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The Beer Circle » Beer Week » Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week 2012 Wrap-up

Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week 2012 Wrap-up

I was fortunate enough to have a wedding and a work meeting in Pittsburgh during the inaugural Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week. Put together in less than six months, this event really was impressive for an initial attempt by a city. There were over 360 events planned at the city’s various bars, including some that were not craft-specific. It was great to see the city embrace the beer culture and expand upon its growing craft beer segment.

I will admit that there were a bunch of simple tap takeovers and tastings included in that number of events, but those are still great events for those that are new to craft beer. There is no better way to have someone try your beers than to give them away for free. The marketing for beer week was done very well, from using social media to traditional media in the region. And the best tool that the week could hope for was the website, an easy to use and very well designed site that had every event for the week in one location. I will say that being able to print out the schedule and plan the events made my decisions much easier. While some events could have used some additional information, those seeking the rarer beers had to do their homework, as they should.

Below are a few other reasons that I feel helped make Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week such a great success.

Untappd Badge

The organizers collected a donation to get one of those nifty badges on Untappd. I feel that Untappd is having such great success in the beer community, and many users yearn for new badges. Getting a badge for beer week was key to getting people involved. It was very simple to earn as well, as users only had to visit two listed locations during the week and check-in a beer at each to receive the badge (I earned it on the first day!). From Untappd’s perspective, having the badge may have helped get new users, as Pittsburghers have great pride in their city and may have signed up simply to get the Pittsburgh-themed badge.

Collaboration Brews

Is there a better way to attract beer lovers than limited, one-off, collaboration brews? The city’s breweries got together and created three different beers that would be available throughout the week. The three beers were brewed in teams and are as follows:

Penn Brewery Team – Cheeky Yinzer (British style IPA)- The Cheeky Yinzer uses Fuggle and Willamette hops with a malt backbone and fresh bread crust notes that yield a lager-like edge. The test batch was developed by East End’s Andy Kwiatkowski and the team was led by Penn Brewery’s Nick Rosich with the help of Arsenal Cider’s Bill Larkin.


Church Brew Works Team – Inaugural Ale (Sour Mash Red Ale)- To impart a sour or tart tang to the finished beer, the brewers added some additional German Pilsner grain to the wort and let it sit overnight, allowing Lactobacillus bacteria to produce acid that will yield the desired souring effect. The team at Church Brew Works made up of Steve Sloan (Church), Steve Crist (Penn) & Shawn Setzenfand (Hofbräuhaus).


Rock Bottom Team – Home Opener (Kölsch-style Ale)- The Home Opener was brewed using traditional techniques but substituting noble hops with flavorful and aromatic US hop varieties such as Simcoe, Amarillo, and Centennial. The Home Opener was brewed at Rock Bottom Brewery by Steve Panos (Rock Bottom), David Cerminara (Penn), Shawn Setzenfand (Hofbrau), and Steve Crist (Penn).

From what I was hearing on Twitter, a lot of the bars that received these beers were running out of it quickly during the week and they became very sought after brews. It was also good to hear that the distributor sold out of all of the brewed beer, meaning the chances for having collaboration beers at next year’s beer week is extremely high. I was able to try all three beers on tap at Bocktown in Robinson. Of all three, I liked the Inaugural Ale the best, but I felt that it may have been marketed wrongly. Yes, it had a light tart flavor to it underneath a healthy dose of chocolate and toasted malts, but it was not as sour as an American Wild Ale, which many people thought it was and were probably led to that conclusion from the description provided on the website. The other two beers were also very solid and definitely worth seeking out to drink a second glass.

While I wasn’t able to make all of the events, I did go to a few that I very much enjoyed. I was able to try Penn Brewery’s new Small Batch 001- French Oak and Kentucky Bourbon at Med Mex and was quite impressed with this new beer. While I was sad I was unable to attend the Bell’s tap takeover at Harris Grille (they brought Black Note!) and the Dogfish Head event at Fat Head’s (they brought the ONLY firkin of Bourbon Barrel aged World Wide Stout!!), I was happy with the seven locations and events that I visited during the week.

I think next year’s Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is only to get better, as the breweries and bars realized the affinity for craft beer in Pittsburgh. I think we may see a few more dinners and special events rather than simple tap takeovers. Overall, this week was very well planned and organized with great resources available for those that planned to attend.

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Written by Jeff Kupko

Jeff is a traffic engineer that loves his beer, and especially loves trying new beer. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Yuengling was a staple and the beginnings of liking something better than fizzy yellow water. This has evolved into an entire hobby, with Jeff keeping a blog of all of the beers he tries. Vacations most certainly involve at least one brewery or bottle shop visit to gather a region’s coveted fruits. Now, Jeff has ventured into homebrewing, and there is probably no saving him from being engulfed entirely by beer. While Imperial Stouts and IPAs rank highest in Jeff’s eyes, sours are sneaking up on those styles, and Jeff loves to try all different styles. Find Jeff Kupko on Google Plus

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