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You can do it! From the backyard BBQ to the top of a mountain, cans are the perfect vessel for ice cold thirst quenchers. From our sessionable Tangier IPA to our double 2XIPA, weâ€™ve got a canned brew for every occasion. Cheers!
table of contents editor’s notes upcoming events the joy of brewery visits style profile - collaboration beers hand crafted - studebaker metals the art of drinking craft beer and the second tier trash xxvii under construction - hitchhiker brewing the hoppy couple - d’s sixpax & dogz pcbw wrap-up collection - jerry lorenz mobile canning have you tried... brewer sit-down - jason oliver cooking with beer - braised trout home brewing - quick lager success what’s brewing? - conversion page
5. 6. 7. 8. 10. 12. 14. 18. 20. 26. 28. 32. 34. 38. 40. 42. 44. 46.
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Andy Kron from Rivertowne chucking kegs at this years Brewer’s Olympics. Photo by Jeff Zoet, courtesy of The Pittsburgh Craft Beer Alliance.
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
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BEER WEEK, COMICS, AND PIZZA • Cheers to the board members, breweries, restaurants, and bars that made Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week possible this year. Organizing a week-long event of that size, with that many moving parts isn’t easy. PCBW is run by The Pittsburgh Craft Beer Alliance, a group of volunteers who at the end of the day just love good beer and love this city. I believe they all do their best to organize a week-long showcase of our rapidly growing and changing beer scene. There’s no book or YouTube tutorial on how to run a successful beer week, I checked. It’s trial and error and you’re probably going to unintentionally upset some people along the way. If you’re one of the people unhappy with this year’s changes, I think you should share your opinions with the board. If you’re happy with this year’s changes, I think you should share your opinion with the board. Like anything else, feedback both negative and positive is how things grow and get better. Thank you again to everyone involved and everyone that came out to support local business and celebrate good beer. You can check out our annual photo wrap-up on page 28.
GOVERNMENT WARNING:(1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.
Brewed and Bottled by Helltown Brewing LLC Mount Pleasant, PA 15666 12 FL. OZ.
• Our friends at New Dimension Comics and Helltown Brewing teamed up again this year to brew a custom beer for 3 Rivers Comicon featuring label art from Mark Waid’s Irredeemable. Beeredeemable: An Irredeemable Russian Imperial Stout with a portion aged in whiskey barrels and blended into the batch. This beer will only be made exclusively for 3 Rivers Comicon and New Dimension Comics, but a handful of bars will offer it on tap about a month before the Comicon on a May 20-21. For more details on 3 Rivers Comicon and the beer check out 3riverscomicon.com.
• Congratulations to Nick and the Caliente team for another round of huge wins at The International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. Bringing home gold in the largest dough stretch competition, 1st place in the Northeast Nontraditional Division, and 1st place in the Northeast Traditional Division. Head to your nearest Caliente location for great beer and to try the award winning recipes. Cheers,
D O O G Y Z A R C ENJOY D N A B U R G B U P G N I N N I W D AWAR ! R E E B S ’ D A FAT HE Original Smoked Wings • Salads Headwiches • Munchies • Burgers Growlers • 42 Beers On Tap
4, 6 & 12 Packs • Great Grub To Go!
upcoming events Check out CraftPittsburgh.com for even more events and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. May • Mondays Free Play Cornhole @ Copper Kettle - 4pm-9pm • 5 Mars Brewfest @ Mars, PA • 13 Beers of the Burgh @ Carrie Furnace • 15-21 American Craft Beer Week • 17 Sewickley Country Brew & BBQ @ Downtown Sewickley • 19 Ed Bailey: Still Standing @ Pittsburgh Improv • 20 3 Rivers Comicon Beer Bottle Release @ West Mifflin • 20 Puppy Hour @ Grist House • 21 III - Third Anniversary Bottle Release @ Brew Gentlemen • 24 Raise a Glass to Auberle Foster Care @ Smallman Galley • 25 Underwear Bike Ride - Penn Brewery @ 46th & Butler • 26 Bakery Summer Kick-Off @ Bakery Square • 26 Tapping Party: Malta Picante! @ Rock Bottom • 28 Open Streets Block Party @ Piper’s Pub
June • 5 Moos & Brews Pairing Class @ Hitchhiker Brewing • 17 Arts N’ Drafts Handmade Market @ Rivertowne Brewing • 17 Beer & Gear Fest @ Ohiopyle • 25 King of the Wing @ Penn Brewery
July • 1 Frosty Mugs of Thunder Brewfest @ Somerset Historical Cntr • 14 Deutschtown Music Festival @ Deutschtown • 14-15 PGH Summer Beerfest @ Stage AE • 15 Bike n’ Brew Festival @ Oil City, PA • 22 Arts N’ Drafts Handmade Market @ Rivertowne Brewing
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
• 22 Beer on the Bay @ Erie Bayfront at Liberty Park
August • 5 Slippery Rock Brewfest @ Slippery Rock, PA • 12 State College Brew Expo @ Tussey Mountain Ski Area • 19-20 Corks & Kegs Festival @ Meadows Racetrack & Casino • 26 9th Annual BrewersFest @ Cooper’s Lake
Words Brian Meyer Photos Mike Weiss
THE JOY OF
Breweries are magical places.
Sure, you can get beer from your local bar, restaurant, or distributor, but there’s something wonderful about drinking a beer in the place it was thought up, crafted, fermented, and poured just for you. That holistic approach to beer is something that must be experienced to be truly understood. Thankfully, with the more than 30 breweries in and around Pittsburgh, it’s never been easier to get out and visit the brewery where your favorite local beer is brewed. On the surface, this seems like a real no-brainer. Just drive to the brewery, order a beer, and bask in the glory that is brewing. In reality, most breweries are not much different than a local bar when it comes to drinking a beer at them. The brewhouse is rarely open to the public for several reasons both for your safety and the safety of the beer, and brewers are even less available for general questions and conversation. In other words, your dream of visiting the brewery can easily turn into a glorified bar trip. Some breweries set up scheduled tours of the brewery, which are led by the brewer him or herself or another skilled brewery employee, and while great, they’re not always easy to come by. Even if you get into tour one brewery, getting to a second, or even third brewery in the same day while still safely driving to each is nearly impossible. As much as it doesn’t sound fun, responsibility really does have to fit into craft beer fun whether we like it or not.
With an afternoon or evening of drinking ahead of you, a good brew tour should have a stop that includes food, and extra bonus points if the food is from one of the breweries. Finally, the tour guides need to know their stuff, and need to love the beer they’re taking you to enjoy. There’s a lot more that can make a brew tour great, but without these basics you’re better off driving yourself to one solid brewery and making it count. Thankfully, with the recent launch of City Brew Tours, these requirements and more seem to be second nature. With branches in five other U.S. cities, City Brew Tours knows their beer, and knows how to set up a solid tour. Speaking from experience, I recently took one of their tours which made stops at four local breweries in Pittsburgh. Each stop we learned about the brewing process at that specific brewery, got to experience pre-planned samples of beer at each, and got to have some fun talking beer with our tour guide. Overall, it was a great experience, especially the beer and food pairing lunch at Hop Farm. While those of us well-versed in craft beer may not learn a lot from the base-level beer facts, seeing how each brewery handles the art of creating beer is worth the trip, and getting to hit up four breweries in one day without driving to any of them is simply amazing. While there are a few brew tours in and around Pittsburgh, City Brew Tours just launched here, and they’re definitely worth checking out. You can find out more about them and book a tour at citybrewtours.com/Pittsburgh.
The Brew Tour
So, what makes a brew tour great? First and foremost comes the breweries. Unlike when you’re the one driving, a brew tour should make stops at no less than three breweries to make them worth your while. Each stop should have some time for you to kick back with a few beers as well as an introduction to the business and the art of brewing, ideally from the brewer him or herself.
More Local Brew Tours • P A Brew Tours
• Porter Craft Beer Tours porter.tours
•V antasic Limo Brews Cruise vantastic-limo.com
The goal is to experience craft beer locally the best way possible, and to do this, you have to start removing the bad variables and adding in some assurances. The best way to do this is to check out a local brew tour. These brew buses and craft conveyances exist to get the beer loving public the best experience possible with beer and brewing while keeping everyone safe.
style profile Words Brian Meyer
BEERS Craft beer isn’t as big as you think it is. Before you denounce me as a blasphemer, hear me out. Craft beer as an industry only represents around 12 percent of the total beer sold in the United States. In other words, there are thousands of craft breweries all competing for what is, truthfully, a very small market share. This isn’t meant to say that craft breweries aren’t important, but rather the opposite. Craft breweries today represent the lion’s share of innovation, experimentation, and engagement that you’ve surely experienced.
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
With competition this high, you would expect these breweries to fight tooth and nail to get their part of that small market share. Look at literally any other industry and you’ll find competition at a fever point. Car manufacturers, smart phone makers, and video game designers all protect their secrets with technology to rival a Tom Cruise-esque Impossible Mission. While you may have to hang from a ceiling to sneak a peek at the Colonel’s seven herbs and spices, that just doesn’t exist in the world of craft beer.
While secrecy and competition seems to be inherent in every other market as tight as the beer industry, it’s almost like someone forgot to tell craft brewers they were supposed to compete. Instead, brewers locally and nationally work with one another in a variety of ways, from lending ingredients to brewing special beers with a team of “competing” brewers. This attitude of comradery has given the craft beer industry a feeling of friendship and family that simply isn’t found anywhere else. Looking locally, the best example of craft brewer collaboration is seen with the annual release of the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week Collaboration Beers. Since the inception of PCBW six years ago, collaboration beers have been an integral part of the week, showcasing the skill and inventiveness of our
local brewers while giving us, the beer-loving public, a bevy of beers that are brewed for the week, and are typically consumed with consummate fervor shortly thereafter. Looking nationally, examples of collaboration beers have been available for years, but recently there has been a definite uptick in the availability of these multi-brewer beverages. Given the question of how important collaboration beers are to the craft beer community as a whole, 21st Amendment’s Shaun O’Sullivan said: “I think it’s vital and an important part of our community. It speaks to the early days of craft beer when we were struggling and needed a helping hand with a missing hop or absent malt, or the frequent answer to a brewing dilemma or even to borrow equipment. We were all in this together.
Aside from the creative endeavor of getting together, coming up with a recipe and collaborating, the social aspect is fantastic. We all get along for the most part, we’re generally a pretty congenial group. The collaborations we do are with people and groups that I genuinely respect and like to be around. From a marketing and branding perspective, if it helps to expose your brand to another group that may have never tried your beer before, it’s a very good thing.” This sentiment is shared by most craft brewers, and is the core of the craft beer community. Collaborating on beers is more than just good for business, it’s fun. Where else can you hang out with like-minded business owners and make something that’s both delicious and profitable? The first example of a marketable collaboration beer is commonly believed to be the 2006 collaboration between California’s Russian River Brewery
and Colorado’s Avery Brewing Co. Their “Collaboration Not Litigation” beer was brewed to not only expose Russian River to the larger market that Avery had access to, but to show that competing businesses could work together. While this seems normal today, in 2006 it was hard enough to get people to know what craft beer was, let alone that these small breweries could actually work together.
