n o i t u l o v e R
r e e B d e n n a C e h T
Beers of the
STEEL CITY BEER
PRIVATE LIQUOR STORE? cooking with beer • home brewing • upcoming beer events • Beer Geer • have you tried...
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
table of contents upcoming events editor’s letter style profile - canned beer brewing up some tea the hoppy couple - fat head’s, portland under construction - dancing gnome
pa’s first private liquor store? neshaminy creek brewing
craft cocktails - whiskey punch steel city beer wholesaler hand crafted - jerky & canned beer pairing a turtle eclipse beers of the burgh pgh pizza - vincent’s pizza park where dives survive - belvedere’s ultra dive have you tried... cooking with beer - beer bread home brewing - belgian golden strong ale illustrated breweries of pa - yuengling
6. 7. 8. 10. 12. 14. 16. 18. 20. 24. 28. 30. 32. 34. 36. 38. 42. 44. 46.
P•Scout Media, LLC
Rob Soltis firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Weiss email@example.com
COPY EDITORS Frank Cunniff
Brian Meyer, Beth Kurtz Taylor, Joe Tammariello, Amanda Stein, Mindy Heisler-Johnson, Hart Johnson, Ian Mikrut, Kenny Gould, Frank Cunniff, Nils Balls, Jack Smith, Will Groves, Dan DeLucia
Tim Burns, Jeff Zoet, Buzzy Torek
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Jeff Zoet Visuals
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Soltis Design soltisdesign.com
FOR INFORMATION ON CONTRIBUTING EDITORIAL CONTENT OR PLACING DISPLAY ADVERTISING PLEASE CONTACT US AT INFO@CRAFTPITTSBURGH.COM Craft Pittsburgh is issued bi-monthly by P•Scout Media, LLC. All information and materials in this magazine, individually and collectively, are provided for informational purposes. The contents of this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of P•Scout Media, LLC., nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without expressed written permission from the publisher. Advertisements are subject to the approval of P•Scout Media, LLC. P•Scout Media, LLC. reserves the right to reject or omit any advertisement at any time for any reason. Advertisers assume responsibility and complete liability for all content in their ads.
We brewed Tangier as a session IPA with tangerine peels and spicy Azacca hops for an IPA as refreshing as it is exotic. Tangier IPA is a perfect thirst crusher from the beach to the mountains and from season to season. Where will Tangier take you? #tangieripa
upcoming events to theh burg
SOUTHSIDE SLOPES HEADWICH
award-winning beer 6 &12 Packs • growlers original smoked wings burgers • munchies headwiches salads
Check out CraftPittsburgh.com for even more events and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. July • 8-9 Deutschtown Music Fest @ Deutschtown (Northside) • 8 Tangerine Ginger Release @ Apis Mead, Carnegie • 9 Art Brew Fundraiser @ Sweetwater Center for the Arts • 9 Rust Belt Brews & Bites Tour @ PA Brew Tours • 10 Pups N Pints @ Grist House • 10 The King of the Wing Festival @ Penn Brewery • 12 MWFA Demolition Derby Car Show @ Rock Bottom • 15-16 Picklesburgh 2016 @ Rachel Carson Bridge • 15-16 Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest @ Stage AE • 22 Bike ‘N Brew Fest @ Oil City • 23 Beer, Wine, & Spirits Festival @ Foggy Mt. Lodge • 23 Beer on the Bay @ Amphitheater at Liberty Park, Erie • 23 Sherry Cask Sanctuary Bottle Release @ Helltown Brewing • 23 Brawl Under the Bridge II @ Under the Homestead Bridge • 28 Voodoo Food Truck Throwdown @ The Priory Hotel For Tickets: homelessfund.org/events
August • 5 Science of Beer Night @ Carnegie Science Center • 6 Customer Appreciation Day @ Beer Xpress • 6 North Country BREWFEST! @ Slippery Rock • 6 State College Brew Expo @ Tussey Mountain • 6 The Virtues & Vices Brew Tour @ PA Brew Tours • 13 A Turtle Eclipse Release @ Spoonwood Brewing • 13 Indiegogo Free Sampling #2 @ Abjuration Brew Co. • 13 Drake’s Folly Brewfest @ The Blue Canoe, Titusville • 20-21 C orks & Kegs Craft Beer Festival @ Meadows Casino • 26-28 BrewersFest @ Cooper’s Lake Campground
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
1805 e. carson st • south side • pgh., pa 15203 CALL FOR TAKE OUT: 412.431.7433
• 3 The Pittsburgh Brewery Tour @ PA Brew Tours • 4 Steel Valley Brew Tour @ PA Brew Tours • 9 Zoo Brew @ PGH Zoo • 10 Steel City Big Pour @ Construction Junction • 16-17 Drink a Beer Fest @ Monroeville Convention Center
October • 15 Brew Up a Cure @ PPG Wintergarden
editor’s letter Fun fact. I love bulleted lists. • If you couldn’t tell by the cover we’re talking about canned craft beer this issue. We have Brian explaining the ins and outs of the process and all of Hart’s reviews came from a can. We even did a canned beer and beef jerky pairing. Because let’s be honest, it’s pretty much the greatest combination ever. • We’re also covering two exciting stories happening in the local beer and spirits scene. Pennsylvania Libations is opening what could be the state’s first privately owned liquor store and Steel City Beer, a new wholesaler, just opened in Lawrenceville. • There is a ridiculous number of events going on this summer. Everything from bottle releases to beer festivals. Check out the list to the left and make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for last minute additions. • I’d like to thank Hough’s and Fuhrer Wholesale for inviting me to have a few beers with the one and only Garrett Oliver last week. It was a great event and Mr. Oliver is an inspiring man. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak I highly recommend it.
• HOP JUJU • GOLD AWARD • IMPERIAL INDIA PALE ALE • WORLD BEER CUP ® 2016 GOLD MEDAL • IMPERIAL INDIA PALE ALE • GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL® 2015, 2013 • MIDNIGHT MOONLIGHT • BRONZE AWARD • AMERICAN-STYLE BLACK ALE • WORLD BEER CUP ® 2016 GOLD MEDAL • AMERICAN-STYLE BLACK ALE • GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL® 2015 • BONE HEAD • GOLD MEDAL • DOUBLE RED ALE • GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL® 2015 • BLACK KNIGHT • SILVER MEDAL • GERMAN-STYLE SCHWARZBIER • GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL® 2015 • BLITZKRIEG BOCK • GOLD MEDAL • RYE BEER • GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL® 2015
• Congratulations to the Hoppy Couple Joe and Amanda on their recent engagement. Rumor has it that reception is going to be held at a brewery. • The Dates for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week 2017 are April 21 - 30. If you’re thinking about becoming a sponsor check out the website for early bird specials. • I’d like to take a minute to thank someone many of you don’t know, but who’s instrumental in making sure things run smoothly. Our managing editor, Mike Weiss. Mike is a man of few words and has quietly been working behind the scenes of since issue number one. Thanks you Mike, I couldn’t do it without you. • There is also some sad news in the Pittsburgh beer scene. After five years of business, Bocktown Manaca closed it’s doors. Chris Dilla, the owner of Bocktown, believed in us from the beginning and was one our or very first advertisers. I can’t imagine how difficult of a decision it must have been and we wish her the best of luck and continued success at the Robinson location. • As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns please feel free to send us an email us.
SAMPLES, FLIGHTS & FRESH-BREWED PINTS! MUNCHIES. SWAG.
call for tours: 216.898.0242 18741 Sheldon Road middleburg hts., oh 44130
r e e B d e n n a C e h T
n o i t u l o v e R
he Instagram page for any brewery is typically a great way to look into the places that make the beer we love, and to experience some events and processes that many would otherwise not get the chance to see. Around the middle of this past May however, East End Brewing’s Instagram feed started to look a little…off.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
The pictures showed what appeared to be an out-of-focus front of the brewery with something close to the camera in the foreground. As the pictures continued to be posted a familiar logo started to take shape. The pictures showed the artwork that typically precedes the release of EEBC’s Gratitude Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels, but something about these pictures was different than before. The shape of a bottle was nowhere to be seen, but instead once the pictures were shown in a grid, the unmistakable image of a 16-ounce can came into focus. A 16-ounce can filled with East End Brewing’s Barrel-Aged Gratitude Barleywine. Barleywine. In a can.
It should serve as no surprise that Scott Smith and crew decided to can the yearly barrel-aged offering, even though it seemed to shock quite a few fans. With reactions ranging from pure excitement to utter dread, to say that craft beer in a can is a divisive topic would be akin to saying that a brewing tank can hold “a few beers.” So what is it about canned beer that makes for such intense debate? Sadly, there are far more rumors and misCANceptions (see what I did there?) about the aluminum vessels than there are facts, which causes many a would-be can fan to disavow any beer that comes his or her way in the cylindrical receptacle.
Words Brian Meyer
In truth, aluminum cans are one of the best things to happen to craft beer yet. While beer in cans is far from a new idea, the resurgence of canned beer, especially in the craft beer world, is quite a long time coming and it couldn’t be here soon enough. With services like mobile canning, adhesive can labels, and shrink-wrap labeling systems, cans are no longer reserved for mass-produced macro beer. So why did Scott and East End Brewing choose to can their barrel-aged beer? They canned for the same reasons Penn Brewery, who just celebrated their 30th anniversary this year, chose to can their quintessential Penn Pilsner. It’s to give us better beer.
The History of Canned Beer
Canned beer is definitely older than the craft beer movement of today. The first can of beer was sold on January 24th, 1935. Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale were the first beers to see the inside of a can, and while the vessel looked mostly the same, these cans were made of tin rather than the aluminum that we use today. The original experiments in canned beers would sometimes take on the flavor of the tin, as there was nothing separating the beer from the metal, which could cause the metal to chemically react with the beer, causing some interesting flavors. Starting in 1933 however, cans started to be lined to prevent this transfer of flavor, giving a better beer experience. By the end of 1935, more than 200 million cans of beer were produced and sold. Canned beer quickly caught on because unlike bottles at the time, they did not require deposits or return. Cans also offered easier packaging and
distribution, which sadly helped lead to the downfall of many small, local brewers as the larger, national companies combined forces with distribution and production, keeping costs down and distribution very high. Canned beer didn’t always have the pop-top it has today, either. Original cans required a “church key” to pop a hole in the top of the can. These were known as “flat top” cans, due to the smooth, flat surface of the can top. The first pull-top cans weren’t released until 1962 by none other than Pittsburgh’s Alcoa for…wait for it…Iron City Beer.
The Winning Can
Beer in a can isn’t just a gimmick that craft breweries have latched onto for the sake of being unique or vintage, the cans help preserve the quality of beer in a variety of ways. The most important for those of us enjoying the beer is the protection that a can offers. Two of the biggest enemies of beer once it’s out in the wild are oxygen and light. The better these two foes are avoided, the better your beer will be.
Made fresh everyday, be sure to try the one with peanut butter. Really!
Ever have a skunky beer? It probably got that way thanks to light. Brown bottles are far better at protecting beer from light than green or clear ones, but aluminum cans let zero light through, offering 100% light protection.
a great sele ction of seasonal craf t beer on tap. Espe cially the local br ews.
Cas also seal more effectively than bottles. The crown on a bottle of beer might seem extra tight, but over time it will allow some air to seep in. If you plan on aging the beer, as you would with East End’s Gratitude, the improved seal is especially important. In terms of environmental friendliness, cans are the best. You can infinitely recycle aluminum, meaning that as long as the finished can of beer goes into the recycling bin, nearly all of the metal will be reused in something else. In fact, aluminum recycles so well that the average time from recycling bin to new can is less than thirty days!
north park boathouse • historic southside
Canned beer is also cheaper and less resource-intensive to transport than bottles. On one pallet a brewery can fit around 60-72 cases of bottled beer while around 100 cases of canned beer will fit in the same space. Today’s beer cans are now lined with advanced polymers to keep the can from reacting with the beer inside of it, with some can manufacturers even offering specific coatings for different types of beer. So the next time someone says canned beer “tastes metallic,” think long and hard about whether or not they’re the kind of person you want to take advice on beer from.
