Beer: Events selling out fast

Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week happens later this month -- April 19 to 27 -- and includes a lot more events than what you may have seen on the effort's website.

Visitors to have been clicking on "Events" only to get the message, "hang tight ... we are updating the events calendar."

But lots of events already are set, and some already are sold out.

The Commonwealth Press Beer Barge -- a three-hour, three-river cruise featuring bands and brews on Friday, April 26 -- sold out 300 $40 tickets in minutes in mid March. In fact, it oversold, so much so that organizers made it into a two-session event.

Tickets went on sale this past Tuesday for a centerpiece event, the Release the Firkins Real Ale Festival on Saturday, April 20.

From 2 to 6 p.m., dozens of local and national brewers will be pouring samples of more than 32 "real ales" -- conditioned in the small casks or firkins they're poured from -- at the new Highmark Stadium on the Monongahela River at Station Square.

Among the beers might be at least some of the "collaboration brews" done by five teams of area breweries (tastes of which will be available from the participants during the week).

The view may be the next most spectacular part of the Real Ale Fest, but it also includes food, live music. Tickets are $60, and designated driver tickets are available (

Proceeds from the event will help fund Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, a project of the non-profit Pittsburgh Craft Beer Alliance, a coalition of brewers, bar- and restaurant owners and distributors. It held the first local Craft Beer Week last year to "highlight the Pittsburgh region's craft beer culture, expanding the reach of craft beer through education, collaboration, cooperation and responsible libation."

The group's board will hold its last meeting of this year April 9 at James Street Gastropub on the North Side. And a press conference is to be held on April 16 at Penn Brewery.

"It's all coming together ... definitely bigger than last year," says board president and Penn brewer Andrew Rich. He said the online events calendar had been working for a while and that organizers were working to get it up and running again.

As before, this year's long week embraces some events that would have happened anyway, such as the Brewer's Ball for Cystic Fibrosis (Friday, April 19, $75 or $85 at the door; 412-321-4422) and East End Brewing's Pedal Pale Ale Keg Ride (Saturday, April 27;

But brewers, bars and restaurants are holding a wide range of events during the week.

At East End Brewing, for instance, Scott Smith once again will hold a beer vs. cocktail dinner, pitting his brews against Wigle cocktails served with a five-course spread, this time from Justin Severino of Cure, at the brewery's new Larimer digs. There are to be only 40 seats, at $100 per, for the dinner, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24. Mr. Smith will announce when they go on sale on East End's site and social media channels.

So far, Twitter and Facebook have been the best ways to learn about other Craft Beer Week events.

Some other highlights:

• Brews 'n' Bees in the 'Burgh. On Sun., April 21, Rivertowne Brewing, Butler Brew Works and Burgh Bees are collaborating on an unusual event in Homewood, at which you not only can taste some beers made with honey, but also can suit up in a beekeeper's suit for a close-up look at an open hive ($20).

• On Weds., April 24, Rivertowne, with TRASH (the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers) is hosting a Pro-Am Rendezvous competition, with the home-brew winner getting to brew his or her recipe at Rivertowne Pourhouse in Monroeville (

Even though it's a beer week, it's not all beer: Lawrenceville's Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar is holding the first Pittsburgh Cider & Mead Festival on the grounds of the former Pittsburgh Brewing Co. from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sat., April 27. Arsenal and at least a dozen other cideries and meaderies will pour samples of more than 30 concoctions (tickets, $50 in advance and $60 at the door, went on sale Wednesday).

"It's still in the spirit of good local stuff and helping people out," says Mr. Rich, noting that many events have a charitable aspect. The cider fest will help raise money for nearby Arsenal Park.

Events will be scattered across the region. Up in New Kensington, the House of 1000 Beers is holding a festival titled "The Sour & the Funky" to celebrate lambics, Flemish sours and other sharp tastes from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sat., April 27 ($50 for each of two sessions, 724-337-7666). Farm to Table Pittsburgh is co-sponsoring nights at bars in Mt. Lebanon to benefit the Mt. Lebanon Uptown Farmers Market.

For a full list, keep checking the PCBW site. Meanwhile, you also can check in with your local or favorite watering holes and distributors to see what they're doing that week.

Correction/Clarification: (Published Tuesday, April 9, 2013) This story originally gave an incorrect date and cost for the "The Sour & the Funky" event.

Bob Batz Jr.: and 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.


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