Beer: Fest celebrating 'Beers of the Burgh'

This Saturday's new festival is called "Beers of the Burgh."

But it could be subtitled "beers of the future."

About a third of the nearly 30 area breweries that will be pouring samples -- in a warehouse at 97 40th St. in Lawrenceville -- aren't yet fully licensed and operational.

"You'll be surprised if you think you know all the breweries in the Pittsburgh area, because you probably don't," says Morningside's Mark Turic, who's led organizers working on this for more than two years. They worked so long on it that they almost didn't do it, as they watched so many other beer fests pop up. But then this new wave of breweries began to rise.

Attendees may well get their first chance to meet the opening-soon Aurochs Brewing (Emsworth), Butler Brew Works, Cellar Door Brewing (New Kensington), Eleventh Hour Brewing (Wexford), Grist House Brewing (Millvale), Jones Craft Brewing (Aliquippa), Milkman Brewing (Strip District) and Outta Focus Brewing (New Castle), plus others on the way such as Broken Paddle Brewing Co., and others that are newly operating such as Whitehorse Brewing in Berlin, Somerset County.

Some of the most interesting vendors aren't even beer brewers. Also pouring samples will be Kaliber Brewing of Connoquenessing, Butler County, which since January has been brewing and bottling hard tea.

Wolfgang Briggs, whose day job is as a quality manager for a company near Pittsburgh International Airport, and his wife, Tonya, have made a Green Tea and Honey and a Raspberry Tea that are fermented to 6.3 percent alcohol by volume. They use no malt or grain of any sort, even though their state license is a malt beverage one (the feds categorized them as a brewery rather than a winery).

Their next product is to be "Sailor's Brew (The Queen's Grog)," brewed not with rum, but with molasses, to a whopping 12 percent ABV.

Mr. Briggs, 40, started homebrewing beer and experimented his way into this unusual hard tea. "Nine times out of 10, the first word out of people's mouths is 'Refreshing,' " he says of the fizzy beverage, which is available at Caliente Pizza and Draft House in Bloomfield. At the fest, he and a helper will pour the green and a new ginger tea.

Mr. Turic says organizers are "thrilled" to have sold more than 1,000 tickets. The $35 early-bird and regular $45 tickets for the 5-to-8 p.m. session sold out a while ago, and yesterday they expected to sell the last $79 VIP tix (that get you in early and food from Harris Grill). Some festival proceeds will benefit non-profit NeighborWorks. Read more at


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