Keeping It Local
The prevalence of craft beer in cans is growing every day. Locally, East End Brewing released their Big Hop IPA in cans along with their newest release of Barrel-Aged Gratitude, Penn Brewery has their Pilsner, and of course you have local favorite Rivertowne Brewing Company which relies solely on cans for their beers. In short, craft beer seems to have finally made friends with the can. This is best seen with the popularity of the newest type of canned beer: the Crowler. Pioneered by Oskar Blues Brewery, these oversized beer cans hold 32 ounces of beer, and instead of being filled and sealed in an assembly line-type process as most cans are, they are instead filled on a one-off basis with fresh beer from the tap. In this way, they are helping to make draft beer more widely available for those of us that don’t feel like buying a growler, or continually forget to bring it to the brewery. There are very few downsides to cans and a wealth of positive points to them, making them arguably a superior choice for your beer. This isn’t to say that bottled beer is bad, but given the choice between the two, canned beer tends to take home the gold.
Brian founded and writes for pghcraftbeers.com and craftbeeracademy.com.
On the trail or in the woo ds, we’re here fo r your post ri de ... refreshments .
brewing up some
TEA? Words Beth Kurtz Taylor Art Mike Weiss
After tasting Imperial Shandy last summer, I declared it to be a brilliant idea.
Bright and lemony and brewed with tea, East End Brewing* combined two of my favorite beverages in one refreshing glass. Were there more innovations to please my palate? After all, coffee and beer has been a thing for quite some time, why not tea and beer? I found some examples with an online search, but did not have to look far locally for innovation in combining the two drinks.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Danielle Spinola is a one woman powerhouse of tea. Her business, Millvale’s Tupelo Honey Teas, offers a tea drinking space, custom tea blends and a myriad of accessories. Her love of the steeped beverage also inspired her to start The Pittsburgh Tea Association. The group held their first Tea Fest this past March. Participants consumed tea in its traditional form as well as new twists, such as TEA INFUSED BEER! Working with the brewers at Grist House, Spinola selected a blueberry rooibos tea which “steeped” in a firkin of Kolsch on the Run for a few weeks. The result was pleasing both to the eye as well as the palate. She felt it was even more fruit forward than beers that are brewed with fresh blueberries. It was a strong brew of her Irish Breakfast tea that was integral to East End’s Royal Blue Shandy collaboration with Blue Canoe last summer. A current offering from Full Pint Brewing of North Versailles is T-Funk, a Berliner Weisse brewed with a blackberry black tea.
It turns out however, that there is more than one way to impart tea flavor into beer: enter the Randall. The device, developed by the people of Dogfish Head, is a double-chamber filter that connects to a beer tap. The bartender then fills the chamber with flavor-enhancing ingredients, such as additional hops, fruit, spices or tea and the beer flows through it. Bierport in Lawrenceville has a Randall in their taproom and consulted with Gryphon’s Tea, their neighbor a few doors away on Butler Street, to pair teas to infuse into their brews. Tea and beer is not just a summertime indulgence, Deena Hower of the popular bottle shop recalls blending a raspberry oolong with an Octoberfest. Bocktown in Robinson is also known to experiment with tea in their infusing system.
On the homefront, lovers of craft beverages can experiment as well. Dogfish Head now offers the Randall Jr. online. It looks like a super fun travel mug with a filter top. The top chamber twists off to receive tea or whatever other flavor enhancer one chooses to add. Then, after selecting a compatible beer pairing, the consumer pours the beer through the chamber, chills it for 20 minutes, and decants it into a glass to enjoy. Margaret’s Fine Imports in Squirrel Hill offers two varieties of Beer Booster Blends, teas combined with dried fruit: Cherry Crimson and Apple Pear Orchard. The store occasionally offers a tea and beer class. Always willing to experiment for the sake of research, at home I tried the Cherry Crimson variety, a blend of dried cherries and berries with green tea. I chose to follow the package directions by steeping a high concentration of tea to water and chilling the liquid. Before pouring a Founder’s Session IPA into a pint glass, I added two ounces of the concentrate. The color was a vibrant magenta; it produced a lacy head and added a fruity, yet floral nose to the beer. The IPA was not overwhelmed by the tea, just slightly enhanced with notes of cherry. Deciding that a beer with a milder flavor profile might yield a different result, I forged ahead with a Traveler Shandy. This time, I cold brewed the beer/tea by pouring the shandy over tea in a mesh basket infuser. It yielded a great, albeit very foamy, result—definitely a more tea forward flavor and again a cloudy, yet bright, pinkish hue. Capital Teas, an online source for Pittsburghers, offers a variety of possibilities with their Tea Lager Sampler Pack. It is a collection of five of their teas and comes with suggestions for beer and tea parings. How about an Earl Grey Cream with Stella Artois or Harbor Breeze (a decaf strawberry-lemon blend) in hard cider? Pondering all of these offerings, it begs the question, do you really need tea that is specifically marketed for beer infusion to test the waters? I think not. Use your creativity and your palate to experiment. Chai spice in a porter? Raspberry or peach tea in a wheat beer? The possibilities are endless! *Be sure to check in with any of the establishments mentioned in this article before journeying out to find tea beer. Like any seasonal beer, the releases are limited. In addition, the bars that use infusion systems change the flavor enhancers frequently, only sometimes using tea.
You’re Invited! To See a Great Space for Your Craft Brewery.
5410 Harrison Street, Lawrenceville, PA First floor: 8,000 square feet Second floor: 625 square-foot office space ■ Overhead doors ■ High ceilings ■ Open floor plans Perfect for brewing equipment, a tasting room, event space, kitchen, etc.
For a personal tour, contact:
Kathleen Smith Kathleen@scott-mccune.com Scott & McCune Company ■ 412.281.6444
Constance Buczkowski firstname.lastname@example.org ■ 412.638.6693
hoppy couple - Road Trip
131 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Fat Head’s is one of the most well-known pubs in all of Pittsburgh. Before we left for vacation to the Pacific Northwest, it was made known to me that there is also a Fat Head’s in Portland. How convenient for the Hoppy Couple. Fat Head’s was one of the first, if not the first, places in Pittsburgh to serve craft beer. Sometime later, Fat Head’s opened a Cleveland, Ohio location which allowed them more space for brewing beer. Even more time later, they opened a location all the way across the country in Portland, Oregon allowing them to distribute their tasty beers on the west coast with ease. Good call! I tried a flight of beer while at Fat Head’s and I don’t think there was a single beer in the bunch that I didn’t like. My two favorites probably won’t surprise you if you’ve been a longtime reader of our column. The first, “Bean Me Up” (8.4% ABV), is Star Trek meets coffee beer. This imperial stout is brewed with cold extracted dark roast coffee. It was fantastic. The second, their kettle sour (4.8% ABV), was a not-too-sour, nicely balanced beer brewed with mandarina, simcoe, and bavaria hops. A complete opposite to the stout I had and also very good.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
The Fat Head’s Portland location is HUGE. Why you ask? Because within the restaurant is the actual brewery itself. Giant glass windows line the brewing area so that all of the patrons can see the fermentation tanks with a quick glance. The atmosphere was similar to Pittsburgh: some outdoor space, a bar with plenty of TVs, and ample seating space. There was no wait and our server was very attentive. She was excited to hear we were from Pittsburgh, checking out yet another brewpub. With that said, there are PLENTY of other really sweet brewpubs in Portland you should also check out while visiting.
For real, Fat Head’s has some of the most outrageous sandwiches in all of Pittsburgh and Portland. In fact, they call them “Headwiches,” partly because they might actually be the size of your head! The menu being almost identical between the two places was perfectly fine with me. My go-to sandwich for the last decade has been “The Bender.” This sandwich is comprised of (are you ready?) kielbasa dipped in Original Sauce, crumbled sausage, provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, a fried egg, onion crisps, and cherry pepper mayo to top it off. You can’t really go wrong with any of Fat Heads’ food, so be adventurous.
Fat Head’s is located in an area they call the Brewery Blocks in the Pearl District of downtown Portland. There are a few other pretty well-known breweries nearby like Rogue Distillery and Deschutes Brewery, as well as some more exclusively local breweries. If you are exploring the area you can also find a few sites nearby like the world’s smallest park (Mill Ends Park) and “that crazy sign” at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Also downtown is the must-see for visitors, Voodoo Doughnut. The line always wraps around the block but it’s worth the wait.
I’ve had a few Fat Head’s beers back in the ‘burgh, but I haven’t tried too many, so when we visited the brewpub in Portland I decided on a flight to get my fill of hops. They have a pre-selected flight option of all of their favorites or you can build your own flight. I built my own and tried all of the hoppiest beers they had! My favorites were Head Shrinker (9.2% ABV) and Breakfast of Hopions (5.5% ABV). Head Shrinker was a
dank Double IPA with chinook, citra, and simcoe hops and flavors of pine, mango, pineapple, and grapefruit. Holy hops. The Breakfast of Hopions was a Wheat IPA and their Ales for ALS contribution and was smooth sippin’. If you love hoppy beers like I do, Fat Head’s is the place to be.
A little piece of home followed us to Portland through Fat Head’s. We walked into this expansive brewpub and while it had a Portland vibe it still felt like a little slice of the ‘burgh. The Portland location had an eclectic crowd. You could sometimes tell who were locals and who were tourists and there was even a handful of US sailors there since their port is nearby. Regardless of the type of patron, everyone had one thing in common: the pursuit of hoppiness!
When we got to Fat Head’s I wanted something “lighter” and quickly realized this is not the place for a light lunch! I ordered the chicken quesadilla and the fried mushrooms appetizers. I’m not normally a fan of mushrooms but I’d been told I needed to get the fried mushrooms anyway. I think I may be a fan of mushrooms now because oh-em-gee they were delicious. They come with a horseradish sauce but I also got a little side of ranch dressing which was a nice addition. Oh and the quesadilla, decadent. Their food is massive and does not disappoint in the flavor department!
Beer Creative One-of-a-kind treats from ”Brewser” the Infuser every Thursday
16 ever-changing American craft beers on tap rotation Weekly beer samplings Beeried Treasures Aletails and craft cocktails Fresh and local homemade food ‘til midnight
Never having been to the Pacific Northwest, when we planned our vacation to Seattle, WA and Portland I could hardly contain my excitement. It turns out our vacation was even more exciting because we got engaged on a cliffside in Ecola State Park overlooking Cannon Beach in Oregon! The rest of our trip to Portland was amazing and Fat Head’s was a great way to celebrate our engagement with all the hops you could ask for and the comfort of home.
Robinson Across from Target | 412-788-2333 | @BT_Robinson | bocktown.com
The Hoppy Couple is one part Joe Tammariello and one part Amanda Stein. Amanda is the charitable creative type, while Joe is the nerdy eccentric type. Together we make a perfect brew, har har. We don’t consider ourselves beer experts but we spend a good bit of our free time exploring the city of Pittsburgh and sampling all of the food and drink it has to offer. We also try our hand at brewing beer from time to time at our home in Swissvale. We hope that our points of view will pour a wellrounded pint of our experiences with Pittsburgh’s local craft beer scene. Say “Cheers!” if you see us out!
gnome Photos & Words Kenny Gould
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
arch of this year, 27 year-old Andrew Witchey left online fashion bastion ModCloth to pursue the dream of opening his own brewery. For six months, the Lower Burrell native had been waking up at 4:00 AM every morning to complete his course work with the American Brewers Guild, a Vermont-based organization that provides Apprenticeships as well as Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering courses. He’d also been hanging out at The Brew Gentlemen, the Braddock-based brewery known for making hop-bombs that rival the famous delights of Maine and Vermont. Dancing Gnome, named for the jolly, irreverent creature of Renaissance magic and alchemy, was born.
The naming conventions for the beers come from Latin, an homage to Witchey’s inspirational high school Latin teacher, though Witchey eventually plans to break that mold. For instance, in the works is “Young Archaic,” an oxymoron that refers to a newer style of beer (hence young) that uses traditional, standby hops (hence archaic).
