On Saturday, June 2, I drove down to the Penn Brewery in Pittsburgh with three friends and attended the Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest from noon to 3pm. We were very fortunate to have been given some complimentary tickets from one of our local publicans, Tim McQuaide, who owns and runs The Coney. He couldn't make the event, and since he knows what a beer geek I am, he passed them on to me.
We arrived just at noon, so I dropped the guys off and parked down the street. By the time I got up to the gate, the line was finished so no waiting. I'd been to this event in 2002, and this was done a bit better. First, there seemed to be fewer admitted guests, so that cut down a bit on the lines and the heat. Second, they finally had rinse stations set up and since the event was in the parking garage, waste beer/water could be thrown right in the drains. Nice.
It was a pretty darned good showing of Pennsylvania's finest, along with some regional brewers from New York, West Virginia, Ohio, and even a few from Vermont and Colorado. (see the link above for full listing).
Unlike some other festivals I've been to in the past, I didn't try to get a bunch of ratings this time. Since I didn't pay for a ticket, I felt more like wandering around and chatting with brewers and seeing what was going on.
I did try Penn Brewery's Penndemonium, a doppelbock by label but really more of a heller Bock. Two others that I particularly enjoyed were Weyerbacher Muse and Southern Tier's Un*Earthly Double IPA.
I also tried two beers from Union Barrel Works, the Kölsch and the Doppelbock. Pretty good stuff. And finally a West Virginia Brewing Baltic Porter and Yards Saison. I didn't think much of this saison, really.
The neatest beer I tasted was a very raw and young beer from the Bullfrog that will be called "Black and Blue". It's a fruit beer made with blueberries and black raspberries. Just the small taste I had was extraordinary and I hope I can get the finished product when it comes out! Thanks Terry, for a taste (and thanks to Bill and Mark for cluing me in about it!). Everyone keep up the great work.