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.
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
Posted in Brewfests, Out and About in the Burgh
Tagged Allegro Hearth Bakery, anderson valley brewing, Artspace and Coffeehouse, beer and food parings, beer festival, beer nutz, Big Pour, Big Pour Four, Bocktown, craft beer, Craft PGH, Dogfish, east end brewing, erie brewing, Fat Head's, Founders, Founders Brewing, Full Pint, futhermore, Great Lakes, Heavy Seas, Mountain State, New Holland Brewing, Ommegang, Penn, Pipers, pittsburgh, Point Brugge Cafe, Roy Pitz, should i drink that, Sidney Crosby, Southern Tier, Southern Tier Brewing, Sprague Farm, Stone, Stoudt's, TDY, Terrapin, TRASH, Troegs, Victory, voodoo, Voodoo Brewing, Weyerbacher Brewing, Yard's brewing