Self described as “hop-obsessed,” Witchey plans to make hazy, juicy beers that showcase various combinations of hops: pale ales, blondes, and IPAs, to name a few. “That’s what I love, what I drink, and what I want to spend my time working on,” Witchey said. He likes single hop beers, but thinks that the art of brewing comes from combining hops in unique combinations. Some of his favorites include Citra and Amarillo, two increasingly rare hops that Witchey has stockpiled in order to keep up with demand, as well as Vic’s Secret and Enigma, two Australian hops, and Nelson, a varietal from New Zealand.
In addition to Witchey’s passion, and the beers themselves, perhaps the most interesting thing about Dancing Gnome is its location, on Main Street in Sharpsburg. Dancing Gnome will be the town’s first brewery, though its proximity to other breweries in the area make it seem like it has been there forever. Just over two miles to the southwest is Roundabout Brewery, Drai Laag, Hope Farm, and Grist House, and to the southeast, East End Brewing Company. It’s the missing piece in a brewery trail that makes an arc from Lawrenceville to Larimer.
When Witchey opens, he plans to have four beers in cans as “semiflagships”: Lustra, a 5.8 % ABV ale that combines Citra, Amarillo, Centennial, and Horizon hops for intense tropical and citrus fruit flavors; Agricolis, a 5.2 % spicy farmhouse ale; Aevum, a 4.2 % session ale; and Caligo, a 7.5 % stout.
The beers will be brewed in a space off the tasting room that contains four 10-barrel fermenters and one 10-barrel bright tank, though the capacity exists for up to five 10-barrel fermenters, two 10-barrel bright tanks, three 20-barrel fermenters, and one 20-barrel bright tank, as well as a canning line.
Witchey was quick to stress that the community has been exceptionally supportive. During our interview at his under construction taproom and brewhouse, a gentleman wandered inside to ask for a job, and another complemented Witchey’s recently constructed sign. “Welcome to the neighborhood,” he said, “it’s nice to see someone moving in instead of moving out.”
HUNDREDS of DOMESTIC, IMPORT and CRAFT BEERS NOW AVAILABLE in over 40
For store locations or more information, please visit www.GiantEagle.com/Beer. Not all items available in all locations. Restrictions apply. See store for details.
Giant Eagle, Market District and GetGo CafÃ©s in western PA
GROUND BREAKING & BREAKING GROUND
PENNSYLVANIA LIBATIONS COULD BE THE STATE’S FIRST PRIVATELY OWNED LIQUOR STORE. n Wednesday, June 8th, 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill he referred to as the most significant step taken to reform Pennsylvania’s liquor system in 80 years. The new laws go into effect on August 8th, and for the commonwealth’s growing crop of brewers, distillers, and spirits entrepreneurs, it’s exactly, or almost exactly, what they’ve been waiting for. For the first time, all gas stations obtaining a sales permit will be able to furnish six-packs. Hotels with restaurant licenses and grocery stores already selling beer may now sell up to four bottles of wine per customer, and state-operated Wine & Spirit stores are no longer subject to restrictions on hours, holidays, or Sunday sales. The most substantial change could prove to be in Section 26 of the reform bill, which now allows liquor producers with limited distillery licenses to open up to five satellite locations. More importantly, the bill allows these limited distilleries to work “in conjunction with other limited distillery licensees” to open satellite locations. Tiptoeing even closer to the brink of fully privatized liquor stores, these combined off-site locations “need not designate specific or distinct areas for each distillery’s licensed area.” Although each distillery is required to keep “its own complete records” and each location counts as one of each distillery’s five allowed non-production satellites, it’s practically a blueprint for privately owned Pennsylvania-centric liquor stores. Christian Simmons started cementing the foundation for this exact blueprint in 2015. Several years ago at age 21 and on a quest for better snowboarding, he found work as a fry cook in Deschutes Brewing Company’s downtown Bend, Oregon pub. Every week when picking up his free case of mislabeled Deschutes bottles, he found himself connecting with the brewing staff. Ten years later, Simmons helped start a brewery of his own, co-founding Four Seasons Brewing Co. in his native Latrobe.
Currently, Simmons owns and operates a local wine and spirits brokerage company. Acting as a representative for different wineries and distilleries from across the state, he promotes the C.G. Simmons stable of brands to bars and restaurants in Western Pennsylvania. It’s provided the perfect positioning to launch what could be PA’s first de facto private liquor store, Pennsylvania Libations. Poised to open in Pittsburgh after the new regulations take effect in August, Pennsylvania Libations plans to represent 20 different companies, including about ten distilleries, five wineries, two to three meaderies, and two or three ciders. Some of the distilleries already on board are CJ Spirits from Kane, Conneaut Cellars Winery & Distillery from Conneaut Lake, Pittsburgh Winery from Pittsburgh, Thistle Finch Distilling from Lancaster, Stone House BBQ and Bloody Mary products from Farmington, Big Spring Spirits from Bellefonte, Manatawny Still Works from Pottstown, Philadelphia Distilling from Philadelphia, and Ridge Runner Distillery from Chalk Hill. However, Simmons is currently talking with several other distilleries, and by the end of their first year in business he hopes to carry products from 50 different Pennsylvania brands. With craft spirits and cocktails already finding a home here, Simmons is confident he’ll soon be operating one of the most unique storefronts in Pittsburgh. New pubs like Scratch Food & Beverage in Troy Hill, and already established venues like Vallozzi’s and James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy, are already finding success with a portfolio of small batch PA spirits. Technically falling under a “tasting room” category, Pennsylvania Libations will also be able to enlist sommeliers and mixologists to provide customers with samples and events to introduce consumers to Pennsylvania’s emerging wealth of beverage producers and better, as they say, “Know Their State.” Because, as any bar or spirits professional will profess, it’s always easier to “break the ice” over a couple of drinks.
Words Kenny Gould Photos Buzzy Torek
a i n a v l y s Penn
D U O PR os Words & Phot
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company,
just outside of Philadelphia, expands its distribution to cover all of Western Pennsylvania & is available in Pittsburgh for the first time. Supporting local breweries continues to be immensely important as the ever-changing craft beer landscape develops. If Pittsburgh has shown anything in the last few years of its growth as a beer town, it’s fierce enthusiasm and pride for the product that comes from the great breweries in this city. But the fun of being a beer drinker will always be trying new things and experiencing the tastes of other towns across the nation. It’s great to see local favorites on store shelves next to national hallmarks, but sometimes you want to try something new without straying too far from home. Just outside of Philadelphia’s city limits along the Delaware River in Croydon, PA, Neshaminy Creek Brewing has quietly been producing some of the area’s most well-received beers (a few Philly Beer Scene awards, a Great American Beer Fest gold medal in 2013 for their Churchville Lager, to name a few accolades) at a greater and greater rate over the last four years.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Since opening in June of 2012, the company has gone from producing 1156 barrels in its first seven months of being open to a projected 16-18,000 barrels for 2016. Neshaminy Creek Brewing distributes in four states: all of New Jersey and Delaware, eastern New York, with full coverage of Pennsylvania finally happening this year—with Pittsburgh getting its first taste in the area throughout the summer.
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co. is owned by three families: head brewer Jeremy Myers, sales manager Rob Jahn, and their partner and facilities manager Steve Capelli. Both Myers and Jahn went to the Siebel Institute at different times and Myers was previously a brewer at River Horse Brewing Company in New Jersey. After starting a record label and screen printing business (both are called Jump Start) and leaving River Horse, Myers never had the intention of starting a brewery. But like so many other businesses, and particularly breweries, it just worked out that way. “Like any other homebrewer at some point I had the idea to start a brewery, but I never really wanted to or thought I would try to just because it was one of those things where I was pretty content working for someone else,” Myers said. “Well as far as content could be,” he continued.
“When [Jeremy] asked me to start a brewery, I did not know what I was getting into. When we started he had the idea of starting at a certain size to be able to produce a certain amount,” Jahn said. “He always said making three barrels takes the same amount of time as making fifteen barrels, and if we can make more liquid it allows us to do a lot more in our early years. So starting with a fifteen barrel brew house really allowed us to do a lot in a short amount of time.” Jahn said. The company focused on their production, expanding it as they went along. Jahn describes acquiring more and more fermenters every few months just to figure out what their capacity could be. Neshaminy Creek’s space in Croydon has just expanded to another 40,000 square feet, with plans to open a 5,600 square foot taproom in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. “We brew three shifts a day five days a week, and then we usually brew two shifts on the weekend. So we’re doing 17 turns a week, we can easily do 18 turns a week and if we really wanted to do double brew shifts on the weekends we could,” Myers. said “I mean really if we want to we can do 2125 brews a week under our current system. We can kick out beer. That’s why we decided to start moving in the rest of Pennsylvania.” Myers said. Now the pair is excited to be in Pittsburgh and the potential this market offers, particularly bringing a more unified feel, at least in terms of beer, to Pennsylvania. “One of the things we noticed is that—in my opinion, there’s too many out of state brands that have a big chunk of what’s going on in Pittsburgh,” Myers said. “We want Pennsylvania brands.” He continued. Myers and Jahn are quick to praise the breweries in Pittsburgh, with a desire to stand alongside them while giving a friendly shove to some of the more popular, established national brands. “We want to be here because one, we have a lot of friends out here. Two, it’s Pennsylvania and we’re a Pennsylvania brewery and that matters to us...There’s enough room for everybody and we want to be a part of that,” Myers said. Neshaminy Creek is also aware of some of the pitfalls of expanding distribution. Whether it’s the public losing interest, or the company having to pull out for lack of production. “Coming into this market we wanted to have a certain vibe to it. We’re not oversaturating but we also want to make sure that anybody who wants it, they can have it as much as they want. We don’t want to pull back from our distribution,” Jahn said. “It was very strategic for us to be like alright we can make enough beer, let’s get out to this side of the state now and then supply the market properly. Which is a very delicate operation because we’ve seen it on both sides,” he said The pair emphasizes a desire to be a part of the bigger, local community of any market they enter as well. While they each have their own ties to the
area, Myers is good friends with many of the printers at Commonwealth Press while Jahn remembers trips to Smiling Moose and connections with Pittsburgh-area bands over the years (Matt Allyn from Voodoo was also the broker in the sale of the original space the company uses), they’ve also hired a sales representative for the Pittsburgh area. “Patrick Morris worked for a wholesaler in the city so he has a relationship with a lot of places, the best places in the city to get beer, so we feel pretty good about being able to get into the spaces that we want to be in,” Myers said. “On top of that, he lives here. He lives in Edgewood. It’s not like we hired someone who’s going to be on the road, driving into Pittsburgh one week every month,” he continued. Now for the goods. Can-wise the beers that will be available in Pittsburgh are the main flagships of Neshaminy Creek. County Line IPA, a five-hop combination with Warrior, Chinook, Columbus, Simcoe and Centennial hops with a bready malt and 6.6% ABV that makes it very drinkable. J.A.W.N. (Juicy Ale With Nugget) Pale Ale, a hoppy American pale ale with enough citrus flavor to excuse the Philly slang—and finally Croydon Cream Ale, your typical, drinkable (and delicious) “American lawnmower beer.” Expect to see other limited releases appear throughout the seasons and on tap at various locations in town. “We jokingly say our motto is ‘brew anything.’ So we want to and will try to brew whatever, whenever. We’ve got a reputation for lagers. It started first with the [Trauger] Pilsner. Seven months after we opened, Joe Sixpack [a column in the Philly Daily News] gave us the beer of the year. Ten months later at GABF we won the gold medal for the Vienna Lager. And then last year Trauger got the Philly Beer Scene award for lager of the year,” Myers said. “So we’ve definitely built up a reputation for lagers. We also jokingly call ourselves Lager City because we have 270 barrels worth of lagering tanks and you don’t see that in a whole lot of craft breweries,” he continued. “And we like lagers,” Jahn added.