More Than Just Breweries
Collaborations don’t stop with breweries, mind you. Everyone from clothing companies to television shows have collaborated with breweries on new and interesting brews. Take for example Brewery Ommegang in New York and their collaboration with the hit HBO show Game of Thrones. These beers were brewed and given names to coincide with aspects of the show and to promote both the brewery and the show to fans of either or as well as both. Back to 21st Amendment, their collaboration with an oyster company might be one of the more offthe-wall examples of the collaboration trend, and is one that resulted in a surprisingly solid beer. Again, from O’Sullivan: “If I were pressed to pick a favorite collaboration, I’d have to pick the ongoing collaboration we have going with Hog Island Oyster Company just north of San Francisco. We use their SweetWater Oysters to make “Marooned on Hog Island Oyster Stout.” It was a fun project as it was outside of the normal brewery/brewery collaboration paradigm.” Again, looking locally, we have examples on breweries collaborating with non-breweries to make some great beer. Breweries like East End Brewing have worked with local distillery Wigle Whiskey in a slightly different type of collaboration. Instead of working on a single beer together, the alcohol producers traded barrels back and forth to age their beer and booze in to hatch a creation that is surprisingly unique and collaborative.
Collaboration is at the heart of craft beer, and at least for now it appears that even with the explosive growth that the craft beer industry has seen as of late, they’re only getting more prolific and better than ever, and that’s a trend we can all get behind. Brian Meyer is a beer journalist located in the greater Pittsburgh area. Find him on twitter @thebriandrinks & hire him via his business Fresh Brew Media, Inc.
Local award-winning Caliente Pizza & Draft House collaborated with Draai Laag Brewing to create a spectacular one-off sour beer that sold with equally spectacular speed. The list goes on and on, but the example here should be clear; collaborations with beer happen everywhere.
hand crafted Words Beth Kurtz Taylor Photos Buzzy Torek & Studebaker Metals
METALS Andrew Witchey aimed for a neutral brand aesthetic when planning the look of Dancing Gnome Brewery. The white subway tiles behind the bar called for a little more pizazz, so he used the space’s gold and copper accents as inspiration for the tap handles. Before brewing in Sharpsburg, Andrew was a videographer and met metalsmith Michael Studebaker while assisting with a short film about his art. He called on Michael to collaborate and design one-of-a-kind copper tap handles to grace the space.
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
Michael credits a high school art class as a major inspiration for his career path. The 2004 graduate of Woodland Hills High School took a survey class that exposed the students to fiber arts, pottery and metalworking, which captivated him. From there, he pursued an art education degree from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Again, working with metal spoke to him and following direction from an advisor, Michael decided to concentrate his academic course on metalwork and sculpture and pursue education certification at a later date.
As so many native Pittsburghers do, he came back home. After moving in with his dad and setting up a shop in the family’s basement, somewhere along the way he met and began to date Alyssa Catalano. Her background included experience in retail marketing and e-commerce for ModCloth and Urban Outfitters. A beautiful line of jewelry and sundries was emerging from Michael’s work; Alyssa saw the potential to move forward, establish the company and market his brand.
Their workshop and retail space is housed in a renovated building in Braddock. Over beers at the Brew Gentlemen, it came up that Michael and Alyssa’s expanding business needed a permanent space. Someone suggested the Free Press Building a few doors down on Braddock Avenue and the rest is history. Their eclectic collection of cuffs, rings, distinctive necklaces and sundries are on display in the rustically furnished storefront along with jewelry collections by additional artists. The work space, down a floor, is visible through large windows in the back of the room. It is here that Michael used a technique developed to form the spouts of 18th century teapots for create the conical copper tap handles. Andrew commented that each handle develops a unique patina as the copper is touched. Alyssa marketed the brand globally necessitating the hiring of more metalsmiths. The Braddock Youth Project approached Michael with a student who had an interest in metal artistry. He took Malique Dees on as an apprentice and the 21-year-old now works full-time for Studebaker and is developing his own line of clothing and belt buckles. Living in North Braddock, establishing a business in Braddock’s recovering business district, the Catalano-Studebaker family (which now includes baby Betty Louise!) invested in a community in transition. Michael stamps the word “Pittsburgh” on his pieces as a salute to his roots and the history of metalworking in his hometown. A love for his deep Pittsburgh roots is reflected in his artful work and the investment he and his family have made into the local region where he was born and raised.
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 ME N U
WWW.INSURRECTIONALEWORKS.COM HEIDELBERG, PA
T he beer from Salzburg · Austr ia
The Art of Brewing at its Highest Level.
imported by S&H Brands · www.shbrands.com · www.stiegl.at
we love pgh
the art of
Drinking BEERS AREN’T THE ONLY THINGS GETTING CRAFTY AT LOCAL BARS
It’s 7 p.m. at the Ace Hotel in East Liberty and Rachel Bateman is holding a pair of wire cutters in one hand and a Tequila Sunrise in the other. She toasts her friend Lydia Morin—who is sipping cava—and starts working. By the end of the evening, she’ll have her own himmeli air plant sculpture … and a nice buzz. This is Pop Craft, a roving workshop that sets up in local bars throughout the ‘burgh, giving folks a chance to get artistic while enjoying a cocktail or beer. The business was born out of necessity.
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
As a kid growing up in the South Hills, owner Monica Yope doodled on her bedroom walls and dazzled friends with homemade art projects. At the University of Pittsburgh, imagination took a backseat to business classes. Paintings sat unfinished. Ideas piled up on her Pinterest board. Her creative spark fizzled.
“I never made the time for crafts and I think a lot of other people were probably having the same issue,” she says. Stunted by a corporate job (where the most creative thing she did was make PowerPoint presentations), Yope decided to follow her heart and get back to her first love … art. In March 2015, the Mt. Washington resident held her first Pop Craft workshop at The BeerHive. Attendees enjoyed brews
and appetizers while screen printing à la Andy Warhol. The Strip District watering hole now opens its doors to Pop Crafters once a month. “We wanted to host these events with Monica because it was something different,” Bar Manager Kassie Lott says. “It definitely drove in new clientele for us practically overnight. Very often we have her Pop Craft customers coming back to BeerHive to hang out.” Yope usually instructs five workshops a month in hotspots such as Hough’s in Greenfield, Mt. Washington’s Bigham Tavern and TechShop in Bakery Square. The two-hour events are perfect for a girls’ night out or first date. Budding artists also can book Yope for private events including business lunches and bachelorette parties. And while most patrons are female, Yope has noticed a lot of single guys signing up. Since classes are held in bars or BYOB establishments, many of the projects have a boozy component—such as bottle openers and coasters—and incorporate materials that go beyond construction paper and glitter. “A lot of guys wouldn’t want to paint a picture, but they will work with reclaimed wood,” Yope says. “I wanted on-trend crafts using unique materials that you would actually want to make. There’s an element of personalization, too, so everyone’s finished product will look different.” In the past two years, Pop Crafters have made block prints, terrariums, geometric candle holders, gold leaf art, mosaics and wood image transfers. Prices range from $34 to $50 and include all of the materials, equipment and instructions. Artistic ability is not required. The casual atmosphere of a bar tends to loosen people up. After a drink or two, perfectionism falls by the wayside and folks focus on having fun. Additional benefits of crafting include increased happiness, reduced stress and improved self-esteem. At the Ace Hotel, people offer words of encouragement to their classmates. Friendships are forged. Another round of drinks is ordered. Laughter fills the room. Rachel Bateman and Lydia Morin hold up their air plant sculptures and smile, impressed by their handiwork.
Words Kristy Locklin
Photos Monica Yope
In addition to taking home a cool craft, attendees walk away with new skills. A few students have opened Etsy shops selling items they learned how to make in Yope’s Pop Craft workshops. “People are surprised at the end of the night when they see they’ve done an incredible job,” Yope says. For more information on Pop Craft, visit popcraftart.com.
Upcoming Workshops May 13
Wood Image Transfer @ TechShop
Screen Printing @ Bigham Tavern
Block Printing @ CREATEfest
Gold Leaf Art @ Hough’s
Hand Lettering @ BeerHive
Mosaics @ TechShop
As much as we like to think of craft brewers as Santa Claus bestowing boozy gifts that brings smiles to our faces, in reality there is no one magic individual who flies the globe, dropping six-packs down the chimneys of good little beer geeks everywhere. That beloved brewery from California, Michigan, or Colorado had to go through channels to get their labor of love onto retailers’ shelves, on taps at bars, and into your hands. Enter the beer distribution network, known in the industry as the three-tier system. Three Tiers, One Goal
In its most basic form, the three-tier system consists of:
Producers - breweries make beer and importers receive beer from overseas
Regional Wholesalers - distribute that beer to local retail accounts
Retailers - grocers, bars, bottle shops, and other venues that sell directly to consumers
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
Brewer makes beer, sells to wholesaler, who sells to retailer, who sells to consumer. Boom, boom, boom—bottoms up! Most beer drinkers are quite familiar with the first and third links in this chain. We’re well-versed in who made the beer—it’s right there on the label. We know our retailers, and probably have a short-list of favorite beer bars and bottle shops where we get our suds. Equally important, though much less lauded, are the secondtier wholesalers behind the scenes.
The Rise of Wholesalers
Along with ending Prohibition in 1933, the 21st Amendment gave authority for regulation of alcohol to the states. Nationwide, the “tied house” system—wherein brewers could own and control retail establishments— was outlawed, as it was seen as anti-competitive and a slippery slope to monopolies. The three tiers were erected to maintain independence between production, distribution, and retail, as members of one-tier are barred from owning stake in any portion of another.
The role of the wholesaler became vital by keeping in check the power of players on either side of the equation, sowing the seeds for the proliferation of small brewers and, consequently, the explosion of craft beer. Craft brewers across the country not only sought wholesalers for support in shipping, storing, and selling their beer in previously virgin territory, but also a local sales team that had their finger on the pulse of their own scene and could advocate for a higher quality product (even if it often came with a higher price tag).
