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A bigger, better Beer Week

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Getting ready to start the East End Brewing Keg Ride.

I’m nearing full recovery after the craziness of the fourth-annual Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, and it’s time to take a look back at how the week unfolded.

With each year, Beer Week organizers and the other folks in the industry display a little more creativity, finding new ways to showcase the region’s breweries, its brewers and its beer. That doesn’t make picking favorites any easier … but let’s try anyway.

Best events: I attended 11 of them over Beer Week’s 10 days, and all made a good impression. Two events at Carson Street Deli stood out; the local firkin festival did a nice job of showcasing local brewing talents, and I met — and caught up with — a bunch of great people from Erie at a Lavery Brewing dinner pairing. I try to not work during the annual Helltown cask takeover at Piper’s Pub, because who wants to take notes when we could be tasting five of Mt. Pleasant’s best beers. But for pure fun, it would to hard to top a first-time event, the Brewers’ Olympics, held at Grist House in Millvale. It helped that the weather was perfect; it also helped that everyone seemed to be ready to cut loose a little after a long week of more formal events — or as formal as beer events can be.

Best beer: And yes, this one is even more difficult. I got through most of the collaboration beers, but I’m sorry to say I couldn’t track down a taste of Ghoul Ranch Burritos or Seasons of Hell. Of the ones I did taste, my pick would be the Old GUYser, a beautifully hopped India pale lager from Penn Brewery, Roundabout and Voodoo. Favorite non-collaboration beers? Let’s call it a draw between a specially prepared cask of Lavery’s Ulster Breakfast Stout and Helltown’s Mischievous Brown Ale. And I have to make mention of one that I may never taste again — a pineapple/toasted coconut/rum barrel-aged mead from Apis that I freaked out over when I tasted it at 99 Bottles.

Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week seems to improve every year, which means the fifth edition should be even better. And I should have just enough time to make sure I’m properly rested.

  • Woody Chandler

    I agree that it is improving on an annual basis. It was a highly worthwhile week and I would have done more had it not been for the advent of Harrisburg Beer Week.