Pittsburgh Winter Beerfest pouring 400-plus beers, including two from McKees Rocks




The list of more than 400 brews you can sample at this weekend’s Pittsburgh Winter Brewfest, Downtown, includes several from local breweries, at least one of which you’ve probably never heard of.

Beers named 2 Hour Delay and R-U-Ready-4-One-Too will be poured by the very Pittsburghy-sounding 412 Brewery.

If you don’t know of it, that’s because it just started brewing and kegging in a two-car-turned-two-fermenter garage behind a former pizza place in McKees Rocks, on Island Avenue right near the base of the McKees Rocks Bridge.

Sam Mure is leading the group running it not as a place for customers to visit — not yet — but as a small production brewery, supplying other retailers with kegs and, eventually, bottles and/​or cans. One place that’s serving both of those first two brews on tap is Mr. Mure’s Angelia’s Italian Grille in nearby Kennedy, and they’re starting to call on other restaurants and bars now.

Brewer Adam Crabtree is running the 5-barrel American-made brewhouse. He helped brew for a year at Shubrew in Zelienople and before that did an internship at Helltown in Mount Pleasant.

The R-U-Ready is an English-style bitter. Its name was a group project borne of serious research. Or as sales guy Scott Davis puts it, “It was one of those things. We were having a few drinks.” One of them ordered another and the server asked one of them, “Are you ready for one, too?”

2-Hour Delay is a English-style brown ale brewed with honey to an alcohol-by-volume of 8.6 percent. The bitter is 5.5 percent. Next up will be a red Irish ale for St. Patrick’s Day. The makers are soliciting names for it on the brewery’s Facebook page, and the winner will get the first case of it. They’re not planning to make many more beers than that at first.

“We’re going to try to keep it as simple as we can right now,” says the 35-year-old Mr. Mure, who grew up in the Rocks. He’s already looking for a new location where 412 Brewery can expand and open a taproom, where customers can come taste many more small batches. He’s also looking into packaging some beer, perhaps using a mobile canning operation.

In the meantime, the niche they’re aiming to fill is making a few solid beers that appeal to the masses as well as to craft beer enthusiasts “and have fun doing it,” says Mr. Davis, who also tends bar at Angelia’s.

“The beer’s been great. We get a lot of good feedback,” says Mr. Mure. “I’m confident.”

Learn more at 412Brews.com.


The fourth-annual Pittsburgh Beerfest is Feb. 24-25. (Pittsburgh Beerfest photo)

NEW BREWERIES

McKees Rocks/​Stowe is getting a second brewery later this spring, as construction is underway on Abjuration Brewing in part of the Parkway Theater on the main drag of Broadway Avenue (abjurationbrewing.com). Co-owner/​brewer Dave Hallam says with the brewing system expected to arrive any day now, it’s on track to open by mid- to late April. Not far away on Fifth Avenue in Coraopolis, Cobblehaus Brewing Co. plans even sooner — by middle to late March, says owner/​brewer Scott Mills (cobblehaus.com).

Several more breweries aim to open around the region this year, at least three of them in the next month or so: Cellar Works Brewing in Sarver, Butler County (March 17); Fury Brewing in North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County (also March 17); and Couch Brewery in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Larimer (“within weeks”).

That continuing beer boom is being celebrated by Friday and Saturday’s beer blast that is the fourth annual Pittsburgh Winter Beerfest. It features beers from other new local breweries you may not have yet gotten to — such as Coal Tipple Brewery near Burgettstown and Yellow Bridge Brewing near Delmont — as well as scores of beers from all over the country.

You can try as many as you want during the fest, which also will feature music by The Lava Game, food for sale from local restaurants and mobile food providers and other fun. Organizers are hoping that about 13,000 people attend.

Admission cost depends on what session you want to go to and when you buy your ticket.

Regular admission — and unlimited sampling in an 5-ounce souvenir mug — is $45 in advance (or $55 day of) for sessions from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Friday, 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday or 7:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

For $10 more, you can get into any of those sessions an hour early — and also receive an 8-ounce souvenir mug.

For $85 in advance and online only, you can upgrade to Connoisseur Reception level, which gets you the early access to the fest as well as to a special area with appetizers and special beers that you can taste from your souvenir snifter — even special restrooms. That sold out for Saturday night, but those tickets still are available for Friday night and the Saturday day session.

Designated driver tickets are available for $20 and $35 (Connoisseur Reception).

Participating eateries, including mobile ones, include Pizza Parma, Emporio, The Pretzel Shop, Cafe Chocolade, Bavarian Nuts, Chocolate Freaking Bacon, Jerky Hut, Baron Von Schwein, Umami Bites, Nakama, Taste of Nawlins and PGH Pierogies.

Get tickets at pittsburghbeerfest.com.

A portion of proceeds will benefit two animal charities: Animal Rescue Partners, which cares for homeless and injured animals, and the affiliated Biggies Bullies, which fosters and finds homes for pit bull-type dogs.

Craig Johnson, co-founder of Festivals Unlimited, which produces winter and summer Beerfests for Animal Rescue Partners, says that last year, Biggies was given more than $20,000 from fest proceeds, and other smaller nonprofits received another $9,000.

Festivals Unlimited also runs Beerfests in other cities, including Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia and Tampa, Fla. (beerfesttickets.com).

TOASTING A RIVALRY

Out just in time for Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series game outdoors at Heinz Field between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers is a hockey-themed collaboration brew they’re calling a “confrontation brew.” Made and marketed jointly by Western Pennsylvania’s Rivertowne Brewing and Eastern Pennsylvania’s Sly Fox Brewing, Glove Dropper salutes “the bloodiest and bitterest intrastate rivalry” as an India pale ale brewed with blood orange. The beer — weighing in an 68 international bitterness units, in honor of Jaromir Jagr, who played as No. 68 for both hockey teams — was brewed at Rivertowne in Export. It won’t be available at Heinz Field but will be pouring at nearby Rivertowne on the North Shore and is available at other places around town — and out east in Pottstown and Phoenixville — on draft and in the cool although very orange cans. (Both breweries, by the way, are participating in the Winter Beerfest, which is marketing its first-time Saturday day session as a “tailgate” for hockey fans before they starting heading across the river to Heinz Field.)

PENN BREW U MASTER’S

The North Side’s Penn Brewery, which has been teaching people about beer with its Penn Brew U, is launching a more in-depth Penn Brew U Master's Degree. The brewpub describes it as “a hands-on program that takes a deep dive into the production, quality control and tasting nuances of craft.” Penn’s brewers will lead the first program from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 11. The cost of $65 includes a Penn Brewery hat and an “upscale beer-themed lunch” of Carbonade of Beer (beef braised in Penn St. Nikolaus Bock and Penn Dark), Bier Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Fresh Vegetable Medley and Penn Hot Ginger and Matcha Cheesecake. Tickets are available at showclix.com.

Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.





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