If you can’t get enough of the red-hot trend of barrel-aged beers, I have some great news. Two local Pittsburgh brewers/distillers have come together to create a new beer festival that’s really going to hit the spot.
The Good Wood Barrel-Aged Beer Festival was the brainchild of East End Brewing and Wigle Whiskey. When a local brewer and a local distiller get together and mentally procreate, get ready for some delicious woody beer offspring!
Good Wood Barrel-Aged Beer Festival
Saturday, November 22, 2014
6 – 9pm
Location: East End Brewing, 147 Julius St., Pittsburgh
Click Here for Tickets ($45)
Now, I love it when folks come up with great new ideas. Perhaps I just love innovation. So when I saw the first announcement for this event, my excitement instantly piqued. I had questions. I had to get in on this.
East End Brewing, one of the masterminds of Good Wood, began a great barreling initiative earlier this year. We’re talking bourbon barrel-aged dark beers, funky beers, and sour beers. Now that those beers are ready to hit our Pittsburgher palates, East End wanted to get them to us in a big way. Were other breweries feeling the same way? A festival was born.
If you really wanted to get into East End’s Weird Beer Night, but missed your chance to buy tickets (it sold out fast!), this festival is another option for you.
OK, so you’re with me so far, but how did the whiskey distillery get involved? Turns out, they were thinking the same thing as East End. But why a beer fest if whiskey is your game? Ah, turns out, they have more in common than you think. Firstly, and most obviously, the barrels. Brewers professional and home alike shell out big bucks to get those delicious bourbony, woody gems into their hands. Plus, have you ever tried to ship a barrel? There’s probably a good reason why not. Wigle Whiskey is right in the Strip District and guess what, just like Bourbon County in Kentucky, they can only use their whiskey barrels once. As their popular whiskey faces higher demand, their production goes up and – viola! – more delicious barrels are born. Pittsburgh brewers can get their hands on these babies without paying shipping and while keeping it all local. I’ll save all the barrel details for another article, as they deserve a space all their own. Secondly is the process. Turns out, you have to make beer before you can make whiskey. Wigle makes beer first, then they distill it into whiskey. Many of their employees are former or current beer brewers, both professional and home. Food for thought: home brewing is legal; home distilling is not.
Next, I wanted to get a little history on Wigle Whiskey. I’ve heard of them, but I’m a beer writer. I didn’t feel like I knew as much about Wigle as maybe I should, since it seems like they’re more entrenched and interested in our local craft beer scene than I initially thought. I talked to Meredith Grelli, one of the co-founders and co-owners. She, along with her husband and her parents (and many of the rest of us!), enjoy all types of alcohol, whether it be beer, whiskey, or wine. So on one of their trips to visit some icewineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, an idea was born. If you look into Pittsburgh’s history, you’ll not be able to avoid notice of whiskey. “Pittsburgh was the epicenter of whiskey before Prohibition,” says Grelli, “and we wanted to bring it back.” She easily delved into the history of Monongahela Rye, a whiskey that was made right here in the Burgh and then shipped all over the country. Gold Rushers were drinking it during their quest to strike it rich out West (take that, three-tiered distribution system!). Out of this discussion came the idea to form a distillery and bring whiskey back to its home. They named it Wigle (they say “wiggle,” but she said she didn’t mind if folks called it “wy-gle” as long as folks were saying it!) after a man who was sentenced to hang for his love of whiskey, unknowingly sparking the Whiskey Rebellion.
Scheduled to pour at the Good Wood Fest:
East End Brewing (click to see their offerings for the event)
Wigle Whiskey (click to see their event description and for tickets)
Arsenal Cider House
Full Pint Brewing
Grist House Brewing
Lavery Brewing (for the record, pronounced “lav-ree,” rhyming with “have-ree.” I promise to stop word-nerding soon)
North Country Brewing