A great day for Beers of the Burgh

Yellow-T-shirted volunteers -- including Emily O'Brien, left, and Amber Ohiokpehai -- helped attendees find their way. 

Organizers couldn't have picked a nicer day for the inaugural Beers of the Burgh festival.

In addition that yesterday was 4/12, as in Pittsburgh's area code, the weather was spectacular for event, which was ready for much worse in that it set up mostly inside a massive old warehouse just off 40th Street in Lawrenceville.

VIP attendees (such as the City Paper's and The Forks' hopped-up Hal B. Klein at left, amongst the Garfield Hop Project 's plants), who could enter at 4:30 p.m., a half hour before everyone else, easily could have missed some of the 30-plus all-local breweries and other vendors set up inside. The space felt almost too big. 

But once the full crowd of 1,200 plus squeezed in after 5 p.m., it still was comfortable inside the relatively cool, relatively dark space, even as lines for samples in front of some brewers stretched to 30, 40 and 50 people long. 

People seemed chilled out, as live music played, and the food trucks lined up outside served food, and the brewers and their helpers kept filling the souvenir tasting glasses.

I was happy to get to try a couple of the seven brews brought by Broken Paddle Brewing Co., one of at least eight outfits that doesn't yet have its licenses or a location. Turns out I know the wife of one of the three partners behind it, Mike Barnes, who lives in Mt. Lebanon. He poured my sample of Ryle Ale from a tap handle that was an actual broken paddle and promised to sometime tell me the full story. "It was a bad day in Canada." 

Before their booth got too busy, he did tell me how he and Chad Garland of Zelienople and Greg Holt of McCandless have their financing lined up and are just looking around the area for a suitable building for their little production brewery and tap room, which is more difficult to find than they expected. 

Getting to pour tastes for and get feedback from so many people, meanwhile, is priceless for them and other up-and-coming breweries that poured at the fest, such as Beaver County's Jones Craft Brewing. It was giving out snacks including pretzel rods and beef jerky, and selling T-shirts that were discounted to $5 due to "some small printing mistakes and misalignments. Looks perfect after a few beers."

Some booths weren't even pouring beer, but hard cider and, at the Kaliber Brewing booth, hard tea, in green tea, raspberry and ginger flavors, made in Connoquenessing.

Nicole Spellman and Dan Johnson, who came from the North Hills, tried the Kaliber Raspberry Tea -- and liked it.  

Beerwise, the flavors covered a huge range, from the "sour" poured by Rock Bottom Brewery to the jalapeno of soon-to-open Eleventh Hour Brewing's Burning Phoenix Pale Ale.

For designated drivers and others, there were soft drinks, including jewel-colored bottles of Natrona Bottling Co. sodas, and other treats such as the cupcakes and other boozy confections of Eliza's Oven.  

The nonprofit that benefitted from a portion of the proceeds, NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania, had to be pleased, and was, reports Mark Turic, the Morningside guy who led a team over the course of about two years to pull this festival together

"The feedback was all very positive and we can't wait to do it again next year," he emailed me this morning. "Maybe we can get 50 local breweries?!?!"

In all, it was a super-nice day and a super event, as the guys below can vouch.

Having a super time were, from left, Johnstown's Corey Roberts, Johnstown's James Barbarich, Jefferson Hills' Dylan Holdsworth, York's Alex Gibson and Chambersburg's Corey Rife.

Bob Batz Jr./Post-Gazette photos


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