Review of Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Rollout at Caliente’s Pizza – November 18, 2014

First off, let me say that I didn’t attend this event to cover it for the media – I went, more um, just for me. I decided to do a write-up on it anyway as it could still be valuable to folks.

The event was set to start at 6pm and I arrived at about 5:30pm to a standing-room-only crowd. As you came in the door, there was really no way to know how the event would go down, so there was some initial confusion as folks were arriving. Turns out, talking to a bartender was a key first step. Behind the bar they had these lists:

Side 1

Side 1

Side 2

Side 2

These were the bibles of the evening. The ones that indicate “Bottle Pour” were the important ones to jump on first, as there was a more limited quantity. These were sold via a ticketing system. I was disappointed that the one I really, really wanted (Red Poppy) was sold out of tickets by the time I was there (5:30), so a lot of folks were wondering when ticket sales had actually started. Of course at craft beer events this is a common issue. I had also overheard a rumor that one of the Caliente’s staff had brought the Red Poppy from their own personal collection, so if that’s true, you have to respect that (note to that staff member: if you’re reading this, call me)!

I also didn’t find this out until today (yeah, the next day), but all the drafts (not bottle tickets) I was ordering off this sheet turned out to be half price! Honestly I would have gotten more if I had realized this at the time. I was excited to get the very last glass of Good Gourd from Cigar City (not related to the event but still awesome). I also got to try the Avant Gourde and the Santa’s Little Helper Bourbon Barrel Aged, among others. These two are a bit harder to find so those were nice hits.

The place stayed standing-room-only crowded until about 7:30pm, so the event was very well attended. The flyer told us Tomme Arthur, the founder of Lost Abbey and Port, was to be at the event… but we couldn’t find him. We asked some staff, poked around a little, and were finally introduced to him by another random bar goer. As most brewing-types are, he was very laid back and easy to talk to. He gave us some insight on LA/Port choosing to come into the Pittsburgh market – mainly it’s that they were already in Philadelphia so they had jumped through many of the legal hurdles to distribute here in PA. Coming to Pittsburgh was a natural progression and our market was right-sized for them, meaning that they could fill our need here without over-stressing their brewery. They knew that bar owners and bottle shops were bootlegging their product over from Phili anyway (danggit! Wasn’t that our secret?!) so they figured this way it could be legitimately distributed.

LA/Port have a unique set-up for a brewery. It’s actually the same place. Literally. One big brewery, one tap room, one set of equipment, one building near San Diego. It’s a different concept than what other breweries are doing that enables them to appeal to a wider audience. For example, if  you’re into IPAs, stouts, and more American-style beers, Port will be your wheelhouse. If you’re into funky Belgians and sours, Lost Abbey will be for you. It was one of the few breweries I’ve visited where everyone in my party had something they could love, as opposed to the sour lovers sipping through yet another IPA (or vice versa). The dual brewery is wise if you also consider the exponential difference in real estate prices in Southern California versus here in Pennsylvania. Two set-ups in California cost way more than two set-ups in PA.

That being said, LA/Port is looking to expand and open separate operations for each of their two brands. Brewers know that having souring bacteria hanging out in any one little spot of their equipment will sour your nice hoppy IPA real quick, so there’s a good bit of risk in brewing all types of beer on one set of equipment.

Tomme brought a bunch of his LA/Port staff along with him as well. It was great to have them all be so accessible, right there in Lawrenceville, in the basement of bar. The staff at Caliente’s did a GREAT job with the crowd. Service was fast and their folks were hustling to make it happen. The drinks came up quick and the food did as well. Overall this was a great event that was well-handled.

Read my Article on GABF in this Week’s Pittsburgh CityPaper!

Check out my article about Pittsburgh brewers that were at GABF this year in this week’s Pittsbugh CityPaper! I interviewed several local brewers at GABF in Denver to find their reasons for attending the Mother of All Beer Festivals, get their feelings on attending again, etc. Pick up a free copy of the CityPaper at your favorite local establishment or read the article online.

Read the entire Pittsburgh CityPaper online via PDF (my article is at page 71):

Good Wood Barrel-Aged Beer Festival – A New Pittsburgh Tradition – Nov. 22, 2014

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.

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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

Penn Brewery

Rivertowne Brewing

Roundabout Brewery

Voodoo Brewery

 

 

 

 

You Can Now Buy a Glass of Beer at East End Brewery! + Shenanigans Week Events

That’s right Burghers, the long-awaited announcement has come. You can now walk into East End Brewery in Larimer and order a GLASS of their beer! Being changed to “brewpub” status by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) means that they are no longer limited to selling only growler fills from their brewery. Congrats to East End!

During the week of Dec. 6 – 13, 2014, East End will be celebrating their grand opening (as a brewpub) with a Week of Shenanigans. Said shenanigans will include an anniversary party, yoga, a beer/cheese pairing, and a Weird Beer night, among others.

Evil Genius Beer Comes to Pittsburgh! Kickoff Week Events Nov. 3 – 7, 2014

Evil Genius Beer is coming to the Burgh! To make sure they get started in a big way, Evil Genius is having roll-out events all over town this week.

Here is a listing of event locations and times from their website:

The Yard – 736 Bellefonte St, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

November 3th, 4pm – 6pm

Kelly’s Bar and Lounge – 6012 Penn Cir S, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

November 3rd, 7pm – 9pm

Blue Dust – 601 Amity St, Homestead, PA 15120

November 4th, 9pm – 11pm

Sienna Mercato – 942 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

November 5th, 5pm – 7pm

Urban Tap – 1209 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

November 6th, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Smokin’ Joe’s – 2001 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

November 6th, 8pm – 10pm

Beer Hive – 2117 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

November 7th, 5pm – 7pm

Roland’s – 1904 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

November 7th, 7pm – 9pm