I just want to start off by saying that as long as cider (not the kindergarten variety) and Kriek beer are available, I’ll always be content.
When I was asked if I wanted to sponsor a giveaway on my blog for two free tickets to Pittsburgh’s 2nd annual Brew ‘N Chew, I said sure. When I was told I could also attend with a guest, it seemed like the perfect outing…for D. While I have certainly drunk beer on occasion over the years, I much prefer things like sangria and the mixed drink variety (rum, vodka, whiskey being my favorites). But D is very much the beer connoisseur and aficionado and when I asked him if he had an interest in attending, he said definitely. And frankly, a fun activity so soon after Christmas that was indoors (last Saturday’s high was around 15 degrees F!) seemed perfect.
I’m not going to lie when I say I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the Brew ‘N Chew. The website said dozens and dozens of different beers would be available to sample along with food vendors. I thought it might be similar to the PittsBurgher, an annual burger competition that we attended one year. While the burgers were good, I didn’t necessarily love the set up (it was located on the North Shore outside of the Rivers Casino and lines were long, tables were limited, and drinks cost extra). However, all preconceptions I had about the Brew ‘N Chew were completely wrong.
The event took place at the Monroeville Convention Center, a town that is about 20 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Parking was obviously free (the suburbs do have their benefits) and being an indoor venue, there was space all around. I had been here previously (for the city’s annual Folk Festival), and while it may not be the most stunning of spaces, it’s safe to say that anyone who attends a beer festival is more concerned about the beer and not about how the walls, floors, and ceiling look.
All attendees were given their own tasting glass so that you could try as many beers as you wanted (D) or as few as you wanted (moi). There were also a couple of sinks scattered throughout which was nice since you could easily rinse out your glass without having to trek to a restroom to do so.
While there were the usual suspects, well known local craft breweries like Penn Brewery, Church Brew Works, and North Country (located in the small town of Slippery Rock which is roughly an hour north of Pittsburgh), there were also exhibitors from all around the country (Georgia, Illinois, Michigan). It was really neat to see them partaking in an event hosted in Pittsburgh.
And even not being a beer person, it’s always cool when you recognize beers simply from being around “beer people.” Weyerbacher, a brewery located in the eastern Pennsylvania city of Easton (where half of my roots are from) was there along with Yards, a local Philadelphia brewery.
My favorites of the day were the two sample glasses of brew that I actually finished-a pear cider from DeMunck’s (this was really tasty), and the only beer I tried in Belgium, a Kriek, which is a cherry infused Lambic beer. Being the global nerd that I am, there was actually a global beers section along one wall; beers were lined up on the wall and then on the bar side, with mats to identify what each was.
But what I loved most about the Brew ‘N Chew was the non-beer side of things. When I read food vendors, I assumed food would be available to purchase. No, there were countless stands offering a variety of food selections ranging from sushi, wings, and various dips to cheese samples from local cheese makers, to muffaletta samples to even burgers. There were also two bakeries there including one of my favorites, Eliza’s Oven (Eliza uses alcohol in her baking and her handcrafted pastries have some really fun and clever names). Some of the vendors that were independently owned (i.e. non-corporation based) had more miniature samples to try and offered standard sizes for purchase.
There were also non-food vendors and I naturally had to purchase some of their wares. I went home with a couple of handmade dip packets (all different flavors) and two spices, Turkish kofte and a piri piri, from the largest spice selection I have ever seen.
Unlike at the PittsBurgher where all attendees were given cards that were stamped by the exhibitor once you had gotten your burger, the Brew ‘N Chew was a “come as many times as you want” kind of place. This mildly surprised me because the booze really was flowing.
And there were also various games that you could play such as poker, air hockey, and darts in which the “board” was touch screen (technology always finds new ways to be amazing). We attended the first session which ran from 1-4 PM (a second session went from 6-9 PM) and the live music being played was fantastic, a singer and guitarist performing a slew of beloved cover versions.
GoodTaste! Pittsburgh did a wonderful job in organizing and putting together the Brew ‘N Chew and I’m really glad that I had the chance to attend. I’m already looking forward to next year’s!
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest but all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.