#PCBW Mashup: Days 7, 8, and 9 – Tap Takeovers in Reverse, Style Education, Chocolate IPA, and Oysters

PCBW Mashup, known last year as “My PCBW,” is a recap of the places my Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week travels took me. Enjoy!

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say the home stretch of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is always a tad bittersweet. So much work goes into making these 10 days come together, so much fun is had and so many memories created…and then, POOF it’s over! But, all good things must come to an end, and I’m 100% positive that I’m not the only one who needs to recharge their batteries after nearly two straight weeks of craft beer fun and enjoyment.

The back end of PCBW has been just as good as the first. I’ve made some new friends along the way and had a blast interacting with some of Pittsburgh’s craft beer fanatics. Here’s a recap of my travels for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday…

DAY 7: Find Your Style Blind Tasting and PCBN Mobile Download Event III at Bocktown Monaca, Reverse Tap Takeover

STOP 1: For the second year, Bocktown owner Chris Dilla and I constructed a unique sampling that challenged beer enthusiasts’ palates. Last year, we pitted macro beer vs. craft beer and people blindly had to choose the craft beer after a couple of sips. This year, we lined up six different beer styles and participants had to guess what style they were drinking. Some players were spot on, others found it harder than meets the eye…which allowed for some brief education on that particular style and potentially opened up a new window of style enjoyment for that particular drinker.

The event was a lot of fun and also allowed me to share information about PCBN Mobile with those who stopped by Bocktown that night. You have to love the environment Chris has created at both Bocktown locations in Robinson and Monaca as it lends itself to beer education on many fronts. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and able to discuss beers with customers and events such as mine are held frequently to help people understand the product they’re consuming a little more. I look forward to partnering with Bocktown for many more events in the upcoming months!

Jason Cercone slangin' samples and testing the palates of craft beer enthusiasts at Bocktown Monaca Thursday night.

The beer lineup!

Bocktown and PCBN...we make a cute couple!
STOP 2: I was a little late to the party, but I was happy to make it to the tail end of The Brew Gentlemen’s Reverse Tap Takeover with Pete Kurzweg and Monique Ruvolo from The Independent Brewing Company. Pete was spinning some sick vinyl and Monique was serving up some killer food for the crowd Thursday night. And, in what would’ve proven to be the best entrance ever, I missed the pre-planned attempt to walk into the party to We Are The World by ONE SONG! Damn you car and your need for gas at the most inopportune times.

You probably don’t need me to sway you, but get out to The Independent AND to The Brew Gentlemen and see what these guys are all about. Both locales offer a relaxing vibe and feature kick ass craft beer and food every single night.

Pete totally inspired the room by bringing back this classic. Best part was trying to pick out each singer when their part came up.


Day 8 – Kicking Back at Spoonwood Brewing

There’s something cool about having a craft brewery practically in your backyard. I’m fortunate that living in Mt. Lebanon puts me close to two, those being Hitchhiker and Spoonwood. This Friday, I decided to partake in some afternoon blogging at Spoonwood while trying a couple of brewer Steve Ilnicki’s latest offerings, as well as lunch.

Spoonwood just rolled out the latest unique option in their lineup: Yer Badself Chocolate IPA! Being an IPA nut, I was intrigued from the very first picture I saw of this beer. Happily, I can say this combination works well together. Hints of coffee hit the nose, and the chocolate combined with the bitterness you’ve come to expect from an IPA make this beer comparable to a pint of liquid dark chocolate. And who’s gonna complain about that?!

I also partook in the Good Eye Sniper, Spoonwood’s new Double IPA. The DIPA is my personal favorite style, and I’m happy to add yet another killer number to what’s becoming an extensive list of go-tos.

The rest of Friday was spent with my family watching the Pens go down in flames. It was a sad end to what started out as a very promising season. But you can’t deny the fact that injuries ravaged this team and the absence of Kris Letang was strongly felt in their five-game demise to the Rangers. Marc-Andre Fleury proved himself to be Team MVP and kept the Pens alive in every single game. Better luck next season, boys.

Yer Badself Chocolate IPA, the newest offering from Spoonwood Brewing.

Spoonwood Brewing provided the perfect office setting for this Friday afternoon. Nothing beats writing a feature post on four kick ass breweries while consuming a solid Double IPA.


Day 9: Kegs & Eggs, zTrip-in’ to Oyster Fest, More Spoonwood Please!

STOP 1: Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week wouldn’t be complete without Kegs & Eggs at Bocktown! I was happy to introduce my family to Bocktown for the first time and it seems safe to say this visit won’t be their last! This year’s was extra special because Grist House Brewing provided a one-of-a-kind gem to pair with your favorite breakfast item: Black in the USSR Imperial Russian Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels.

There’s no picture of this beer…because an image won’t do it justice. Hands down, Black in the USSR is one of the top beers these guys grind out. And on nitro? Forget about it, you’ll be on it all night. Now…aged in a bourbon barrels? Absolute grand slam! Paired perfectly with my Greek Omelet. Honestly, I could’ve paired this beer with a sauteed tube sock and it still would’ve stood out as a 7.5 out of 5 stars beer. Hats off, guys!

STOP 2: For those who may have missed the icon on PCBN Mobile, zTrip is the latest ride share program to launch in Pittsburgh and is the Exclusive Ride Share Program of the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Network! If you are looking for the safest and easiest way to book a ride to and from your favorite destinations, zTrip is the way to go. Download their free app now and enter PCBN on the zTrip Credits screen and receive a $15 instant credit!

I only bring up zTrip because my dad, sister, brother-in-law and I used this great service to get to one of the biggest events of PCBW: Bikes, Beers, and Oyster Fest under the Homestead Grays Bridge. This event, hosted by Blue Dust, features 20 craft beers, special oyster-infused cocktails, food trucks, live music, and, of course, oysters flown in from Rogue Farms in Oregon.

My Dad is what you’d call a shellfish connoisseur and told me that oysters are considered the filet mignon of shellfish. I like that analogy and discovered Great Lakes was pouring Chillwave, the filet mignon of Double IPAs. Er, something. Anyway, it only made sense to put two world-class offerings together…and the result was a gala ball in the mouth!

Blue Dust did an outstanding job putting together this tremendous event. A big high five to everyone who volunteered to make the Oyster Fest go off without a hitch and God bless the shuckers who most likely developed carpal tunnel syndrome opening up all those oysters!

The night capped off at Spoonwood for me once again as I ran into some friends and made a couple new ones, too. Another shining example of why PCBW is awesome.

I can't think of a better way to kick off the weekend than with stellar beer and breakfast food in my belly! Bocktown always does it right.
Oysters flown in from Rogue Farms in Oregon paired with Great Lakes Chillwave makes for one helluva good time at one of PCBW's biggest events!

Whew…one more day! And it’s another action-packed one. Come find me at The Brewers Olympics at Grist House Brewing starting at 12:00pm, then myself and Jason Collins will be recording our next episode of the Over a Couple of Beers podcast at Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Bloomfield with owner Nick Bogacz during his Unofficial Send-off to PCBW…featuring a Dogfish Head Tap Takeover! As always…Caliente isn’t messing around.


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