Category Archives: Brewfests

See what we do at the Brewfests…

Ja! Das Ist Gut! Oktoberfest at Penn Brewing

Last night TDY was present at the Penn Oktoberfest.  What a perfectly run event.  The party was very very packed, yet all lines moved quickly.  There  were several beer lines and they all moved tons of people through very quickly.  The food line worked like clockwork.  The men’s line was non-existant, all thanks to the porta-john trough.  This was the best porta-john system of all the beer/festivals of the year!!!  I think Mayor Luke should hire the Penn staff to organize the bus lines for the city.

So much to talk about in such little time.  Let’s start with the beer.  Penn was serving all the hits.  We personally drank the Oktoberfest all night.  Pitchers were 1/2 gallon plastic jugs.  Beer and food were cash only.  After a few pitchers it was time to find an ATM.  En route to the ATM we spoke with a salesman from Penn about the bottling line.  It was an interesting tour while waiting for the ATM.  Did you know they still handle bottles coming off the line by hand?!?!  Yep so every bottle of Penn is truly hand crafted and cared for.

The food was great.  We each had the sausage platter.  Wunderbar!  A brat and kilbasa with hot potato salad and kraut.  As beer and food pairings go, the Oktoberfest brew with dinner was a perfect match.  Those Germans really perfected the art of beer with food over the past centuries.

And of course there was entertainment.  The band wasn’t holding anything back.  We heard the Steelers’ Polka with orginial German lyrics and several more times with the lyrics we all know by heart.  “We’re from the town with that great football team, We cheer the Pittsburgh Steelers. Winning’s a habit, not only a dream, Go out and get them Steelers!”  The Pirates even added to the fun.  From Penn we had an excellent view of the Skyblast fireworks with the city skyline as the backdrop.

No worries, if you missed the fun this weekend, you can still head over to Penn for a liter, brat w/ kraut and lederhosen next weekend.  The fun starts on Friday 9/24 at 5pm.  Check Penn’s website for all the details.  http://www.pennbrew.com/data/english/oktoberfest.htm

Of Brewfests and Big Pour, and Sunny in Philly.

Bitter Beer Face : Take the Bad with the Good

Someone asked TDY the other day, “If you’ve already tried most of the beer, why do you go to brewfests?”.  I thought that this was a pretty intriguing question.  Why do we love brewfests so much?  The Steel City Big Pour provided a lot of answers…  There weren’t too many beers that were new to TDY, but the atmosphere was fantastic with great food (not necessary for a good brewfest, but doesn’t hurt), art and music, and of course a great selection of brews.  Once you have been to a really great brewfest, you no longer ask that question. 

I suppose the short answer for us is three-fold.  Brewfests provide the opportunity to try many different beers in succession and thus comparisons are much easier.  The second reason is the ability to drink some rare offerings like East End’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Strap Stout or New Holland’s Imperial Mad Hatter.  Finally, we get to meet and hangout with the brewers and lots of like-minded beer lovers.  There’s really nothing like a great beer festival and the Steel City Big Pour does not disappoint.

Tonight is the season premiere of Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  TDY can safely say that Always Sunny is the best export to come out of Philadelphia.  In honor of the premiere, we will be putting a few Burgh beers up against Philly brews.  Look for our future post on the Always Sunny premiere.  If you enjoy fantasy football, The League is a great comedy which will be playing after Always Sunny.  Stay tuned…this one is definitely worth it.

Finally, we had a chance to meet with Tim of Craft Pittsburgh at the Big Pour last weekend.  He is starting a quarterly craft beer publication to keep Pittsburghers abreast of the city’s beer news and events.  TDY is on board as a contributor so look for this publication in your favorite watering hole in the coming months.

That was AWESOME! Big Pour 4 Review

Wow!  What a great time!  The Big Pour Four knocked it out of the ballpark further then Sidney Crosby ever could.  This was TDY’s first trip to the Big Pour since moving back to town.  Mixed emotions confronted us leading up to Saturday.  All the hype surrounding the event got us excited, and it seemed liked the rest of Pittsburgh was along for the ride.  At the same time we hoped it wouldn’t be overly hyped, feature wicked long lines, or be too unorganized.

