Remember that one cool friend we all had growing up whose parents had a kick ass basement for parties? A full bar, music playing, pictures of Elvis, cozy couches, all that good stuff? Well when I first stepped into Couch Brewery, I got hit with deja vu like I couldn’t believe. The interior is an ode to 60’s and 70’s Americana; Evel Knievel outfits, lava lamps, and the warm electric glow of neon lights made me feel like I was right at home. But enough about the interior, let’s talk about the beers.
I showed up for the Blackout event, a two-night party celebrating a stout tap takeover of Couch’s own brews, ready to tread into the world of dark beers with some serious anticipation. The place was pretty packed when I walked in, but I managed to get a spot at the bar right near where one of the owners, Darren, was canning up beers to sell to the line of people eagerly waiting to take a six pack to go. I figured if people were showing up to try the beer and then take some more to go, somebody must be doing something right at Couch. I ordered the flight of the five stouts they were presenting, and Darren explained the order they recommend drinking the beers in as well as some details about each of the brews.
All five of the stouts are brewed as a variation of The Recliner, an oatmeal stout, and being that all of the beers are a variation of The Recliner, they all come in at a nice and drinkable 5.1%. The Recliner was light and creamy, the oats are tasted almost immediately, and a faint but vibrant note of citrus finishes off each sip. There was also One More Cup of Coffee, a coffee stout brewed with beans from Commonplace Coffee. Just the smell of this one had me hooked, and I wasn’t disappointed when I drank it. The burst of coffee flavor was so pure and crisp that I definitely have to say it was my favorite of the night. Another one that I enjoyed along with apparently everyone else (it’s their best seller) was the Tiki Torch Coconut Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. When I smelled it, I was lazily drifted away to what I imagine the kitchen in Cake Boss smells like, rich scents of sugary coconut wafted into my nose, and light chocolate aromas danced around me. Taking a drink of the beer was about the same, I got that sweetened coconut taste, a lot like the coconut shavings used on desserts. There was also a subtle chocolate hint, but the oats almost cut down on the sweetness of the chocolate, rounding out the beer in a great way.
Aside from the beers, watching Darren and the bartenders interact with the customers was great. They looked like they couldn’t be happier to talk to patrons and answer questions or just shoot the breeze. Personally, I wanted to know why this place was called Couch; sure there were a lot of couches, but is that it? Was it some strange couch obsession? Was it just a random inside joke? I talked to Darren, and he gave me a great answer. He said that growing up blue collar, there’s something special about coming home from a hard day’s work, sitting down on your own couch, and cracking a cold one. With that thought, he and his partners decided to put that theme into a brewery of their own, a place where you can come and drink and feel just like you’re at home. Continuing in the vein of family-like hospitality, he asked me if I wanted to see the actual brewery in the back, and I of course said yes. Another co-owner, Cary, took me back and showed me the current state of affairs at Couch Brewery. I’m not sure what all I can talk about in, but let me just say, things are looking pretty good over at Couch.
The evening was definitely an experience for me: my first trip to Couch, some great beers, and a behind the scenes look at the brewing process. The crowd was great, clearly some regulars that knew exactly what they came for, as well as some folks like myself that were just trying out the whole spread to see what this place was all about. The attitude of everyone there, employees and customers, was so positive that I stayed in high spirits for the rest of the night, pretty excited that I got to check out some more great beer Pittsburgh has to offer.