Hops & The City is an exploration of beer in Pittsburgh by our resident craft beer enthusiast, Angelica Ross. Angelica is pitting beers against each other and honing her taste skills simultaneously while providing you with her unique opinions on the brews in front of her. It’s like Carrie dishing about men and learning about which guy suits her best…except for Angelica, it’s beer. Lots and lots of beer. Follow Angelica on Twitter @syntaxxerrorrr
Grinding Out Brews at Grist House Brewing
Spurred on by the Over a Couple of Beers podcast, I had to hit up Grist House Brewing. It was a long overdue visit. Grist House isn’t far from where I live and Mac and Gold Truck was setting up shop outside; I didn’t need any more of a reason to head out on a chilly Friday night. (PS: Mac and Gold’s pipes froze and they were still serving. Those guys are fantastic.)
I didn’t technically do a full flight, but I did try enough beers to have a well-rounded taste of Grist House. Let me tell you, each one was better than the last. My drinking partner in crime and I tasted: Camp Slap Red, Double Vice Coffee Porter, Wheatin’ for the Weekend, and Gristly Bear Brown. Honorable mention to Noob Gains. By that point, I gave up taking notes.
Camp Slap Red
The first two beers we had were Camp Slap Red and Double Vice Coffee Porter. We each wanted to try both of these beers, for good reason. I forgot that Camp Slap Red is a hoppy red ale and my drinking partner doesn’t like hoppy beers, but he wouldn’t let me switch with him.
Nevertheless, it was gone and I only contributed to draining a few sips. It was delicious. Sadly, I don’t have many notes on this one because I was trying to savor my own beverage. It’s a pretty clear red ale that has a fantastic bitterness to it, the perfect beer to serve as Grist House’s flagship offering. I love the citrus notes I’m assuming from the citra hops, but probably also from the Columbus hops as well. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.
Double Vice Coffee Porter
I judge all coffee beers on my absolute hands down favorite, Coffeehouse Stout from AleWerks in Virginia. This is pretty damn delicious comparison. This beer is dark, rich, and roasty. It’ll stick to your ribs on a cold night. I almost regretted getting this one first because about halfway through, I was getting full and doubting whether I could try about beer. I’m a trooper, though, and I kept on going after finishing this.
I love the notes of chocolates here. It really enhances the coffee flavor and adds depth to the bitterness. It is smooth despite the bitterness and it’s a fantastic coffee beer. Grist House worked with Allegheny Coffee and Tea Exchange to select the unique coffee used in brewing. Props for this collaboration. I would definitely get this again, especially on a cold night when you want something to warm you up.
Next, I decided to try something lighter. I was between Wheatin’ for the Weekend and Horizon Shine. At the last minute, I saw Gristly Bear Brown and had to make some hard decisions. We went with Wheatin’ and Gristly Bear.
Gristly Bear Brown
This was served up a bit darker than I was expecting. It is dark but clear. Again, there is a fantastic roasty, nutty quality to this. It reminds me of the Double Vice Coffee Porter in terms of color and aroma, though the flavor is definitely nuttier than the coffee porter. There is a lovely caramel hint to it as well.
If you’re looking for a smooth, dark beer, you have to try this one.
This was the star of the night. I would buy a growler of this and easily finish it by myself. It would be perfect on the first good summer night kicking back on the porch. God, I can’t wait for that first perfect night because I will get a growler of this and dive right in. Can you tell this is my favorite Grist House beer so far?
It is a beautiful amber (a little darker than I expected again) and slightly cloudy. When you smell it, it’s fruity and sweet. That fruitiness continues into the flavor. I can’t really determine a single fruit note, just a fantastic fruity sweetness. Apricots are so versatile and I love them in this beer.
The best part of this beer is how smooth it is. We’re talking Harrison Ford smooth here. Sometimes wheat beers are very citrusy and sticky sweet, resulting in a terrible brew flu the next day if you have too many. But not with this one! It’s so well balanced; the sweetness isn’t overwhelming, the fruitiness is just right, and it isn’t bitter at all.
Honorable mention: Noob Gains, a collaboration with Brew Gentlemen
This is a fantastical imperial pumpkin stout. If I measure coffee beers against AleWerks, I measure pumpkin beers against my favorite pumpkin beer, Shipyard Pumpkinhead. That one reminds me of drinking a pumpkin pie. Noob Gains reminds me of drinking a pumpkin. It has such perfectly spiced, perfectly balanced pumpkin flavor. By this point, I sort of gave up taking notes. I just know this is amazing, so try it before it’s gone.
I will definitely be going back to sample more. The environment is as enjoyable as the beer. Throughout the evening, the crowd ebbed and flowed with all different kinds of people. I can only imagine how fantastically happy I would be on a summer evening on the porch here with a Steer and Wheel burger in one hand and a glass of beer in the other. Grist House deserves all the good things everyone has said or will say about it.
What’s your favorite beer from Grist House Brewing? Share in the Comments below!