED VENUE:] • Lavery Brewing Co. will be on hand at the Erie Ale House from 6 to 8 p.m, for an 814 Collaboration Tasting and Cheese Pairing.

Friday, May 15: Special Events Night

• Erie Brewing Co. Spring into Spring Beers Sampling at 1000 Beers, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

• The Brewerie at Union Station Cellar-Release Party, 4 p.m. to midnight with favorite cellar-aged beers to drink in or to-go. 

• Lavery Brewing Co. Cellar Release Party, 4 p.m. to midnight. 

• Erie Ale Works Small Batch Night, 5 to 8 p.m. featuring limited, experimental brews and the 814 Collaboration. 

Saturday May 16: Meet & Tweet

• Join all eight collaborative brewers for eats, drinks and mean tweets! Hosted at the Brewerie at Union Station, 5 to 7 p.m. Meet the brewers, learn about their beers and watch them read mean tweets about them. each brewery will have two beers to serve in an open tasting with light hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $25 per person at The Brewerie.

 

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Hardway Homebrew Competition winners

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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It's Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, April 17 through 26, and there is a huge slate of events and special collaborative brews

I was able to make it today to one event that captured the spirit of #PCBW on multiple levels: The Hardway Homebrew Competition at Hitchhiker Brewing Co., just a few blocks away from where I live in Mt. Lebanon.

The little brewpub invited homebrewers to submit their best brews for the contest, and 20 of them did. I know a couple of them, and feel certain they all were very excited at the chance for some public exposure. At stake: Hitchhiker said it would brew batches of two winners: judges' choice and people's choice.

The brewpub was slammed Sunday afternoon, with contestants and beer drinkers spilling out into the side yard, sidewalk and back deck of the place. People moved from brewer to brewer with their judging sheets, while judges, including Hitchhiker owner Gary Olden and head brewer Andy Kwiatkowski, also tried each of the brews. I sampled a few, including brews by my friends Myles Lilley and Daniel Pipetone, and savored one of the #PCBW collab brews, For Wheat's Sake, made by Hitchhiker, Grist House and Hop Farm. 

At around 4:30 p.m., the two Hitchhiker honchos announced the results. The People's Choice winner is Malcolm Frazer, who served Citra Maximum, a Belgian wit infused with pomelo.

Mr. Kwiatkowski said that it was two hard to pick one judges' winner, so they picked two: Gregor Bendor for his PumperHiker, a rye ale with caraway, and Andrew Ritchie, for his Ed Citrahands, an American pale ale dryhopped with Citra hops and grapefruit.

Those are your winners in the photo above: From left, Gregor Bendor of Peters, Malcolm Frazer of Hopewell and Andrew Ritchie of Forest Hills. (Mr. Frazer also credits his longtime friend and assistant brewer, Josh Beckton of Shaler.)

It wasn't easy to judge, Mr. Kwiatkowski told the crowd. "Everone here makes great beer. Keep doing what you're doing." 

As he noted, his job as a brewer at Hitchhiker hinged on a homebrewer's dream

The three winners will get to keep dreaming, as they'll each get to brew their beer with Mr. Kwiatkowski at Hitchhiker, which will offer the brews to the public. 

And Messrs. Kwiatkowski and Olden say they'll do this homebrew contest again. 

Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, which my PG colleage Mike Pound also previewed on his video blog,  continues. For a full schedule of events, visit the website

Bob Batz Jr./Post-Gazette photo

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Green beer colored with ... kale?

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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I've never been a fan of green beer, but I am intrigued by Hop Farm Brewing's St. Patty's time offering. 03112015smallhopfarm

The Lawrenceville brewpub will be pouring the Barleystone, an India pale ale naturally colored with kale and other juices. 

The brew, which is REALLY green, is a collaboration with the nearby Savasana Juice Co.

They're calling it "the first naturally colored green beer that we know of" and serving it only on this Saturday, March 14.

For green that will keep on giving, the brewpub invites you to preorder rhizomes and baby plants of a variety of hops, including Chinook, Centennial, Crystal, Cascade, Zeus and Teamaker.