From the very start on August 2nd I had a good feeling about the Big Pour, even if it didn’t start out so smoothly.  After failing to get through, on-line or on any of my thousands of phone calls, I almost caved.  I had almost given up, but decided to try one more time……..ring ring ring ring “Hi This is ShowClicks can I help you?”  Oh YEAH!!!  My name was placed on a waiting list as it was received and waited to hear back all evening.  While dinner was on the grill and I was drinking a Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA the phone rang.  Yep we got tickets!!!

Let’s fast forward now to the fun part, follow TDY’s path through the big pour.  You really couldn’t have asked for much better weather.  The line to get in was long, but the doors opened around 11:30am and things moved really well.  The first room had a nice mix of food and beer.  This trend followed suit throughout the festival.  Among our first beers were:

  • New Holland Poet Oatmeal Stout, Mad Hatter IPA
  • Furthermore Knot Stock – a wonderful pale ale that is light and crisp but really gives a kick in the teeth with black pepper flavor, Fatty Boombalatty
  • Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA
  • Erie FallenBock, excellent fall beer!, Heritage Alt Beer.
  • North Country Red, try it on Cask next time you are out

One of the highlights out of this group was talking to Joel from New Holland while pairing the Poet with brownies from Artspace and Coffeehouse.  We also caught up with the Should I Drink That guys.  They were serving brews from Erie Brewing including a dark German Alt Bier, Heritage.  In addition to serving for Erie and giving away occasional prizes, they came prepared for a podcast direct from Big Pour 4.  Allegro Hearth Bakery also had amazing baked goods there.  All of this was just in the first room: an excellent start to the festival!

The Belgian Beer Cafe was our next stop where the Beer Nutz fellas were pouring Unibroue’s Maudite and Ephemere. Ephemere is certainly an interesting beer brewed withe the juices from green apples.  It’s not too fruity but light and drinkable with a nice balance of sweet and tart flavors.  The Belgian Cafe was also serving New Holland Golden Cap Saison, Furthermore Make Weight, and Victory Golden Monkey Trippel. We also stopped to check out the kegerator art.  I really liked the one with the beer cans trying to break out of jail.  I will never look at the Allegheny County Jail the same.  Weyerbacher Brewing brought an awesome Double Simcoe IPA at 9%.  This beer was hoppy without the overly sweet malty or high alcohol taste that usually accompanies this style.  The Point Brugge fries were perfectly salted for beer consumption and served with flavored mayonnaise!  The band was also situated in this area.  They sounded great without being over powering, allowing for great conversation with friends and other beer lovers!  Next to the band we sampled:

  • Southern Tier 2XIPA, PumKING one of my new and only favorite Pumpkin beers.  Southern Tier is one of my favorite breweries of 2010, great showing again at the Pour!
  • Stone Levitation
  • Bell’s…..they really didn’t bring their A game at all…
  • Yard’s IPA and Brawler

After some wonderful Bocktown sausage meatballs, we had an amazing bowl of stew from Piper’s!  I could eat at Piper’s every meal of every day for a long long time.  Now that we got a little food in, time for more beer.  Voodoo Brewing was excellent again!  They stole the show for us at the Ohiopyle Beer and Gear Fest and had another strong showing at the Big Pour.  The Love Child is a very complex fruit beer but not too sweet, and it was on tap this time too.  Their Wynona’s Big Brown Ale is one of the top 3 brown ale’s I’ve ever had (No, New Castle is not in the top 3).  They are a great group of guys too.  Other beers back in this corner of the warehouse:

  • Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper – – I just can never pass this one up.  Smooth and drinkable with nice hints of chocolate and roast malts.
  • Sprague Farm; best dressed award goes to Sprague Farm for the kilt, and kick ass mustache…….he is also in charge of the hop farm
  • Mountain State Brewing; another fine showing with the solid Amber and IPA
  • Penn;  Penn Octoberfest coming very very very soon

TDY hit the two hour mark and nature called quickly.  On the way out we stopped at East End Brewing.  On cask we had the Homewood Reserve.  We can’t say enough about East End.  They always have a great showing at beer festivals and are really pushing Pittsburgh’s craft beer movement forward.  The Homewood Reserve reminded us of the cask Blackstrap stout at the Penn beer fest, but with a more bourbon taste.  Very smooth and strong with a complex flavor profile of alcohol and roasted malts.

