Beer: Brews straight from the pumpkin patch

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Several local events are celebrating popular pumpkin brews.

Penn Brewery on the North Side is holding its Pumpkin Fest this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 11 and 12. Its Pumpkin Roll Ale will be flowing on tap, and the restaurant will be serving an array of seasonal specials: Pumpkin Spice Hummus, Creamy Pumpkin Ale Soup, Smoked Pork Chops with Ginger Pumpkin Chutney, and for dessert, Pumpkin Pie Pierogies topped with whipped cream and sugared nuts. You also can order a Pumpkintini mixed drink (pennbrew.com).

Also on Saturday, Oct. 12, from noon to midnight, Blue Dust in Homestead is holding its Son of Pumpkin Fest. A $5 (cash only) beer ticket will get you your choice of Southern Tier Pumking, Ithaca Country Pumpkin, Cisco Pumple Drumkin, Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin, Elysian Night Owl, Erie Johnny Rails, Lancaster Baked Pumpkin and many others. They'll be grilling lamb and buffalo burgers, bratwurst, and portabella sandwiches, and there'll be music by The Homeless Gospel Choir, Tony Cenname and several others (bluedustpgh.com).

Hough's Taproom & Brewpub in Greenfield is holding its second Drunkin Punkin fest on Saturday, Oct. 19. Tickets are $45 for each of three sessions: Noon to 3 p.m., 4 to 7 p.m. and 8 to 11 p.m. You get to drink all that you care to of about 30 draft pumpkin brews, including Pumking, New Holland Ichabod Ale and Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider, with light snacks, and you can keep your souvenir glass. Details and tickets at http://drunkinpunkin.brownpapertickets.com.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Homestead will serve up Portergeist II, "a big ol' smoked pumpkin porter," and Pumpkin 4 The Man, which has "a light, simple grain bill serving as the backdrop to an all-out pumpkin pie face-punch of deliciousness," for its Oct. 23 Halloween party to benefit Special Olympics.

You'll find a mind-boggling array of pumpkin brews at area distributors, bottleshops, restaurants and bars, including East End's Nunking, which has a lot more seasonal spices in it than it does actual pumpkin (none).

Lawrenceville's Roundabout Brewery just started selling growlers of Steve Sloan's pumpkin-spiced coffee stout, made with fair-trade organic moka java blend from La Prima Espresso. The brew's name:

Jacked Up O' Lantern.

If you want actual pumpkin in your brew, go to Lawrenceville's Church Brew Works at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23. That's when they'll tap their Pumpkin Stout, each batch of which is made with 150 pounds of chargrilled pumpkins from Cheeseman Farm in Portersville. Best, it'll be served from a big, hollowed-out pump. Says brewer Matt Moninger, "It seriously is one my favorite events of the year!"

And in other brew news ...

Downtown hosts a big beer fest this Saturday night, Oct. 12, when the seventh-annual Brewing up a Cure takes over the Wintergarden at PPG Place. They'll be serving more than 75 home-brewed beers as well as commercial ones, along with food from area restaurants, live music and more. Tickets are $50 or $60 at the door, if any are left, and as usual, proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Get tickets at https://www.fundraise.com/brewingupacure.

The "Local 2 Ways" beer dinner that's part of the Brooklyn Brewery Mash later this month, which we wrote about last week, has changed its date, location and cost. It's now at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Butcher and the Rye at 212 Sixth St., Downtown, and tickets are $75 (http://brooklynbrewerymash.com/pittsburgh).

Mad Mex in Oakland opened 20 years ago this month, and to mark the occasion, Big Burrito Restaurant Group commissioned Dos Decadas IPA, made by Fat Head's Brewery and former Mex denizen Matt Cole, that was tapped at all 11 Mexes Wednesday. Read all about it on The Forks blog at pgplate.com.

Also on pgplate.com, you can read about the local brews and local breweries that will be representing at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

The festival runs today through Saturday, during which time there are five three-hour judging sessions. Judges will work towards naming three beers that best represent each of 138 beer styles organized into 84 professional competition categories and subcategories, plus the GABF Pro-Am Competition.

There are 210 judges. There are 4,875 beers, 12 percent more than last year.

This year, 616 breweries will be present and serving 3,100-plus brews at the fest, which is one hot ticket: It sold out in 20 minutes. Total attendance is expected to be 49,000 people.

Joining them will be contingents from Church Brew Works and Penn Brewery, and the local Rock Bottom also is entering a brew. We'll report on how they do here next week.

libations

Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com and 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr. First Published October 9, 2013 8:00 PM


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