But for now, Neshaminy Creek is happy to be flowing throughout all of Pennsylvania, particularly to the vast and varied scene in Pittsburgh. While their trip here in June mostly stood as an opportunity to introduce Pittsburgh to Neshaminy Creek, Myers and Jahn were just as happy to be introduced to everything Pittsburgh has to offer as well. “We know what our beer tastes like. We are beer drinkers at heart, that’s how this all started,” Jahn said. “So we like trying new breweries, seeing what the local flavor is. It’s the best part of being a brewer in this craft scene. It won’t take much for us to come out here,” he said.
Both Myers and Jahn cite German influences in their brewing as well as west coast-styled hoppy beers. There are also plans to further expand their barreling program, with sours and Belgian Saisons already set to release.
Words Will Groves Photos Buzzy Torek
Wearing bow ties is fucking awesome. When you wear a bow tie everything else about your outfit ceases to matter. All people notice is the tie. You could leave the house with mismatched socks and a wrinkly shirt and people, of both sexes, young and old will come up to you and say, “I love your bow tie!” not stopping for a moment to notice that you’re a complete schlub who shouldn’t be allowed out in public.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Having good drinks at a party is like that.
If you have people over and you make something that’s tasty and potent, everything else about your party ceases to matter. No one will notice that you didn’t have time to Swiffer the kitchen floor. No one will notice how weird your cat is. People will come up to you and say, “what a great party!” not stopping for a moment to notice that you’re a complete schlub who shouldn’t be allowed to host other people in your house. The easiest way to make that happen when you’re throwing a party is by making punch. STOP! Stop right there if you’re thinking that everybody knows how to make punch. You get some frozen orange juice concentrate and some Sprite and you’re in business, right?
Not right. Punch gets no credit for being one of the oldest ways people sought to mix drinks. Everybody knows all about the Sazerac (first cocktail! New Orleans! Antoine Amedee Peychaud!) and thinks that’s where it starts. How about the early 1600s for the first introduction of punch to the United Kingdom? That predates Peychaud and his Sazerac Coffee House by a solid 200 years. Punch started when sailors from the British East India Company sailed back to the UK with new fruits and spices, along with a whole new spirit. Early punch made on sailing vessels around the subcontinent would have most likely been made with Batavia Arrack, an unapologetically funky distillate of palm sugar and/or rice. To temper the funk and prevent scurvy, these intrepid mariners would add sugar, citrus, and strong black tea, as well as the then-unfamiliar nutmeg as a flavoring. So altogether you have sour, sweet, strong, weak, and spice. Five ingredients. Is it any mystery then that the English word “punch” is a derivation of the Hindi word for five? It was so popular and so easy to make there was even a rhyming recipe. “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak,” plus spice. That’s still the basic recipe for every classical punch. The biggest difference between then and now (other than punch being used for scurvy prevention) is that now our base spirits taste good. As such, when I make punches it’s more like “one of sour, one and a half of sweet, three of strong, four of weak, plus nutmeg.” Let me kick a recipe your way before we move on the specifics.
Makes 16 four ounce servings • 1 cup white sugar
• 2 lemon peels (yellow part only, cut into a long spiral with a vegetable peeler) • 1 bottle bourbon whiskey (preferably barrel-proof, but at least 45% alcohol) • 8 oz lemon juice (freshly-squeezed) • 4 cups cold water • Lemon and orange slices, to garnish • Freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish Start by peeling the lemons and combining the peels with the sugar in a sturdy container. Muddle the crap out of it. Muddle for at least 3-4 minutes. Bury the peels in the sugar and wait half an hour. Stir the sugar around and bury the peels again. Wait another half hour. Congratulations, you’ve just made my all-time favorite cocktail ingredient: lemon oleo-saccharum. This totally magical stuff is the embodiment of everything that’s flavorful and good about lemons. (If you’re a fancy boy who cooks your steaks sous vide, you can combine the sugar and lemon in a vacuum sealer bag, seal it and wait 24 hours, no muddling required.) Once the oleo-saccharum is done, combine everything in a punch bowl, pull the spent peels out and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Put the punch in the fridge for at least 4 hours before you serve it and you’re done. This
recipe is shocking once people hear it because it sounds like whiskey, lemon, sugar and water but tastes like so much more because of the depth and intensity of the lemon flavor that you get from extracting all the oil out of the peel with sugar. Plan on two 4 oz servings per person if your friends are normals. If your friends are my friends, plan on three. Feel free to substitute almost any base spirit in for the bourbon here. Rum would be great, gin is great in most every classic cold punch, blended or Highland Scotch would be nice as well. Even aged tequila would make a solid drink. You can also substitute lime juice as your sour and literally any bar syrup for the sweet. Orgeat is awesome in punches, honey syrup is great, brown sugar syrup adds a boomy depth, you get the idea. One important thing not to overlook when you’re making punch, or any large format cocktail to serve multiple guests at a time, is ice. You’ll want to use the largest possible piece of ice. Large blocks of ice melt much more slowly than multiple small pieces because of a much lower surface-to-mass ratio. You can drop a big piece of ice in a cold bowl of punch and it will be good to go for up to an hour. Examples of awesome vessels to use as large ice molds: Bundt pans, large Tupperware containers and my all-time favorite, water balloons. The long and short of it is that making a classic punch is not only a living piece of cocktail history, it saves you a ton of time and effort. The perfect balance of old techniques adapted for your busy-ass modern life! Punch is a true win-win!
American Whiskey Punch (recipe circa 1840)
“Our vision at First Sip Brew Box is to show that if you have the courage to follow your dreams you can do anything,” Guy said. “That, coupled with our love and passion for craft beer we can create a platform to show each other that dreams can come true. We share the stories of the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters that had the discipline to work hard to start these breweries and craft beer inspired companies,” he continued.
Words Ian Mikrut
“Mister Postman, look and see, if there’s a beer in your bag for me.” If only that were the case. In a time where hundreds of products are available in boxed subscription services, from high fashion to pet accessories, you shouldn’t have to look far for your craft beer needs. First Sip Brew Box, based in Pittsburgh, is committed to collaborating with breweries around the country to bring monthly gift boxes filled with gear, accessories, industry stories and trends as well as recommendations—all centered on subscriber’s unique tastes and preferences.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Founded by an Army Veteran and a social worker, Dennis Guy and Samantha Unger both have a passion for craft beer and the inspiring stories inherent in the brew community. The pair have made a commitment to not only work with breweries, but the individuals behind them as well.
Products will include items like clothing, glassware and bar accessories from the sponsored brewery of each month. First Sip launched in July with Stone Brewing Co. as the featured brewery and Guy and Unger plan to partner with War Streets Brewery (soon to open on Pittsburgh’s North Side) and Evil Genius Beer Co. from Philadelphia in the coming months. Themed brewery stories, event listings, news and beer trends will also be included. The first box also featured other beer inspired products like soap, candles, jelly, and candies. First Sip plans to partner with the sponsored brewery of the month to host tastings, meet the brewers and other community events in the future as well. Also included in every plan, and as a standalone subscription, is the monthly “Brew Hunt.” The Brew Hunt consists of a craft beer related riddle that, if solved correctly, earns the subscriber an extra gift in the following month’s box as well as entrance into a monthly drawing to help create the next riddle. First Sip offers three subscription plans with the option to pay monthly or annually. The Original Brew Box runs at $49.99 monthly and $520.99 annually while the Distinctive plan costs $59.99 monthly and $647.88 annually. The Distinctive plan offers an extra gift, full sized products and allows for more preference customization—allowing subscribers to share what breweries and types of beer they like and create a flavor profile, making First Sip a unique community experience for craft beer connoisseurs or anyone with a budding interest in the craft beer world. “When small business grow the community grows, and that is our mission here at First Sip Brew Box; to grow our communities by partnering with craft beer inspired companies,” Guy said.
Words Kenny Gould Photos Mike Weiss
For the first time in years, all isn’t quiet on the Western front of Pennsylvania’s three-tier wholesaler system. At its most basic level, the three-tier system of supplying beer in America works like this: a brewer (tier one) sells the beer to a wholesaler (tier two), which in turn sells the beer to a retailer (tier three). Think make it, move it, sell it. The three-tier system has its detractors who generally argue along one of a few lines. First, the system necessitates middlemen, who can increase overhead costs and the final retail price without necessarily yielding worthwhile benefits to consumers. From the perspective of craft connoisseurs, these middle steps involved can also result in longer wait times between production and consumption, and in a worst case scenario yield stale or off-flavor beer. There is also an almost unavoidable factor of “wholesaler politics,” in which bars and distributors make purchasing decisions based on their relationships with wholesalers rather than what customers want. But perhaps most importantly, wholesalers and breweries secure exclusive contracts, meaning that breweries can only get their beers to retailers through a single wholesaler. Originally, these “franchise laws” were put into effect to keep big breweries from coercing wholesalers with threats to take their business elsewhere or force acceptance of unordered beer. In this respect, they work, but they also have the unintended consequence of putting enormous pressure on small breweries to make an informed decision when selecting a wholesaler. If they choose poorly, they can wind up with a wholesaler that favors more established brands and doesn’t promote their products.
For most of the 21st century, Pittsburgh has come to rely on “The Big 5” (Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale, Galli Beer, Tony Savatt Inc., Vecenie Distributing, and Wilson-McGinley Inc.) for their second tier beer needs. Now, there’s a sixth—and not only a sixth, but a sixth focusing exclusively on craft beer. Steel City Beer Wholesalers is the brainchild of Shane Lohman, former owner of Lohman’s Beer in Wexford. A Los Angeles native, he moved to Pittsburgh in 2007 to attend Duquesne University. A longtime craft fan, on the advice of a local retailer Lohman started his own retail beer distributor after graduating college. When he tried
However, the three-tier system also has its advantages. Regional wholesalers are more familiar with local tastes and can guide products to the most profitable markets. With carefully planned promotion, wholesalers and their representatives initiate and drive new trends to engage longtime customers as well as entice new ones. Wholesalers are also an integral driving force behind the well-attended tap takeovers, tastings, and beer festivals Western Pennsylvania, like the rest of the country, has come to embrace.
to open a second location, his lawyer suggested that he look into opening a wholesale operation instead. As a retailer, Lohman was constantly faced with customers asking for products that weren’t available in this part of the state. As a lover of craft beer, he was similarly frustrated that he couldn’t get the varieties he wanted after discovering them outside of Pennsylvania. Opening Steel City Beer Wholesalers put Lohman in a position to change that. Of course, there were a few hurdles. Lohman needed to rent warehouse space, build a cooler, and buy a refrigerated truck in addition to navigating wholesaler red tape that required his location to be 2,500 square feet, and have an office and a bathroom. Lohman said they offer breweries the option to ship, store, and deliver everything cold—even going as far as to make sure the kegs they deliver aren’t then sitting in room temperature storage at bar and restaurant accounts. He also needed to obtain an importing distributor license. Like New York taxi medallions, these licenses are hard to procure and often need to be bought from an existing business who already has it. But besides cost and red tape, there was nothing stopping Lohman from becoming Pittsburgh’s sixth wholesaler…other than the fact that he already owned a retail operation. In most cases a wholesaler can’t be a retailer, so Lohman sold Lohman’s Beer to his father and decided to open Steel City Beer Wholesalers.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
The craft spirit is very much alive in this new venture, with Lohman even having their truck handpainted with graphics from Breaking Bud, one of Knee Deep Brewing’s most popular IPAs, to help convince the California brewery to sign with Steel City. Starting with an intentionally limited but country-spanning portfolio, Lohman reached out to Pizza Boy Brewing Co. in Enola, PA to become Steel City’s first flagship brand. “Albert [Kominski] was excited to work with a new wholesaler and have the opportunity to be a flagship. They’re a great brewery and didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle. So we went out there, sat down, and had a beer,” Lohman said. A beloved spot for Pittsburghers entering or exiting the turnpike on across-the-state journeys, Pizza Boy and the adjoined pizzeria Al’s of Hampden do an equally good job brewing 20 to 30 in-house beers as well as curating 60 to 70 other quality drafts. Now, with cans of their own ready to reach Western Pennsylvania in mid-July, Steel City Beer Wholesalers is working to ensure the “Pizza. Beer. Happy.” mantra reaches the rest of the state.
