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#PCBW: Barrel-aged surprises from Voodoo Homestead

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It’s one of the best days in craft beer in Western Pennsylvania: when Voodoo releases bottles from its barrel-aging program. The releases are limited; they’re also coveted, which means scoring a share almost feels like a competitive sport.

And that’s what made Saturday’s event at Voodoo’s Homestead tap room so special — if you hadn’t had a chance to taste some of those beers, the barrel-aged tap takeover was your chance. Here is the list, stolen from the Voodoo Homestead Facebook page, that served as the starting point for the day:

Yep, that does say ManBearPig, probably the whale-iest of all of Voodoo’s whalez. If you weren’t there at noon — and I was not — you probably didn’t get a taste of that one. Thanks to a friend, I did get a taste of the Buffalo Trace Black Magick and a couple of other rarities that were added to the list later in the afternoon. I also had a glass of fresh Pork Chop Sandwiches, a delicious IPA that showed up on tap after the initial rush.

How long did the ManBearPig last? Watch the clip to see what Jake has to say about that.

#PCBW: Carson Street Deli brings us cask-conditioned treats from Grist House

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It’s all about the beer.

Don’t get me wrong: I love everything about Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week. But in the end, the best part is always getting to try a beer you haven’t tasted before.

I got that Wednesday night at Carson Street Deli. Every #PCBW, the deli can be counted on to host an event highlighting a local brewery, usually by landing a special cask or two of beer that hasn’t before seen the light of day. This year was no different; the deli’s folks worked with Grist House to land two pins of cask-conditioned beer: Hazedelic Juice Grenade with added fresh pineapple and two-year-old Black in the USSR imperial stout aged with cocoa nibs, vanilla, cinnamon and coffee.

The results? Take a look at the clip to find out.

#PCBW brings bacon, burgers and comic book beer to Pig Iron

Craft beers paired with bacon and burgers? A new stout from Helltown, brewed for the city’s biggest comics store chain?

That’s more than enough to get me to brave afternoon rush-hour traffic and make the trip to Cranberry to Pig Iron Public House.

Let’s start with Beeredeemable, a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout brewed by Helltown for New Dimension Comics owner Todd McDevitt. Todd’s commissioned these beers before — last year’s version was another imperial stout called Darkest Dawn — but this is the first time he’s released the beer in conjunction with Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, instead of waiting for his annual Three Rivers Comicon in May.

The beer is a beast — boozy and woody, with hints of bitter chocolate and a rich mouthfeel — and you still have several more chances to try it before Beer Week is done on Sunday. Beware, though — Todd said each location is getting just a sixtel, so it won’t last long.

Event No. 2 at Pig Iron had to do with a sloppy cheeseburger and one of my favorite Pittsburgh-brewed beers. The premise was to pair specific beers with either a specially prepared flight of bacon slices or with one of the substantial burgers on the Pig Iron menu. My choice was a smoky-and-sweet Foreman burger, paired with a smooth, malty Fat Gary from East End.

Did it work? Run the clip to find out.

#PCBW collab Beard of Bees creates a buzz

Beard of Bees, a collaboration between Spoonwood and Apis, debuted on Saturday at Spoonwood … and the buzz was noticeable.

This imperial honey porter spent a few months stewing in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. By the time we got our first tastes on Saturday, the beer had become a beast with sweet finish: boozy and woody, with huge roasted notes smoothed out by the honey.

Beer is always in Bloom in West Newton

When he opened up Bloom Brew more than two years ago, Jeffrey Bloom didn’t have much space. His brand new brewery, after all, was tucked into the back corner of the of the West Newton Fire Department’s building.

That didn’t stop him from filling the spot with ambition. And kegs … enough to keep 24 taps flowing nearly all the time.

But the smaller scale of the brewery and the insanely ambitious number of taps actually work hand in hand, as does Mr. Bloom’s¬†obsession with aging beer in wood barrels. An example: When the tap room was open this week, Mr. Bloom handed tasters of a new mango sour to several customers, clarifying that this version — the first to go on tap — was his least favorite of the six — SIX — varieties he brewed while tinkering with the recipe.

Six takes on one new beer? That’ll help keep those 24 taps from running dry, and it’ll give craft beer lovers in his neck of Westmoreland County a chance to follow along with the experiments.

While those sours and stouts sit in barrels, others are lagering. In the meantime, a steady stream of ales, which don’t require the same amount of production time, rotate in and out with the fussier beers … and there is always plenty of beer to choose from.

There are plenty of opportunities to help out the community, something that’s been a priority for Mr. Bloom. One beer, 82 Hot Head Red, benefits the borough’s fire department (with whom he shares a home; another, Brewce’s Ryed, benefits the local trail association (the Great Allegheny Passage runs by the brewery on the opposite shore of the¬†Youghiogheny River); a third, Snewton IPA, benefits the downtown local development group.

Excellent causes, yes. But you could also just go for the beer … all 24 taps of it.