Exploring Western Pennsylvania Beer Culture Since 2010 • Independent • Free
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
table of contents
Editorâ€™s Notes Upcoming Events Hoppy Couple - Stick City Brewing Beer Business Chronicles - Brian Reed Rick Bach Pints & Plates - Four Points Brewing Pin Pals - Andrew Fillipponi & Chris Mueller Hart's Reviews... Homebrewing - American Rye Cooking with Beer - Ginga Wheat Chicken Tagine
5. 6. 8. 12. 18. 26. 32. 38. 41. 44.
CAaNS g n i s rele 2019
P•Scout Media, LLC
Rob Soltis email@example.com
Mike Weiss firstname.lastname@example.org
COPY EDITOR Nathan Stimmel
Tom Garzarelli email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS Joe Tammariello, Brian Conway, Amanda Stein, Jack Smith, Mindy Heisler-Johnson, Hart Johnson, Tom Marshall
PHOTOGRAPHERS Jeff Zoet, Buzzy Torek
Soltis Design soltisdesign.com
Rick Bach Mural @Mad Mex Canonsburg
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
FOR INFORMATION ON CONTRIBUTING EDITORIAL CONTENT OR PLACING DISPLAY ADVERTISING PLEASE CONTACT US AT TOM@CRAFTPITTSBURGH.COM Craft Pittsburgh is issued bi-monthly by P•Scout Media, LLC for readers of legal drinking age. All information and materials in this magazine, individually and collectively, are provided for informational purposes. The contents of this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of P•Scout Media, LLC., nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without expressed written permission from the publisher. Advertisements are subject to the approval of P•Scout Media, LLC. P•Scout Media, LLC. reserves the right to reject or omit any advertisement at any time for any reason. Advertisers assume responsibility and complete liability for all content in their ads.
A few weeks ago our Managing Editor Mike Weiss came into the office sporting a sketchy, slightly infected tattoo of a 16oz can on a tombstone with a banner reading "In memery of my memery" which he ironically doesn't recall getting. Just a normal Wednesday at CraftPittsburgh. Since this is the art issue we took to the Instagrams to find some actual good beer tattoos. At the time of writing this the hashtag "BeerTattoo" has nearly 10,000 results. That's dedication. artist: @digionicola canvas: unknown
artist: @cody_tattoo canvas: unknown
artist: @karan_sarin canvas: @unknown
artist: @seangardnerisawesome canvas: @fobanana
artist: @jona_sossi canvas: @herrero_martin
HEADSWBIECSHT ES PGHâ€™
MUNCHIES 42 TAPS
artist: @tcbtattootoronto canvas: @unknown
artist: @leonardoadriantattoos canvas: @luqabrizuela
artist: @katecollinsart canvas: @queer_beer
SUNSHINE 15PK CANS AVAILABLE
A s b u r g h, P
BUMBLE BERRY 15PK CANS AVAILABLE
artist: @fabriziomele canvas: @unknown
Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 4-6pm 1805 E. CARSON ST. PITTSBURGH
CALL FOR TAKEOUT 412.431.7433
For the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of local beer events check out:
CraftPGH.com April • 20 Commonwealth Press BEER Barge @ Gateway Clipper • 26-27 Brewski Festival @ Seven Springs • 27 Pedal Pale Ale Keg Ride @ East End Brewing • 26 - May 5 Caliente Craft Beer Week @ All Locations
May • 1 10 years in the Steel City @ Hofbrauhaus • 2 Pink Boots Society Takeover @ Piper's Pub • 11 10th Anniversary Oyster Fest @ Blue Dust • 10 Zoo Brew @ PGH Zoo • 10 Pour at the Park @ South Park • 11 3rd Annual North Hills Home Brew Fest @ Syria Pavilion • 11 Butler Street Wish Crawl @ Lawreceville • 11 3 Rivers Comicon Beer Release @ Waterfront • 19 North Hills Food Truck Festival @ St. Teresa of Avila • 24 Arts N' Drafts @ Helltown Taproom, Export • 25 Barnyard Beer Benefit @ Gilfillan Farm
June • 1 PGH Taco Fest @ Highmark Stadium • 5 Mars Brew Fest @ Mars, PA • 15 Beer & Gear Festival @ Ohiopyle • 29 PGH All-Star Beer Festival @ PNC Park • 30 Yuengling Gold Rush 5k @ Stage AE
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
• 12 Deutschtown Music Festival @ Deutschtown • 12-13 PGH Summer Beerfest @ Stage AE • 13 Whiskey Rebellion Festival @ Washington, PA • 28 Forged on the Yough Brew Festival @ West Newton
August • 10 Fresh Fest 2019 @ Nova Place
ABV) which got its name from the PA state flower, The Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia). Cool name! This beer was hazy, fruity, and florally, which, when all combined, created a delicious and refreshing IPA, even on a cold February day.
Believe it or not, the atmosphere at Stick City is that of a brewery! We were sitting at our table, comfortably surrounded by kegs of beer and all kinds of brewing equipment and fermentation tanks—some really cool stuff to get up close and personal with. You don’t even need a tour! Outside, Stick City has a beautiful, large fire pit roaring with people hanging out, feeding the fire, and sipping on some brews. After our visit to Stick City, we mentioned to my parents that they should check it out. Here’s a direct text message from my father: “I have to say, the sticks brewery seemed like the most friendliest brewery we have been to.” The Hoppy Couple agrees. Nick really gave us a great backstory of their operations and the time flew by.
Stick City Brewing Co. 109 Irvine St. Mars stickcitybeer.com
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Stick City Brewing Company (Stick City) is located north of Pittsburgh in a small town called Mars, PA. You may have heard of the planet named Mars; this is different. Stick City got its name because the owners grew up in central PA and would joke that they were going out to “Stick City”, which meant their fishing/camping area that they frequent—a beautiful place in nature to relax and reset—and that’s what they want their brewery to be. The brewery itself is located almost directly in the middle of town, making it walkable for many residents, a trend that harkens back to the days when you walked to the local brewery to fill your jugs. A time most of us likely weren't around. Stick City is easy to find and has ample parking, so don’t worry about having to parallel park.
We got to talk with Nick Salkeld, brewer and part owner of Stick City, and he filled us in on some great details about their establishment. Stick City is family-owned-and-operated with the idea that they wanted the brewery to be a place where the entire community can gather. Nick and his family have been brewing beer since the early 1990s and it shows, as they seem to have really refined their taste and process. My favorite beer of theirs, being into hazy IPAs at the moment, was the Latifolia (6.9%
Stick City, along with many, many other breweries, is taking advantage of the brewery/food truck symbiotic relationship. Why deal with kitchens, food inspections, and hiring a kitchen and serving staff when you can invite a new food truck to park outside every day, switching up the cuisine? Stick City provides a food truck schedule on their website and it is always up to date—quite a bit into the future, too! The night we visited Stick City, Hoshi was there. Hoshi (meaning “star” in Japanese) is a Japanese hibachi-style food truck and it is quite delicious. I opted for the shrimp hibachi with noodles. No kidding, this dish had like 15 shrimp on it at a very reasonable price. I know I’ll be on the lookout for them at other events!
If you’re anything like us, you may live near the city, work in the city, and play in the city, so it’s nice to slow down and breathe some fresh air once in a while. That once in a while for us was taking a drive out to “the sticks” to visit Stick City Brewing Company, a new neighborhood staple in the small town of Mars. We were actually out playing in the city one night when a reader recognized us, stopped by to say hi, told us about how great Stick City is, and how much we would love it. So thanks, new friend - you were absolutely right! It might be a bit of a drive from the city (about 30-40 minutes from Pittsburgh), but if you drive around a little more, you’ll make it to ShuBrew in Zelienople, Pig Iron Public House in Cranberry, and Butler Brew Works in Butler - now that sounds like a day well spent.
Okay, normally this is where I would tell you about all of the tasty beer they brew and list my favorites, but of course their beer is delicious or you wouldn’t be reading this (alright—my favorite is the Lenticular Galaxy Hazy IPA). Instead, I want to tell you about something they’re brewing up that’s even more important than beer. Stick City donates 1% of their gross annual sales to protecting “the sticks” that is their namesake. These funds go to the PA Parks and Forest Foundation and the Western PA Conservancy, both of which serve to protect the water, hiking trails, parks, shelters, and more in our state parks and wildlife. Stick City is the only brewery in PA committed to doing this and that is a tall pour of kindness and generosity if you ask me.