Hop Farm Brewing graphic, Facebook photo

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Moos and Brews

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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Last month, Wheel and Wedge cheese shop launched a collaborative pairing series with local breweries and other beery businesses. Here, the shop's cheesemonger Alix Wiggins and Draai Laag Brewing Co.'s Nate Hoylman lead that Nov. 19 "Moos and Brews" class at the Millvale brewery.

Wheel and Wedge's David Lagnese reports that in the new year, they'll be doing the classes monthly at different breweries, bars and restaurants. The format usually will be that Ms. Wiggins will teach holders of tickets (sold via Eventbrite) about pairing cheese and beer and give them tastes of six of each. She'll be joined by brewers, restaurateurs and other speakers.

On Tuesday, Dec. 9, Ms. Wiggins -- whom the Post-Gazette wrote about earlier this year when she won Slow Food Pittsburgh's cheese scholarship -- will lead a pairing event as part of the brewpub-grand-opening "Week of Shenanigans" at East End Brewing Co. in Larimer. From 4 to 8 p.m., she'll offer two sets of moo-and-brew flights (each with three pairings) for $10 each.

Otherwise, you can find Wheel and Wedge cheese at its outlets at the Pittsburgh Public Market and the Farmers' Market Cooperative of East Liberty, as well as at several brewpubs around town.

Later this month, Ms. Wiggin's fellow cheese-scholarship winner, Caldwell Linker, will lead a "Crafting the Perfect Cheese Tray" talk. She's the cheese buyer and department coordinator at the East End Food Co-op in Point Breeze. At 6:30 p.m. on Weds., Dec. 17, at the adjacent Gemini Theater, she'll teach attendees about cheese varieties, what they pair with, how much cheese to serve and more, and of course there will be samples.

That event is free, but reserve by calling 412-242-3598.

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Wheel and Wedge photos


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Pumpkin-beer tsunami hits this weekend

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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[Oct. 10 update:] A pumpkin-beer tsunami hits Pittsburgh this weekend. One place to start: Independent Brewing Co., which tonight -- Friday -- is hosting the release of a pumpkin imperial stout co-brewed by The Brew Gentlemen and Grist House Brewing. It's called Noob Gains, and it will be surrounded by other taps by the two local breweries. Brew Gentlemen have two more pumpkin brews coming out later this month.

Also tonight, Bloomfield's Caliente Pizza and Draft House is holding its annual pumpkin-beer tap takeover. Among the offerings of this "Pumpkin Palooza" are All Saints Hallowed Pumpkin and Arsenal Pumpkin Cider.

Blue Dust in Homestead celebrates its third-annual Pumpkin Fest from 2 to 10 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 11.

The pumpkin party is outdoors, under the Homestead High-Level Bridge, and features several bands and several food trucks. 

According to the bar's Stephanie Dickson, the pumpkin brews you can buy -- for $6 each -- and even drink from an actual gourd ($5) if you like are:

Dogfish Punkin Ale

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Erie Johnny Rails Pumpkin

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale

East End Brewing Nunkin

Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin

Lancaster Baked Pumpkin Ale

Troegs Master of Pumpkins

Southern Tier Pumking

Southern Tier Warlock

Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

Long Trail Pumpkin Ale

Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale

Church Brew Works Pumpkin Stout

Flying Dog The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Duclaw 31 Pumpkin Spiced Lager

Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale

Alltech Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale

Stevens Point Whole Hog Pumpkin

Southampton Pumpkin

Hoppin’ Frog Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin

Fathead’s Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Elysian the Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Elysian Dark 'o the Moon Pumpkin Stout

Voodoo and The Brew Gentlemen also are bringing pumpkin brews.

[Oct. 9 update:] Also this Saturday, it's the third-annual Drunkin Punkin fest at Hough's in Greenfield. Tickets are $50 to each of three sessions -- 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 3 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. You get 10-ounce samples of more than 25 pumpkin beers and light snacks, as well as a voucher for a 32-ounce can of any pumpkin draft to take home (from October 12 to 25, and also included with $25 designated-driver tickets).