If innovative brewers are the lifeblood of the craft beer movement, wholesale distributors have been the arteries. The relationship between a good brewer and a committed wholesaler can be sacred—without the right agent to get the right beer to the right people, a brewer’s vision may be only partly realized. Distribution rights are exclusive to an area (two distributors can’t sell the same brand within a single territory) and typically lifelong, meaning a brewer doesn’t jump into a relationship with a wholesale account without being absolutely sure they have their best interest at heart. And without wholesalers willing to take a chance on a brand they believe in, we’d still be stuck in a beer monoculture, far from the landscape of choice we’re used to today. Many wholesale companies are family businesses, often with multiple generations under their belts. They’re knowledgeable and passionate about the liquid—many of the Cicerones in Pittsburgh work in the second tier. They care about the product they represent, and they bust their asses to give good beer the audience it deserves. The Greater Pittsburgh area is covered by six wholesalers, representing, on a local level, the scores of brands that make it to our shores.
breweries and importers
TIER WHOLESALERS regional wholesale distributors
YOU THE CONSUMER
restaurants, grocers, bars, bottle shops, sub-distributors, and other venues
Galli Beer Distributing Co. NEW KENSINGTON
• F ounded in: 1926 by John Galli, Sr. •N ow owned by: his grandsons, John Jr., Andrew, and Louis • First craft brand in portfolio: F.X. Matt Brewing (maker of Saranac), in the early 1990’s •O ther brands include: Green Flash, Blue Point, Cascade, Epic, Alpine, Bullfrog, Destihl, SlyFox, and Rivertowne
• F ounded in: 1949 by Fitz Wilson and Jack McGinley •N ow owned by: the Wilson and McGinley families • F irst craft brand in portfolio: Pyramid Brewing, in 2000 •O ther brands include Fat Head’s, Jolly, Pumpkin, North Peak, Lavery, Founders, Terrapin, Short’s, and Full Pint
“The wholesaler engages in what craft breweries need: cold storage, knowing how products age. We try to get all our IPAs out in 30 days because we know how those taste fresh. For wholesalers to better the market, we have to watch how much is getting out there and do due diligence on our part to make sure there’s not too much on shelves, getting discounted.” – Andrew Galli
Vecenie Distributing Co.
– John McGinley, Vice President
Steel City Beer Wholesalers
• F ounded in: 1933 by Frank Vecenie • Now owned by: Grandchildren Ken and Janine Vecenie • F irst craft brand in portfolio: Stoudts Brewing, in 1987 • Other brands include: Dogfish Head, Victory, Troegs, Oskar Blues, North Country, Bells, Straub, Stone, and East End
• F ounded in: 2016 by owner Shane Lohman • F irst craft brand in portfolio: Knee Deep Brewing, in 2016; •O ther brands include Pizza Boy, Sole, Evil Twin, Against the Grain, Blake’s Hard Cider, and Apis Mead and Winery
– Tony Knipling, Specialty Brand Manager
Tony Savatt, Inc. MCKEES ROCKS
• F ounded in: 1935 by Tony Savatt •N ow owned by: his grandchildren Marianne and Anthony Savatt • F irst craft brand in portfolio: Global Beer Network (importers of Kasteel, Piraat, Gulden Draak, et al.), in 1995 •O ther brands include: New Holland, O’Fallon, Shmaltz, and Rusty Rail CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
“Wholesalers make significant investments in brands to help them reach the consumer and grow. The three-tier system enables all breweries to get their products to market. Wholesalers also provide the personnel and equipment necessary to store and deliver fresh product to thousands to distributors, bars, restaurants, and grocery stores, enabling the brewers to devote their resources to brewing great beers. As consumers change, and the retail landscape changes, wholesalers will continue to change to meet the needs that those changes create.”
“The craft beer scene has really changed in the past five or six years. A lot of breweries from across the state and country need local representation, and a lot of new restaurants and bars are interested in putting craft on tap. It’s hard to find a place without at least a few craft drafts. It’s becoming more mainstream, and the wholesaler is that lifeline from the breweries to the locals. There’s room for everybody. The pie’s getting sliced up differently, but it’s still there.”
“Not long ago, the only place you could get a six-pack was in a bar. Wholesale is going to have to adapt to the changes in PA’s retail market. With beer being sold in gas stations, more grocery stores, consumers have more access than ever before. We try to have personal relationship with retailers, and they’re our good friends. That’s a big part of our place.” – Lou Esola, General Manager
“I see an evolution toward wholesalers becoming almost like a fresh food product company, as opposed to a distributor of a commodity. Just like with the recent interest that people have taken with their food— where it comes from, what’s in it—people are paying attention to what they drink. The main thing that the consumers should know about is where their beer came from and how it got there—what’s in the beer they’re drinking, why does it taste so good, and what differentiates a good craft beer from a great one.” – Shane Lohman
Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale SOUTH SIDE
• F ounded in: 1982 by owner Frank Fuhrer, Jr. Fuhrer Wholesale is comprised of three divisions, each with its own brand portfolio and operating team
Coors - Boston - Diageo • E stablished 1987: As a separate division to distribute Coors • F irst craft brand in portfolio: Harpoon & Great Lakes Brewing, in 1998 (Great Lakes is now carried by Yuengling-ImportSpecialty division) •O ther brands include: Boston (maker of Samuel Adams), Harpoon, Sweetwater, and Penn Brewery “The number one job of the wholesaler is to get the beer to its destination while maintaining the highest quality and freshness. We also provide the local face and sales support for brands in our market. Maintaining a wide variety is a challenge—the sheer number of suppliers, brands, and SKUs that are available nationally keeps us on our toes.” – Kevin Sproule, Director of Sales & Marketing - Fuhrer Wholesale
Fuhrer Eagle • E stablished 2001 • F irst craft brand in portfolio: Redhook Brewery, in 2001 •O ther brands include: Goose Island, New Belgium, Ballast Point, Elysian, Golden Road, and Devil’s Backbone “The wholesaler plays a critical role in helping craft beer. We provide a buffer between the supplier and the consumer, advocating for the consumer to receive the latest, greatest, and freshest beer out there. We educate our sales team in hopes that education is passed on to the retailer, who can in turn pass it on to the end consumer. Right now the landscape is the most competitive it has ever been. Ensuring lots of choices for the consumer certainly keeps the pressure on retailers as well as us to truly tailor their/our offerings to what their/our consumer wants.” – Darren Eicher, High End Brand Manager
Yuengling - Import - Specialty Sales • E stablished: 2008 Taking on many brands from Coors division
“With existing and new breweries, we work together to build plans to tackle our local market and adjust plans ongoing according to changes in consumer tastes. Not only are we a close partner with our breweries, we make sure that the beer gets into the right retail accounts for the consumer to experience it, and create as much excitement around that brand as possible. We stay on top of industry trends, while watching out for new styles that get hot from our current brewers, and watching for new, exciting trends that get started by the local brewers. One example of a new style that we have seen get a lot of attention lately is the New England IPA.” – Ed Haubrick, Brand Manager
•C raft brands include: Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, Southern Tier, Church Brew Works, Brooklyn, and Helltown
Words & Photos Brian Conway
THERE’S THE BEST & THEN THERE’S THE
BEST OF THE BEST At TRASH XXVII, the most recent installment of the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers annual homebrew competition, the enviable, yet difficult, task of determining which gold medalwinning beer is first among equals falls to a panel of five judges. It helps to have the highest-rated home beer judge on the planet around to help with deliberations. Founded in 1987, TRASH has grown leaps and bounds from the early years when a couple dozen friends would gather at Chiodo’s Tavern in Homestead. This year’s competition had 300 entries from 120 different brewers, including many from Ohio, West Virginia, and some as far away as Connecticut. Entries sold out in about an hour.
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Notable TRASH alumni include Andy Kwiatkowski, head brewer at Hitchhiker Brewing Co., and Chris Brunetti, owner of Oakdale’s Helicon Brewing, site of TRASH XXVII.
“It’s been an amazing experience to have everybody out at my place,” he says. “All of my friends are in the homebrew club.” Brunetti joined TRASH about 10 years ago after homebrewing on his own for five. A longtime software engineer, he left his “cushy corporate job” to open Helicon last November. Brunetti never did take top honors during his homebrew years, but he did take home a couple of style awards, including a gold for his oatmeal stout, but he’s more proud of a silver he took.
“Winning gold out of 9 or 10 entrants isn’t as exciting as winning a silver for American IPA out of 42 entrants,” he explains. This year’s competition featured submissions in 29 different categories, 27 for beer and two for ciders. The most popular category was American Pale Ale, with 19 separate entries, while niche styles like smoked beer and Trappist ale attracted a half-dozen apiece. Chris Marasti-Georg, TRASH vice-president, says that over the years he has seen the number of entries for particular styles mirror craft beer trends as a whole. “We’re seeing a lot more experimental entries, sours and American Wilds,” he says. A gold, silver, and bronze medal is awarded in each category. Each gold medal winner (except for the ciders) make it to the final table to determine the overall Best of Show. Each beer is judged in five areas: aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression. But not all attributes are given equal measure: 40 percent of a beer’s score comes from flavor; just 6 percent for appearance. This year’s judges included Brunetti, Helicon brewer Andy Weigel, former TRASH president Jack Smith, Trade Brewer for Tenth and Blake Beer Company Brian Reed, and Gordon Strong, president of the Beer Judge Certification Program and a Grand Master of the 10th degree. Strong literally wrote the book on homebrewing: it’s called Brewing Better Beer: Master Lessons for Advanced Homebrewers. He also took top prize at the National Homebrew Competition three years in a row, from 2008-2010. A few weeks before traveling to Pittsburgh, Strong was judging a homebrew competition in New Zealand. He’ll soon head to one in Uruguay.
It goes without saying that Strong can speak for hours about craft beer. On one hand, he’s concerned that the industry is in danger of being played out. “It seems like anyone who knows how to boil water and has a rich friend is opening a brewery,” he says, but qualifies the point by adding that the average craft beer fan is much more knowledgeable in recent years about what qualifies as a good beer. Asked about what styles he sees as the next big thing, Strong hopes for a “return to drinkability” with a focus on lagers and pilsners. “You should be able to drink two, three, four beers of a particular style and not destroy yourself,” he says. “Ultimately, a beer shouldn’t have to wreck your palette to qualify as a world-class beer.” Case in point: this year’s Best of Show went to Justin Goodfellow for a Blonde Ale named Blahger, while second went to Richard Romanko for his appropriately titled American Wheat. In addition to bragging rights, Goodfellow’s ale will be brewed commercially by Helicon. Brunetti and Marasti-Georg both agree that while everyone hopes to win, most entrants are really just hoping to come away with a better understanding of where their homebrew falls short. That being said, the competition only seems to get tougher each time around. “Every single year the quality of beer goes up,” Brunetti says. “Maybe six or eight years ago you could win with a mediocre beer, but it’s quite a challenge to pick Best of Show from 27 gold medal-winning beers.”
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BREWING The old Fort Pitt Brewery in Sharpsburg has some new tenants moving in who will once again be brewing up popular beverages within the historic walls.
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Mt. Lebanon-based Hitchhiker Brewing Company and owner Gary Olden have already begun construction at the 15th Street location, and look to be producing quality beers by the summer season.
Olden and Hitchhiker Brewing will be using the old power plant at the Fort Pitt site to brew their popular Saisons, IPAs and sours. The extra space, according to Olden, will expand their production by 15 barrels. “This move to Fort Pitt will give us a lot more opportunities to expand into barrel-aging and sours as well,” states Olden on the massive 12,000-square-foot space. Hitchhiker Brewing opened its original location on Castle Shannon Boulevard in Mt. Lebanon in 2014.