Since head brewer Nick basically grew up with a homebrewer, it makes sense that he dove headfirst into the brewing world, perfecting even his most challenging of beers, his Arctos Pilsner. Nick, his parents, and his siblings are all involved in running the brewery, too. This family-run
’S ENJOY PITTSBURGTH BEST RIVERFRON BIER GARTEN! Enjoy great beer, great food and fun times with family and friends. Featuring a wide selection of traditional beers brewed each day on-site, an award-winning menu and live music in a vibrant environment modeled after the legendary 400+ year-old Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany.
THIS PLACE IS WUNDERBAR!
PITTSBURGH 2705 SOUTH WATER STREET, PITTSBURGH 412-224-2328 | HOFBRAUHAUSPITTSBURGH.COM
BREWERY & RESTAURANT
brewery opens its doors to other families, as well, including kiddos, couples, groups of friends, doggos, and even Bluegrass musicians. You heard me: Stick City has Bluegrass jam sessions twice a month where local musicians can join in and just get their jam on together. Nick said some of these jams are so good and the musicians are so “in tune” with each other (see what I did there?!) that they just let them keep jammin’ for a while, even after the taproom is closed.
Stick City’s food truck arsenal has allowed them to become the local gathering place they strived to become. When a food truck is at Stick City (which is just about every day they’re open), locals will walk, bike, or drive on over to pick up something from the truck—even if they’re not big on beer, some folks will grab food and hang while others may take it to go. Some of the trucks that frequent Stick City are Hoshi (which we absolutely devoured this visit), Mission Mahi, Pgh Po Boy, Papa Wood Pizza, Olympos Gyros, and Billu’s India Grill on Wheels. Clearly a very diverse offering! Stick City keeps their social media quite up to date with a food truck schedule each week so you can always see what your options are.
With summer fast approaching, it’s a great time to take a drive with the windows down and visit a new place. We suggest getting out of the concrete jungle and heading to Stick City Brewing where you can enjoy a beer around the fire. Their beer tastes good and does good by supporting our PA parks and forests! Tell Nick The Hoppy Couple sent you!
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
The Hoppy Couple is one part Joe Tammariello and one part Amanda Stein. 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. Say “Cheers!” if you see us out!
BEER BUSINESS CHRONICLES Words Jason Cercone
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Certification Program with Master Cicerone
With copious amounts of beer available pretty much everywhere you frequent, it's never uncommon to encounter an offering or two that hasn't previously hit your radar. Whether it be the latest release from your favorite brewery or a new style you'd like to experience, it's only human to seek out answers about these beers before ponying up the six bucks required to have it poured for you.
To not drink beer is not the point. If you're a server and don't prefer beer, that's your choice and you're fully entitled to it. However, if you work in an establishment where craft beer is prominent and you're not able to provide some simple, easy-to-absorb information about beers featured on your menu, you're damaging the reputation of your brand. This can result in a number of negative outcomes: a diminished experience for customers. Lesser tips. A higher possibility customers may never come back. Bad online reviews. Just to name a few.
"Tell me more about this beer." "What's the story with this style?" "I've never had this beer before. Is there anything you'd compare it to?" These are typical questions you may ask your server in order to assure you're ready to move forward. And with beer's popularity being at an all-time high and climbing, nothingâ€”I repeat, nothingâ€”is more frustrating than your server responding with something to the tune of, "I don't know. I don't drink beer."
Today, it's a different landscape. Beer has easily caught up to, if not surpassed, the wines and spirits of the world, and plays a prominent role in all levels of society. Innovation drives curiosity and beer drinkers new and experienced are constantly seeking information about diverse, exciting products. And those who can provide that information, even on the most elementary of levels, will continue to push the industry in a positive direction.
Beer is no longer a backroom drink or something you just consume "at the ballgameâ€?. For most of us, beer was never classified as such. But for many years, beer trailed wine and spirits in the race for sophistication. Dinners and food pairings revolved around selecting the perfect wine. Smokers carefully chose the best bourbon or rye whiskey to pair with their favorite cigar.
It's that philosophy that makes the Cicerone Certification Program such a vital part of the beer industry. The Cicerone, which is derived from the Italian word for "guide," was the brainchild of Ray Daniels, author of Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles. Daniels was also part of the initial group that launched the Brewers Association. On a fateful night in a Colorado bar in 2006, Daniels, alongside fellow beer experts Lyn Kruger and Randy Mosher, ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that looked cloudy and tasted sour and buttery. When they informed the waitress their tap lines needed cleaning, she told them that beer always looked and tasted that way and there was nothing she could do. Daniels felt it was time to develop a platform that would educate the men and women standing between a brewery and the consumer. His program would help beer industry professionals at all levels provide better hospitality, enhance their knowledge on beer styles and brewing processes, serve beer from proper (and clean) glassware, and help servers talk confidently about beer with consumers. In early 2008, the first group of people officially became "Cicerone Certified Beer Servers" and the program was off to the races. Today, many bar and brewery owners require new servers to prepare and take the Certified Beer Server Certification once they begin working at their establishments in order to provide a more well-rounded experience for guests. According to the Cicerone website's directory, over 100,000 men and women have obtained Cicerone Certification at one of the four levels offered. As of press time for this feature, only 18 people across the globe have reached the level of Master Cicerone. And one of those individuals is in our own backyard. Brian Reed lives in Beaver County and has worked at every level of the beer industry, from helping package and label bottles to his current role with MillerCoors performing channel marketing initiatives with grocery store chains. He also teaches classes for the Cicerone program as well, some of which have unfolded here in Pittsburgh. Brian was gracious enough to share his experience going through the Cicerone Certification Program and helps paint a clear picture of the platform's importance in today's beer world.
What is the Cicerone Certification Program and how does it make the beer industry better? Ray Daniels looked at the Sommelier program in the wine world and asked "Why don't we have something like this for beer?". People have created various certification programs over the years, but Ray laid everything out in a very digestible, organized way and spread the word very well. It's become the industry standard from a professional certification standpoint. It enhances beer knowledge and leads to better experiences for consumers.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Tell us about the various levels of the program.
The Certified Beer Server level is an online exam that's designed to get retailers, wholesalers, servers, and beer-adjacent industries up to speed so they speak knowledgeably and confidently about beer with consumers. I do a lot of trainings to help retailers and wholesalers prepare for this exam. The second level is the Certified Cicerone. It's an in-person exam and is a major jump up in terms of complexity. There's a tasting component that can be a little intimidating for some people. You're put on the spot
in terms of off-flavor and style identification. In some instances, you know what you're tasting. Other components are administered blind. There's a small presentation aspect to it, along with multiple choice, essay, and fill in the blank questions. It takes several hours to complete. The third level is Advanced Cicerone, which is a new level added a few years back because the leap from the Certified to Master level was so great, many people were failing. It's a full-day exam where you get into a very detailed, intimate knowledge about the brewing process, some very science-heavy topics, and the tastings are much more involved. And the Master Cicerone is all of that, but taken to an even higher level. It's a two-day exam designed to put a lot of stress on you and put you through the ringer. You walk out of that exam feeling like you went through 12 rounds.
What's the night in between the Master Cicerone testing like? It's the longest night there is. For me, it was not a fun experience. There are components of the test that are fun. But, for the most part, it's stressful as hell.
Do you take the test on your own or are there others taking the test with you? Usually 20-25 people take it at the same time and they split the test up between two groups. One group will spend the entire morning doing essays while the other will do the oral examinations where you're in a room with whoever the expert is on a particular topic. It could be John Mallett blind taste-testing malts or beer and food pairings with Randy Mosher. The groups swap in the afternoon and do the other half of the exam. Then, the next day, you do it all over again.
I took the test three times. You need an 85% to pass and, the first time, I got an 83.6%. I was surprised I did that well. The second time, I did worse. I over-corrected myself in a few areas and it led to a lower final score. The final time was considerably better. I was happy I passed and I was also very happy it was over.
Did you want a beer when it was over? After the first day, a lot of the nerves go away. So that night, I had a good dinner and a couple of beers. After you're done, you're not thinking about
How well did you score on the Master Cicerone exam?
getting through it anymore. You're thinking "How did I do?". So I wasn't thinking about having a beer. The hardest part is you have to wait a couple months to get your results.
Do you think the Certified Beer Server Certification is something establishments need to take more seriously? Absolutely. At any conference I attend, there is always major emphasis on quality and service because those two things are a bit of a threat to our industry right now. From the quality aspect, with the rate new breweries are opening in our country, you're going to have bad beer. Hopefully the market will force them to get better or they won't make it. And, there are so many resources out there for anyone to improve their practices, there's no excuse to make bad beer. The Cicerone program is definitely one of those resources.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
One of the things some breweries struggle with, but are just starting to get their hands wrapped around, is service. I'll call out Cinderlands as a company that's doing a great job with this. From the presentation of the beer to the cleanliness of the glassware to the specific pour they're looking for with a particular style, they're doing things right. There are more places emphasizing this. Eleventh Hour Brewing is also doing a great job using the proper glassware for different styles, the beer is poured properly, and the glasses are clean. I've been to places where breweries are pouring beers into dirty Bud Light shaker pints and I wonder, "What is that doing for your brand?". Having a robust strategy around those types of things will be a sink or swim move for breweries going forward.
What is some advice you'd give a person who's preparing to take any level of the Certification Program? The people who are grading these exams can sniff out a bullshitter pretty quick. So don't try to bullshit your way through it because the people grading the exam will see through it. Answer the question in front of you as accurately as you can. Also, get hands-on experience in the areas where you know you're lacking. If you're a brewer, maybe get some experience hosting beer and food pairing events. If you work in marketing or the retail side, brew beer. It's very easy to break into homebrewing these days. Or, you can offer to volunteer at a local brewery. You need to be well rounded, especially at the higher levels of the program. Hands-on experience goes a long way. To check out the Cicerone course schedule and find out when a class will be taking place near you, visit cicerone.org.
Jason Cercone is the founder of Breaking Brews and is the executive director of Pittsburgh Libations Week. Learn more by visiting breakingbrews.com.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Words Nathan Stimmel Interview & Photos Rob Soltis
art has become integral within the beer scene in Pittsburgh. A veteran South Sider, Bach’s expressionist, anthropomorphic figures can be found organically woven into the walls, stalls, and bones of some of the ‘Burgh’s bestknown watering holes like Jack’s and Dee’s. His style has come to epitomize the aesthetic of Mad Mex, where he’s taken on the mantle of “house artist” across the restaurant’s many locations.
“My dad owned a body shop; growing up I was airbrushing Frank Frazetta images onto Harley tanks.” Bach was fortunate enough to have a father who encouraged his creative pursuit—not the norm for what he calls the “dirt collar area” where he came of age. “I did a mural in my high school that was 120 feet long and seven feet high,” he reminisces. “It was the 70’s, so the people in the mural were smoking dope, getting high. But then in the 80’s Nancy Reagan told everyone to ‘Just Say No’, so they painted over it.” Spending his younger years in a garage was a “lucky inspiration”, bridging naturally to using metal as a canvas. But Bach knew he couldn’t spend his life in a small town. “I burnt too many bridges. I couldn’t drive through Zelienople without getting pulled over, because they were like, ‘He’s gotta be up to some shit’.” In his early twenties, Bach joined the Pittsburgh diaspora, heading to Oklahoma City and getting connected with that city’s punk scene, where California bands would stop on their way to Texas.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Fleeing burnt bridges in OKC led him back to Pittsburgh, where Bach attended the Art Institute, with punk aspirations in tow. “I wanted to start a band but my friends were like, ‘How do you do that?’. Playing guitar's not that hard—you hold with this hand and swing
By the time he was done the tab almost covered the cost of the mural. with this one.” This led to years in punk bands, which dovetailed naturally with his underground visual aesthetic. Bach found a kindred spirit in janitorby-day and metal-sculptor-by-night Bill Wessell. “We both lived in the Brew House on South Side and he’d take me to the scrap yard, help me salvage sheets of metal, show me how to cut them with a blow torch. Pretty soon I had my own torch and was doing it myself.” He found unlikely patrons in the owners of classic South Side dives. “I lived around the corner from Jack’s and Dee’s in the early 90’s, and the now-deceased owner [of Dee’s], Bill [Martin], wanted me to do a big mural on their back wall. So while I was working on it for four or five hours, he’d deduct my drinks from what he was paying me. I’d get done with one and he’d go ‘Hey, do you want another shot?’ ‘Sure!’ ‘You wanna get your friends a shot?’ ‘Heck yeah!’” By the time he was done the tab almost covered the cost of the mural."
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Similarly, occupying a regular stool at Jack’s led to commissioning posters, filling the bar’s wall over time. But Bach considers a mural he did for Harris Grill a landmark in his repertoire. “That’s one of the most intricate pieces I did; there’s a bunch of shellac in it, and lots of subtle tones of golds and browns. There was a lot of cocaine around town back then, so I spent a lot of time on that mural—go in at 10 o’clock and work til four in the morning. It’s survived a couple fires now!”
A friend caught wind in 1996 that a new restaurant in the Strip, Kaya, was opening soon and on the lookout for an artist to create murals in their restrooms. He sent them Bach. “I was in a closed room for three days just spray-painting. They were like, ‘Man, this guy’s fuckin’ nuts!’” Another artist with Kaya’s and Mad Mex’s parent company, Big Burrito, recommended he create interiors for Mad Mex’s Philadelphia location in 1997. “They paid me enough to cover rent for a year, in monthly installments.”
“Go to work, try to do good things, and let other people decide if they’re better than good.” “I don’t know what came first, the horse or the cow. I’d always done horses - the first things I drew were horses and Batman. [laughs] Over time I developed all these weird characters, like the cow band and the cut-outs. Over the last 25 years, there’s definitely a visual language that’s not specific to Mad Mex but lends itself to it, and I’m positive that the work I make now wouldn’t look the way it looks if I hadn’t started doing this stuff.” Bach established himself as a creative voice—and a reliable worker. “I’d come into a new space and Tom [Baron, Mad Mex co-founder] would just let me go. Before a new spot opens they give me a size, and they give me a year, and at the end of the year I give them what I make.” Anyone who’s been to a Mad Mex once is familiar with the immersive, installation-like nature of Bach’s work. He doesn’t “make pieces” so much as conjure panoramic, mixed media environments that nod to outsider artists like Norma Gatto or Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens in Philadelphia in their depth. His youthful energy isn’t without selfawareness: “I think I’m still a teenage boy ‘cause I love to draw skulls and curvy women. I can’t help it!”
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
After decades of carving his way into the art scene and the DNA of Pittsburgh, Bach is staring down 60. “You probably know, I was a blackout drunk and addict for 30 years, but I still functioned and I worked every day. My work’s much better now.”
“I’m looking at doing a pretty big career retrospective at 60, of mid to early, late career,” says Bach. “It would be great if Mortals Key [Brewing] really took off,” referring to the Pymatuning brewery. “I’m getting ready to do three new labels for them. I don’t know—just always trying to do better work today than I did yesterday. Go to work, try to do good things, and let other people decide if they’re better than good. Just getting out and hustling—and it helps if the work’s good.”
Follow Rick on Instagram @Rickbach365
This Photo and the one to the right courtesy of Rick Bach
ENJOY A DRINK ON THE PATIO GREENSBURG, PA
Slow down Stop in, Sit a while ...
