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We need more than a week for Pittsburgh beer

beerweek growlers

Let’s get one thing straight right at the top: Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week isn’t just a week.

I count 11 days, from the kickoff party at Rock Bottom in Homestead on April 14 through the end of the Brewers’ Olympics at Grist House in Millvale on April 24. And while I didn’t count the scheduled events, I’m told there are once again more than 300 on the list.

And that seems about right for a region that will have somewhere near 40 breweries by the end of the year.

PCBW can seem overwhelming, sure. But it’s also the best time of the year to get a sense of what craft beer lovers have going for us in Western Pennsylvania. There are collaboration beers — seven of them officially, more if you count unofficial efforts — and beers brewed especially for the occasion. But you’ll also have a chance to get a sense of what our breweries — both those that are established and those that soon will be — are all about.

With all of the newcomers on the way, I’m especially excited about the preview opportunities available this beer week, the PCBW’s fifth. For example: North Side new guys War Streets, Allegheny City and Spring Hill have teamed up with big brother Penn Brewing for one of the official collaborations, an India Red Lager called Mash Paddle vs. Hipster; Helicon, Eleventh Hour, Dancing Gnome, Mindful and Reclamation — all either just-starteds or almost-readies — all have contributed to collabs as well. And if you take a look at the official schedule — at the PCBW site or on its iOS or Android app — you’ll see lots of preview events, many at 99 Bottles in Carnegie or at one of the Bocktown Beer and Grill locations.

You’ll find me at some of those previews, for sure. You’ll also likely see me enjoying a boozy confection on Saturday, having breakfast at Piper’s Pub on Wednesday, wrapping up the week at the Brewers’ Olympics next Sunday … and at a bunch of others in between.

It’s the best (a little bit longer than a) week of the year, boys and girls, and it’s ready to begin. See you out there.

Post-Gazette coverage of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week 2016: