Pouring it on all over for Craft Beer Week




Next week, May 16 to 22, is American Craft Beer Week, during which the ever-growing industry, organized by the Colorado-based Brewers Guild, celebrates with events around the country.

This year, there are several events in the Pittsburgh area, including all sorts of samplings at area bars and distributors. North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock, which is running food and pitcher specials, is one of the places offering customers the chance to sign its copy of the Declaration of Beer Independence.

Bocktown Beer & Grille in North Fayette also is doing celebratory specials, including a Pennsylvania "tap takeover" -- dedicating all 16 of its craft beer taps to Pennsylvania beer. Owner Chris Dilla says highlights include Blue Canoe (Titusville) Beer on a Stick (a caramel apple wheat) and its Bourbon Oak Aged Imperial Red; Beaver Brewing Co's IPorterA and Basil Ale; and Penn Brewery's brand new Summer Berry Weizen.

Also, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, the Bocktown free tasting will star Dale Katechis, owner of Colorado's acclaimed Oskar Blues Brewery. (The proponent of canned beer is teaching the Cultural Trust's Craft Beer School on Tuesday, May 17 -- 6:15 p.m., $25, pgharts.org -- and going to South Side's OTB Bicycle Cafe after that.)

From 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 19, on the North Side, Penn Brewery is presenting an "Evening with the Brewers." If the weather is nice enough, you can join beer craftsmen Andy Rich, Nick Rosich and Steve Crist in the outdoor biergarten; otherwise, everyone will gather inside to celebrate Craft Beer Week with the guys' brews and a buffet prepared by Chef Greg Schrett. The $45 cost includes three pints of beer, the buffet, a tour of the brewery with samples of its latest beers, and the chance to chat with the brewers. Space is limited to 50 guests; reserve by calling 412-237-9400, ext. 120 (more at pennbrew.com).

Mr. Rich and his crew hosted other brewers and craft beer folks at the brewery earlier this spring to get everybody thinking together about Craft Beer Week and the possibility of holding a Pittsburgh beer week at some point. Here are some other events happening next week:

Wednesday

The Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville is doing a 6 p.m. beer tasting for women only on May 18; $10 includes a brewery tour, beer and snacks for up to 18 tasters (412-688-8200, churchbrew.com).

Thursday

Beginning at 7 p.m. May 19, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Homestead taps the winners of the "Rock Bottom Award" and "East End Award" from the annual Three Rivers Association of Serious Homebrewers competition. The respective winners were Brody Nasse and his Saison "Shine" and Calvin Perilloux and his Scottish 60 Schilling "Wedding in a Week." Rock Bottom head brewer Steve Panos explained, "Both of these beers were scaled up and brewed as close as feasibly possible to the original recipes and processes on Rock Bottom's and East End's commercial systems." In addition to pouring those two brews ("those in our bar by 7 p.m. will get a free first round of each," says Mr. Panos), Rock Bottom also will be releasing the four-month-old version of its Bourbon Imperial Stout, which aged on Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, and re-releasing for the summer its Amity St. Wheat, an American spiced wheat beer.

Friday

On May 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Giant Eagle Market District in Robinson, you can try four beers from Southern Tier, paired with foods from the cafe, for $4 at the "Beer Frontier" in the upstairs activity room (marketdistrict.com). From 1 to 3 p.m. there on Saturday, May 21, there's a sampling of Boulder (Colo.) Beer Co. brews.

Saturday

On May 21, it's the launch of "Pittsburgh Brewniversity," which aims to provide a higher education in craft beer. The spring semester features five courses with five craft beers and professor Tony Knipling from Vecenie Distributing from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Double Wide Grille in the South Side. Tuition is $55 in advance, $65 at the door (including tax and tip) and enrollment is limited to 100. All proceeds benefit non-profit Operation Walk Pittsburgh, which provides free hip and knee replacement surgeries in Pittsburgh and around the world. Visit pittsburghbrewniversity.com.

From noon to 2 p.m. that day, there's a Brooklyn Brewery tasting at Duffy's Pop & Beer in Pleasant Hills.

Sunday

"Spragues and Eggs" is described as "beer, breakfast, music, conversation, horseshoes" by Brian Sprague of Sprague Farm & Brew Works in Venango, Crawford County. This 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 22 event caps a week of Craft Beer Week activity, including the brewing of "Venango Megahopolis" and, on Friday, May 13, the brewing of a 1925 Erie Brewing recipe for a "muenchner style beer" provided by former Erie master brewer Luigi Narducci (sleepingchainsaw.com/brew_works.htm).

There are sure to be more happenings. The Brewers Association says that for the first time in Craft Beer Week's six-year history, there are official events planned in all 50 states, "making it the largest-ever celebration of U.S. craft brewers. Find a list at craftbeer.com.


Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1930. First Published May 12, 2011 4:00 AM




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