pints & plates
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Words Brian Conway Photos Buzzy Torek
Effect” Whether you know him as Pretty Ricky, Rick Sea-Bass, or the Pope of Pittsburgh, no one knows and showcases the region's hidden delights like the good-humored, wellmustachioed, Emmy-nominated Rick Sebak. In October 2017, WQED Pittsburgh premiered Nebby, a new documentary series showcasing “Rick Sebak's Tales of Greater Pittsburgh.” Episode One, “A Short History of Route 88,” took viewers on a 68 mile trek from Overbrook in Pittsburgh south through Washington County to Port Marion in Fayette. Located one block back from 88 on 4th St. in Charleroi, Fourth Street Barbeque so impressed Sebak over lunch one afternoon he decided to include them in Nebby. That's when owner, Dave Barbe, experienced...(dramatic pause)... The Sebak Effect. “When that show came out, it was like the freaking floodgates opened,” said Barbe. “It was a lot of younger folks, it was a lot of older folks, it was everyone.” To this day, Fourth Street gets a solid bump in customers the few days after PBS re-airs Nebby. But for the past nine months, crowds have been flocking to Fourth Street for another reason: Four Points Brewing, the latest stop in CraftPittsburgh's Plates and Pints series. Dave Barbe opened Fourth Street Barbeque in October, 2012, and worked with his father before gradually taking over the entire operation, closing it down for six months in early 2015 to renovate. “I loved barbeque growing up,” Barbe told us, but he didn't have any restaurant or culinary background. “I went to Duquesne for communication and marketing,” he said. With dedication and help from others he became pitmaster, a position he held for four years. “I smelled like it all the time,” he said. “It was like it was running in my veins.” Barbe has taken a step back from the kitchen in recent years to focus on the businesses. At Four Points, Chef Tim Emery runs the kitchen. Previously from Vivo Kitchen in Sewickley,
he's got “chef” tattooed on his knuckles, and he and his sous chefs put out a fresh, compact, ever-changing taproom menu with rotating specials like smoked wings, black balsamic pork loin, or a crab cake, bacon, and avocado ranch sandwich. “We're all about molding and twisting flavors of different cuisines,” he said. Despite his readiness to combine cuisines, from a business standpoint, Four Points and Fourth Street will remain distinct entities, with their own unique menus and vibe.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
That being said, if you come to Charleroi for barbeque you can still order the meat sampler at Four Points. It's a selection of ribs, pork belly, brisket, and a bunch more smoked meats served with white bread, pickled veggies, and all the sauces.
The CraftPittsburgh contingent is joined at Four Points by Barbe, brewer Adam Boura, and Briggitte Nguyen, who handles brewery design and social media. CraftPittsburgh contributor and Four Points sales representative Jason Cercone bridges the divide. We sit together at a long stone table upstairs in a room for private events. Downstairs in the taproom, “Four Points Brewing” glows in clean white neon over some 25 stainless steel taps. Tall glass windows overlook the brewhouse below and run parallel the long black marble bar that anchors the space together. The first dish is ahi tuna crudo. Chef Emery calls it a mixture of Italian and Asian flavors. It’s a fresh, clean medley of thinly sliced raw tuna with balsamic reduction, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, raw diced vegetables, and homemade truffle oil.
Deep-fried tofu is next, with napa carrot slaw, which eases us into some of barbeque flavors that would follow: hearty, sticky Asian spare ribs, stacked artfully and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Up until now we've been freestyling the beer, mostly unconcerned with pairings because we've been having too much fun to notice. The juicy and refreshing Fourth Street IPA is as good as anything you'll grab at most better Pittsburgh breweries. They plan to can it around their first anniversary in July. Brewer Adam Boura met Barbe three years ago. He had been a serious homebrewer for seven years before making the jump, and said he always knew he wanted to do it professionally. He hated his last job as a carpenter, but the skill came in handy when he put together the wood-paneled walls at the taproom downstairs. Boura keeps the draft list well stocked with about a dozen beers, including a couple big stouts, lagers, Belgians, and a bunch of IPAs, including an impressive “Blueberry Tolerance” milkshake double IPA that doesn't overwhelm with sweetness.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
We're treated next to crispy, tender cubes of pork belly, brined and smoked, then covered in a mango bourbon cream sauce on top of garlic-parmesan risotto. If that wasn't enough, the dish is followed by sous vide mako shark, with oranges, tarragon, and basil, with raw and fried corn tossed with Mae Ploy Thai chili sauce.
As our conversation continues, we learn a thing or two about our new friends and the area. Coolio, it turns out, is from nearby Monessen. And Barbe said there's a Mon Valley style of barbeque sauce, heavy on tomato sauce, celery seed, and cayenne, made famous at Jerome's Jungle Club in Gallatin, Forward Township. In February, Sebak was back, this time at Four Points, to host game night. Not “game” as in “Scattergories”, but the first in a series of occasional chef's dinners, this time with dishes like yak meatballs and smoked kangaroo. “He asked what he needed to do for it,” said Chef Emery. “I told him, 'Just walk around and be Rick Sebak’.” We cap the night with “the best almond torte ever”, in Chef Emery's estimation, from their dessert guy at Simply Baked, just down the road on 88. It's elevated by a pairing with the thick and chewy Twilight Hollow chocolate raspberry stout. “This place is worth the trip,” said brewer Boura. “There’s a lot to enjoy here. We have great beer, and the food to back it up. Or maybe I'm just backing up the food with the beer, I don't know!” This theme of a brewery that places equal emphasis on food and beer alike is something we discussed a few months back for Plates and Pints at Cinderlands Beer Co. in Lawrenceville. What was once seen as a way to differentiate a craft brewery in a crowded marketplace may grow more and more necessary, and we at Pints and Plates are totally okay with that.
Words Tom Marshall Photos Jeff Zoet
10 Frames | 10 Beers LIGHT
Pilsner (Champagne of Beers)
Bean Me Up
Imperial Coffee Stout
Peach Rose Apple Ale
Paint By Numbers Morning Sky
Imperial Coffee & Chocolate Stout
Distopian Dream Girl
Hazy India Pale Ale
Wild Ale w/ Cherries & Honey
American Amber Ale
Barrel-Aged Wheat w/ Orange Peel
Hoppy Dark Ale
Brasserie Bois Blanc
“Noob” England IPA
Pin Pals is a bi-monthly installment where I interview a veritable who's who of the craft beer world at a bowling alley. We drink beer, shoot the shit, and of course bowl. In this installment, we are bowling and chatting with local craft beer advocates, Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller, who host 93.7 The Fan’s “PM Team Show”.
ANDREW: I went to school at Syracuse University. I love Syracuse sports, and I'm obsessed with Jim Boeheim. I would say that the New York Giants beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl is still the best day of my life. I’d put that ahead of my own wedding. I have two dogs. I love my dogs, but if someone offered me a trade and said, ‘The New York Mets can win the World Series, but you need to trade in one your dogs’, I would absolutely make that deal. Don't tell my wife...hopefully she doesn't read this article. I got married in 2017. My wife is from Bethel Park, and we met online. It was the first and only “Match.com date” I ever went on, so I'm one for one...hitting a thousand. Not quite Mueller's nine 3’s, but I'm one for one on there. I moved here in 2010 for the radio show, and I started off on a show by myself. Then I was paired with Ron Cook, and I’ve been working with Chris Mueller for the past few months. I’m obviously super passionate about all things Pittsburgh sports. Yeah, that's me in a nutshell. CHRIS: I’m 33. I'm a Ross Township guy, and I live in Carnegie now, so Pittsburgh born and bred. I went to North Catholic and Penn State. My mom is from Cleveland so I do have dual loyalties. Her family owned a bar that was attached to their house in Cleveland, and my younger sister and I had our first drink as legal adults there. So I knew the bar culture from a very early age. When I got engaged, I propose to my now wife and the mother of our young son, at Fat Head’s in the South Side. We took our wedding pictures at Fat Head’s too. I am a “Sunday Funday” kind of guy down there. I love going to breweries, and I love craft beer. I only got into it about five or six years ago and never looked back. I didn't realize what I had been missing out on, as far as drinking bad beer and then realizing that there was much better beer out there. It was one of those eye-opening moments. I've been doing radio on 93.7 The Fan afternoons on The PM Team with Andrew Fillipponi for a couple months now, and I've been working with The Fan for about nine years now, on the air afternoons for six years.
