2018 has been an incredible year for the Pittsburgh craft beer scene, and although the cooler months have come upon us with even more fantastic events, pumpkin beers, crackling fireplaces, and (my personal favorite) hoodie weather, I wanted to take a look back at some of the many beer events and festivals that were held in the Pittsburgh area during this summer.
Before I start talking about this awesome summer, let me say this: this article is kind of like the 100th episode of a TV show, it’s just an overview of some of the highlights. Although there were dozens and dozens of events over the summer that were a blast to attend, time constrains me to picking a few from the star studded list.
Beer on the Bay was a massive success this year, with somewhere around fifty breweries attending the event at Liberty Park, right on the Erie Bayfront. We all know how bipolar the weather in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas can be, but Mother Nature sure showed out for the day! The weather was gorgeous, the people were great, and the beer was next level. I usually try to familiarize myself with most of (if not all of) the breweries at any given function, but the sheer numbers of beers to try that towered in front of me on a list the size of a giraffe’s neck made it impossible. There was a large number of breweries I was quite familiar with: Deschutes, Yuengling, Voodoo, North Country, etc., but there was also an astonishing number of breweries I’d never heard of. Then there was the homebrewers tent, a beyond pleasant surprise of beers from folks making beer for the love of making beer. The food was the icing on the cake that day, with food trucks lined up ready to sling a culinary rainbow of flavors to keep me thirsty for my next brew. With an event like this, I’m buying my tickets for next year as soon as I can.
Overkill isn’t a word I often use as a compliment, but I’m going to have to switch things up for this next one. The Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest at Stage AE was overkill in the best way. A two day festival on July 13th and 14th, their website touted over 120 breweries, a number that I didn’t want to try to count to and probably couldn’t count to after working my way through their beers. So I’ll take their word for it. I did try to count, but it kind of was like that old country song about drinking Jose Cuervo, “after nine rounds… I lost count and started counting again.” Let me say this about the festival, I haven’t seen a lineup of mouth-watering beers like this in my entire life; beers from all of my favorite breweries, ciders that blew my mind, and some great selections of beers I’ve never tasted from breweries I don’t often see at my local haunts. Much like Beer on the Bay, the food selection was on point, and food trucks were wheelin’ and dealin’ the grub for the hundreds and hundreds of people that were there. This was, truly, a ginormous event and an excellent display of great beer, good people, and good ol’ Pittsburgh pride.
This summer also saw the first annual Fresh Fest, an event that doubled as an opportunity to celebrate black-owned breweries and an introduction to some fantastic new beers. Held at the Federal Galley on August 11th, the gorgeous outdoor space was filled with many of the larger breweries in Pittsburgh, a host of breweries I was more than happy to get familiar with, and some fantastic food. The day was gorgeous, which again, is always a blessing in Pittsburgh, and everyone got to soak up some sun while they drank. The turnout was the perfect size, it was busy enough to keep the brewers pouring, but not so crowded that you had to order a beer to stand in line with when you were ordering a beer. The whole Fresh Fest really did justice to introducing many Pittsburgh’ers to both local and visiting breweries, a great step towards the future of Pittsburgh craft beers.
With so many awesome events this summer, it’s pretty clear that the craft beer scene in Pittsburgh is continuing on the rise in a big way. The crowds are growing, fresh breweries keep popping up all over the city, and the beers keep tasting better and better; with all these great events and great brewers, Pittsburgh is continuing to cement its name as a city for craft beer.