As it opened for business this summer, Steel City Beer Wholesalers will introduce Pittsburgh to more craft favorites like Against the Grain Brewing, Evil Twin Brewing, Off Color Brewing, and Stillwater Artisanal. For the near future, Lohman is finding solutions to the complications that come with owning a new wholesaler: Evil Twin is currently out of tap handles, which makes it harder to sell their kegs to retailers, and a shipping company recently lost 30 kegs of Imperial Biscotti Break, a popular imperial stout. But, these problems are small compared to the possibilities of being the first solely craft wholesaler in the city. As local beer preferences have shifted past commercial domestics to hoppier craft IPAs, and lately even beyond to sour and barrel aged treasures, there couldn’t be a more perfect time for Steel City’s gamble to go all-in on craft.
Maybe We Should’ve Pitched the Tent First
Jerky & Beer Pairings
omenic Betters knows beef, beer, and camping. A butcher by trade and the dehydration alchemist behind Black Market Beef Jerky, when he sends a mixed six pack of craft cans paired with six of their finest jerkies into the woods, it’s a trip you might not want to come home from. Otter Creek Brewing Co. Steampipe and Traditional: Perfect for a midhike break, or those camping buddies who refuse any beer abbreviated to three letters and disdain anything darker than amber because “it tastes like coffee.” Try not to think about it when they sleep in until smelling the percolator already brewing the next morning. Black Market’s Traditional jerky, flavorful though lightly smoked and peppered, plays well with Otter Creek’s approachably-hopped California Common. Both are satisfying on their own, yet each is mild enough to pique your appetite for something more adventurous.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Bell’s Best Brown Ale and Buffalo Ranch: Fresh beer is usually good beer, but don’t be afraid to hold onto a few of this fall’s Best Brown pounders for next year’s excursions. Best Brown might be the closest Bell’s comes to comfort food, and its medium-bodied, well-balanced malty sweetness is a great foil for the modest heat from Black Market’s Buffalo Ranch. Forget about “roughing it” for a beer, pick them both up, and get comfy.
Oskar Blues Old Chub and Texas BBQ: These are a great ‘round-thecampfire combination. When the evening turns to night and replaces the swelter with a chilled breeze, finding a Scottish strong ale with heavy sweeter notes, a hint of smoke, and a warming 8% ABV is ideal when watching a fire and indulging in Black Market’s Texas BBQ—the tangy, hands-down favorite at Betters’ ancestral family getaway, Red-Tail Camp, near Clear Creek State Park. Avery Brewing Liliko’i Kepolo and General Tso: Sometimes, not even the call of the wild can overcome the primal urge to call and order Chinese food...especially after a few beers. Experience a world of pleasing, slightly
Words & Photo Frank Cunniff sweet, slightly spicy flavors: a beef jerky homage to a favorite of American Chinese cuisine, complemented by an engaging Belgian-style white ale imbued with passionfruit. It definitely beats trying to relay GPS coordinates to an angry delivery guy. 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry and Thai Red Curry: Toaster Pastry brings the hop and buzz of a near-imperial IPA, and then backs it up with five varieties of malt to round out the rich mouthfeel in this hammock dream in a can. Similarly, Betters could’ve stopped with just red chili in the Thai Red Curry’s spice profile, but Black Market takes this jerky two steps farther adding coconut milk and lemongrass. Tenderfoots proceed with caution, merit badges for spicy and hoppy start here. Tröegs Nimble Giant and The “Jerk” McCoy: Find a quiet spot in the woods to enjoy Nimble Giant and The “Jerk” McCoy—otherwise there’ll be at least one other person who wants to share in Pennsylvania’s most-talked about double IPA of 2016 and Black Market’s spiciest jerky. “Hop forward” gets thrown around a lot lately, but Nimble Giant is the leader of this hike, and luckily, it doesn’t mind stopping to enjoy the honeysuckle. Both huge and well-balanced, the Giant will cool off the tongue without crushing the intense-but-palatable Jamaican jerk. Special thanks to Domenic Betters and the Black Market family at blackmarketbeefjerky.com, Tim Quinlan from Gooski’s, and Jerry Miller from Blue Dust.
VECENIE DISTRIBUTING CO. 140 North Avenue, Millvale, PA 15209
TRIBUTING ISSINCE 1933
Summer Is Here
Western Pennsylvania’s Premier Wholesaler of Regional, Craft, Imported Beers and Specialty Sodas ANDERSON VALLEY
A perfectly balanced, warm weather brew with hints of sweet orange peel, orange flower water, and honey. ®
04444 22405 7
MAG 80 NBAR .0104 BWA -0.0020
C, M, Y, K
MM2723 - 3.740"W x 3.661"H
spoonwood & hitchhiker
COLLABORATE FOR THE HALF SHELL CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Words Jason Cercone Art Mark Brewer
This summer, beer on the half shell makes its way to Pittsburgh. Spoonwood Brewing and Hitchhiker Brewing are joining forces to brew a special collaboration beer designed to raise proceeds and awareness for the Turtle Survival Alliance, an action-oriented global partnership that is committed to zero turtle extinctions in the 21st century. Their mission is to transform their passion for turtles into effective conservation action through a global network of living collections and recovery programs.
The TSA has participated in similar fundraising beer projects in the past, collaborating with Martin House Brewing Company in Fort Worth, Texas to brew an Altbier with blackberries named Turtle Power. They also teamed up with Holy City Brewing in North Charleston, South Carolina to create a Blonde Ale with blackberries known as Gimmie Shell-ter. Eric Munscher, a South Hills resident who works for the TSA, presented the idea of doing a third beer here in Pittsburgh to Spoonwood’s Head Brewer, Steve Ilnicki. “I started wearing the ‘Drink Beer. Save Turtles.’ shirt that Eric gave me and it turned out to be a conversation starter,” Ilnicki explained. “So we decided to do it,” he said.
Ilnicki then welcomed Andy Kwiatkowski, Head Brewer at Hitchhiker, to join him in the creation of this turtle-inspired brew. Along with Spoonwood Assistant Brewer James Evans, the three put their heads together over a few beers and landed on a unique recipe for a tropical stout, a beer style not typically found in many tap lineups or brewery portfolios. This stout has been dubbed Turtle Eclipse, is expected to tip the scales between 7-8% ABV, and will be flavored with pineapple, mango, and passionfruit. This collaboration also features contributions from local businesses and personalities with a passion for craft beer. Mark Brewer, author and illustrator of Brewology, designed the turtle seen hoisting a stout on the beer’s label. Jason Collins of Hooyoo Design provided the final design for the label. Turtle Eclipse t-shirts will also be available, printed by Dan Rugh and his team at Commonwealth Press. The Turtle Survival Alliance was formed in 2001 as “an IUCN (formerly World Conservation Union) partnership for sustainable captive management of freshwater turtles and tortoises.” The TSA arose in response to the rampant and unsustainable harvest of Asian turtle populations to supply Chinese markets, a situation known as the Asian Turtle Crisis. Recognizing that some species of turtles and tortoises were unlikely to survive without well-managed populations, the TSA was charged with developing breeding programs for the most critically endangered of the world’s chelonian species.
T he beer from Salzburg · Austr ia The Art of Brewing at its Highest Level.
To successfully carry out their mission, the TSA creates breeding programs for critically endangered freshwater turtles and tortoises, conducts field research, develops and executes conservation plans, promotes conservation awareness among local communities, advocates for greater enforcement of wildlife laws, and provides support, knowledge, training, and resources to conservation partners around the world. Since forming, the TSA has become recognized as a global force for turtle conservation, capable of taking swift and decisive action on behalf of critically endangered chelonians. Although the TSA was organized in response to the Asian Turtle Crisis, the group is well-positioned to respond to other endangered turtle species, particularly where a managed breeding component is included in their overall survival strategy. While the turtle extinction crisis remains most acute in Southeast Asia, the situation is actually global in scope. In recent years, the number of turtle species added to the IUCN Red List as Endangered has more than doubled and that number will continue to grow as the Red Listing process is applied to species in Africa and South America. A Turtle Eclipse release event has been scheduled for Saturday, August 13th at Spoonwood Brewing in Bethel Park. This event will be family-friendly, with Eric and his colleagues from the TSA bringing several turtles to the taproom. Approximately 200 22oz. bomber bottles of Turtle Eclipse will be available for purchase at the event as well, with a portion of draft and bottle sales going directly to the TSA. Some content courtesy of the Turtle Survival Alliance. Learn more about their organization and donate to the cause by visiting turtlesurvival.org. Jason is the lead conspirator behind Breaking Brews, a craft beer & libations blog dedicated to news, features, commentary, & libations celebration. Join the party at breakingbrews.com
imported by S&H Brands · www.shbrands.com · www.stiegl.at
Beer ALL AFTERNOON Words Frank Cunniff Photos Mike Weiss
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
For a festival that can already take pride in offering all things new and great about Western Pennsylvania brewing, could there be a more universally Pittsburgh hook than come in out of the rain and have a beer?
Even with downpours in the forecast and a target audience who just finished sleeping or jogging off a record-breaking Craft Beer Week, block after block of tickets for the 2016 Beers of the Burgh Festival sold out to fans thirsty for what’s becoming recognized as a premier showcase for emerging brewers and breweries.
—and, as Apis Mead & Winery proved, a showcase for amazing costumes and fake mustaches. No description of the day should go any further than paragraph two without a nod to the Apis team outfits. They were like planets, dressed as extras from CHiPS, aligning to signal the start of a delicate, dangerous dance between craft beer and cosplay. A last minute venue change brought Beers of the Burgh to Lawrenceville’s Arsenal Terminal, also known for hosting the most recent installments of one of Pittsburgh’s best-loved annual art shows, Art All Night. Like the 22-hour art party celebrating works from dedicated amateurs, outsiders, and veteran professionals, one of Beers of the Burgh’s most distinctive strengths was being as “underground” as it was inclusive. This unique balance yields innovative beers, and hasn’t gone unnoticed by out-of-state fans and industry professionals alike. “It’s a great trip, my third time here,” David Rivers, dedicated cask ale devotee and owner of Buffalo, NY’s KegWorks, said. Offering vied-for pouring space to the Three Rivers Underground Brewers (T.R.U.B.) for a lineup including Bill Oates’ Mandarina Bitter alongside industry landmarks like Straub and Penn Brewery stretching their legs with a hefe and Tangerine Swirl ale, the festival equally embraced craft beer’s unbridled homebrew origins as well as the commercial success that often accompanies superior products. Fury Brewing Company, set to open their Irwin taproom in fall 2016, were on hand with eight varieties overseen by master brewer Ryan Slicker, a medal-winning and active member of the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers. Attending monthly T.R.A.S.H. meetings afforded Slicker the opportunity to get critiques on his beers from more experienced
amateur and professional brewers, and also exposed him to new styles while getting to ask questions about their specialty ingredients and production. “We were thrilled to have the chance to let so many people see what we have to offer in the craft beer community,” Fury Brewing’s vice president Stephan Hoffer said. At Fury’s table and around the adjoining rooms, the camaraderie built as homebrewing club members were frequently on both sides of the draft stations. Usually exclusively available at The Harmony Inn in pints, growlers, and 32 oz crowlers, Big Rail Brewing made their professional debut in Pittsburgh at Beers of the Burgh after releasing a collaboration ale with longtime colleagues North Country Brewing for 2016’s Craft Beer Week. Bill and Jessica Smith helped serve their Appalachian takes on American craft, and detailed current plans for Big Rail and a possible future brewpub. “We’d want to focus on beer and a campfire feel—no televisions,” Bill said, sliding from backwoods staunch to a resolved smile as he counted the number of Penguins hats standing in the growing semicircle. With beers as engaging as their Black Knuckle India Dark Ale, drawing in customers and sparking lively conversations shouldn’t be a problem. While plenty of the breweries represented were looking for, or looking to build, brick-and-mortar locations, newcomer Conny Creek Brewing proved to be just as focused on the production of the basic materials used in its beers. Brewers like Conny Creek’s Lee W. Layton choose to grow their own hops for different reasons— avoiding hop contracts, pursuing sustainability, and attention to flavor qualities usually top the list. Featuring one of the best sweeter beers of the day, Layton partnered with nearby locals
Conny Creek Maple to brew Straight From the Sap, a Belgian ale complemented with syrup. “I believe growing your own hops allows you to make fresh, bright beer. From the first time I used our own hops in a hoppy beer I knew that I wanted to grow more,” Layton said. It’s a wellreceived concept in Western Pennsylvania, as evidenced by Sprague Farm & Brew Works and the attending Hop Farm. “We’re planning on making appearances at festivals while working on finding a location and getting it ready to open. There’s got to be a balance of getting the product out there and moving closer to opening a pub,” Layton continued. Currently, Conny Creek is brewing from the ten varieties of hops Layton grows at his parents’ farm along the Connoquenessing Creek.