Tell us about your history with beer. When did you start drinking craft beer? Did anyone help you get into craft beer? ANDREW: Of all the people who have influenced me on beer, my mom is by far the number one advocate. My mom just turned 60 this year, and I don't know how she does it. She'd go to a yoga class, come home and drink a six pack...like every day. So I had very bohemian, progressive minded mother. She was one of those moms who would say, “Oh, it'll put some hair on your chest” and “You're 16 years old, want to invite some friends over, and I'll supply the beer?”. That was the whole dynamic we
Chris Mueller and Andrew Fillipponi
had. She was the type of person who would not be overly officious and wouldn't look at underage drinking and think “You're going to ruin your life” or “You're not going to get into the college if you drink”. I would say that I kind of stumbled into craft beer. It definitely started when I went to Southern Tier Brewery in western New York. For about a year, I got into beers with coffee, chocolate, or espresso flavoring. And when you work with this doofus [points to Mueller], that's all he talks about. He's got more craft beer knowledge in this pinky than I have in my brain. I'm all over the place with the food and drink that I get into. One month it will be wines, and then I'll get really into coffees. I feel the same way about beers. If someone puts me on to a certain style of beer, I’ll want to research it and look into it as much as I can. CHRIS: I'm a late bloomer in terms of liking beer. I went to Penn State Main Campus, so there were lots of accessible parties even as an 18 or 19-yearold, and I'll admit to a little underage drinking. At the time I was more of a cheap vodka guy, things like White Tavern which is cheaper than Vladimir even. Despite coming from a family where my mom owned a bar, my taste for beer developed later in college and even then it was just for crappy light beer. Around 21 was probably when I started considering myself a “beer guy”. What ended up pushing me into craft beer was strange. In college, a couple of my friends and I had spoken in hushed tones about a few beers: Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which we called “Christmas Jail” because everyone treated it like it was Natty. They thought they could just drink a ton of it, and then they found out very quickly that was not the case. Also Erie Railbender which we called “Erie Jailbender”, very creatively. Same difference. If you would drink a lot of it, you would end up in a place you didn't want to be. So one day I was looking for Great Lakes Christmas Ale, but I couldn't find it anywhere and stumbled upon Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, which I brought home to share with the family—everyone that had one and was blown away by how good it was. It was one of those “Well, we're having this from now on” kind of moments. At that point I knew a little bit about good beer, but didn't care really to explore it too much until then. And I'll be honest, I don't remember the exact progression into craft beer, and it's not because I spent it in a haze of drinking. When I was early on with The Fan, I was still living with my parents. Yes, overnight radio is not glamorous, and not necessarily lucrative. When I finally moved out and moved down to the Mexican War streets with a buddy of mine, we would go down to Fat Heads on Sunday mornings. That was probably 2012 or really late 2011, and I got hooked. At first, my friend and I would go down there and get Bloody Marys, but then I started getting into Headhunter. My first beer education was from Joe and Benny from Fat Head’s, and from then on it's been like a rocket ship climb into all the different styles.
Tell the readers about yourself.
question. When I think of guilty pleasure beer, I think of beer that most people would say “That’s so fucking gross”, but it's the perfect beer when its two o'clock in the morning and you're home and you're like, “I don't really care if people judge me for this”. I don't do Pabst Blue Ribbon or Natty Light, but if you're just going to line up all the beer that I've ever had to drink in my entire life, I think High Life would outnumber everything. I don't know how I got this in my head, but when I was in college I somehow wanted to think that High Life was the superior of the lower end of beers. So if you're left with Keystone Light and Natural Light, I felt that if I showed up at a party with High Life people thought it was like just a cut above. Which it really wasn't, it was still like dirt cheap, and we were getting like thirties for like $8.99.
And obviously Glenn Benigni owner and founder of Fat Head’s, it would be absurd for me, not to mention him. There are a lot of people who I’m proud to say I'm friends with now who have helped me get into craft beer.
What do you look for in a craft beer? What styles are you most drawn to and why? ANDREW: Okay, so this is gonna sound bad, but basically for a while when I would go to a bar or restaurant and they would give you a beer menu, I would generally try to find the beer with the highest ABV. That was my first move [*laughs*], and I did that for a while. Now I'm also big into picking beer by, like, geographic location. For a while, I would look for beers that were unique to this area, and now I'm on a big kick of finding imported beer. ‘I've absolutely no exposure to this beer, no idea the history the brewery, or where the hell it is from, but it's got a cool label...so I'm going to try it.’ It's a lot of trial and error with the beers I’ve been trying recently. I feel like I'm a Hoover with beer, and I got a real open mind with things. I like bitter. I like semi-sweet stuff. I'm all over the map. I wouldn't say that there's one thing that I'm really into more than anything else. CHRIS: When I go to a new place, I'll get a flight to see if everything matches up. I don't have the most refined palate, but I know what tastes good and what is not the best. More than anything else, I am looking for beer that just “pops” and that it's not watered down tasting. As far as stylistically, the pale ale is probably my favorite style. It's such a niche style because it exists right between session and IPA. Fat Head’s Trailhead is a phenomenal pale ale and Sierra Nevada is a legendary craft beer. It's ubiquitous, no one thinks of it as “a pale ale” because it's just “Sierra Nevada”. It's like “Kleenex” basically. I think that the pale ale is a big proving ground for breweries. I love the hazy IPAs. I'm a hazeboi, I guess they would say. I also drink seasonally, so in the summer I want to drink kolsch and lagers. I’ve been enjoying this trend in craft beer, and the really good craft breweries have started to focus on lagers, pilsners, and the tougher to make beers where the conditions need to be more closely monitored. So right now it's winter, and I'm going to drink a lot of dark beer: porters, stouts, and stuff that is a little more malt forward. That's kind of how I look at it. I'm definitely a seasonal drinker.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
What’s your favorite beer and/or brewery? Do you have a guilty pleasure beer?
ANDREW: So, favorite brewery, I'll go with a sentimental pick: Saranac Brewery which is in upstate New York. It’s very close to where I grew up. My mom would get in the mood maybe once or twice a year where she’d say, “We should go on a brewery tour”, which was just an excuse to get to the bar that was at the end of the brewery tour. My mom will still go over there, and send me hats and stuff for the holidays from Saranac. I don't know how much it has to do with the beer itself, but whenever I see Saranac, it just reminds me of being back home. My taste in beer has changed so much over the years, but I'm big into oatmeal stout right now. I guess I'm more quality over quantity with beers. But guilty pleasure beer is a great
CHRIS: So my favorite beer, and I have joked with Glenn at Fat Head's about this a lot, is Alpine Nelson from San Diego. I don't know what it is. The flavor is so unique. It's a little cloudy. It's a little peppery. It's not a beer you find here in Pittsburgh very often, although you'll stumble into it in bottles and on tap once in a while. Also Fat Head’s Bean Me Up, which is in bottles now for the first time this year. I love coffee, and I drink a ton of it. I love beer, and I don't drink a ton of it because I want to look like I don't drink a lot of beer. That beer combines two of my favorite things, and it's super smooth. I would say Nelson and Bean Me Up are the two legit favorites, but there are so many others that I love, like Headhunter, Sunshine Daydream, and Founders KBS. There's an enormous roster of almost Hall-of-Famers for me. I don't ever get nervous about like running out of good beers to try because you know that the quality is going to be there. As far as a guilty pleasure beer—and I don't even feel guilty about it—I like original Coors Banquet Beer. But my guiltiest pleasure was when I was like about 22 years old, and my friends and I thought we were hot stuff. We would drink Natty Light out of bottles because we were convinced that it was much better quality...”I remember my first beer.” So the guiltiest pleasure of all time is Natty Light bottles.
Do you frequent any local craft breweries? If so which ones? What do you think of the local scene? ANDREW: I would say it's crazy, almost to the point where I feel there's something new popping up every day. And this might be the wrong way to look at it, but the people I hang out with, when they go new places, the quality of the local beer scene is a big way of measuring cities against each other. So you've got team/sports bragging rights and now beer bragging rights. You’d hear, “Charlotte's craft beer scene kicked our ass” and “Who gives a fuck that San Diego lost their football team. Have you've been out there for their beer?”. I think Pittsburgh's in a good spot with that. I live in the South Hills, and I feel like almost every part of town has its own craft beer spot now. When I moved there five years ago that definitely was not the case. I think that it is exciting that beer is the future of social activity and how people measure a city. You used to rank how a city’s restaurant scene would compare or how a city’s, like, club scene or sports teams would compare. Now I feel like craft breweries are on that spectrum. I haven't been to enough places where I can say like Pittsburgh's scene is Top Five or Top Ten, but it doesn't seem like there's any shortage of those types of places here. CHRIS: I think one of the coolest parts of the craft beer movement is that you're going to find a lot of places hyper local to you. I live in Carnegie, and I love Insurrection in Heidelberg. The food's really good. The beer is always rotating and very good. I’m also a big Grist House fan, partly because I have a dog and you can bring your dog there. But Grist House makes killer beer, too. Allegheny City makes good stuff, and that's a North Catholic guy behind that. That's near and dear to my heart that a North Catholic guys is behind that beer. Dancing Gnome, Cinderlands, Roundabout, I could go on and on. Hop Farm makes good stuff. East End makes good stuff. I guess this is my point: I could go on and on listing them. My wife and I, when we weren't even married yet, about three-and-a-half years ago went to San Diego as part of a big California trip. That is a city bumping with great beer, and a lot of the breweries are big: Stone, Ballast Point, Alpine, Green Flash, and Coronado. I think the Pittsburgh craft beer scene
On the trail or in the woo ds, we’re here fo r your post ri de ... refreshments .