The brewing operation will take the place of Fort Pitt Classic Cars, which has since moved to a new location on Main Street in Sharpsburg. Prior to his decision to purchase the Fort Pitt building, Olden had plans to move Hitchhiker into a 10,000-square-foot warehouse on the South Side in 2016. That deal, which involved the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, didn’t come to fruition, however. The former engine room and machine shops will also be utilized by Hitchhiker, housing a beer cooler and taproom. Hitchhiker’s 20-horsepower boiler will be installed in the rear of the power plant, above where grain will be milled and stored for their recipes. Olden plans to keep the industrial bones (which include exposed steel beams and ceramic tile) the same, further preserving the location’s factory aesthetic. “What we’ve done is update all of the infrastructure in regards to utilities, but other than that we are keeping and restoring as much as we can,” Olden says. “When we’re at the location, I’m picturing work there like working in some sort of museum.” One of the main renovations that Olden has already completed is the removal of a drop ceiling that was originally in the power plant,
Words Ian Mikrut Photos Mike Weiss
completely opening up the three-story space that once served as the entrance for coal trucks to feed the plant’s large boilers. The taproom’s bar will look out onto the South Canal entrance and provide room for roughly 100 customers. There are also plans for the rear parking lot to be transformed into an outdoor beer garden. The iconic smokestack will remain as well.
“A lot of times breweries will see a situation such as ours as a positive,” Olden notes. “It turns the area into a destination for buyers rather than an island.” By keeping their Mt. Lebanon brewhouse in operation, Hitchhiker looks to expand their distribution and reach audiences on both sides of the river. “We’ll have a taproom on two opposite ends of the city, so this will be a nice reach,” says Olden on tapping another market in the Pittsburgh area.
With this move, Hitchhiker becomes the second brewery to begin production in the Sharpsburg neighborhood. Dancing Gnome Beer, owned by Andrew Witchey, opened their 10-barrel brewhouse and taproom on Main Street in 2016. Olden states that he had multiple conversations with Witchey prior to moving into the area, and says that the relationship has been very friendly and welcoming.
Olden also looks forward to Hitchhiker’s role in the continued revitalization of the Sharpsburg area. He states that Sharpsburg residents seem positive and happy that the brewery is once again being used for its original intended purpose. “Sharpsburg is not as far along with regards to their overall renaissance as other parts of the city, so I think there is a very positive vibe in regards to us coming into the community,” Olden says. The renovations brought forth by Hitchhiker will hopefully, according to Olden, help with overall property value as well, and will also add more employment opportunities for residents. He states that there are a number of different real estate developers working in the area that are also anxious to see the brewery’s impact. “I think, overall, everyone is viewing it in a positive light,” he says. “A lot of Sharpsburg people, when they walk by and ask questions they’re very excited.” Olden says that construction is moving along at an efficient and productive pace, which leads him to believe that they will meet the estimated summer start time. “I feel very confident,” he explains. “We are doing a lot of hard work and we are making a fair and good amount of progress on a daily and weekly basis. I think that summer is definitely accurate for a projected launch.”
Hitchhiker Brewing Co. - Sharpsburg 315 15th Street, Sharpsburg, PA 15215 Keep up with Hitchhiker news by visiting hitchhikerbrewing.com.
Through The Cincinnati Insurance Company, we can offer the right coverage for your brewery, including: • tank collapse and leakage • contamination and adulteration • product recall expense • liquor liability and excise tax bonds • processing water loss expense • key employee replacement expense For program details, please contact your independent agent: Steve Wanovich 412-835-5660 x110 firstname.lastname@example.org 321 Castle Shannon Blvd Pittsburgh, PA 15234
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
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hoppy couple Atmosphere
We went to D’s on a Saturday for lunch and it wasn’t too busy whatsoever. However, being a place I have been to quite a bit I can say that on weekends, and especially evenings, D’s can get pretty crowded. If you can’t secure a table quickly make sure to check the bar side of the house. There are some first come, first served tables as well as a fairly long bar to post up at. Or, just stay on that side and grab some food while you are there.
If it wasn’t obvious by the name, D’s specializes in, well, hot dogs! D’s has a wide variety of unique hot dog topping combinations and you can even customize your own hot dog experience! While we were there we split a mountain of cheese fries, a favorite of mine, and I also grabbed a couple all-beef hot dogs. The first was their Cuban which was topped with grilled ham, Swiss cheese, sammy sauce, and pickles. The sammy sauce was almost like a honey mustard. My other dog was the special that day, the Frito Pie, which was topped with cheese, onions, chili, and, of course, Fritos! Both were very delicious. They use top-grade hot dogs that have that crisp snap when you bite into them.
SIXPAX ’ Ds & DOGZ
1118 South Braddock Avenue, Swissvale, PA 15218
The Hoppy Couple lives in the East End so we found it rather fitting when Rob asked us to write about the Pittsburgh area staple, D’s SixPax & Dogz. D’s has been in the Swissvale section of the Regent Square neighborhood for as long as I can remember and their format is so perfect that I can’t remember it being any different over the years. Copious amounts of craft beer, whether from their beer rooms or from the bar, and excellent big city-style food, all at reasonable prices. If you decide taking home a mixand-match six-pack isn’t enough beer, you can hit McBroom’s down the street for all of your large-quantity needs.
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Right, so about the beer. My favorite way to enjoy a few beers at D’s is to hit up their room-sized beer cooler. Go in, scour the many shelves of craft beer to find the perfect one, bring it back to your table to have your server open it, and bam! Kind of a unique way to pick out what beer you want. Drink it from the bottle or say ‘yes’ when your server asks you if you would like a glass. Bring a jacket though, it’s a bit chilly in the beer cooler. If you aren’t the treasure-hunting type, there were about 20 craft beers on tap at D’s that day as well. One of the beers I enjoyed was from Pizza Boy Brewing called Frontside Lipslide, a really well-rounded double IPA from the Harrisburg area.
We live just down the road from D’s SixPax & Dogz so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to write about this local hot spot. D’s is right in the heart of Regent Square in Swissvale. Regent Square is a small, walkable community with restaurants like Square Cafe and the new El Burro Dos location; bars like Murphy’s Tap Room and The Loft; shops like Hepatica (flowers) and Le Mix (antiques); and a few salons and spas where you can get all kinds of pampered. There’s even a non-profit cinema and art gallery. For a small community, Regent Square definitely has a lot to offer!
D’s is a beer lover’s dream. They have a long tap list that often features local breweries, a walk-in Beer Cooler, and, iif that wasn’t enough, a Beer Cave in the back of the restaurant. The Beer Cave features over 1,000 craft brews from around the world for you to choose from. Found a tasty treat in The Cave to go with your dogs, but it’s not cold? No worries, D’s has thought of everything. They have a Beer Chiller to turn your room temp brew into an ice cold beverage in just a few minutes. If you can’t choose just a few beers for your visit (which is likely!), you can make a mix-and-match six-pack of Cooler or Cave beers to take home. They even discount your to-go beers!
I’ve been to D’s during the day and in the evenings and, like Joe said, it can definitely get pretty busy in the evenings. During the day, families bring their kids for lunch which is a nice change of pace. D’s has a super unique, eclectic vibe with their set up. They have a bar side that has some TVs, bar seating, and part of their kitchen where you can watch them grill and fry up your order. There’s also a seating side that has regular and high-top tables and puts you closer to the Beer Cave and Cooler. You’ll have to check out their murals, wall decor, and what they call their “bouncers” which are effigies of Trappist monks on the walls.
D’s may be known for (and specialize in) their hot dogs but they have a pretty big menu on top of that. They also have awesome pizzas, great wings, hoagies and burgers, and a variety of other sandwiches, appetizers, and salads. I do love their dogs so I had a turkey dog Hot
Cheese-style which had pepper jack cheese, dry, spicy ranch seasoning, and Peppers N’At peppers (another local staple!). I also had a Vienna all-beef dog Angry Tiki-style which had pineapple, bacon, and hoisin sauce. Before you ask, no, I was not able to finish both hot dogs with the pile of cheese fries we split, but these dogs are so good that it was hard to push them away.
We have found the East End of Pittsburgh to be our favorite end. Not just because we live there, but because there are just so many cool places to visit, a lot of which we have written about. So make sure to come out our way and check out D’s.
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 well-rounded pint of our experiences with Pittsburgh’s local craft beer scene. Say “Cheers!” if you see us out!
THANKS FROM PCBW
As this year’s Board President, I’d like to personally thank each of this year’s sponsors and participants for making Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week 2017 the best I’ve ever worked on. The level of cooperation, feedback, and support from the local craft beer community in Pittsburgh is always humbling, and with 2017 behind us, we’re already excited about what 2018 has in store. The PCBW board is thankful for the inventiveness of the events this year as well as the amazing collaboration beers thought up by our local brewing community. Without their support and participation, PCBW simply wouldn’t happen. Even more, we would like to thank the bars, restaurants, distributors, and other businesses that might not brew beer, but are just as important to craft beer in Pittsburgh and to Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week. Finally, if you’re reading this I would like to thank you. By supporting local businesses, you help craft beer in Pittsburgh to get better every day. Craft Beer Week is meant to be a fun celebration of all things craft beer in and around the Greater Pittsburgh area, and you help us do that every year. Thanks for making 2017 the best year for craft beer in Pittsburgh yet, and for continuing to drink local.
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From myself and the entire Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week board, cheers!
Brian Meyer Board President Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week
2017 All photos by Jeff Zoet, courtesy of The Pittsburgh Craft Beer Alliance
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Words Kristy Locklin
Photos Buzzy Torek
How a cross-country road trip turned into a lifelong obsession When Jerry Lorenz’s beer can collection got too big for his home, he bought a nearby bar to handle the overflow. From 1986 to 2006, the Bierhaus on Pittsburgh’s North Side served as a makeshift museum. In addition to nearly a thousand distinct cans (displayed in floor-to-ceiling cabinets designed and built by Jerry’s dad), the tavern boasted bottles, steins, neon signs, clocks, picture mirrors, tap knobs, six-pack bags, songbooks, posters, serving trays, ash trays, calendars, knickknacks and other breweriana churned out by suds-makers throughout the 20th century. Patrons could grab a cold pint of Iron City and peruse Jerry’s collection, which he started amassing in 1975 while on a six-week, cross-country road trip. During his journey, he made an effort to try a different beer in each town he’d visit and save the can as a souvenir.
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Upon his return to Pittsburgh, he realized he wasn’t the only one who was drawn to the colorful, often quirky, containers.
In the ‘70s, beer can collecting became one of the country’s fastest growing hobbies, giving birth to organizations such as Beer Can Collectors of America, now known as Brewery Collectibles Club of America. Today, there are more than 3,500 active BCCA members from all over the world, including Pittsburgh, where the Olde Frothingslosh chapter formed in 1972. Named after Pittsburgh Brewing’s “pale stale ale” which featured the buxom Miss Olde Frothingslosh on its cans, the branch has about 120 members. Jerry’s been president for 17 years.
