Post-Gazette Blogs

Giving thanks

Brian Eaton at Grist House: Thankful for session beers.

Brian Eaton at Grist House: Thankful for session beers.

If you’re here, it’s probably safe for me to assume that you’re thankful for craft beer.

It’s also safe to assume that the folks who work in the business — from distributors to brewers to bar managers — are pretty thankful for craft beer as well.

I asked a handful of our friends in the business to explain what they’re thankful for this Thanksgiving week … and I got anything but a bunch of canned, boring responses. And I added my own two cents at the end; spoiler alert: I’m mostly thankful for you guys, because you’re why we continue to do the show.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, everyone.

Bonus Beer Me: What does a beer museum need?

We won’t promise that this counts as a preview, but when we asked Matt Sherwin and Joe McAllister, two of the founders of Brew: The Museum of Beer, for their thoughts about what a beer museum should include, we were definitely intrigued by their answers.

Category: Region | Tags: ,

Telling the story of beer

Joe McAllister and Matt Sherwin, two of the people behind the effort to bring Brew: The Museum of Beer to Pittsburgh.

Joe McAllister and Matt Sherwin, two of the people behind the effort to bring Brew: The Museum of Beer to Pittsburgh.

If you want a complete history of beer, you’ll need to go back 10,000 years.

If you want a complete history of beer in the United States, Pittsburgh is as good a place as anywhere to start — after all, Fort Pitt was the home of the first brewery west of the Alleghenies, serving up beer to the troops stationed here.

That’s part of the thinking behind Brew: The Museum of Beer, a national beer museum that a group hopes to bring to Pittsburgh in the next two years.The team, known as The National Beer Museum Development Group, has been busy in recent weeks, unveiling its plans in the Post-Gazette in August and holding a kickoff party and fundraiser last month.

Joe McAllister and Matt Sherwin — along with third partner Denis Meinert — envision a 50,000-square-foot space close to Downtown. About 20,000 square feet of that would be reserved for exhibit space, but that won’t be the only attraction; the museum will also be home to a brewery and a 300-seat restaurant, serving beer made there but also emphasizing taps from other breweries in the region. There would also be an event space on the property, and a healthy retail operation.

Add it up, and you have what the team members hope will be on par with Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually. Could what works in Cleveland work here as well?

“That’s just one of the models we’ve been examining, but it’s a good comparison,” Mr. McAllister. “And Pittsburgh certainly has a legitimate history with brewing, one that goes back 250 years.”

Want to get involved with the museum well before the anticipated 2018 opening? The team is running an Indiegogo campaign to raise $50,000 to be used to complete studies and help with other, more substantial fundraising efforts. And if you’re wondering whether this museum has a shot: the crowdsourcing campaign has already raised nearly $20,000.

A bit of Colorado in Allegheny City

Allegheny City's Al Grasso and Mike taste the brewery's Nova Gose.

Allegheny City’s Al Grasso and Mike taste the brewery’s Nova Gose.

Sure, we have some good-sized hills on the North Side. But no one’s ever going to mistake it for Colorado’s Front Range.

Nevertheless, the small-town breweries that Amy Yurkovich, Al Grasso and Matt Yurkovich came across while they lived in the mountains were the model for Allegheny City Brewing, the brewpub the trio just opened on Foreland Street. And thanks mostly to the Yurkovich siblings, both native North Siders, Allegheny City made that neighborhood its home.

The business model that the trio put together while the still lived out West was simple. It didn’t involve grand plans for packaging or distribution; instead, Allegheny City would serve the purpose of the tiny tap rooms and brewpubs they loved in Colorado. Those places served as community centers as well as breweries, providing a place to stop and relax with neighbors for a bit between work and home.

And while the North Side has its share of bars and restaurants, it didn’t yet have anything like the kind of establishment they had in mind. They’ll soon have small-brewery neighbors — War Streets Brewing and Spring Hill Brewing are both preparing to open on the North Side as well — as well as one well-established big one; that, they say, just adds to the sense of home town North Side community.

Even after just three weeks, they’re already seeing regulars coming back for a pint or a growler fill. And that’s understandable: the tap room is warm and comfortable and the beer is well done. A couple favorites from my stop this week: Funkhauser farmhouse ale is evenly split between citrus and spice with a touch of Belgian funk at the end, and Nova Gose, a perfectly rendered take of the old German style, with sharp lemon tartness, coriander and a hint of salt.

If the goal for the trio was to establish a neighborhood brewpub — and a community to go with it — they’re already a success. And if you’re a neighbor — on the North Side or perhaps a bit further away — you should give Allegheny City a shot.

Category: Allegheny County | Tags: ,

Building a Brewtal new festival


You’ll know when Meg Evans or James Evans is mashing in — the music inside their respective breweries is loud, fast and hard.

Meg — the head brewer at Homestead’s Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery — and James — a brewer at Bethel Park’s Spoonwood Brewing — aren’t alone. It’s not uncommon to hear metal pumping in the back rooms of breweries around Pittsburgh, and that got Meg and James thinking about a new festival that pairs the city’s craft beer with some of its heaviest bands.

And that’s where the Pittsburgh Brewtal Beer Fest came from. Starting at 2 p.m on Nov. 6 at Spirit in Lawrenceville, there will be six bands and beer from Rock Bottom, Spoonwood, Penn Brewery and East End Brewing — including four one-time beers created exclusively for the event.

There is other swag available too, for those who lend a little extra financial support through the event’s Kickstarter page, a step Meg and James took to help ensure financial success in Brewtal’s first year. The stuff — both breweries and bands pitched in — is available at several levels to those who kick in by the Oct. 4 deadline.

Both James and Meg have plenty of experience with working beer events, but both say starting a festival from scratch is a whole different experience: finding a venue, taking care of the intricate legalities, setting up suppliers and getting the word out. The good part? After the word got out, cooperation from bands and breweries was immediate and enthusiastic.

“There’s still a lot to do, but it’s shaping up really to be really awesome,” Meg Evans said this week. “Everyone is going to have a blast.”