Who would you like to have a beer with from the sports world (either local or national)? ANDREW: The answer to that question for me is Chris’s old cohost, Joe Sarkey. Starkey tells all these stories about how he was a complete madman. He'd get up on a unicycle ass-naked after drinking. He used to do shots of olive oil before he started drinking to make the digestive process work better. He’d start drinking somewhere, and he'd wake up in a different county. He has all these absurd, almost sitcom-style stories of his drinking. It’s the kind of shit that someone would tell you to “one-up” your story, and you'd be like, “That’s absolutely not true”. So then he just abruptly quit drinking entirely. Cold turkey. He won't even have a casual beer. So I wish I could like go back in time to when Starkey was like 22 or 23 years old. He’d drink Genny Cream Ale which is ...(Tom: A guilty pleasure?)... rancid. I don't know if “pleasureful” would be the word I would use to describe that beer. I wish that somehow someone had recorded some of his hijinx . If there was Snapchat back then, I don't know what he would be doing with himself now. CHRIS: So there are two people I would like to have a beer with in the celebrity sporting world in some form or fashion. I feel like, for the combination of swagger and general cool factor: Beaver Falls’ own Super Bowl III champion, Joe Namath. He would be a pretty cool dude to just kick back and knock a few back with. But I’ll take this opportunity to tell a quick beer story from my uncle who was my mom's brother (so he grew up in the bar situation). I'm a big boxing fan. My all-time favorite boxer is Smokin’ Joe Frazier. My uncle was sitting in a bar one day and in walked Joe Frazier with his manager. Joe Frazier ordered, according to my uncle, a pint glass full of ice and Hennessy and topped it off with a swirl of Courvoisier. My uncle worked up the nerve go say hello to him and sit down next to them because nobody else did. He started in with, “Hey, champ, big fan.”, and Joe Frazier engaged him in a 45 minute conversation about pretty much anything. My uncle was asking questions like “Did you really hate Ali?”, and Frazier said, “In the Thrilla in Manila, I wanted to kill him. We were trying to kill each other in the ring”. That story is so much cooler than anything I could come up with as far as having a couple drinks with an athlete. I almost feel ridiculous saying anybody, but Joe Namath would be a cool guy because of everything he's accomplished. Other than that my previous cohost, Joe Starkey, who has told so many stories about his wild days as a drinker. I just want to teleport back in time to be able to have a couple beers with him. I know it would turn into 15 beers, given the stories he tells, and he would be drinking olive oil to coat his stomach or warm rum. But I want to see Joe in that element, just pounding Genny Cream on the beaches of Lake Erie.
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.
pound-for-pound is super, super active and good. Pittsburgh has a bunch of genuine, honest-to-God really good smaller breweries. I think people that live in Pittsburgh and like craft beer are very lucky.
How can the readers connect with you? ANDREW: I am on “The PM Team” on 93.7 The Fan weekdays with Chris Mueller. The “Radio.Com” app is a great way to hear us. You can download it in any app store, and it doesn't cost anything. You could be over in Germany for Oktoberfest, and you could listen to our show if you want to. You can even listen to “The PM Team” on Alexa. Ask Alexa to listen to “The PM Team” or “Poni & Mueller” and the show will pop up. I also have a CBS Sports Radio show which is in Sundays from 10am to 2pm. You can stream that show on CBSSportsRadio.com and also on the “Radio. Com” app. All of our shows are archived (podcast) on “Radio.Com” app, so if we have some weird argument over breastfeeding in public or whatever, it's all archived and you could listen to the entire show back via podcast. CHRIS: There are a lot of ways to connect with me. Shameless selfpromotion, obviously from 2:00pm to 6:00pm “The PM Team” on 93.7 The Fan with Andrew Filliponi. I love working with Andrew. Smartest dude in sports talk in the city, in my opinion. Awesome guy to work with. You can call the show if you want (412-928-9370), but I would suggest that if you do, don't say, “Hey. How you guys doing?” after the last eight people that called asked the same thing. We were doing well. We're talking about sports. It's going pretty well for us so far. You can check us out on the 937TheFan.com and @937theFan on Twitter. I write for the Beaver County Times (Twitter: @bctimes). I also write for Yardbarker (Twitter: @yardbarker) and do some non-Pittsburgh specific type stuff for them. Personal Twitter is @ChrisMuellerPGH. So just follow all those accounts. If you're going to tweet at me, tweet me somewhat nice things. I'm sensitive. Don't be too mean. I’m a big baby. That's all.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Tom Marshall is in the persuasion business. He is the sales & marketing manager for Hop Farm Brewing Company in Pittsburgh, The Pope of Chili Town, and a bowling enthusiast. [Twitter: @wearethepinpals]
g n i l ow B B BYO Special thanks to our friends at Crafton Ingram Lanes, the official bowling alley of PinPals. If you're looking to do some BYOB bowling, check them out.
CraftonIngramLanes.com â€˘ 412.921.0200
Words Hart Johnson Photo Mike Weiss
Labels GRIST HOUSE
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
4.5% - Mango Grapefruit Sour from Millvale, PA
If I’m going to do an entire set of reviews based on label artwork, we really need to talk about Grist House. If we were handing out awards for comeback design of the year, Grist House is the Chad Pennington of Pittsburgh Beer. Yinz remember that first Grist House logo? With the Nightmare Before Christmas meets Papyrus font? Then came along the first couple canning runs with the basically basic universal logobeernameblankcanvas formula, which is all well and good but there are people out there who like to spell aesthetic A E S T H E T I C. So, now we have a gradient neon champagne bottle erupting the cosmos. G R A D I E N T. Eye-catching color transitions aside, Fruited Sours my people, Fruited Sours. You can be as curmudgeonly as you want, theses things are carnival lemonade to me. Sometimes you get one that’s a little too tart or maybe one that’s an itty bit gritty texturally, but you’re scratching that itch. I fully understand the champagne reference, this is like a mango orange mimosa. Fully fruit forward, just mango all over the place with grapefruit latching onto the slight grainy sweetness in a blood orangey way and a zippy tartness refreshing the palate. Recommended if you like: Hitchhiker - Bottle Service, Stiegl - Grapefruit Radler, Anderson Valley - Blood Orange Gose, Destihl - Blueberry Gose
NEWCASTLE Brown Ale 4.7% - Brown Ale from Chicago, IL
2019 is crazy. Out with the old imported clear bottled Newcastle coming from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. In with brown bottled Newcastle brewed in Chicago upon Chicago, Illinois. Long story short: Heineken owns both Newcastle & Lagunitas and yadda yadda yadda is this the first Lagunitas product without a mescaline-fueled rant about a sign post on the label? 2019, crazy. I have feelings here. Newcastle was my jam, that was my gateway beer forever-and-a-day ago. But, on the other hand, I can’t tell you the last time I had one. A blind taste test between Newkie & Smithwicks in 2015? Maybe? True to the modern labeling trend of embiggening things, the iconic blue star logo is so big it falls off the label while the white text on orange background has my eyes screaming for a medic. But is it Newcastle? This is pulling at heartstrings, this is someone making a truly wonderful meatloaf for you, but in the back of your head you’re all “This isn’t mom’s meatloaf, this stuff isn’t nearly as ketchupy and what’s with the mushrooms?”. This is a very nice Brown Ale, it’s fresh, it’s delightful. But it’s not that slightly skunked syrupy Newcastle I grew up on and I don’t know how to feel about that. Recommended if you like: Helltown - Mischievous Brown Ale, East End - Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale, Hop Farm - One Nut Brown Ale, Leaning Cask - Foxhound
8.2% Double IPA from Hershey, PA Alright, quick show of hands, who’s a big fan of hop puns? Really? Alright, fine, none of you are invited to my Punday Funday Party then. Hop puns that aren’t haze puns are almost a relic of the past, victims of the “Rye Are All The Good Beer Names Taken IPA” trend of 2016. We’re post-pun now, all we want are beers named after a deep thought had while listening to the second side of Hunky Dory. Looking at you Evil Twin. Back on point—one of my favorite long-running beer things is the Tröegs Scratch Series. Brewed on a smaller scale than your Perpetual & your Mad Elf, the Scratch beers are as close as you can get to looking into the future of Tröegs. Case in point: the lineage of Lollihop, released in late March 2019, can be traced back to Scratch #327 released in May 2018. Allegedly, according to Tröegs' IG, if you can trust that, that was the beginning of throwing a substantial amount of Mosaic & Citra hops at an oat heavy mashbill. Three Scratch beer later (#335, #344, #365) and Lollihop gets promoted to the big leagues. This is a what I’m calling a bridge IIPA—it’s not a super hazy raw juice bomb of an IIPA, but it’s also fully evolved from the oddly sweet yet also incredibly bitter IIPA of 2010. I’m a big fan of the muddled blueberry, tangerine, and terpene aroma blasting out of this. Low bitterness, a nice fluffy texture and a just a hint of perfumy resin and, like so many of those aforementioned haze bombs, I’m gobsmacked by how drinkable an 8.2% beer is. Sure it’s great we’re past an arrogant statue taunting us to drink the most bitter beer, but come on my people, you can’t keep making beer this strong taste this good. Recommended if you like: Dancing Gnome - Spy Dolphin, Maine Dinner, Neshaminy Creek - Dank Hill, Four Seasons - Nebula
