It’s that time of the year that one of my homebrewer and beer enthusiast friends describes as “more events than I can attend season.” Otherwise known as Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week.
Starting Friday and running through April 24, the promotion of the region’s craft beer industry -— in its fifth year — crams more than 300 events onto its online schedule (at pittsburghcraftbeerweek.com). This year there’s once again a printed guide -— available at local breweries, bars and distributors -— and, for the first time, an app to help you find your way with your smart phone.
But there still are more events than humanly possible to attend, so you’ll want to do some planning to find the ones that appeal to you and fit your schedule.
Do try some or all of the collaboration brews. We already wrote (in Sunday’s Post-Gazette) about the half-dozen-plus creative beers that have been brewed especially for events this week by teams of craft breweries, with established ones teaming with some of the more than a dozen that plan to open this year.
All of the collaborations are to be on tap for the “Unofficial Kickoff” starting at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Caliente in Bloomfield. (Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Homestead, meanwhile, is holding a Kickoff Party from 6 to 10 tonight.)
The collabs include Plum Puckered, a fruit saison brewed (with three barrels of plum puree) by Rivertowne Brewing with the help of Bloom Brew, Hop Farm Brewing and Reclamation Brewing.
All of those places will have some to pour during the week. Rivertowne will serve some at its annual Meet the Brewers of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week event from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday at Rivertowne North Shore, where at least 20 local brewers are expected, and they’ll all be bringing brews for the Pittsburgh brewery tap takeover.
Already sold out are some of the marquee events, such as the Commonwealth Press Beer Barge, a floating fest on the Three Rivers on April 23.
But you should be able to squeeze into scores of other, big and small, in all kinds of interesting places.
For instance, also on April 23, Homestead’s Blue Dust invites people to gather beneath the Homestead Grays Bridge for the third, all-ages and free Oyster Fest. You’ll need to be 21 with a valid ID to purchase tickets for a slew of two dozen beers and ciders and several cocktails. Tickets are $6 and also are good for oysters; tickets for oyster po’ boys are $8, and there’ll be several food trucks on hand. And there’ll be live music by several bands.
The PG’s Munch (aka Dan Gigler) likes the idea of the Beer vs. Wine dinner of five courses — each paired with a Great Divide beer and a wine -— Sunday at Carmella’s Plates & Pints on the South Side ($85). The Ace Hotel in East Liberty is doing a series of Brewmasters Dinners Monday through Thursday ($50 each or $175 for all four). Smallman Galley is doing one with Helltown Brewing on April 20.
In addition to lots of dinners and lunches, you’ll also find beer breakfasts, like the one Piper’s Pub on the South Side is doing at 9 a.m. April 20, featuring coffee beers (and a Mimosa Gose) and dishes such as the Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich and the Elvis Waffle.
You’ll find a run and a bike ride, tastings and tap takeovers at a range of places, and beer in unexpected places, too, like in the cupcakes being sold all week by Oakdale’s Cafe Chocolade. Burgatory on the North Shore will be making milkshakes with Full Pint Brewing’s Rye Rebellion Stout. There will be beer floats and beer donuts, as well.
From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Three Rivers Underground Brewers will put on a homebrew workshop ($50 or $62 for non-Allegheny County residents) at South Park. There from 1 to 2 p.m. that day is a Baking With Booze workshop ($5 or $6 for nonresidents). Preregister for both at alleghenycounty.us/parkprograms.
One event I’m interested in, because it’s in my neighborhood, is the sneak peek at Mindful Brewing Co., which is to open this year in Castle Shannon, at a tasting of beer and food at 99 Bottles in Carnegie from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. (From 6 to 8 p.m. on the 24th, 99 Bottles will present a tasting with the forthcoming Helicon Brewing in Oakdale.)
Other venues are hosting beery music, trivia and paint nights; cornhole, pinball, jenga and whiffle ball tournaments; giveways of everything from pint glasses to bicycles; even a luchador (wrestler) mask-making event (April 21 at Mad Mex Cranberry and April 22 at Mad Mex North Hills in Ross).
From decorating yo’ donuts while drinking beer at 4 a.m. (at Hough’s in Greenfield) to the Hoppy Trails: Beer & the Outdoors class (at REI at Settlers Ridge), it’s all meant to be fun. The Brew Gentlemen in Braddock are going all out and doing business as usual: “TAP TAKEOVER of all Brew Gentlemen products! COLLABORATIONS between our brew staff and the rest of our brew staff! ... SAME PRICE BEERS! WE KEEP THE GLASS!”
Closing events include beer brunches and the second annual Brewers Olympics at Grist House Brewing in Millvale on April 24.
The promotion is put on by the nonprofit Pittsburgh Craft Beer Alliance, which touts the yearlong impact of the region’s craft beer industry. The group’s president, Hitchhiker Brewing’s Andy Kwiatkowski, says last year’s Beer Week — “10-day booze-filled marathon” -— was worth $2.4 million, and this year “should be the biggest year to date.”
Bob Batz Jr.: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.