In other pumpkin-beer news, Vintage Estate Wine and Beer in Boardman, Ohio, last weekend held its annual blind pumpkin-ale tasting. (We previously previewed it, and Drunkin Punkin, here.)
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Co-owner Phill Reda notes, "We had 64 judges, and it was probably the most competitive one yet."

He shared the results:

The 1st place winner was Stevens Point Brewing Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale

2nd Place was Hoppin' Frog Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale

3rd place was Rivertowne Headless Wylie

Judges ranked the beers on rating sheets, on a scale of 100 points.

Steven's Point Whole Hog -- 75.18

Hoppin' Frog Frog's Hollow -- 72.93

Rivertowne Headless Wylie -- 72.73

Southern Tier Pumking -- 72.07

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale -- 68.35

O'Fallon Pumpkin Beer -- 66.06

Fat Head's Spooky Tooth -- 62.28

Ithaca Country Pumpkin -- 61.15

Shipyard Smashed -- 60.76

Harpoon UFO Pumpkin -- 57.48

Arcadia Jaw-Jacker Ale -- 54.73

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale-- 52.51

Rivertown Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale -- 45.92

Interestingly, that same weekend, the Stevens Point Whole Hog took third place, a bronze medal, in the pumpkin-beer category at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Wolaver's Pumpkin Ale took gold, and silver went to Spiced Harvest from Old Dominion Brewing Co.

Blue Dust poster, top; Stevens Point photo

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A hop-pickin' party, then Hoptober

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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Meet, if you haven't already, the Church Brew Works Brew Crew: from left, Donald Caldwell, Mike Escourt, Jeff Ellena, Justin Viale and Garth Dellinger. 

The Lawrenceville brewpub-in-a-former-church is inviting the public to come work with them there, for just a little bit, this Thursday, Sept. 25. That's because the hops -- on the green plants there in the HopGarden -- are ready for harvesting. Help pick them from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday and you'll get free appetizers and a souvenir Church Brew Works glass.

Marketing manager Patty Goyke says, "We are hoping to not only get a great batch for brewing but [also for] possible additions in the kitchen."

We've told you about the big Hoptoberfest this Saturday, Sept. 27, at Hop Farm Brewing in Lawrenceville. Thursday's Post-Gazette also previews Wet Hoptober, which is happening next Friday, Oct. 3 at the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse in Spring Garden. Wigle will be releasing its new locally hopped whiskey and serving East End Brewing Co. beers that were wet-hopped with hops grown in Garfield by the GTECH Hops on Lots Project. Marty's Market will provide the edibles. Tickets are $35 (or $18 for designated drivers, plus a service fee) via eventbrite.com. You get to keep the souvenir glass, and proceeds will help GTECH continue to creatively reuse vacant spaces.

Church Brew Works photo

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Time to harvest some beer events

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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From 1 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 13, it’s the Mars/Cranberry Craft Beer Tap Fest at the Double Wide Grill in the Adams Shoppes on Route 228. Under a tent in the parking lot, you can sample more than 60 beers from 20-some breweries. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door and include live music, and there’ll be food for purchase. More here

It’s a festive season, as other places around town gear up for Oktoberfest. Penn Brewery’s Oktoberfest will be held Sept. 19-21 and 26-28, and for the first time, are offering a VIP package. For $30 each, according to a Penn news release, 50 people on each Friday and Saturday can get: 

“• Access to a tented, reserved seating area

“• One meal including sandwich, side, and non-alcoholic beverage ($9 value)

“• VIP-only lines for beer in the Biergarten and upper tent

“• 22-oz. plastic Oktoberfest souvenir mug ($3 value) and one fill ($4.75 value)

“• Private indoor restrooms.”

It’s that last one that might make other revelers really hate the VIPS. 

Get tickets via Showclix; get more information here.

Over at Southside Works, Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh’s Oktoberfest is Sept. 20-12 and 27-28 (more at hofbrauhauspittsburgh.com).

Focusing on fall brews of all sorts will be the Harvest Brew Fiesta at Mad Mex Robinson on Sept. 20. A ticket ($35 in advance or $40 at the door) includes sampling from 1 to 4 p.m., a tasting glass to keep, fall games and “a never-done-before Gobblerito Taco plate.” For tickets, go here. 