You think you know what it means to be “Iconic”? Think about an Archimedean Spiral turned 180°, you start off launching your beer and things are going great, everything's coming up Milhouse! Then, things are too upward, everything’s too busy, not sustainable, we can’t keep doing this, oh crap, we’re so busy no one comes here anymore, adjust, adjust, adjust. Wait, some writer just waxed philosophic about our unique product, old customers are coming around, new customers are finding us! We’re on top of the world! If you somehow manage to run that loop a couple hundred times over a couple decades with the exact same product you launched with? You’re either lying or you’re Orval. The most unique bottle in beer, that art deco label, that Henry Vaes glassware, the mystic grounds they brew this upon. All that & I haven’t even mentioned Orval cheese. We’re talking about a monastery that brews one and only one beer (and a watered down “Vert” version”) that’s internationally known. A beer that takes British and Belgian malts, German and Slovenian hops, is lagered similar to a German beer, dry hopped like a British beer then inoculated with brettanomyces at bottling? Seriously, if our local haze purveyors threw exactly this into a cork finished waxed top 750mL the line would stretch to Turtle Creek. Instead, I bought this at Giant Eagle. First off, don’t age beer, it’s silly and mostly bad. Second off, Orval is a beer to age for a few years. Freshly-ish (we mostly get eight-month-old bottles around here) Orval is reminiscent of an English Pale Ale, toasty caramel malts, some herbal hops, maybe a slight hint of lemongrass and black pepper, always beautifully carbonated. Now then, with age comes magic. If you have a cool and dark spot to age this (your vegetable drawer in the fridge will work in a pinch), the brettanomyces will dry things out a little bit, hop flavor will fade, peppery lemon and the smell of a freshly harvested fall field will invade. No aging space? Friendo, buy me a freshie, I’ll crack a vintage with you, this shit never goes out of style. Recommended if you like: I refuse to put anything else in the same world as Orval and that’s the hill I’ll die on.
6.2% Bottled Magic from The Orval Abbey, Gaume, Belgium
SINGLECUT Heavy Boots of Lead
NEW BELGIUM/PRIMUS Mural
I know I joked earlier here about waxing cork-finished bottles, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment—pounder cans are where the fuck it is right now. Silver cans with a half-hearted sticker kinda maybe almost level? Cool, long as the beer’s good, do you. Let’s talk about that little orange Singlecut tab rising off the top of this label tho. That little detail, that gets me like an obscure lyric from a song you’ve heard 1000 times. Slight texture on the label too? Date codes on the bottom of beers where freshness matters? Singlecut is AT WORK on my not-quite-Gen-Xnot-quite-Millennial ideals. I’ll be honest, I chased this beer. I think 2 kegs magically appeared in PGH like a year ago and I missed both, just filling myself full of dread. Now Singlecut has upgraded so and so forever and cans just of weird and gillies are just showing up like some softly spoken magical spells piloted more cowbells into our fair city. Much like IPA has transmogrified from a macho "see-how-much-bitterness-your-palate-cantake" into a "let’s-make-hops-taste-like-things-other-than-citrus-peel-andcat-micturate," the imperial stout has come a long way from days of stale coffee, burnt sweet soy sauce, and nail polish remover. These here boots are full of rich dark malts, nothing even approaching ashy or astringent, just big piles of caramel and semi-sweet chocolate, and then, if decadent wasn’t decadent enough, here’s vanilla and cacao nibs thrown into the pastry party, because why shouldn’t an 11% beer turn you into steel in the great magnetic field.
Welcome to 2019—the water is alcoholic and beer doesn't taste like beer. With this little watermelon, lime, hibiscus, and agave jammer here, I think I’ve seen five national craft breweries launch hard seltzer this year. Haven’t seen this kind of craft brewery FOMO, well, since the Brut IPA bandwagon of 2018 but I think this one's getting some traction. I’m gonna be blunt—I don’t get it. But, I come from the “Saturday Morning Cartoons with Snickers & Mt. Dew Generation" that’s pretty much driving the orange juice IPA & banana split stout trends into the ground. :::Shaking my fist in the air like someone just walked on my grass::: You young people tho, raised on fresh ingredients, carb awareness, and CrossFit: This is on you. Is this the shift beer is gonna make? I don't know. Either way, it’s here now and tastes exactly like something ladled out of a glass jar at your local taco stand. Kinda hard to get into the nuance of flavor here; this literally tastes like carbonated water with watermelon and lime with a slightly sweet agave note. Booze flavor? Nah-not-really. Which I assume are all things they were going for. The can artwork is respectfully Mexican inspired with sun-faded greens and red reminiscent of a hand-painted sign in a laid-back beach town... Now I'm hungry for street tacos.
11% - Imperial Stout with Cacao & Vanilla from Astoria, NY
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Recommended if you like: Great Divide - Vanilla Chai Yeti, Wyndridge Barn Dog Porter, Oskar Blues - Ten Fidy, Voodoo - Cowbell
4% - Agua Fresca Cerveza from Asheville, NC
Recommended if you like: Booze that's refreshing and doesn't taste like booze, La Croix, Long walks/runs on the beach, all-inclusive resorts.
Recommended if you like: Pittsburgh, beer, bicycles, curmudgeons, clean draft lines, retweets, dogs, Wade Boggs stories, whiskey, South Side observations, obscure Simpsons quotes.
A Portrait of the Brewer as an Artist
If Beer is Art, are Brewers Artists?
tâ€™s often said that brewing is part art, part science. Much like how anyone can put paint to canvas, but only a true artist can produce something compelling or beautiful, anyone can steep grain in hot water and feed it to sugar-hungry yeast, but only a skilled brewer or brewster can do so in a way that produces wonderful beer. Does that mean beer is art and brewing is artistry? Wellâ€Ś sort of. As many have said, it is part art, part science. You see,
kids, beer is produced in two distinct phases: wort production and fermentation. I argue that the former is not art, at least not in and of itself. It is a skill that requires mastery, sure, but it can be automated and it can be 100% repeatable. It is a (very admirable) skilled trade. Is fermentation art then? Well, no. Again, it takes a skilled beer-maker to wrangle yeast in a way that they do exactly what she wants them to do. The wort needs the right level of dissolved
oxygen prior to pitching. The yeast needs to be of optimum health. The correct number of yeast cells needs to be pitched. But again all of these variables are very predictable, repeatable, and even automatable. Like the production of any other commodity, with the right equipment and skilled operators at the helm the same wort can be made repeatedly, and it can be fermented under controlled conditions again and again to produce the exact same beer every time. I
Words Jack Smith Art Joe Mruk
argue, then, that this isn’t art. A glorious pint of ale is a thing of beauty. In the eyes of the beholder, it is like art. No argument there. How can I argue that a glass of beer is a piece of art but the person or people who produced it are not artists? Well, I’m not exactly arguing that, because physically producing beer is only part of the process. I submit that a brewster is an artist IF she controls the design of the beer: the recipe and process formulation. An artist’s medium is her paint or clay or raw steel. How she puts them together—in her mind and in practice—is what makes her an artist. The brewer as artist’s palate contains hundreds of varieties of malted and unmalted grain, sugar, hops, yeast and bacteria, minerals, and flavor additions such as fruit, herbs, and spices. Her tool kit includes control over mash temperature, original gravity, oxygen levels, yeast pitching rate, fermentation temperature, dry-hopping conditions, aging time, and packaging process, among many others. The artist has a vision for how her painting or sculpture will look and feel prior to mixing any paint or cutting any steel. Art becomes art only when the artist applies both her vision and her mastery of the tools to produce something interesting. Beer becoming art requires mastery of knowledge of the materials and processes that define a recipe combined with the skill of implementing that plan as envisioned. The “artist” behind beer is the combination of minds that designed the recipe and process and executed the plan. In a commercial brewery, it often takes a team to produce their artwork. Someone is designing the recipes and defining the processes. Without them, the beer would be mundane at best, even with the most skilled brewers. Similarly, without amazing brewers, the best recipe is only an idea. It doesn’t become art until the plan has been executed. Art is made by artists. Wellmade beer, arguably, is art. The artist, in this case, is the combination of minds that envisioned the final product and performed the actions required to turn that idea into liquid wonderment. As a homebrewer, you have the opportunity to control every aspect of the beer you produce. If you’re designing recipes but not brewing the beer, you haven’t produced any art, so you’re not an artist. You’re a visionary. If you are brewing others’ recipes - no matter how great the product - you’re a skilled tradesman. Those skills are hard earned and highly admirable, but an artist they do not make. No one person alone in this chain is an artist. If, however, you are designing recipes, planning processes, and producing beer that is much greater than the sum of the parts then you can rightly call yourself an artist. Cheers to you! Below is a recipe that I designed. It’s a simple one, but has won several medals in homebrew competitions - including best of show. Go ahead and brew it. Produce some art. Just know that the artist behind it is neither me nor you, but us.