The last few beers were:

  • Founders Backstage Series Double Barrel Bourbon IPA; awesome mix, great taste, hoppy with a little bourbon after taste, one of the top beers of the festival
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
  • Troegs Porter
  • Roy Pitz Hefe
  • New Holland Brother Jacob Dunkel, Imperial Mad Hatter.

Time ran out before we could try all the amazing food, but it all smelled great!  Hats off to everyone involved with the Big Pour 4.  And we were glad to meet a lot of great people.  Tim from Craft Pittsburgh was there and it was great to hear about his big plans for spreading the passion and excitement about the craft beer movement in PGH.  We have been to tons beer festivals all over the country and this one was AWESOME.  Someone asked this weekend why we still go and if we get the same energy at every festival.  The answer is, oh yeah!  The atmosphere is excellent, you get to try rare/festival only beers and can shoot the breeze with other beer lovers.  We leave you with our top beers in no particular order.  What were your top beers?  Have any good pics?  What was your favorite kegerator?  Did you win a kegerator?  Keep checking YouTube for our videos from the Big Pour.

  • Founders Backstage Series Double Barrel Bourbon IPA
  • Voodoo Wynona’s Big Brown Ale
  • Voodoo Love Child
  • East End Homewood Reserve
  • Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
  • New Holland Poet
  • Southern Tier PumKing
  • Furthermore Knot Stock

Brew at the Zoo Wrap-Up

Despite the rain, Jake and I made the trip out to the Pittsburgh Zoo for last weekend’s Brew at the Zoo fundraiser for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.  Apparently a large part of the city of Pittsburgh also attended as lines were pretty long, but there was beer and exotic animals so we still had a good time.  There was a good mix of beer and several live music acts.  Interestingly, there was plenty of free food from chips/pretzels to mini pulled pork sandwiches to a chocolate fountain in the main atrium of the PPQ aquarium.

Several homebrew clubs were in attendance lending another dimension to the brewfest experience.  Sixth Circle Brewing offered a variety of homebrews including Piss Water (American Cream Ale), a well rounded Dunkel, and a nice stout (which they use to make ice cream too!).  Shubrew was also in attendance with several selections including a creamy stout with some hints of chocolate and coffee.  The final tent boasted several Belgian selections including a framboise, Piraat, and St. Bernadus. 

As we ran into a few great old friends we kept tabs on all the beer gossip .  The homebrew tents kicked quickly and lots of people missed out, bummer dude.  Same thing happened at the last tent.  Did anyone else get Dragon’s Milk?  I’m pretty sure we drank most of it.  Others really enjoyed the Framboise served from Beet Nutz.  A few had high praises for McSorley’s, Sierra Nevada Summerfest (Pilsner) and the range of fruity wheat beers.  In talking with a few co-workers I heard a terrible terrible terrible rumor.  Can anyone verify if Miller was present?  I understand their beer is triple hopped brewed, but seriously WTF?!?!  Can’t you also triple hop brew piss?  Riddle me that Miller!

Brew at the Zoo attracts a wider audience than the typical brewfest, and it is nice to see people getting out and trying new beer.  However, this can result in a bit more of a mob mentality, without much order in the lines.  Additionally, the sheer number of people (and the downpour) make it difficult to get many discussions going with brewers/pourers.  With this in mind, Brew at the Zoo is a fun night out complete with zoo animals, good beer selection, and live music.  Where else can you sip on a glass of mead and watch a polar bear take a swim?

Brew at the Zoo Preview

Let’s not forget that this is for a great cause.  The Brew at the Zoo is a beer-tasting fundraiser benefiting the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.  Tickets are SOLD OUT!!!  It promises to be a great evening of beer, animals, music, food (whatever that might include) and other shenanigans.

