In what’s quickly becoming known as a renaissance in the world of craft beer, the city of Pittsburgh finds itself in the substantial thick of these booming and plentiful times. Many have turned the page on ordinary and are vehemently demanding extraordinary when it comes to the adult beverages they consume, and their demands are not going unmet. Very seldom do so many examples of this paradigm shift unify under one roof. But Saturday night in Lawrenceville made it so, giving purveyors of artisanal libations center stage to spotlight their creativity. An exemplification of a community of forward-thinking, passionate enthusiasts on a mission to cement a legacy founded by change and evolution came to life before our very eyes.
The Beers of the Burgh Winter Warmer unveiled its second Pittsburgh-based beer festival on November 8th, 2014 in the warehouse at 97 40th Street, just below the 40th Street Bridge. This same venue housed their debut event in April and brought together over 30 craft beer breweries, distilleries, cider houses and meaderies from around the Pittsburgh region. It was an assembly of the ones truly spearheading the revolution that’s taking place in the confluence of our ‘little big city,’ a revolution that’s establishing Pittsburgh as one of America’s true craft beer destinations.
Beers of the Burgh may be in its infancy in regards to age, but is light years ahead in their mission to support the Pittsburgh craft beer scene and Pittsburgh as a whole. The Winter Warmer was held in benefit of Variety the Children’s Charity, non-profit organization who strives to enable children with disabilities to live life to the fullest with a focus on mobility, communication, and social interaction. This well-organized event gave craft beer enthusiasts the opportunity to discover new offerings created in their own neighborhood while, at the same time, supporting a fantastic cause.
I took in my surroundings from start to finish on Saturday and, in a season fueled by thankfulness, knew I had plenty to appreciate. From the line that wrapped around the building consisting of over 1,200 enthusiastic hop and malt seekers to the insatiable aroma permeating from the round-up of Pittsburgh food trucks parked comfortably at the event’s entrance, I could easily tell the night was going to lend itself to fun and enjoyment.
An attempt to list every positive detail I took away from the Winter Warmer would result in a pretty lengthy account. But even the newest constituent to the craft beer scene could see the representation for local craft creations was remarkable. At any given time, sampling booths were 4-5 people deep, all anxiously waiting for their next taste of the best Pittsburgh brewers had to offer.
Creativity? That was practically the underlying theme of this gathering. Fifty feet from the front door sat the booze-infused culinary greatness of Eliza’s Oven, whose owner Eliza Bowman makes baked goods containing local craft beverages. Trust me, they’re the perfect treat for your hop and/or malt-forward sweet tooth.
Four Seasons Brewing was in the house with Dark Side of the Pint, the oatmeal stout that won a silver medal at October’s Great American Beer Festival. Doesn’t get much better than that.
I was also drawn to the far end of the warehouse where Grist House Brewing was graciously pouring Dark Czar, a freshly-released Russian Imperial stout that represented the only offering of its style at the event. They were conveniently located next to Hitchhiker Brewing, and Rock Bottom Brewing, and Apis Mead & Winery, all serving up incredible offerings to satiate every craving one may experience.
From your very first chance at sampling Brew Gentlemen’s latest Russian Coffee Stout release to Blue Canoe Brewing’s ale brewed with brisket that left all of the elements of delicious Sunday barbeque lingering on your palate to everything in between, Beers of the Burgh was a true example of what these fringe thinkers are capable of delivering.
The list goes on and on. With so many tremendous breweries doing so many tremendous things, words don’t do justice to what you’ll experience by attending events like Beers of the Burgh. If you’ve ever questioned whether our local brewers can rival what’s being created by craft breweries who’ve reached national prominence, a festival like this will give you the answer.
The craft beer revolution is fueled by the blood, sweat, and sacrifice of so many visionaries who chose to go against the grain and create drinkable, enjoyable beers. Many of them have realized overwhelming success. Thanks to those efforts, many of our local brewers are discovering their opportunity to stake their claim and keep the revolution perpetuating forward.
The most critical element is our support. It’s up to you and I to give these local brewers the recognition they deserve. Never claiming to be a beer expert, but more an advocate and enthusiast of unique, creative, flavorful beers, I know what I like. And I’ll be the first to say that many of the beers, wines, ciders, rums, whiskeys, and meads born right here in Pittsburgh stand toe-to-toe with anything you’ll find across the globe.
The Beers of the Burgh served as a celebration of everything Pittsburgh’s own craft beer revolution was, is, and will be. A big shout of praise goes out to Mark and Grace for organizing an exceptional event. And, of course, thank you to every brewery who put their wares on showcase for us enthusiasts to enjoy. Know one thing: Our craft beer culture will continue to reach incredible heights due to the simple fact that each of you has arrived.
Three Rivers…United By Beer.
To quote Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption: “that’s Goddamn right.”