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
Every Artist Needs A Muse
American Rye Beer Batch Size: 5.5 gal.
Boil Time: 60 minutes
SRM: 5 (light gold)
Difficulty: S imple
*Assuming 65% brewhouse efficiency
• 6 lb US 2-Row Brewer’s Malt • 6 lb Rye Malt • 1 lb White Wheat Malt Extract Brewers: Replace the 2-row with 3.5 lbs of extra-light DME. Replace the rye malt with 4.5 lbs of rye liquid malt extract. Replace the wheat malt with 0.6 lb wheat DME. No specialty grains to steep, so just mix your extract into your water and boil away.
• 30 grams Willamette (5.3% AA) @ 60 min. • 20 grams Centennial (8.7% AA) @ 5 min. • 14 grams Willamette (5.3%AA) @ 0 min.
MASH & BOIL
In art, as in many things, complexity is beautiful. Then again, so is simplicity. The beauty of this recipe is it’s dead simple to brew. Grind your malt, mash it at 152F for an hour, sparge to get your pre-boil volume, and boil for an hour. Add hops in the amounts and at the times shown above.
This is a bright, crisp, spring and summer drinkin’ beer. It’s light in color and its flavors are delicate. It’s fairly similar to something like Bell’s Oberon. The heavy dose of rye malt brings a more complex, slightly spicy character that would not be there if the grain bill had all wheat malt in its place. This beer is equally at home with your first hot dog & hamburger cook of the season as it is with something more frou-frou like lobster pasta with herbed cream sauce. It’s a great brunch beer. The floral, herbal hop character will play great with the chives and lemon notes of eggs Benedict. Or, just have a pint or two after you finish that first lawn mowing session of the spring. 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 Follow him on Twitter @WhenYeastAttack
INFO@ CRAFT PITTSBURGH
I often advise avoiding the ultra-clean yeast strains. For lager beers, WLP830 produces such a clean beer that I avoid it in favor of something a bit more complex. Same goes for ales. Chico yeast (WLP001 / Wyeast 1056 / Safale US-05) is almost lager-like in how clean of a beer it produces. I typically reach for something else. But for this beer, I love the Chico strain. It gives you a bright, light, clean beer where the rye and delicate hopping shine. Use it, use a yeast starter, oxygenate your wort well, and ferment at 67F until fermentation is done, wait another week, then package and enjoy your artwork!
cooking with beer
Words Mindy Heisler-Johnson Photos Mike Weiss
difficulty and fancy—and I don’t really use recipes to cook anyway. Off to the kitchen I went, armed with a buncha Ginga Wheat, a loaded pantry & spice cupboard, a lot chicken thighs, and a myriad of theories about how this thing was going to come together. The problem with going into the kitchen with no clear endgame is that you end up all over the place—which would aptly describe my first tagine. My second attempt was not much better; it was still kind of flat and too busy. So I simplified the whole thing, amped up the spices, and followed the simplest and most common procedures I read in my recipe research— you know, the ones I thought couldn’t possibly be right because they seemed too simple? Well I’m happy to report I was completely wrong! The third one was the winner with perfectly spiced and roasted chicken thighs on a bed of vegetables and chickpeas in a brothy, citrus and spiced Roundabout Ginga Wheat sauce. We are starting with a pretty bold, but not hot-spicy, spice blend that is going on the chicken and the rest onto the vegetables. Mess with it however you want, but leave the salt where it is or the whole thing will be too salty. Adding some curry powder is yum; add more heat with cayenne or dried chilis. You need 12oz of Ginga Wheat or any other light, citrusy, sour ale. I used a 5.5 quart glazed terra cotta tagine, making a meal for four. If you don’t have a tagine don’t sweat it—follow the exact same procedure just use a Dutch oven with a lid, only difference is the final presentation. I served this with plain couscous and some flatbread, perfect for soaking up all of that luscious broth.
Roundabout Ginga Wheat Chicken Tagine The Spice Rub—put it all in a bowl and mix it all together • 2 Tbsp coarse Kosher salt • 2 tsp ground cumin • 2 tsp ground coriander • 2 tsp chili powder • 2 tsp paprika • 1 tsp granulated garlic • 1 tsp ground black pepper • 1 tsp dried oregano • ¼ tsp ground allspice
To Assemble the Tagine • 2 sweet onions, julienne
Attached was a picture of a very pretty tagine. Did I know what it was? Absolutely—even knew which part of the world it comes from (Morocco) and what it was used for (to make single-pot stews with rich, brothy gravy). Had I ever made anything in one? Most definitely not. But I do what I do because I like to learn and try new things. So I did a little reading and comparing of recipes—of which there are a billion of varying degrees of
• ⅓ cup Extra Virgin olive oil • 6 - 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs • 4-5 cups cauliflower florets (1 small head, half of a large one) • 3-4 Carrots, peeled, halved and bias sliced ¼” thick • 4-6oz Cremini or Button mushrooms, quartered • 1 can Garbanzo beans, drained • 1 reg size can fire roasted tomatoes • Juice and zest of a lemon • 12oz Roundabout Ginga Wheat
“Can you use this for your next article?”
• 5-6 cloves garlic, smashed & chopped
Heat the oven to 350F, place a rack on the bottom and remove the ones above so your chosen vessel fits (Pro Tip: do this BEFORE the oven is hot). Lay the julienne onion on the bottom of the tagine or Dutch oven. Sprinkle the garlic on top of the onions and season with a little salt & fresh ground pepper. Cover with the olive oil. Lay out the thighs so you can generously season them with your spice mix on both sides (this should take around half of what you made). Get all the veggies in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and zest, chickpeas, tomatoes, and remaining spice mix. Toss to get everything all evenly coated and mixed up. Pile the veggies on top of the onions so it makes a mound. Arrange the seasoned chicken thighs on top in a spiral around the mounded vegetables. Pour the beer down the side of the pot carefully - you don’t want to wash off all those spices!! It’s Cookin’ Time!
CraftPittsburgh | issue #42
This is started on the stove and finished in the oven. If you cook with gas you are okay to place the tagine directly on your burner on medium heat and let it come to a simmer. If you are using electric of any kind you need to use a trivet on the burner to prevent cracking of the tagine dish on the direct heat source (consult the manufacturer instructions for your piece!), then bring the pot up to a simmer. When everything’s a bubblin’, pop on the lid, place on a sheet tray and get into the oven. Then wait... about an hour and 15 minutes. Seriously. Don’t touch it. When it’s time take it out and pop the lid, you should see beautifully tender chicken on a pile of the most aromatic vegetables in a rich broth. If that’s not what you have put it back in until you do, but on every attempt 75 minute was the magic number. Let it rest for a bit with the lid off-set to keep it warm while you make your couscous. I’d also have a bit of crusty bread or even some flatbread around to soak up that delicious ginger-and-cuminscented broth!
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