Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week 2014 is off and running and people all across Pittsburgh are buzzing (in a safe, responsible way) about the goings on in the Steel City craft beer scene. Without question, this 10-day celebration sparks creativity, camaraderie, fun, excitement, and even turns on a few new people to a world of beers never before tapped into.
For me to attempt to summarize everything that’s happened over the past two days since PCBW 2014 kicked off would be grossly unfair. There’s just too much to encapsulate into words. Plus…I can’t be two places at once despite my best efforts. My hopes are you got yourself to an event or two, learned something new, met some great people, and carved out a couple memories.
Here’s a recap of my first two days of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week 2014, creatively (data unofficial) named “My PCBW:”
Friday Night: Commonwealth Press BEER BARGE
After missing last year’s Barge, I swore up and down for 365 days I wasn’t going to miss this year’s. And I didn’t. And I’m glad. This event was a tremendous kickoff to the Week’s festivities, complete with music, food, and beer samplings from some of the top breweries in the Pittsburgh region. I was pouring DuClaw Brewing, a brewery out of Baltimore, Maryland who just hit the local scene about three months ago, all night long and it’s 100% apparent…Pittsburgh has a peanut butter fetish.
For those who haven’t experienced this unique brew, DuClaw offers a chocolate peanut butter porter called Sweet Baby Jesus! I’ve had the opportunity to pour this beer at two different events and the critics have spoken: THEY LOVE IT! If you’re a peanut butter freak, it’s incredibly easy to take in this brew’s aroma for days, as the peanut butter kicks you right in the nostrils at first whiff. Sweet Baby Jesus is a very drinkable beer, not too heavy with a sweet flavor and easy finish.
There were countless people and a TON of effort put into making the Beer Barge a reality and I’d like to thank everyone who had a hand in this event’s success. Also, thank you to the Gateway Clipper for providing the platform for this great event. Looking forward to setting sail again in 2015!
Day 2, Stop 1: Kegs ‘n Eggs at Bocktown Robinson
My trip to Bocktown on Saturday morning ended up representing the true meaning of Craft Beer Week. What started off as a couple beers, breakfast, and (WARNING: cheap plug coming) a finalization of beers for my tasting event at Bocktown this Sunday from 4pm-6pm at one of my favorite craft beer locales turned into a sampling session with a good friend. As I’ve said numerous times, the social element tied to craft beer is what it’s all about.
Bocktown owner and founder Chris Dilla and I found ourselves surrounded by samples of the great Craft Beer Week collaboration brews. Plus, some of the beers we’ll be sampling today. And, Full Pint’s Rye Rebellion. Pair all that with some great conversation about Beer Week and the beer industry in general and you’ve got yourself one memorable session!
More importantly, Chris pointed out to me how great the turnout was.
“Look at this, not an empty seat,” Chris happily exclaimed. “This is great for us.”
Bocktown is all over Craft Beer Week with events and samplings. Be sure to check out their website, as well as the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week website, to learn what’s happening.
Day 2, Stop 2: Caliente Pizza and Draft House
Craft beer is all about creativity. So is a great craft beer event. And damn it, I’d be lying if I didn’t say Nick and Angie, owners of Caliente in Bloomfield, ABSOLUTELY nailed it from a creative perspective with Saturday’s Beat the Brewer event.
The concept was simple, but as cool as it gets. Grab a beer from one of the represented breweries on hand (Weyerbacher, Great Lakes, North Country, and ShawneeCraft), and challenge their representative at their favorite video game. If you win, they’ll buy you a beer.
The big screens at Caliente were alive with NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat, NHL 2014, Wii Darts, even a throwback NFL game that featured Kordell Stewart as the starting QB for the Steelers. This event captured a unique, fun feel and gave everyone something DIFFERENT to do. The brewery reps didn’t just pour beer…they got to interact with their fans while sampling their wares. It was a great event to watch.
And then came the KBS sampling. Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Breakfast Stout aged in bourbon barrels. A rarity. You heard the buzz around this event for weeks. And the crowd in attendance brought that buzz to life.
The marquee said this event would go from 7pm til the KBS kicked. I’m extremely glad people hung around longer. I ran into fellow beer blogger Kevin and told him I figured it would kick in 33 minutes. I was off by 16.
17 minutes! Caliente was jam-packed and many satisfied customers got their glass of KBS, black gold in a snifter glass. The event lived up to its billing, even if its offering lasted less time than a period of hockey.
If you haven’t been to Caliente Pizza and Draft House yet, do it today. These guys are the epitome of local success story. I watched Nick and Angie bust their asses along side the rest of their staff, doing everything imaginable to make it all run smoothly. When Angie finally got a break, I could instantly see the sense of pride she felt for what just transpired at her establishment. As she told me, from where they’ve been to where they’ve gotten to, seeing events go off like this truly makes it all worthwhile.
Keep doing what you’re doing, guys. You’re on your way to the top!
Where did YOUR PCBW travels take you?! Share your experiences in the Comments section below!