His wife, Deborah—who, on occasion, has donned a Miss Olde Frothingslosh costume—serves as chapter secretary and curator of Jerry’s collection, which is mostly Iron City swag. (A mantle in the Lorenz living room is dedicated to Hanley’s Peerless Ale, a defunct Rhode Island brewery. The beer’s mascot is a dead ringer for Jerry and Deborah’s late English bulldog, Mick.) Jerry’s collection gained national attention when the BCCA held its 33rd Annual “canvention” here in 2003. More than 900 brew enthusiasts from around the globe attended the five-day celebration. Molly’s Trolleys carted attendees to various breweries and bars throughout the city, but the Spring Garden Bierhaus was the heart of the affair. Although he’s retired from the bar business, Jerry, 70, attends canvention every year. This August he’ll head to Cleveland for his 46th straight appearance. To fund these pilgrimages, he’s started to sell off his collection. “I used to be a hoarder. Now I’m just a seller,” he says with a laugh. Parting with little pieces of history can be a difficult, yet profitable, endeavor. Olde Frothingslosh hosts a Beer Collectibles Show five times a year. For a three-dollar admission fee, guests can buy, trade or simply browse through memorabilia. Vendors sell everything from popular novelty items such as the 4077TH M*A*S*H camo can to rare, unopened, steel receptacles dating back to the end of Prohibition. If someone decided to pop the cap off of a 1930s-era “cone top” beer, Jerry says there’d be Olde Frothingslosh members lined up to take a ceremonial sip. That kind of die-hard enthusiasm for the hobby is starting to catch on among younger beer-drinkers because many craft breweries, such as North Country in Slippery Rock, are choosing cans over glass bottles.
While it’s what’s inside the vessel that matters most, breweries take a lot of time focusing on the outside, too. North Country’s Buck Snort Stout was named BCCA’s Can of the Year in 2015. “When designing the beer cans we were looking for something fun and eye-catching,” Barnes says. “We may go through many different design concepts until we find the right fit.” Jerry praises local breweries for appreciating the aesthetic value of a welldesigned can and hopes their popularity will bring new members to Olde Frothingslosh and the BCCA spotlight back to the ‘burgh.
Olde Frothingslosh will hold its next Beer Collectibles Show on Sunday, July 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Millvale Riverfront Park pavilion. Adult admission is $3. Kids get in free. A picnic lunch will be available for purchase. To join the Olde Frothingslosh Chapter or the Brewery Collectibles Club of America, send an email to email@example.com or visit oldefroth.com to print a membership application. Membership dues for 2017 are $7.
North Country Production Manager Jon Barnes says, in addition to being easier to transport and recycle, cans are better for the overall quality of the beer, as they prevent light and oxygen from reaching the liquid. And the metallic taste folks often associate with canned products is a thing of the past thanks to advances in can liners.
Words Brian Conway Photos Buzzy Torek
It’s an early spring morning at Grist House Craft Brewery in Millvale. So early, in fact, the brewers haven’t even switched from coffee to beer yet.
Early mornings are nothing new at breweries, but on this particular day there’s a buzz in the air. Buckeye Canning is in the house, prepping their mobile canning line for the first ever run of Grist House’s New England-style IPA, Hazedelic Juice Grenade. Based outside of Cleveland, Buckeye was founded in 2012 and started to can in 2013. Last June, they were acquired by Manchester, N.H.-based Iron Heart Canning Co.. Buckeye co-founder BJ Solomon, now the head of Iron Heart’s Midwest division, oversees a territory that includes Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and Western New York.
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To date, Buckeye’s two mobile canning lines have churned out 4 millions cans of beer at 40 regional breweries, including well-known regional brands like Fat Head’s, Hoof Hearted, Penn, Rivertowne and Voodoo.
Solomon says that Buckeye charges breweries a flat per-can fee that decreases as volume increases. An average run is about 25 barrels, which will produce about 250 cases of 16 oz. cans. Grist House first canned in October 2016 with a run of their flagship American IPA, Fire on the Hill. For today, Buckeye will convert six barrels of Juice Grenade and another 10 of Fire on the Hill into 160 cases of dank, delicious pounders. Grist House co-owner Brian Eaton says that he wanted to can even before they opened in May 2014.
“It’s a lot better for the beer than bottles,” he explains. “There’s no light penetration, they’re easily recyclable, and it’s much more easily transportable for people’s lifestyles. That’s the biggest selling point. We’re able to get our product into more hands and into more people’s homes.” But why bring in an outside canning company? According to Solomon, it just doesn’t make sense for most small and mid-sized craft breweries to invest in their own canning line. “To do it right, it usually costs about a quarter million,” Solomon says. “We say take that money and invest in fermenters and bright tanks. If you invest in a canning line you still have the same amount of beer as you did the day before, but you can double or triple your production when you invest in the other.” Solomon’s thoughts are echoed by Scott Smith of East End Brewing Company. Smith says he had been “scheming to can” since day-one of opening his brewery and that, in 2008, he came incredibly close to buying a manual canning line. He’s glad that he didn’t. “If we run Big Hop once a month, then that asset would sit under-utilized the other 29 days of the month,” he says. Smith says bringing in Buckeye for regular runs of their flagship IPA and other one-offs has been a great way for them to enter into the canning market gradually. Another benefit, he says, “is we get the know-how of these guys who run the machine.” Back at Grist House, Jon Ebner, regional lead for Ohio, keeps track of the operation with a clipboard in hand as he watches cans move down the assembly in bunches of four. He explains the importance of maintaining temperature, and how a device called an Orbisphere measures dissolved oxygen levels.
“I don’t know why people got away from canning,” he says. “It’s so much better for the beer.” At one end, palettes of empty cans funnel toward a twist rinse that corkscrews each can upside down and sprays them with a chlorinated sanitizer. The bottoms are then stamped with a date code, batch number, or whatever clever phrase the brewery comes up with. Next, a narrow straw fills the cans with carbon dioxide. Since CO2 is heavier than air, it purges the remaining oxygen out of the can. Immediately after, beer travels directly from Grist House’s bright tank and into the awaiting waiting cans. Once filled, a seamer crimps the lid to the can. After one final step—the cans are weighed individually to ensure they are filled all the way —they’re ready for market. Steve Ilnicki, lead brewer at Spoonwood Brewing Co., says he learned about Buckeye from Scott at East End. The day after Buckeye canned at Grist House they swung by Spoonwood for a run of Cold Drip City, their popular coffee blonde ale brewed with lactose. “The guys from Iron Heart are very good at what they do, and the process was very smooth,” Ilnicki says. Eaton says that fans of Grist House have loved having the option to buy beer in cans and they’ll continue to can other beers so long as the demand is there. (Three days later, the entire run of Hazedelic cans sold out in about three hours.) For Eaton, the most important thing is the quality of the beer. In that, he says they found a partner in Buckeye. “We wanted someone that would treat the product as we treat it, which is the best way possible from start to finish,” he says. For more mobile canning pictures, visit the CraftPittsburgh Facebook page.
Words Ian Mikrut Photo Mike Weiss
By now the narrative is familiar, particularly in Pittsburgh’s Revival over the last decade: a once bustling neighborhood hasn’t seen significant growth or change in 20 or so odd years. New business comes in, in this case breweries, which in turn helps to bring more business, people and money to the area. The process continues and doubles over. Almost two years ago we ran a story about many of the new breweries at that time setting up in neighborhoods that were relatively untouched (Brew Gentlemen in Braddock, Voodoo in Homestead, Hop Farm in Lawrenceville, to name a few). Since then the number of breweries in the Pittsburgh area has more than doubled, with multiple breweries within blocks of each other in some neighborhoods with different, previously untouched neighborhoods finding new life as well (Sharpsburg, anyone?). And with no sign of oversaturation in sight, there’s no reason this trend can’t continue for the time being. With so many areas having benefitted from the presence of breweries and other new businesses, it’s always surprising to find out about the seemingly endless hurdles new brewers have to jump over to get started, and in some cases, blowback from the community or municipal leadership that complicate things even further. In steps the curious case of the City of Duquesne. Once a major hub in Pittsburgh’s industrial history, it’s been quite some time since it was a destination for anything other than being on the way to Kennywood. Like I said, you’ve heard this story before. However there is a bit of a twist. Since no breweries have yet to set up shop in Duquesne, the municipality has opened its doors to entice and welcome anyone willing to give them a chance.
“We’ve seen other municipalities like Duquesne. Old steel mills come down, economies down, then all of a sudden people are bouncing back. And the idea came from Brew Gentlemen going into Braddock and being successful. And obviously you have Homestead with Blue Dust and Voodoo moving in there, Dorothy 6, and now Trios is going in an old Levin hardware store and they’re just generating excitement,” Frank Piccolino, City Manager and Open Records Officer of Duquesne says. In all honesty, it is a bit surprising that Duquesne has gotten a little lost in the shuffle. Located just south of Braddock, on the other side of the Monongahela River, right off of State Route 837, it’s a prime, easy-to-get-to spot for any business in the Pittsburgh area. Nestled among other relatively untapped communities in the Mon Valley, it could also potentially serve as a connecting destination point between breweries in East Pittsburgh and those in the South Hills. “So the thought was these brewers are taking a chance on these buildings in random places. These guys made it work, they’re generating excitement,” Piccolino says. “And that’s what we want to try to mirror, not steal it, but mirror it. Hey, why don’t you come look at Duquesne?” In recent developments of their comprehensive plan for where the city wants to be, the municipality has added microbrewing as a large part of their zoning plans while making it easier for permitting. There are plenty of possible buildings, many of which acquired directly by the municipality through Sheriff’s Sale and are available to own or lease at very affordable rates. Duquesne’s leadership really wants this to happen and have streamlined the process to make things a bit easier, while offering some interesting incentives. One of the more unique ones being that the city has its own, private water distribution that would be much cheaper than elsewhere in Pittsburgh. There are even working wells that a brewery could potentially be built
around. Regardless, anyone building a brewery in Duquesne would have access to a clean, private water supply at a much cheaper rate than anywhere else in the Pittsburgh area. New businesses would also have access to loans and other benefits through the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Duquesne. “We have been an enterprise zone in the state of Pennsylvania which they capitalize us with a business loan program. So it’s a gap-financing program where we’ll owe up to one half of the funds borrowed at 3 percent interest rate,” Charles H. Starrett III of Starrett and Associates says. “So we administer this loan program for Duquesne, McKeesport and Clairton.” Starrett and his wife Amy are administrators for the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Duquesne, along with Mayor Phillip Krivacek who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Having much of the leadership support needed for new businesses under both the municipality and redevelopment roofs is yet another aspect to Duquesne’s streamlined process. “We don’t have any red tape,” Mayor Krivacek says. “We try to make sure that nobody wants anything from you, and we give you what you need to get it done. In the last five years there’s been upwards of $10 million dollars of investment in commercial buildings. Employment at the RIDC Riverplace site is now upwards of 1,000 with more jobs being added.” Starrett explains that at the old Duquesne mill site (RIDC river site), which is now a large industrial park housing several large employers, and the nearby trail that the Great Allegheny Passage comes through running parallel with the railroad track, brings plenty of activity around the city. Because of that activity, Duquesne has experience in providing loans, certain state tax credits and in tax increment financing.