Also on Sept. 20 is BrewFest in Mt. Lebanon. Tickets are $40 for craft beer, music and more from 4 to 7 p.m., and there'll be barbecue for purchase; proceeds benefit the Mt. Lebanon Veterans Memorial.

Lawrenceville’s Hop Farm Brewing is celebrating its one-year anniversary on Sept. 27 with “Hoptoberfest,” where harvest beers will be paired with small plates from local restaurants and food vendors. Tickets are $45 (plus a service fee), and 100 percent of proceeds will go to Children's Foundation of Pittsburgh’s Camp Chihopi (for kids who have had organ transplants). Details and tickets (limited to 300) can be found here

Hop Farm Facebook photo

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Blind pumpkin beer tasting, Drunkin' Punkin' set

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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It's September and so it doesn't feel TOO early to share some events specifically about pumpkin beer.

Vintage Estate Wine and Beer, the store you wished were in Pennsylvania instead of just over the border in Boardman, Ohio, is inviting you to help rate the best pumpkin beers of the year.

Just sign up, for $25, to attend the annual Blind Pumpkin Beer Taste that was announced today. It's from 3 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 5. 

Participants each will taste the same beer in the same sequence -- more than a dozen in all -- and rate them on rating sheets. 

Then after crunching the numbers, VE will announce the "Taster's Choice overrall pumpkin beer of the season." 

For more information and to register, go here

The following Saturday, Oct. 11, Hough's in Greenfield holds its third-annual Drunkin' Punkin' festival featuring more than two dozen pumpkin brews. Tickets, which also just went on sale on this first day of September, are $50 and include 10-ounce samples, snacks and you also get a voucher good for a 32-ounce can of the pumpkin beer of your choice. 

Check it out here

Vintage Estate image

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Meet Ray Searage and Bucco Blonde

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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Thursday night, Aug. 28, starting at 5 p.m., you can meet a beer called Uncle Ray Searage's Bucco Blonde as well as the Bucs' pitching coach, Ray Searage.

He's called "Uncle Ray" by his players as well as by some folks at Slippery Rock's North Country Brewing Co., which brewed up this American blonde ale this year and released a limited amount of it on draft.

Try it and meet Coach Searage at Local Bar + Kitchen at 1515 E. Carson St. on the South Side. 

You'll be able to help a charity he likes, Make-A-Wish.

North Country's longtime sales manager Donnie Knight explains that Mr. Searage's wife, Vicki, is Mr. Knight's aunt's husband's first cousin. Or at least, that's what we think he said. 

Anyway, Coach Searage was all for lending some help to make some money for Make-A-Wish, and so was born this baseball-y beer to his tastes, said Mr. Knight. "We wanted to brew a beer that'd he'd want to put his name on and drink himself," which he has. 

A portion of all sales the brewery will donate to the charity. The beer, on draft only now, is available in PNC Park at both the Hall of Fame Club and Club 3000, as well as most of the bars in the vicinity and many around town, as well.

Local also is making a donation to Make-A-Wish, and at the event, there will be a brewery gift basket that patrons can try to win by purchasing tickets in North Country glasses, and all that money, along with a bit from each Bucco Blonde sold, goes to the good cause, too. 

Coach Searage and the other Pirates have a rare night off, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing at home, so it should be a good night for a beer out. 

By next spring, Mr. Knight says, North Country plans to have a label approved (see below) and the beer in cans for sale in Bradenton, Fla., where the Pirates do their spring training, and of course the cans should be for sale in Western Pennsylvania, too. 

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Peter Diana/Post-Gazette photo at top

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Steak sandwiches at Morton's for a buck

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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Knowing how much our readers love free food, we had to post this news about almost-free food: 

On Wednesday, Aug. 13, all 73 Morton's The Steakhouse locations around the country, including the one Downtown, will offer $1 filet mignon sandwiches in their bar areas, all day long, to mark National Filet Mignon Day. 

The bar at the Pittsburgh location, at 625 Liberty Ave., is open from 5 to 10 p.m.

Landry's Inc. photo

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