We’ll start with the music.  Four bands will be performing at various points along the beer tasting walk.  The first band listed is “5 Alarm Flood”.  Their website is under construction, but thanks to YouTube it appears they are a fun live act with lots of covers……..Two Princes anyone.  “Seven Saturdays” is the next band on tap.  Myspace describes them as an acoustic/alternative/indie band.  Following “Seven Saturdays” is a band called “Rich Mahogany and the Leather-bound Books”, a soul/Motown/R&B type band.  Lastly its a rock/blues/jazz act, “The Drew Bentley Trio“.  All live music is fun to drink too, especially when you throw in wild/exotic animals.  If you want to see Donnie go to the RibFest.

Now for what we have all been waiting for……..the BEEEEEER!!!!  I am still trying to find a beer list.  The Brew at the Zoo website has a list of breweries that will be represented there.  I hope a few brewmasters are present to chat it up.  I have a feeling it will be mostly representatives from local distributors (I somehow think a brewer from Rogue in Newport, OR will not be at the Zoo, bummer!).  Anyhow, here is a list of breweries I am excited about.

  • Ballast Point Brewing = Give me something Hoppy, never let me down at the Library
  • Boulder Brewing = Sweaty Betty or the Brown IPA please
  • Ommegang Brewing = Need I say more
  • Conney Island Brewing =  Would love to get to know them better
  • Colorado Brewing = Brewery from the west, math says they should be decent at worst
  • Duck Rabbit Brewing = Give me something dark and good
  • Erie Brewing = almost anything other than Derailer……sorry not a huge fan
  • Founders = Fell in love after the beer tasting at the Harris Grill
  • Rogue = Cross your fingers for Shakespeare Stout
  • Ithaca = bring some Brown
  • Rust Belt = These guys are a lot of fun and very talkative about their craft
  • Southern Tier Brewing = One of my favorite east coast brewers other than East End…..speaking of which I didn’t see East End on the list, wtf?!?!
  • Terrapin Brewing = Lot 17 was one of the first I knew of that carried their Brown IPA
  • Troegs = remember when PCN toured the old smaller brewery?  Great stuff for PCN
  • ShuBrew = check out the website, very cool

I didn’t list it above, but there will be a ton of HOMEBREW samples as well.  As a homebrewer myself, I think this is so awesome that they invite homebrew clubs to join the fun.  I may never leave the homebrew area of the festival.  Please check out the Brew at the Zoo website for a full listing.  Ahhhh homebrew!!  Cheers to all the homebrewers reading!!

If anyone has more info on the Brew at the Zoo give us a heads up.  Last year there was a beer/walking map of the zoo on the website.  This year I am unable to find that.  You can contact us via twitter, thedrunkyinzer, or email thedrunkyinzer@gmail.com

I would also like to invite everyone to send in their top 3 beers from the festival.  TDY will share our top 3 as well in our Brew at the Zoo Review.  Extra bonus points (aka a free pint) if you spot TDY out and about at the Brew at the Zoo.

CHEERS!!!!

Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest 2010 (hosted by Penn Brewery)

Date : June 5, 2010

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Since today Jake and I are going to the Sharp Edge European Beer Festival, I thought it would be a good idea to finally post about the Penn Microbrewers Fest that took place earlier this month.  As you might be able to tell, there was a lot of rain during the first session and a good portion of the area flooded but we still managed to have a great time.  The attendance was still very good with beer lovers near and far flocking to the North Side’s Penn Brewery to sample some delicious beer.  Most brewers featured a special release beer in the last 45 minutes of the session such as East End’s Black Strap Stout on cask, Smuttynose Wheat Wine, Green Flash Palete Wrecker and Victory’s Wild Devil.  Jake and I were surprised to be handed tasting glasses made out of actual glass  (a lot of brewfests tend to get rowdy and lead to breakage….).  Overall I was very pleased with the variety available.  It was just so hard to get to them all in 3 hours!

Brew fest 2010 014

Scott’s getting the Black Strap Stout ready on cask.  I just happened to be first in line!  I was very excited to see some of my favorite breweries (in addition to East End), in attendance.  Ommegang 3 Philosophers was available which is still one of my top 10 favorite beers of all time.  Green Flash brought some great brews including a special IPA, the Palate Wrecker, which was a wonderfully complex imperial IPA.  Brooklyn Brewery also brought their Local 1 and Local 2 beers which are liquid testaments to what good American brewers can accomplish.  We had lots of good conversations with Pittsburgh brewers and beer lovers which only confirmed our belief that Yinzers are ready for better beer!   For $40, the TDY guys got a glass, lunch, live music, and 3 hours of great beer: a pretty good value in my book.