Charles H. Starrett III, Mayor Phillip Krivacek, Frank Piccolino
“If you have a piece of land that has a given value and someone puts a building up, we can take funds, anticipated monies we would get under the real estate taxes of the building, and really put that into the infrastructure of the property,” Starrett says. “So we can pay for gas lines, water lines, utilities, paving lighting and all of those outside amenities.” A participating business would pay taxes as they normally would, but they wouldn’t have to pay back anything invested in the property’s infrastructure. Essentially it’s a grant. The city, county and school district defer those taxes for a period of five to seven years. “So it’s a nice incentive. For a small city, we have a loan program that is pretty well-financed and the city will work with you,” Starrett says. Taking a tour of the city, it’s pretty easy to imagine a new brewery stepping into one of the available buildings. There’s an old Moose Lodge with two floors and duckpin bowling just blocks from the municipal building. An old VFW with ample open space for parking and a wide open view of the railroad tracks and river. What used to be a bank sits right off of 837 next to one of Duquesne’s shopping centers, just yards away from the GAP trail. Taking a look around, it’s easy to take these old buildings and see everything that’s been lost to this city over the years. But if Pittsburgh’s revitalization and the role that craft beer plays in it has taught us anything, it’s what the potential cities like Duquesne have to offer for the future as the region continues to grow and change. Even at the existing industrial park, there are hundreds of newer employees finding work where decades before the steel industry thrived. And with leadership that desperately wants to see its city thrive again, then why not Duquesne? The narrative may be a familiar one, but at least there’s always potential for another happy ending.
have you tried... Words Hart Johnson Photo Tim Burns
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
1. ALESMITH spezial pils
2. PIZZA BOY sour murren river
I’m not sure if all the agro West Coast breweries that used to boast about extreme IBU levels and blackness of their stout slowly rolling out pilsner and blonde ales is a signal of market maturity or of market saturation. On one hand, I’m happy to see beer labels and marketing that doesn’t insult me for not liking it. On the other hand, two years ago these breweries could barely keep up with demand and now they have labels boasting about extended aging time of their lagers. I’m putting Alesmith way up near the top of “Breweries I Thought I’d Never See a Lager From”. And here we are and in a can nonetheless! Billed as a German style pils, it’s a beautiful golden yellow color with aromas of fresh hay, lemon zest and a touch of honey-covered toast. A bit sweeter and more well-rounded than I was expecting at first, with bready and toasty malt flavors before the herbal hop bitterness balances things out. Also a bit more full-bodied and creamy than I was expecting for a 4.9% ABV beer. A most enjoyable summertime refresher!
Remember when saying something was going to be the next IPA was the next IPA? Even though we’ve moved into the prologue of that book, yes I’ve listened to your podcast about Pilsner being the IPA of 2017, there’s still a lot of crossover attempts. I get it, everyone wants a piece of that IPA pie. Black IPA, White IPA, Red IPA and Hazy IPA. All just words. And here we have Sour IPA. Brewed via a unique kettle souring technique, the beer is quickly soured with lactobacillus then boiled/hopped/ fermented like a normal beer rather than a lengthy lacto fermentation which runs the risk of contaminating your fermentation cellar. Kettle souring lends a distinct lemony tartness, like under sweetened lemonade. Coming at this beer from sour perspective? It’s beautiful. That tart lacto lemony goodness takes center stage with the juiciness of the citra hops and the residual sweetness of a 7.4% percent beer all rounding out to give this a very meyer lemon juice feel. Tart, sweet, juicy and dank. Coming at this from an IPA perspective? It’s Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines. I get that this is Murren River IPA, kettle soured. But that kettle souring thing makes a big difference, ya can’t just go slapping IPA on everything with a bit of hops in it. Not only will you sort of irritate me, the IPA drinker who buys it, you’re gonna straight up alienate Dennis, the dude that hates IPA. And this isn’t an IPA.
4.9% Pilsner - alesmithbrewing.com
Recommended if you like: Victory - Prima Pils, Sly Fox - Pikeland Pils, Roundabout - Bridges & Tunnels, Lagunitas - Czech Style Pils, Evil Twin - Low Life
7.4% Sour IPA - pizzaboybrewing.com
Recommended if you like: Epic - Tart & Juicy IPA, Lagunitas - Aunt Sally, East End - Moonstomp, Hitchhiker - A Different Animal, Full Pint - T-Funk
5% Witbier - brouwerijdebrabandere.com
The poor witbier can’t get a break in the US, it’s name instantly associated with sickly sweet versions that million dollar ad campaigns tell you to hang an orange slice on. Icky. I’d be a witbier apologist, but too many of the crafty US ones measure the traditional coriander spicing with a shovel rather than a spoon. So here I sit, a witbier traditionalist. Of a beer style that went dead and was only resurrected in the mid-1960s. I’m the worst. I’ve always enjoyed the OG Wittekerke, a less spicy and cheaper imported alternative to Hoegaarden, for its soft wheat flavor, restrained spice level and citrusy finish. This WILD version, with a label clearly designed by 1989 Andre Agassi, is spiked with what I can assume to be Petrus Aged Pale Ale, a marvelous sour ale that is also blended into a few other Petrus sour-ish beers. Souring up a witbier? Outstanding move. This is like a witbier shandy without all the soda sweetness. The hazy yellow color complements the lemon peel and oaky aroma. It’s tart and spritzy on the tongue, the sourness is always in play but never the superstar. Just a beautiful hot weather beer. Like it should be. Recommended if you like Hitachino - White Ale, East End - Witte, Full Pint White Lightning, Brew Gentlemen - White Sky, Unibroue - Blanche de Chambly
4. NEW BELGIUM voodoo ranger ipa 7% IPA - newbelgium.com
Adapt or perish. Sure it explains the duck billed platypus succinctly, but what does this have to do with beer? It’s hard to imagine now, but prior to 2009 New Belgium Brewing didn’t really make an IPA. Fat Tire and the whole “look how eco-awesome we are!” were enough to get them massive sales figures. 2010, Ranger IPA appears to much fanfare! 2013 Rampant IIPA appears to much fanfare! That’s it right, just make an IPA and the money flows in, right? Well, tastes change & the C-Hop bomb Ranger recipe from 2010 isn’t the new hotness anymore. So, of course, the only logical evolution is creating a whole lineup of hop focused beers under the Voodoo Ranger nomenclature and start up the creepiest corporate social media campaign this side of the Teen Chatbot. And revamp the IPA recipe using the sauve Mosaic & Amarillo hops. Despite the thing on the label, the zombie/skeleton/park ranger/is it a pilot also? Why does it have 2 hats? Old Two Hats Zombie Voodoo Ranger over here. Despite the label silliness, this is an IPA for the people. Aroma is trademark Mosaic & Amarillo, candied blueberries, poached peaches & tart apricot. The fruit cup hops stick around for the flavor act, all swirled atop a crackery vanilla sweet maltiness like a hop ice cream cone. The lowish bitterness and fruitiness remind me off the great India Pale Ales for “people who hate IPA”. Recommended if you like: Bells - Two Hearted Ale, Founders - Azacca IPA, Alpine - Windows Up IPA, Pizza Boy - Murren River IPA, Deschutes - Fresh Squeezed IPA, Spoonwood - Killer Diller IPA
5. AUROCHS experimental ipa 5.5% IPA - aurochsbrewing.com
Gluten-Free Beer. That’s a string of words that wakes me up in the middle of the night screaming out of a cold-sweat night terror. I’ve had friends develop gluten intolerances, I’ve tried the stuff they told me was beer. Some sickly sweet sorghum beer, that weird stuff from Belgium and that Redbridge which was shockingly closer to a beer-flavored beer than I was expecting from the house of Bud Light Peacharita. I mean, bourbon is gluten-free, why the hell would you torture yourself with this stuff? So, now we have Aurochs over there in Emsworth, shout out to all my homies
in the ‘Sworth, and I’ll admit to skepticism. First time I saw their beer in the wild was at a beer fest and I walked by their table like Pee Wee Herman walking past that aquarium full of snakes. Shortly after that, Aurochs closed down for nine months to expand since they were literally selling all of the beer they could make in a week in a day. Now they’re back with a bigger facility and a wider range of beers. I went with the IPA, because, dammit, I like IPA. What we have here is a beer all sorts of stinky with dank citrus and tropical fruit hop aromas erupting from a hazy, orange beer. Great body and mouthfeel, usually balance and malt sweetness is forgotten in lowerABV IPA, but the toasted cracker and slight sweetness play very well with the hop flavors giving it that much desired juicy character with a bit of lingering hop bitterness. I’m not sure what gluten free sorcery these folks are up to, but I applaud it. Recommended if you don’t like: Settling for a cider because why can’t someone make a gluten-free beer that tastes like beer. Also, recommended if you like: Lagunitas - 12th of Never, East End - Little Hop, Spoonwood - Slick Leg, Pizza Boy Super Fast, Founders - All Day
6. VICTORY blackboard #5
6.5% Cream Ale with Coffee - victorybeer.com
Moving through the parlance of our times, I think a beer like this could’ve been called a Coffee Pale Ale a few years ago and a White Stout more recently. Now we’re at Cream Ale with Coffee. Because coffee and cream make more sense than a white stout, right? But there’s no cream in this, hell not even any milk sugar. And furthermore, how do you define a cream ale? Is a fizzy light beer with a touch more sweetness than a light lager? Rochester, NY, says yes. Is it a sweeter ale with vanilla and milk sugar? Florida says yes. I’ve confused myself, I pity you poor folks trying to follow this. Anyway, I like coffee and I like beer. This light amber, delicately hopped sweeter ale has cold brew coffee added to it. No word on beans or who roasted them, which I would’ve liked to see. Because I like coffee. And beer. The coffee never dominates here, it’s always complementary, sitting there right beside the vanilla wafer cookie and slightly herbal hop aroma with an earthy depth. Skipping hand in hand with the hop bitterness to finish off the mostly malt forward sweeter flavor. And lingering in the aftertaste with a touch of acidity. It’s a beer with coffee. Recommended if you like: Coffee. and beer.