Being a festival committed to giving upcoming brewers the opportunity to secure new fans, footholds, and hopefully a home since 2014, it makes sense The Beers of the Burgh was born from a partnership between the craft enthusiasts behind the Tiny Mammoth event company and NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania. “Over a period of nearly two years, we [specifically board members Pat Clark and Jason Tigano] worked together to plan and host the first Beers of the Burgh festival,” NeighborWorks board member Mary E. Gibson said. An enthusiastic craft fan herself, Gibson became involved with NeighborWorks after years of volunteering legal aid to it and similar non-profit organizations assisting people in maintaining stable housing.
Alongside start-ups just starting to feel the pains of construction, Titusville’s Blue Canoe Brewery were already back and taking their much-awaited show on the road after a 2015 fire temporarily closed the brewpub for roughly a year. “We have beer on tap at several locations in the area so we decided to go and it’s becoming one of our favorite festivals. We end up meeting a lot of people who have camps in our area who live in Pittsburgh,” Blue Canoe general manager Charlene Zimmer said. At Beers of the Burgh, a heady Cobra KaIPA screamed more “sweep the leg” and less “helping hand,” but it’s worth checking out their Titusville guest tap—a rotating who’s who of breweries that helped rebuild a dream, as Zimmer said, “gutted to the studs.”
As a satisfied sold-out crowd drifted to afterparties and chess-like discussions on the best places to pick mid-20th century furniture pieces for internet resale—which freed up room for a few brewers to skateboard after a day spent pent up behind a table—it was clear that despite the venue change, the NeighborWorks people were on to something besides necklaces being a superior mode of pretzel transportation. The Beers of the Burgh didn’t panic, it made a plan, it found a home, and it kept building the community.
Beers of the Burgh Winter Warmer will be held on 11/5. More details to come...
vincent’s PIZZA PARK
998 Ardmore Blvd., PGH
“Notice: This is not ‘Burger King,’ you get it our way or you don’t get the son-of-a-bitch at all!”
This is the slogan printed on an apron that hangs proudly above the ovens where Vincent Chianese crafted his masterfully built “Vinnie Pies.” These mammoth pies are a direct reflection of their larger than life creator. It’s my all time favorite Pittsburgh pizza shop. Growing up in the eastern suburbs, I was raised on Vinnie Pies at the old Plum Boro location. It has since closed, as have all the other franchise locations, but the original Pizza Park is alive and well on Ardmore Blvd in North Braddock. It’s a landmark that has been a family favorite since Vince opened it in 1950. I grew up in a blue collar Westinghouse family, at a time when Westinghouse was on the downturn. Local sports and places like Vincent’s Pizza Park are what kept families going through the hard times. Vince, himself a blue collar railroad worker, saved up the money to buy the property after learning the trade working alongside his uncle in the late 40s.
When I was a kid, I was always afraid of Vince. Almost a myth or legend, he was a large character; cigarette hanging precariously from his mouth, and white buttoned shirt wide open with a gold chain visible from space. I heard stories of mob ties, and that he kept a pistol tucked into his belt. I can neither confirm nor deny these claims, but it didn’t matter because the pizza was the reason you were there. Some say the secret ingredient was lard or molasses in the dough…or a pinch of cigarette ash sprinkled lightly atop the pizza at some stage in its creation. Again, I can neither confirm nor deny. It’s like no other pizza place I have experienced in my life.
on the outside and warm, sweet, and chewy on the inside. The sauce is light and mellow. It’s got just the right amount of seasoning and is layered nice and thin. You want toppings? Oh you’ll get toppings. I usually go with plain or pepperoni. My dad and his buddies would always order the “Works But” which included pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions. The “Works” added anchovies. I always felt that if you ordered a pie with a topping only on half, you’d get a whole pie’s worth on half. Your toppings cover the pizza so you can barely see the cheese. Golf ball sized sausage, large chunks of pepperoni, and other toppings are shoveled on. The large crust bakes up almost like a deep dish (it’s not baked in a pan, it’s just huge) and fortifies all the toppings within. It comes out of the oven smoking like a ladle of molten steel. A glisten of delicious grease forms over the top like a layer of slag; a byproduct of the light sauce, heaps of soft prov-mozz blend, and the mountain of toppings cooking up and combining flavors. This pizza is not for the faint hearted or stomach—a bona fide fork and knife pizza.
The crust is huge. Big bubbles abound in a crisp, browned floury crust that makes up a foundation for the metric ton of toppings that will adorn the pie. The underside has a distinct char to it. Only Vincent’s Pizza Park has perfected this flavor. Imagine the perfect loaf of Italian bread: extra crispy
Vince passed away a few years back, and Vincent’s Pizza Park has continued to operate. There was a dark period when the place was closed, and it was thought that it was the end of the Vinnie Pie for good. Thankfully, Vince’s daughter saved her father’s legacy by taking over the company. She
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Pittsburgh in the 1950s: Westinghouse and U.S. Steel were booming and the pizza business was nonexistent. Vincent’s Pizza Park, one of the first pizzerias here, set the standard and could feed a whole steel mill with one pie.
Words & Photo Dan DeLucia
When someone asked me, “Where’s the best place to get a pizza in this town?” Vincent’s Pizza Park is always the first place I recommend. The misshaped, never-round monster pies are as unique as the legend of Vince himself. You can learn the whole history just by reading the articles and looking at the pictures on the walls. They’ve even got Vince’s iconic white shirt framed and hanging above the kitchen. Sit at the dinning room bar with a cold beer or grab a table in the front room and watch the pies being made. Don’t worry—the man in charge learned how to build these beasts working with Vince himself. Some say it’s not the same without Vince there—flour and profanity flying, his cigarette dangling and shirt open. I say the Vinnie Pies are just as good as ever. If you’ve never had it, treat yourself and have it VINCE’S way.
decided to focus on restoring the original Pizza Park and reopened in 2013 much to the delight of diehard Vinnie Pie enthusiasts like myself. Modeled with a vintage motif similar to when Vince opened in 1950; the place is cleaner, brighter, and just as packed on a weeknight as it ever was. No delivery, but you can call ahead and carry out. If you’d like, they offer halfbaked pies to take home and freeze or finish in your oven as well. They’ve shipped pies all over the world—apparently this is a very common practice with great pizza shops.
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
ell-fed, well-coiffed, and standing on sandals in a country club shade of salmon polo shirt—this guy definitely wasn’t the crowd usually advertised at Belvedere’s Ultra-Dive in Lawrenceville. Not that I noticed him until it was too late. “Dude, where’s the furniture? Y’know, the shitty furniture?” he asked me, deflated, lonely, and oblivious to the amazing game of Bally’s Dr. Who I was in the middle of playing. If only escaping this conversation was as simple as finding a flight of stairs, I thought to myself. Then my ball drained, and remembering that outside of a pinball machine and kick-ass theme song I wasn’t much of a Dr. Who fan anyway, I decided to hear him out and stop improving nerdy jokes in my inner monologue. “Sorry dude, but I loved that. Twenty-two year old me wouldn’t know what to do. But I saw you playing pinball and I knew, this guy, this guy’ll tell my story,” he said. While I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to be the first time I was recognized in public by a fan, I felt a little bad after making a bunch of snap judgements about him. I, too, remembered sitting in the same porch-worthy armchairs and couches that used to populate the right side of the dance floor at Belvie’s, usually sweaty and full of twentysomething verve. All of a sudden, he became my Abercrombie-outfitted Clarence in my own It’s a Wonderful Life, and I watched the first time 23 year-old Frank’s wife leaned in and whispered she loved him as they curled up on broken springs and a wornout cushion. It’s not something I’d forget, but it wasn’t something I’d thought about in a while. It wasn’t just a flicker: it felt big, and right, and wild all over again—and I think that’s exactly what Belvedere’s is going for.
After a kitchen fire in late 2014 that might’ve been a funeral pyre for any other non-ultra dive, Belvedere’s reopened its heavy double doors on May 20th to a line wrapped around the block. The front bar—once a neutral bunker shared by “old” Lawrenceville regulars alongside metalhead punks and 80s and 90s Night dancers pregaming the “counterculture meat market”—has been opened up with portions of walls removed and greetings of “Witamy” stamped into a silhouette of the downtown skyline. Pronounced “Vit-tam-may” in Polish, or “Wit-a-me” in yinzer, it translates to “welcome.” What used to be unsaid but hopefully vaguely understood is now spray painted or posted to the walls, copies of their non-discrimination policy hang with Blek Le Rat-style stencil artwork defiantly proclaiming, “You Are Beautiful.” Little pin and stud covered case in point: the resurrected Belvie’s is still the kind of place that can appreciate the raw abrasiveness and aesthetic of
ultra dive a band like the Anti-Nowhere League, but still had no reservations about canceling their show there in June for being homophobic assholes. Alexis Cromer is pretty much the opposite of my bro angel. Currently serving as security, bar-back, and sound tech—and aspiring to be “this generation’s female Steve McQueen”—Alexis found 80s Night in the aftermath of a divorce and found her calling there during the Occupy Pittsburgh demonstration in 2011. Tasked with the challenging gray areas of maintaining safety in the Occupy camp, Alexis started taking refuge in Belvedere’s in her downtime, and eventually became the first female member of the bar’s security team. “Some people got jobs there because their roommates slept through their first day of work, and they happened to be the person who picked up the phone when we called. If someone was a problem, sometimes they’d just adopt the problem, and there wasn’t a problem anymore. It was the only time I cried in a bar and the bartenders wanted to connect with me in a caring way,” she explained, describing her gradual induction into the staff family. Alexis has a uniquely warm-butimposing presence and physicality...and draws power from a love of rowdy dancing and a badass Red Sonja tattoo. Recognizing the need for security to have a female presence on the dance floor, Alexis would prove so effective the team has included three other women to help ensure everyone present can be guaranteed a vital standard of safety and respect. Like most of her co-workers, people in bands or making art or both, Alexis is currently publishing a zine titled Brain Drain between playing games of punk rock baseball for the Allegheny A’s. “I’m planning on going to L.A. for stunt driving school, and maybe making it to Hawaii to get showered with babes in a tropical jungle,” she said. It wouldn’t be the first time she, and many others, left Butler Street to chase adventure. “The relationships are the most important thing here. Friends leave, friends come back, we share the work and make a place for people,” she said. Before the 16-month renovation downtime, Alexis had taken leaves of absence to travel on “poster tour” (selling posters at colleges around the country) as well as working a seasonal beet harvest. More recently, she also filled in behind the desk at East Liberty’s Ace Hotel. Experience working security at Belvie’s helped her get the job there, “and I got health insurance,” she said. Outside of knowing how much I enjoy a good cartoon reference, there was no kidding around when she proclaimed 2016 to be the “Summer of Alexis.”
As the roller derby and DJed dance nights are making their triumphant returns, Alexis decided to expand her jack-ofall-trades role to sound engineering for Belvedere’s first post-fire live show with Mongolian folk-metal act Tengger Cavalry. “We were unwrapping cords, and I realized our hands were getting dirty, and I grabbed my friend and said, ‘This is ash. Ash from the bar. This, this was our bar,’ and we just had this moment,” she said. As much as we both love pop culture, I could tell this wasn’t the time to make a Bart-Simpson-neverwashing-his-hand-Laura-Powers-spit-in joke—that moment really did mean a lot to her.
