This past Saturday morning, as I rolled out of bed and slid on my specially designated and remarkably comfortable Drinking Underwear, I prepared for the invasion. I padded the bottom of my stomach with hash browns, sausage patties, bacon, ham, and eggs; I said goodbye to my family, and said a prayer to Saint Brigid of Kildare, the patron saint of brewing; I Googled pictures of cheesesteaks to remind myself that warriors are fed Primanti’s sandwiches and that strength comes from French fries and coleslaw; I got in the car, put on my sunglasses, and meditated on how much I hate the Flyers while listening to recorded sounds of the Ohio River. As I pulled into the parking lot of Spoonwood Brewing Company, just south of Pittsburgh, I could feel their presence. Rising slowly from the cabin of the vehicle, I removed my glasses and spit at the ground in front of me. Philadelphia was here.
But as I walked into Spoonwood and picked up my glass and raffle ticket, my animosity gave way to excitement. Who cares how much better Pittsburgh is with our 981-mile long tributary of the Mississippi and our championship-winning sports teams and our much cooler city nickname and 446 bridges? Philly is good for many, many things. Like Wawa, Will Smith, the Declaration of Independence, and a lot of good beer.
Organized by Breweries In PA and sponsored by IceMule Coolers, the Philadelphia Invades Pittsburgh Beer Fest was part of a continued effort to promote Pennsylvania craft beer and connect the statewide beer community. Tickets were capped at 200 and they sold out quickly—because nothing gets a Yinzer goin’ like good beer.
The taps opened exactly at noon and patrons were ready to get their afternoon buzz started. Free Will, Tuned Up, 2SP, La Cabra, Conshohocken, Levante, and Hidden River supplied the fun with each brewery bringing along two beers each. Pours for each individual were unlimited. UNLIMITED! Thanks, Philly. Now my wife has to drive me home.
A special menu was put together for the event that combined the best of both cities. This included stuff like the Philly Meets Pittsburgh Cheesesteak with shaved ribeye, caramelized onions, and provolone cheese on a toasted sandwich roll. Or my personal favorite (as a Pittsburgh boy): the Beer Braised Smoked Bratwurst with sauerkraut, whole grain mustard and a friggin’ pierogi on top.
Aside from all the delicious beer at Spoonwood, Breweries In PA’s Chadd Balbi raffled off an assortment of cans so some lucky winners could take home a little piece of the City of Brotherly Love for themselves. Initially, Tired Hands—one of Philadelphia’s most popular and sought-after breweries—sent some special cans meant to be released at the beer fest but PLCB law prevented them from being raffled off. Luckily, there was plenty of other good beer to be given away. Winners got to take home cans of Glitter Parts Pineapple and Sugar-Coated Pony Kisses from Levante and Stable 12 respectively.
As things started wrapping up, I stopped to chat with Chadd. When asked about the future plans of Breweries In PA, he lit up and grabbed the microphone.
“One more announcement, folks,” he says, trying to grab the waning attention span of the buzzed crowd. “On August 11 in State College, PA, we are organizing the biggest Pennsylvania-focused beer festival not just of 2018, but the largest one that has ever been done in the state.” He encourages everyone to come out for a great selection of beer, food, and fun before returning his attention back to me.
“You guys were the first to hear it!” he tells me cheerfully. “We’ll be announcing it sometime next week on our digital media platforms.”
State College sits at the perfect half-way point between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and I imagine all the debauchery that I could engage in returning to my alma mater amidst the greatest collection of Pennsylvania beer ever together at once. The excitement makes my hands sweaty as I congratulate Chadd on a successful event and make my way back out to the parking lot. With a tummy full of great beer and a lit cigarette in hand, I was definitely feeling some Philadelphia love!