7. HELLTOWN idle hands 8% IIPA - helltownbrewing.com
Sometimes when I drink a really over the top IPA, I like to think of my boy Dennis. Dennis hates IPA with the fire of 1000 Dennis Rodman’s in the zone on NBA Jam. Just throwing nasty elbows at any IPA that crosses his palate. Yet, you hand him an IPA and he’s gonna drink it. A truly great IIPA is the Dennis of beer. You think Russian River is scrambling to revamp Pliny The Elder because some hazy juice bomb mocked its ways? I hope not, but knowing my big mouth Pliny The Hazy is already in production. Anyway, Idle Hands is one of those great IIPA. A big bad West Coast style Double IPA, stinky like a freshly cut pomelo being juiced by your nose, bitter like my mailman caught in that May 1 rainstorm, and just overflowing with old school citrusy hops. Times change, beer styles evolve, but like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, when you’ve just nailed a recipe, it’s timeless. No matter what Dennis thinks. Recommended if you like: Green Flash - Imperial IPA, Fat Heads - Hop Juju,
3. WITTEKERKE wild
Knee Deep - Lupulin River, Bells - Hopslam, Avery - Raja IPA 39
dank tank wookie down imperial red ale 7.6% Imperial Red Ale - sweetwaterbrew.com
Craft beer is getting weird man. Couple years ago you needed to know a guy who knew a guy to get what you needed. Now? The dude buying a couple cans of Steel Reserve at the gas station and paying for them with loose change is eyeing up your six-pack and telling you which IPA has the most bang for the buck. Paper labels with Sharpie edits haphazardly stuck onto sticky bottles? Now we got canned beer with concert ads, born on dates and elaborate plotlines about the contained beer. I’m not hip to the medical grade Colorado-ish, so all the weed buzzwords on this label are just a word salad. We get it Sweetwater, 420, you may smoke weed. We all get it. So when you made this here Red Ale, you went all Nigel Tufnel on it. It’s like how much more red could this beer be? None. None more red. If it was half an SRM darker this would be a brown ale. Despite the 82 IBU boasting, this is a really nicely balanced beer, loads of toffee, ripe cherry and strawberry twizzler combat the pine and mango bitterness. Alright, fine, all those IBU show up in the finish with a fair amount of lingering bitterness, but it works nicely with the toasty malt sweetness that lingers also. Recommended if you like: Lagunitas - Imperial Red Ale, Arrogant Bastard, Fat Heads - Bone Head Red, Lakefront - Fixed Gear, Grist House - Camp Slap Red
9. RIVERTOWNE mosaic ipa 6.1% IPA - myrivertowne.com
Ah the Mosaic hop. The result of breeding Simcoe and Nugget hops, Mosaic is the f*cking Merlot of beer right now. It’s the classic “fixer” hop, your new IPA doesn’t have quite the pop you wanted? Dry hop it with Mosaic and tell the world about it, they’ll be at your doors craving it. And hey, the system works because yours truly bought this for one reason only. That big “M-word” right on the can. It draws me right in, I can smell the diesel soaked blueberries without even opening the can. Yes I used diesel fuel as a positive flavor descriptor and just like I once described a whisky as tasting like “Red man tobacco, engine fumes and childhood filth”, you gonna have to trust me on this, it works. So this Rivertowne beer is part of variety 12 pack of IPA and one of about 126 different Rivertowne beers I’ve seen this year. A stunning display of variety. Classic west coast IPA right here, ever so slight hop haze, deep golden yellow color with lacing that sticks around so long you debate using your Uber account just to get it out of the house. And that aroma. Blueberry, dank fossil fuel, mango, candied orange peel. All of those carry right into the flavor balanced by a semi-dry maltiness with a hint of sugar cookies. The finish crosses a bit into bitter territory with a bit of grapefruit pith, but all in all the bitterness is respectable and never too much. A damn fine showcase of the Mosaic hop. Recommended if you like: Hitchhiker Single Angle, Terrapin Mosaic Red Rye
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
IPA, Alpine Windows Up IPA, Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, Oskar Blues IPA, Sole Super Silk IPA
JASONOLIVER Where are you from? Between Baltimore and D.C., kind of smack-dab between the two. Brewing background? I started in 1996 in Baltimore, at an English-style brewery called the Wharf Rat. It was a good first brewing job. I liked that it was focused. You really kind of immerse yourself in one type of technique and recipe development and genre. I worked at a couple of breweries that were all very German-focused. It’s totally different techniques and approaches, I’ve always thought of myself as classically trained. I was lucky to learn more with each new job in really specialized ways … I think in some senses it’s good to know the basis of things before you can leave them. I experiment a lot, but I’m not grasping at straws. I think it’s good to have a firm base. Then from that base you can spring off in a myriad of different directions. You have to walk before you run. First craft beer? Probably Sam Adams Boston Lager from my father sophomore year in college. But really the first craft beer I had was at Legends Brewing Company. It just opened in 1994 in Richmond, VA. I was visiting a friend on a school break. It’s this newly opened brewery, and it was up until that point, beer was always like a commodity. And [Legends] made it tangible, that was one of the first cracks in my beer dam where I thought ‘Woah! This is cool! You can have a beer that’s made!’ I thought that was the coolest thing. I had never thought about it before. Guilty pleasure beer? AB InBev acquired us a while ago, so I reacquainted myself with their products. One guilty pleasure is Busch, Busch Heavy. I like it better than normal Bud … It’s the perfect beer for wading into a river. It’s my redneck beer. What kind of music do you brew to? Last year I had to institute a regiment. We had a new brewer come in and immediately take over the radio. So we instituted a schedule: Old 97s Monday, Tom Petty or Americana Tuesday, British ‘80s Wednesday, dealer’s choice Thursday, Scott McCoy and Friends Friday. Normally I’m not so regimented, but that was more just to cool his jets because of his eclectic music taste.
Favorite Pittsburgh bar? I’ve been to Pittsburgh a handful of times, but it’s hard to remember. I was here in November and visited Marcus from Mindful, and went to Church Brew Works. We went to a bunch of other breweries during the whole visit and it all kind of blurs together. Ones that stand out I wouldn’t know their names, unfortunately. If you weren’t brewing? I’m so lucky I’m a brewer, that’s for sure. I found out about it through a career book. It was like if I didn’t pick up that book I would have never been a brewer, it was such a work of fate. My father jokes that if I was a normal person I would have flipped the career book backwards to the front and it would have ended up on warlord.
Do you have a spirit animal? I don’t know if I have a spirit animal but there are a few brewers I’d like to be when I grow up—Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker. I love their approach to beer. All of their beers are excellent, well put together, stylistically astute. I love what Founders is doing. Tröegs, in a similar manner. I love what Matt’s doing at Fat Heads … That’s what I want to do—have well put together beers. I’m not trying to create a new genre or make the loudest beer out there. I want to make really well put together, drinkable beers. Because that’s the beers I like to drink. What do you drive? Honda Fit, manual transmission, 2013 or 2012 maybe. I have a scooter, too. You can go to any bar from any time in your life. Where would you have your last drink? There are so many, and much like loves, sometimes they end badly. There’s this bar I used to love to go to in D.C., not a drop of craft beer in it whatsoever. It was called the Old Dutch Mill. It was about four blocks away from where I worked. This place had Polaroid pictures all along the walls, and [the owner] … had a Casio keyboard at the end of the bar, but he wouldn’t play full songs. It was so dorky and kind of bad, but so fun. He had a life-sized painting of himself behind the bar. It was bought out and turned into a club.
Age? 44 … I believe.
cooking with beer Words & Food Photo Mindy Heisler-Johnson
Roundabout Mimosa Gose
rout is a somewhat underappreciated fish. It doesn’t have the sexiness of a big, fat salmon filet, but don’t mistake its simplicity for boring. (I am purposefully choosing to forget that trout almondine is/was a thing. I suggest you do the same.) Trout are freshwater fish, so they aren’t at all fishy. They are delicate and flaky, and when cooked well, I would put up against any big, fat, sexy salmon filet out there. Especially when said trout were procured at the hands of The Editor and cooked within days of being pulled from the water. Fresh, bright, and so-much-more-than-sauteed-in-butter-and-topped-with-a-pile-of-barelytoasted-nuts. Which we agreed to not talk about. My bad.
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
Braising trout has always been a very favorite way to prepare it -- the moist heat cooking method makes for a tender fish loaded with flavor. You braise trout whole, with the skin and head intact. Once cooked the head and skin are easily removed. Cleaning fresh caught trout can be, I’m not going to lie, a pain in the butt. Little fish have little bones. Little bones are not delicious. I cannot even begin to describe what you need to do to properly clean a fresh caught trout, consult YouTube to find all the instruction you need. Store-bought trout require only two small cuts, making a ‘V’ into the row of pin bones, located about a half-inch or so off the spine starting at the head and ending an inch or so from the tail, and then to be scooped out with your fingertip, leaving a small rut where you took them out. Use a sharp knife and be delicate. You can also remove them with needle nose pliers, if you are so inclined, but they are small and it is tedious work.
Creating your braising liquid is the bestest part. Our base is Roundabout Mimosa Gose -- a low-ABV, gose-style beer, sour and barely laced with salt, this version made with fresh orange juice making for what was honestly better than a good mimosa. This beer is absolutely perfect for the job; the not so subtle orange balances the sourness and it requires not a ton of embellishment for braising our trout. I like bold aromatics, so, to pair with the already present orange, I went with fresh fennel, a touch of smoky bacon, black pepper, and sweet onions. I also love to load this up with fresh veggies so mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, grape tomato. All of this is flexible. Put in what you like, take out things you don’t -- just make sure you layer them into your dish with thought about their cook time. One of the most delicious things about this preparation is the mountain of vegetables properly cooked in the sauce. With this particular version I added no citrus, wasn’t at all necessary with the Mimosa Gose, but if you aren’t using a heavily citrus-ed gose you will need to add some -- lemon and orange. If you can’t get your hands on this delicious concoction of Steve’s, I am sorry, but another gose will suffice. Avoid hops. They are the enemy of the delicate trout.
Added bonus—similar to the Shrimp & Grits recipe this is one that is quite quick to come together once the knife work is done and will look and eat like you worked for it. Or someone is paying you for it. It is also really easy to adjust for a couple or a bunch. This will feed two people. Math to make it for more. I love this with the addition of roasted potatoes or couscous. And crusty bread. Because, of course, crusty bread. THERE IS SAUCE!!!
Roundabout Mimosa Gose Braised Trout & Veggies • 2 each fresh trout, cleaned • 2 slices thick bacon, diced • 1 small bulb of fennel, julienned • ½ small sweet onion, julienned • 2 cloves of garlic, minced • ½lbs (ish) sliced baby portobello mushrooms (optional) • Kosher Salt • A TON of fresh-ground black pepper • 8oz Mimosa Gose This the veggie portion of the dish. We love vegetables, so there are lots, adjust this based on your own tastes. • ½ bunch asparagus, 1” pieces • Handful or two of fresh green beans • ½ pint grape tomatoes • 2 Tbsp room temperature butter If you’re roasting potatoes do so when you start, so now. Clean your trout and get all your vegetables prepped -- mince your garlic, chop the bacon, julienne the onion and fennel, slice the mushrooms, trim and clean the beans and asparagus. Keep everything separate and you cut it. You add everything to this in the order of its cook time to make sure your finished dish is perfect.
On the trail or in the woo ds, we’re here fo r your post ri de ... refreshments .