Thanks for sticking it out and coming back. There’s a whole new generation in Pittsburgh who needs a place to have their “moments”—and as good as the old stories are, the future has more value than the legend.
have you tried...
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
1. N eshaminy Creek | Croydon Cream Ale
2. T roegs | Solid Sender
Sometimes beers get a bad rap. Take the elegantly simple cream ale. In theory, a cream ale takes all the light, crisp ingredients usually found in a light lager and ferments them with an ale yeast, lending a slightly fruitier, full-bodied taste. But in the back of everyone’s mind is that staleass Genny Cream Ale you stole from the back of Uncle Randy’s beer fridge when you were 14. Get over that stigma, that was a stale beer and you were 14, and your opinion on beer was that of a 14 year-old. So what’s good in this cream ale then? It’s Lawnmower Beer. Says so right on the can. Don’t have a lawn? Fine, fishing beer, porch beer, it’s hot and beer is cold beer. It’s pale goldenrod in color, it smells like fresh cut pears, honeysuckle and lavender. It’s light on the tongue, it’s light on the bitterness, and tastes like red skinned apples and toasted sourdough bread. It’s beer for when you just want to drink a beer and not have to think about how it scores on a true Bayesian estimate formula used by the Internet Movie Database for calculating average ratings.
It’s been awfully weird watching breweries grow up lately. Gone are the Brewery Name, Beer Style beers. Every label has to tell a story. Pale Ale isn’t enough to get the beer off the shelf and into the belly. We need whimsy, we need romanced, the can needs to ask the consumer “Come on buddy, what’s it gonna take to get you to drink me tonight?”. Troegs took that, along with a complete overhaul of all their branding, as an excuse to freshen up their venerable Pale Ale. A little tweak of the hopping here, back off the sweetness here, maybe a little bit more hop tweaking and hey look, Solid Sender! For the most part I like what they’ve done here, swapping the dank Simcoe hops out with the fruitier and recent crowd favorite Mosaic gives a soft, inviting fruity aroma of creamy blueberries and papaya. Lightening up the crystal malt a touch leaves a much cleaner sweetness that compliments the hops, rather than fights them. All in all, a kinder gentler pale ale than the Pale Ale it replaces.
4.2% Cream Ale - neshaminycreekbrewing.com
Recommended if you you like: Rivertowne - Babbling Blonde, Ballast Point - California Kolsch, East End - C.R.E.A.M., Brew Gentlemen Carnegie Premium.
5.2% Pale Ale - troegs.com
Recommended if you like: Sierra Nevada - Pale Ale, Green Flash - 30th Street Pale Ale, Founders - Mosaic Promise, Grist House - Horizon Shine.
Words Hart Johnson Photo Tim Burns
3. G oose Island | Four Star Pils
4. East End | Bourbon Barrel Aged Gratitude
I thought I had this beer review written before I drank the beer. Goose Island takes a tried and true Pils recipe and hands it off to the Anheuser Busch brewers at Ft. Collins, CO and/or Baldwinsville, NY and boosh we get a killer mass market pilsner at killer mass market prices! This is neither here nor there. I mean, this is a perfectly acceptable beer, just don’t bring a beer with Pils on the label and a declaration of wanting to be “the best beer you drink” to the land Pennsylvania, Land Of The Best Pilsners On The Planet. Trademark. This is a fine beer, a nice deep golden color that would allure your average Yuengling Lager fan. Soft hop flavor, subtle wheat sweetness and a yeast fruitiness that could probably sway a Shock Top or Blue Moon drinker into taking off the “I only drink wheat beer” blinders. And hey, maybe just enough lingering bitterness that some asshole on the internet won’t put the brewery on blast for calling it a pilsner. Or not.
Let us just cut right to the chase. East End makes one of the greatest Barleywines in the world. Full Stop. If by chance you still have a 2005 Red Waxed bottle, you could probably trade that to a Zuul worshipper for a new house or three. On the other hand, this shit is in our backyard, just go drink it and forget about trade value. So what is it? A big English style of beer, all the best malt, all the best hops, extended aging and something special. Gratitude has always been a huge toffee flavored malt bomb with trailing bitterness. And then almost a year spent in bourbon barrels. Hoooooooooooboy. That barrel note grabs you right by the nose, every manner of the caramelized sugar rainbow wrapped in a vanilla bean thai stick and just jammed up each nostril. Oof and that red twizzler note, I like that one. This is a monstrous beverage: candied apple, English hops, chewy bourbon soaked oak, layers of delicious malt upon layers of delicious malt upon, hey, a little hop bitterness. World. Class. Shit.
Recommended if you like: Yuengling - IPL, Pilsner Urquell, Block House IPL, Whitehorse - Pilsner, Roundabout - Polish Hill Pilsner
Recommended if you like: Alesmith - Barrel Aged Old Numbskull, Victory - Oak Horizontal, Arcadia - Cereal Killer, Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Bigfoot.
5.1% Pilsner - gooseisland.com
11.5% Barleywine - eastendbrewing.com
5. H itchhiker | Trial By Fire
6.3% Saison - hitchhikerbrewing.com
Not sure if you’ve picked up the theme of this issue’s review, but it’s all about cans. Sometimes finding a local independent brewery that cans beer is a tough task, unless there’s Crowlers. Basically a 32 oz, cannedto-order growler. But in a can. It’s a neat little thing, a growler to go, but in a can. There are a handful of places to get these: Hough’s in Greenfield, Independent in Squirrel Hill, East End Brewing in Larimer, Pig Iron in Cranberry, and Hitchhiker Brewing in Mt. Lebanon. All the growler warnings come with it, drink it as soon as possible, keep it cold, don’t duct tape 2 of them to your hands then try to fight your dog. Upside: no broken glass whenever you inevitably break that last rule, fall out of your hammock, and crush both cans off your forehead. Hooray, no catastrophic blood loss! So anyway, about this saison. Probably the only beer, in name at least, to last the two years of Hitchhiker’s life thus far. A blend of French and Belgian Farmhouse yeasts throws the trademark juicy fruit gum dryness but still leaves enough malt character to keep it from being bone dry. There’s a nice herbal bitterness for a moment before more the yeast character comes through. A damn fine hammock beer, just hide the duct tape from yourself. Recommended if you like: East End - Premiere Saison, Epic - Straight Up Saison, Yards - Saison, Lavery - Liopard Oir, Spoonwood - Elise.
6. S weetwater | Goin’ Coastal 6.1% Pineapple IPA - sweetwaterbrew.com
Who isn’t brewing an IPA with some sort of fruit added to it these days? Dummies, that’s who. Sure, Joe Beer Drinker says they’re over the citrus IPA fad, Sam Beer Seller says your dollars tell a different tale. Sure, it’s a short lived fad based on ADD A WORD TO IPA. Who could forget the summers of Black IPA, White IPA, Red IPA and Session IPA? It’s a fun fad, live it up before the Hazy IPA wars of 2017 send us back to hating everything. Pineapple is the dark horse candidate in the fruited IPA debates, everyone is so quick to focus on blood orange, grapefruit and tangerine bombast they forgot to complement the hops and ask them about their day. Sweetwater may have brewed the first complementary fruited IPA. There’s a hint of sweetened pineapple juice on the nose, but it complements the mango and dried apricot hop aromas. Juicy on the palate without being fruit juice, this is a fairly sweeter IPA with low bitterness and lots of tropical fruit hop flavor before the obvious pineapple flashes in to say hello before the bitterness finally appears on the tongue. A nice break from the over the top fruit flavored IPAs. Recommended if you like: Ballast Point - Pineapple Sculpin, Green Flash Tangerine Soul Style, Flying Dog - Bloodline, Heavy Seas - TropiCannon.
7. Terrapin Moo-Hoo | Chocolate Milk Stout
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
6.0% Stout - terrapinbeer.com
The adjunct stout category is fantasy football statistics of beer. We get it, you took a really sweet, really strong, really dark beer, aged it in maple syrup barrels, added maraschino cherries, aged that entire concoction in an abandoned Starbucks store inside a former salt mine and then set 50% of the batch on fire as directed by Zuul. Most of us lose track because we don’t care that much, the rest of us are lost when we see 500 heavy breathers taking their pants off over a 100 bottle release. Beer is more fun to drink than talk about, and man, unless there’s unlimited free beers in that pantsless line of can’t actually buy any beer, why are you waiting in line for beer? Anyway, the Zuul worshiping pantless line waiters describe beer you can actually drink as “Shelf Turds.” I don’t know, they just hate everything. So, Moo-Hoo is in fact a Shelf Turd, as you can
actually buy it. And drink it. Like a beer. But it has delicious things in it, like lactose sugar which lends a nice residual sweetness and cacao nibs which contribute a real chocolate flavor. You know, real chocolate, not Hershey’s Syrup. And it’s also a nice reasonable 6.1% so you can actually drink it yourself without having to summon 16 other Zuulers for an epic Tuesday night bottle share. Recommended if you like: Duck Rabbit - Milk Stout, Sierra Nevada/ Ninkasi - Double Latte, Bell’s - Double Cream Stout, Dark Horse - Too Cream Stout, Hop Farm - Chocolate Cherry Stout.
8. E vil Twin | Sour Bikini 3% Sour Pale Ale - eviltwin.dk
Part of the explosive growth of good beer lately has been the ability to buy almost all the beer almost anywhere. For example, Evil Twin. Up until very recently, you had to go to another state to find this gypsy brewer’s beers on a shelf. Now? If you don’t see it, you need to tell your local to get on the ball. This besmirched twin of the infamous Mikkiller Brewing takes his brewing needs to, well, just about any brewery with extra capacity, slaps a visually appealing label on it and sums up young urban white people suffering with each label. Christmas Eve At A New York City Hotel Room? Biscotti Break? 35 variants of Hipster Ale? Ryan & The Gosling Ale? I’d get all old school beer judgey wudgey if the beer didn’t suck. And the beer doesn’t suck. And Sour Bikini is so stinking good. It is in fact that beer you want after you just mowed the lawn in 90° heat. The beer you want after a long bike ride up these damn Pittsburgh hills. The beer you want after a run in this soupy humidity. It’s like someone took your favorite session IPA then blended it with a ridiculously tart lemonade. And it’s low alcohol, so you don’t need to feel like an absolute drunkard when the first can goes down faster than Sonny Liston. Recommended if you like: Bell’s - Oarsman, Church Brew Works - Spring Hill Sour, Roundabout - Intersection, Thirsty Dog - Berliner Weisse.
9. S ly Fox | Grisette
5.6% Saison - slyfoxbeer.com
You never forget your firsts. August 2013. My first canned saison. Camping outside Ommegang Brewery, playing my first ever rounds of cornhole with the fine folks of Hough’s, and they hand me a can of Sly Fox Grisette. Canned beer hadn’t quite reached the point of acceptance, there were a couple pale ales, maybe an IPA or 2, but canned beer wasn’t the cool thing yet. But I loved everything about canned beer, no worries about broken glass, cools faster, and no need for Jedi Bic lighter bottle opener tricks if you somehow lost your keys in a foggy tent. But a Saison in a can, shit man, that’s sacrilege. Unless it tastes good. And hey, 100 years ago, some farm hand in Tourpes probably turned his nose up the first time Dupont bottled their beer. Times change. Sly Fox was well ahead of the canned beer curve, Phoenix Pale Ale and Pikeland Pils were among the first Pennsylvania craft beers in cans. Throwing a sessionable saison into cans was a damn gamble. Nowadays? Sweet, another killer beer in a can. Grisette follows the Western Belgian Saison saison map. Golden in color, ripe aromas of stale baseball gum, fresh hay and herbal hops. Lively and bubbly mouthfeel, fruity banana and juicy fruit gum sweetness at first and then drying out with beautiful saison yeast dryness. Recommended if you like: Saison Dupont, Stone/Dogfish Head/ Victory - Saison du BUFF, Ommegang - Hennepin, Insurrection Invisible Swordsman.