An Intrepid Beer Drinker Braves the Flood to get to Sly Fox

 Since 2/3 of TDY was at the early session, we grabbed an Allegheny Pale at the Penn Brewery then made the trip downtown to the Three Rivers Arts Festival.  We arrived just in time to catch Guster live on stage.  What a weekend!

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What TDY Drank at the Penn Brewfest…

Jake is just happy to be at Penn

My favorite is probably still Ommegang’s 3 Philosophers.  I think the nice surprises here were East End Black Strap on cask, Smuttynose Wheat Wine, Green Flash’s Palate Wrecker IPA and the beers from Southern Tier.  The rest are listed in order of tasting with a few comments about the flavor.
  1. Brooklyn Local 1 – nice Belgian Ale some interesting flowery notes that you won’t find in a lot of belgians.
  2. Boulder Flashback India Brown Ale – Hoppy with a lot of Cascade hop flavor but not much maltiness as per a normal brown.
  3. Ommegang 3 Philosophers – Simply amazing.  Always in my top 10 favorite beers.
  4. Green Flash Hop Head Red – lots of cascade aroma.  nicely balanced.
  5. East End Big Hop – Always good!  Got to see Scott and talk to some East End employees.
  6. Main St. Brewing Black Watch Ale – a wonderful sweetness.  aroma similar to Magic Hat #9.
  7. Philadelphia Fleur de Lehigh – very similar to a Kolsch beer with a touch of honey.  interesting palette…
  8. Rust Belt Old Man Hopper IPA – not too hoppy. good hop and malt balance.
  9. Appalachian Brewing Espresso Stout – all about the coffee here.  Very strong taste but nicely balanced by the malts.  Lacks some body…
  10. Appalachian Scothish Ale – very very malty taste, red in color with little to no hop presence
  11. August Schell Firebrick – tastes much like a traditional lager/ lighter beer with just a tad more flavor.
  12. August Schell Hopfenmalz – a lightly hopped German style lager
  13. Smuttynose IPA – lot of cascade aroma with a nice bitter aftertaste.  All about the cascade!
  14. Victory Helios – A belgian farmhouse ale.  A nice flowery smell and a nice blend of spice.  Really quite good.
  15. North Country Stout – nice roastiness to the aroma and taste.  Smooth and Silky!  very drinkable…
  16. Main St. Porter – Roasted and creamy tastes with a slight touch of caramel.  Well balanced but with a kind of interestingly sweet aftertaste.
  17. Lancaster Rumspringa – A golden bock.  Has a spicy aroma similar to a real pilsner but is actually a semi-sweet and very drinkable, thirst quenching beer.
  18. Sly Fox Pale Ale – lots of cascade aroma.  Light and crisp, skips any real malty character.
  19. East End Black Strap Stout (on Cask) – very smooth with some nice roasted character.  the cask really brings out some oak tones.  I got the first glass (except for Scott!)
  20. Green Flash Palate Wrecker IPA – this is a really wonderful IPA.  Lots of cascade with a crisp taste and that wonderful aftertaste in the back of your jaw.
  21. Green Flash IPA – a great summer IPA, crisp, clean, perfect about of hop/bitterness
  22. Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA – nice hop balance that’s not overwhelming.  Crisp and clean.
  23. Southern Tier Iniquity Black Ale – very drinkable for a black ale.
  24. Flying Dog Garde Dog
  25. Smuttynose Wheat Wine – sweet with a touch of that traditional wheat flavor.  Complex flavor profile that is reminiscent of a Trippel but not quite as sweet.
  26. Victory Wild Devil – beautiful flowery smell, strong with a slightly acidic aftertaste.
  27. Troegs Hopback Amber – dryhopped.  Smooth and well balanced between the hops and malt.
  28. Rust Belt Furnace Blast – solid, smooth beer with a light malty taste
  29. Full Pint Chinookie IPA – it’s a gateway IPA

Cheers to Black Strap Stout on Cask!