It’s hard to argue these sentiments of Andy Kwiatkowski, Head Brewer at Hitchhiker Brewing in Sharpsburg and Mount Lebanon. The landscape of Pittsburgh beer has taken on a total transformation since the current decade began – a transformation filled with breweries of all different sizes, shapes, models, and modus operandis setting up shop, pushing innovation at every turn, and capturing the hearts of beer drinkers throughout Pittsburgh and beyond.
Want tangible proof? Venture out on a Saturday to any of our local breweries doing can releases of their latest creations. The lines of people wrapped around their buildings to collect their bounty will tell the story. Pittsburgh is beer and beer is Pittsburgh. Who could possibly want it any other way?
The Pittsburgh region is now home to over 50 independent breweries and the fun isn’t stopping there. Several more are currently in planning and a few already-established operations have either opened or will be opening second locations in the near future. Allegheny County alone boasts over 30 of these breweries, making it the most highly brewery-populated county in Pennsylvania. Brand and product awareness continue to climb, innovative beer styles continue to hit the taps, and more beer-drinking citizens of the Steel City continue to pledge their undying love and devotion to homegrown products that blow away the light, macro offerings they spent a lifetime consuming regularly.
With all this growth, you’d think a feeling of complacency may set in. And if you think that, you’d be wrong.
Despite the progress beer has made on a local level, Pittsburgh’s brewing community continues to move forward in an effort to propel our city to further reaches. As local brewers continue to push the envelope, a group of them made the decision to band together to ensure Pittsburgh’s beer presence receives the notoriety it deserves – not just on a local level, but on a state-wide, national, and worldwide platform as well.
What came of this decision is the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild, a group comprised of 30 tightly knit breweries throughout Allegheny County, each of them unique in their own way. Headed by Brian Eaton of Grist House Craft Brewery and Matt McMahon of Eleventh Hour Brewing, the mission of the PBG is to provide a strong, united voice for independent craft breweries in Allegheny County. It aims at bettering the position of local craft breweries as it relates to promotion, legislation, representation, and taxation.
The PBG’s first mission was to develop an interactive brewery guide that helped beer enthusiasts close to home or visiting Pittsburgh discover the ample beer scene that surrounds them. After receiving a $35,000 PA Beer Marketing Board grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, work began to develop the printed guide and website – an interactive online destination that includes additional information about each brewery. The key feature of the site will be a virtual map that allows users to create a personalized brewery tour across the city. The map will optimize routes and provide info for driving, biking, ride sharing, or walking to each brewery destination. This new site, which will be found at www.pghbreweryguide.com when it launches in August, will deliver more in-depth access to the 30 PBG member breweries than ever seen before and serve as the ultimate showcase of Allegheny County’s continued craft beer evolution.
The Pittsburgh Brewery Guide and website officially launches August 24th and, to celebrate, the PBG is hosting a Release Party on the lawn at Nova Place from 6-10pm. Tickets are $55 per person and will include a special edition version of the Pittsburgh Brewery Guide, a souvenir tasting glass, samples of 10 exclusive collaboration beers, and an opportunity to interact with the brewers. In addition, three food trucks and a DJ will be on-hand to round out the extravaganza with additional Pittsburgh Brewery Guide swag available for purchase.
Each exclusive collaboration beer will have three breweries from the Guild working together collectively to create. These beers will be pouring at the party, then at each brewery who played a part in its production thereafter. The 10 host breweries where the collaborations will unfold are Dancing Gnome, East End, Eleventh Hour, Grist House, Helicon, Hitchhiker, Hop Farm, Spoonwood, and Strange Roots.
Tickets to the Pittsburgh Brewery Guide Release Party will go on sale Wednesday, July 25th at 12:00pm. You can visit www.pghbreweryguide.com or the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild Facebook page for more info.
With the Guild now established and the launch of their new guide on the not-so-distant horizon, one has to wonder what’s next for the Pittsburgh beer scene. Perhaps the mystery of what’s to come is what makes it so exciting to be a part of. Regardless of what’s coming next, what’s happening now is pretty damn awesome. I’ll raise a glass to that. Wherever you’re reading this from, feel free to do the same.