Follow Hart on Twitter, not Twiiter. @MoarHops
HA ND- CRA F T E D A RT ISA N A LE S NO W O PE N WIT H A F ULL SCRA T CH MEN U
cooking with beer
Words Mindy Heisler-Johnson
any, many moons ago a friend of mine invited me to one of those food parties, you know the kind—where a bunch of folks, usually women, get together and eat all sorts of dips and things made with enough mayo/sour cream/cream cheese to kill a small island nation? One of those. It was fun, mainly because you will never hear me complain about beer/wine food parties with friends, but rarely do I buy or find anything of real interest at any of these; I’m a chef, so I don’t really do premade anything. But there was this beer bread. It was delicious. And then I looked at the price—$7 for a loaf of beer bread. Uh, no. I don’t care how good it is. And the ingredient list was mostly absurd. It was good, no doubt, but a definite valuefor-dollar issue there. But it is good. There is just no way that there’s $7 worth of anything in that box. So, I started playing around. The husband has a homebrewed IPA on tap—a fairly aggressive west coaststyle one—absolutely perfect for making multiple batches of beer bread until the recipe, consisting of 5 ingredients, was perfected. Recipe development, it’s a torturous process of eating delicious beer bread!
The recipe couldn’t be any easier. You need a standard loaf pan, a mixing bowl, and a couple utensils. The recipe makes one loaf. Adjust accordingly to make more.
• 2 cups self-rising flour • 1 cup all purpose flour • 2 Tbsp sugar • 6 Tbsp melted butter divided (two go in the pan, two go in the dough, two go on top) • 12 oz west coast IPA or other beer
Heat your oven to 425F. Melt the butter in the pan. Then, take a 5-minute break. It takes longer to heat the oven than to mix the dough. You can’t throw it in early and it’s best to get it directly into the oven once it’s mixed. Welcome back! Whisk together the two flours and sugar until combined. Add the beer and two Tbsp butter and fold together until mostly combined. You don’t want to really work the dough a lot, about 24 turns and it should be all combined with not big dry spots. Pour two Tbsp of butter into the bottom of the loaf pan, spread the dough evenly across the bottom, drizzle the top with the remaining two Tbsp of butter, and pop it in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The loaf will be just golden and spring back when pressed in the center. Place it on a rack and wait until it’s cool enough to slice. I’ve been known to cover it with shredded sharp cheddar while baking to give it a crispy cheese crust. Or you can brush it with melted garlic butter as soon as it gets out of the oven. Feel free to add some fresh chopped herbs into the batter. What I’m getting at is how versatile this recipe can be. Enjoy!
e s i t r adve
! R E HE
The bread is moist and dense. I always use big-flavored beers when making it so the taste and aroma is pronounced in the baked loaf, but you can make this with any kind of beer. I’ve made a sweeter loaf with oatmeal stout, a fruit loaf with a raspberry lambic, and even used Straub, but my go-to is usually an IPA, preferably one with some tropical fruit and floral notes. I think that gives the bread the best overall flavor for use with savory dips and spreads like beer cheese dip, hummus, or artichoke dip just to name a few of my favorites.
The Devil is in the Details Belgian Golden Strong Ale
CraftPittsburgh | Issue 26
Beer styles. There are lots of ‘em.
Each is a set of parameters that defines a type of beer. Within each category there exist many individual beers that all exemplify the style. Within some categories, though, one individual beer serves as the example of the style. There are a lot of saisons, but Saison Dupont is the classic example. Plenty of craft breweries make a California Common, but Anchor Steam is the style’s flag bearer. There are many good ales that can be classified as a Belgian Golden Strong, but only Duvel can be called the Belgian Golden Strong ale. A strong ale, high in alcohol, it is not hot or solventy. The alcohol is warming and smooth. It features prominent yeast-produced esters and phenols, but they are well balanced and not overbearing. Finally, the beer is extremely dry, crisp, and refreshing. A terminal gravity as high as even 1.010 will result in a BGS that’s just too sweet and not as enjoyable as it should be. Brewing a Duvel-like beer is a common goal for many homebrewers. Like so many classic beers, the recipe is ridiculously simple yet brewing a
good one can remain elusive. The devil really is in the details—the brewing-process details. Pilsner malt, sugar, noble hops, Belgian yeast. That’s it. Sounds simple, but since most of this beer’s flavor profile is fermentation-derived, if your fermentation process is not spot-on your beer won’t be either. All of the following facets must be controlled to produce a great Belgian Golden Strong ale: (1) wort fermentability, (2) yeast strain selection, (3) yeast pitch rate, (4) wort oxygenation, (5) fermentation temperature control, and (6) sugar additions. Wort fermentability: A judicious application of table sugar—up to 30% of the total fermentables—is important. Sugar boosts alcohol without adding body to the beer. It’s 100% fermentable so it will not contribute to the final gravity. Even still, the malt needs to be mashed at a low temperature for a long time to produce as much yeast-food and as few dextrins as possible. I like 147F. Mash for 90 minutes to ensure you get complete conversion. Use a slightly runnier water-to-grist ratio than normal to help produce a less dextrinous wort. I like 1.75 quarts per pound. Stirring the mash a couple times during the 90 minutes helps reach these goals as well. Yeast strain selection: Any of the Belgian strong ale or Trappist strains available on the market will work well here, but if you are aiming to produce something akin to Duvel you should use WLP570
Words Jack Smith
Fermentation temperature control: This is a big beer, so you need to keep alcohol formation in check during the early stages lest it come out solventy. During the growth phase—the first couple of days after pitching—is when most of the flavor is produced, good and bad. Nothing allows the bad flavors to get out of hand quite like fermenting hot from the get-go. So start fermentation cool, about 65F, and hold it there until fermentation is well underway. Don’t worry, the Belgian yeast will produce plenty of “Belgian” character at this temperature. Once fermentation is off and running, then you need to ensure the beer ferments fully and finishes as dry as possible. We’re looking for a final gravity of about 1.004. Raising the temperature regularly throughout fermentation will help us reach this goal without producing a hot, fusel, overly-phenolic beer. We want temps to reach the upper 70s or low 80s as fermentation finishes up, but if we start that warm the beer will be off-putting.
Belgian Golden Ale Yeast from White Labs. This yeast is highly attenuative, meaning it will really dry the beer out, and it produces plenty of the ripe apple and pear esters with a complimenting white pepper phenol. Yeast pitch rate: I always use a yeast calculator to figure out what size starter to make for every beer I brew. For 5.25 gallons of 1.079 ale you need about 285 Bn yeast cells. You could pitch four or five packs of yeast but making a yeast starter is more economical and it ensures the cells you pitch are healthy, active, ready to go. It will take a 2-2.5L starter on a stir plate to get the right amount of yeast. If you skip the starter and pitch a single vial your beer will have significant off flavors—fusel alcohols, elevated phenol levels, and probably acetaldehyde as well. Wort oxygenation: When yeast is stressed it produces flavors you don’t want in your beer, especially if it’s during their “growth phase” between the time you add it to your wort and when fermentation is really rocking along. During this time the cells reproduce rapidly to ensure there are enough hands on deck to consume all the sugar in their environment. The higher the OG, the more they reproduce, and the more they reproduce the more O2 they need. Splashing the wort before pitching works OK for session ales fermented with neutral yeast strains, but big Belgian beers really need pure O2 to reach their full flavor potential without being overly stressed.
Sugar additions: Three and a half pounds is a lot of sugar. It would be easiest to add it to the boil and let the yeast go to work on it along with the maltose from the pilsner malt. But if you do, your yeast will acclimate to fermenting simple sugar and might not fully ferment the maltose. To prevent this, it’s best to get the yeast started on the harder-to-ferment maltose, then feed them sugar for dessert. I like to add the sugar in three additions, one per day, starting when the fermentation has made it past its peak—usually around day four or five after pitching. We’re using table sugar, but you don’t want to pour crystalline sugar into the fermenter; it will just fall to the bottom and the yeast won’t get to it as easily. Instead, make a heavy syrup with one part dechlorinated water to two parts sugar. Bring it to a boil on the stovetop to fully dissolve the sugar, chill it, then add it to your fermenter. I stir the fermenter gently prior to pouring it in so the light whirlpool action helps mix it in.
The Devil Is In the Details Belgian Golden Strong Ale Batch Size: 5.25 gal. Boil Time: 90 minutes OG: 1.080 FG: 1.004 ABV: 10% IBU: 30 SRM: 3-4 Difficulty: Moderate (require precise fermentation temperature control) *Assuming 75% brewhouse efficiency
Grainbill 10 lbs P ilsner malt—preferably Belgian or French, but German is OK 3lb 8 oz table sugar *Extract Brewers: Replace the Pilsner malt with 6 lbs of the lightest dry pilsner malt extract you can find. If you can find German DME it will provide a more accurate flavor profile than American. Boil the DME & hops as you typically do. Add the sugar to the fermenter as described below.
Hops N’At 70 grams Saaz (3% AA) @ 90 minutes
Mash, Boil, Steeping Grains Mash the pilsner malt at 147F for 90 minutes to ensure you produce a highly fermentable wort. After vorlauf, sparge, and lautering, boil for 90 minutes, adding the hops right at the onset of boil. Do not add the sugar to the boil. Add it to the fermenting beer in installments as described above.
Yeast/Fermentation WLP570 Belgian Golden Ale. Pitch at 65F and hold it there until fermentation gets going (should be within 24 hours if you oxygenated well and pitched a big healthy starter’s worth of yeast), then begin ramping the temperature up 1F every 12 hours until you get to about 78-80F. It should take a week to complete the ramping schedule. Hold it there until fermentation is complete, wait a few more days for the yeast to really finish up, then cool, package, carbonate to 3.5 volumes or more, and serve.
Suggested Pairings A well made, dry, crisp, fruity, somewhat spicy, effervescent golden ale such as this one is truly Champagne-like and works well in place of dry sparkling white wine—as an apéritif along with rich, creamy cheese such as brie or funky washedrind cheese. It’s a perfect partner for a bright seafood dish such as halibut or cod with lemon and herbs over lemon rice. Many Indian and Thai restaurants are BYOB, and your homebrewed Belgian Golden Strong ale pairs very well with almost everything on the menu there, so why not take a few bottles along with you? A homebrewer since 2002, Jack Smith is a National BJCP Judge, the president of the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers, and an active member of the Three Rivers Underground Brewers.
I like to give a big beer like this 120 seconds of O2 just prior to pitching the yeast.
Follow him on Twitter @whenyeastattack 45
FAT TIRE & FRIENDS COLLABEERATION NOW AVAILABLE
In celebration of our 25th year brewing Fat Tire, we set out to create a commemorative collection worthy of honoring our flagship brand. We asked some of our brewery friends to put their own spin on this amber classic. Grab one and join us in celebrating a quarter-century of beer and bikes. Meet the crew at NewBelgium.com/FatPack.
HOPWORKS URBAN BREWERY
NEW BELGIUM BREWING
FAT SOUR APPLE ALE
FAT TIRE AMBER ALE A perfect balance of biscuity malt flavor and hoppy freshness.
Belgian-Style XPA with bready-sweet malts and fruity, vinous hops.
ALLAGASH BREWING COMPANY
FIRESTONE WALKER BREWING CO
AVERY BREWING COMPANY
Classic pear, banana and spice alongside malty goodness.
A hoppy amber with amplified American hop aroma and flavor.
A sturdy malt backbone, fruity hop aroma and a tropical pineapple layer.
A slightly sour ale with a snap of apple tartness.
FAT FUNK ALE
FAT HOPPY ALE
FAT TIRE & FRIENDS IS BREWED AND BOTTLED BY NEW BELGIUM BREWING
FAT PALE ALE
FAT WILD ALE
FORT COLLINS, CO & ASHEVILLE, NC
THE WAIT IS FINALLY OVER!
NOW AVAILABLE IN WESTERN PA BEGINNING IN AUGUST
Published on Jul 11, 2016