Heat a lidded saute pan, large enough to lay the trout in and an inch or two deep, over medium heat. Add a Tablespoon of olive oil and add the bacon, render until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked bacon to a paper towel to drain. It will be garnish later. Add the onion to the bacon fat and saute for a couple minutes, until it starts to soften and lose the raw smell. Add the fennel and continue to saute. As you stir you will start pulling up all the yummy from the bottom of the pan. When the fennel and onions are both soft and starting to smell sweet add the garlic. Cook for a few minutes, until it, too, starts to smell sweet. If you are adding mushrooms now is the time. Saute them until they are tender. Season the whole thing with kosher salt and generously with fresh ground black pepper. Deglaze with the beer, scraping all the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan and bring the broth up to a simmer. Add the trout, side by side and all closed up, and lid the pan. Drop the heat a little to maintain a slow simmer and putz around for five minutes or so, while the trout cooks. Pop the lid and check it out. When poked the trout should feel firm, the eyes should be milky, the skin should be easy to start pulling off. When they are cooked use a spatula to place them on a platter. GENTLY. These are going to be delicate. Let them cool a second while you bring the broth back to a hard simmer. Add the green beans and cook for a couple minutes. While they are cooking start peeling the skin off the top of the trout—the bottom skin will be left intact. It should peel easy, with delicate hands. Remove the head and use that break to start removing the skin (this is the most tedious part, but worth the effort). You’re keeping an eye on those beans, when they are about half cooked add the asparagus and grape tomatoes. The sauce should also be reducing while the veggies cook and you’re peeling trout. When it has reduced until it is down to about a half cup add the two tablespoons of butter and swirl in to melt. Season the sauce if it needs it. Spoon the veggies and sauce over the skinned trout, thusly reheating that which has cooled. Arrange the roasted potatoes around the fish. Enjoy your efforts!
Made fresh everyday, be sure to try the one with peanut butter. Really!
north park boathouse • historic southside
a great sele ction of seasonal craf t beer on tap. Espe cially the local br ews.
Fresh trout courtesy of John Soltis
home brewing Words Jack Smith
Waiting is for Suckers Eight Simple Steps to Quick Lager Success! Lager beers, by definition, are aged. Lager is the German word for “to store,” after all.
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
Historically, lagers are stored cold for several months, perhaps up to a year prior to serving. This long aging process allows the beer to fall crystal clear and the flavors to soften and meld. The problem with a long aging process, though, is the long part. What if I told you with modern techniques and technology you can produce excellent lagers in about a month? Seriously. No funny stuff.
Whether you care for their business practices or not, we ought to be able to agree that nobody makes cleaner, more consistent lagers than the big macro brewers. To them, lager beer is a commodity and time is money so it is in their interest to produce clean lager beer quickly and there’s no denying they succeed. Each batch is packaged in three to four weeks depending on the specific brand. They employ heavy use of mechanical filtering to strip the beer clean — something most home brewers don’t have access to or the desire to do. But even without filtering we can produce excellent lager in four to six weeks through healthy fermentation, precise temperature control, and the use of fining agents. Follow these steps and you’ll be brewing lager like a champ!
When you’re brewing average gravity ales you can make decent beer by aerating the wort by splashing it around in the bucket or pushing air into it with an aquarium pump. But to make good lager quickly you gotta do more. You need pure oxygen. You can buy wort oxygenation systems from most homebrew retailers. Small bottles of oxygen are available from home improvement stores. Every 1.050 lager I brew gets two full minutes of O2 injected through a stainless airstone into the bottom of the wort-filled fermenter moments before I pitch my yeast starter.
happens more slowly at these lower temperatures, so you should count on lager fermentation taking longer. A well-oxygenated ale wort inoculated with the proper amount of healthy yeast will probably finish in four to five days at 68°F. A similar strength lager will probably take eight to 10 days, or even 15 to 20 days if the temperature is held steady at 50°F. But who says it has to be held at 50 the whole time? Most yeast-derived flavors (except alcohol, obviously) are produced during the beginning of fermentation—the first two to four days after pitching in the case of lagers. Once you’re past this “phase,” the yeast are mostly just converting sugar into alcohol and CO2. If you gradually increase the temperature they will work faster and fewer of them will go dormant quite so early. My preferred temperature schedule is: pitch at 47°F. Set temperature controller to 49°F but do not apply heat; allow temperature to naturally rise to 49°F. Hold at 49°F until 48 hours after krausen forms—which will happen about 24-36 hours after pitching yeast. Then begin increasing the temperature by 2°F every 12 hours until the beer reaches 67°F, which will be about eight days after pitching yeast. Apply heat if necessary to increase temperature. When the beer hits 67°F, take a gravity reading. The beer is probably done fermenting. Wait 24 hours and take another gravity reading to be sure.
3. Control the temperature
4. Perform a diacetyl rest
1. Make a starter
Healthy fermentation starts with healthy yeast. For lagers this means starting with a fresh pack of yeast and building the appropriate size starter. A stir plate is not mandatory, but if consistency is your goal these gadgets are indispensable. Five gallons of 1.050 lager requires about 350 billion cells of lager yeast. You could use 7-10 vials/packets, or you could put a single pack into a 2L starter on a stir plate. Stir plates pay for themselves in yeast savings if you brew a lot. Yes, you can make starters without stir plates but they require more wort, often need to be stepped up multiple times for lagers, and the lack of constant stirring yields inconsistent results.
2. Oxygenate your wort well
Lager beers are fermented at much lower temperature than ales—typically in the upper 40°s to lower 50°s. Metabolic activity
Yeast produce acetolactate—the precursor to diacetyl, that buttery-tasting compound—during fermentation. Acetolactate oxidizes into diacetyl.
5. Perform a diacetyl test
Search the web for “forced diacetyl test.” Follow the steps outlined there. If you don’t smell diacetyl in the forced sample, it’s time to crash! If diacetyl is still present, try again after 24 more hours.
6. Crash-cool the beer
Lower the temperature by 10°F every 12 hours until you hit 30°F. Don’t worry, it won’t freeze. Hold it at 30°F for one week.
7. Use a fining agent
Rack the ice-cold beer to another container to separate it from the yeast and other trub. Save the yeast if you wish to reuse it (but that’s another show). Add your fining agent of choice (I typically use gelatin) and store the beer at 28°F for one week.
8. Package and serve
At this point the beer is quite low on yeast because we crash cooled, racked, and fined it for brilliant clarity. If you plan to bottle condition your beer expect it to take longer than normal to carbonate. But if you’ve done all these other steps, you’re probably a kegger. Go ahead and keg that sucker up, carbonate it to 3-3.5 volumes, and start drinking your clean, smooth, month-old lager beer!
Or: A Czech, a German, and an American walk into a bar… This is a recipe for pilsner beer. The parts are interchangeable to allow you to brew a Czech, a German, or an American pilsner. Where options are available, they are listed following this syntax: [ Czech | German | American ] ABV: 5.0 - 5.25% Batch Size: 5.25 gal Boil Time: 60 minutes IBU: 35-45 OG: 1.050 SRM: 4-6 FG: 1.010 - 1.012 Difficulty: Advanced (specialized equipment needed as detailed above) *Assuming 65% brewhouse efficiency
12 lb [ Moravian Pilsner malt | German Pilsner malt | US 2-row ]
12 oz Dextrin malt (Carapils, CaraFoam, DextraPils, etc.) *Extract Brewers: Replace the pilsner malt with 7.25 lbs pilsner DME or replace the 2-row with 7.25 lbs of extra light DME. Steep the dextrin malt in a grain sack for 30 minutes at 150°F, then drain your sack, top your kettle up with water, and add the malt extract and boil as per usual.
18 grams German Magnum (12% AA) @ 60 min 28 grams [ Czech Saaz (2.5% AA) | Hallertau MittelFrüh (4.5% AA) | Mt Hood (5.5% AA) ] @ 30 min 28 grams [ Czech Saaz (2.5% AA) | Hallertau MittelFrüh (4.5% AA) | Liberty (4% AA) ] @ 10 min 28 grams [ Czech Saaz (2.5% AA) | German Tettnang (4.5% AA) | Liberty (4% AA) ] @ 0 min
Mash & Boil
Perform a simple single-infusion mash at [ 154°F | 152°F | 150°F ] for [ 60 | 60 | 75 ] minutes at 1.25 quarts of brewing liquor per pound of grain. Perform a mashout-step if you have the means and enjoy such endeavors. Then sparge and lauter as typical. Boil for [ 90 | 90 | 60 ] minutes.
Make a healthy, appropriately sized starter of [ WLP800 Pilsner Lager/Wyeast 2001 Pilsner Urquell | WLP830 German Lager/Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager | WLP840 American Lager/ Wyeast 2035 American Lager ] as described in step (1) above. Oxygenate the wort per step (2) and pitch your yeast. Then follow steps 3-8 over the course of the following month.
Straw to pale gold in color. Soft, malty, floral, and fulfilling (Czech). Crisp, snappy, spicy, and refreshing (German). Grainy, smooth, herbal, and quenching (American). Balanced malt and bitterness. They’re all very similar, yet all identifiably different from each other. And they all pair wonderfully with just about any savory dish you can throw at them from the most highfalutin modernist cuisine with its various foams and fluid gels to barbecue of any persuasion (Texas brisket, Eastern Carolina pulled pork, Kansas City ribs, Brazilian churrasco) to a bag of chips and a tub of sour cream & onion dip. They also go well with pizza. And sitting on the porch. And burritos. A homebrewer since 2002, Jack Smith is a National BJCP Judge, a former president of the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers, and an active member of the Three Rivers Underground Brewers
If the yeast are still present and active, they will consume the diacetyl so you don’t have to. Your goal is to make sure all the acetolactate has been converted to diacetyl before you remove the yeast from the beer, otherwise the beer will develop diacetyl later as it ages. You encourage the acetolactate —> diacetyl reaction by increasing the temperature. Holding the beer in the midupper 60’s for 24 hours is typically sufficient. The good news is because we followed the ramping schedule in step (3) we’re already there! Just hold it at 67°F for 24 hours after initially reaching that temperature.
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Conversion Words & Illustration Mark Brewer
CraftPittsburgh | issue 31
Hitchhiker Brewing is doing a fantastic job converting old school beer drinkers to craft beer with a brew they call Conversion
Conversion is an American Blonde Ale (4.5% ABV) that’s brewed with wheat and Lemon Crisp hops. It is very light yellow in color and is filtered thoroughly so it’s clear enough to see through. On your approach, you’ll notice the faint smell of lemongrass. Your first sip will unveil a clean-tasting beer that mimics many of the large mass-produced beers on the market today. The difference is that Conversion is made with local ingredients and without preservatives or GMO’s which many of the mass-produced beers contain. The tastes of wheat bread, cracker, and malt are very wellbalanced. There is no bitterness present which is typical for an American Blonde. Conversion is moderately carbonated and, upon swallowing, you’ll experience a very crisp, slightly malty, finish with a hint of lemon on the back end that won’t linger. For beer drinkers who are reluctant to try craft beer, quite literally this beer is for you! Conversion was brewed to ‘bridge the gap’ or help ‘convert’ those who haven’t yet embraced craft beer. Hitchhiker Brewing Co. is located in Mt. Lebanon at 190 Castle Shannon Blvd. The brewery is intimate in size which invites small talk with patrons and an opportunity to make new friends. The beer is delicious and Hitchhiker offers a small menu with munchies to help you enjoy one more round. Mark Brewer is the author & illustrator of Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers
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