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  The impact that the type of beer brewed by local establishments is having on multi-national beer companies is evident. From the buying of these smaller operations by the big guys to the potential limiting of available hops (not that many of us had a shot at getting them in the first place) by intercontinental producers… this conversation has taken an interesting turn. One that I find contextually interesting. I’ve noticed that most folks refer to two kinds of malt based beverage brewed with water, yeast, and sometimes hops. These are “beer” and “craft beer.” I even recently read a thread on the book of faces about moving “craft beer” to another category, I believe it was “independent beer.” “Beer” being used to refer to the mass produced, internationally shipped, light lager category. And really everything else falling into “Craft,” “Independent,” “Nano,” or some other sub category of “Beer.” At first glance this seems to refer to the fact that the product produced on a smaller scale and presumably with more hand contact and care is different, or special, or for some reason… needs a qualifier. Innocent enough, right? Meh… Me no thinks so. Why do the big guys get to own beer? We should own beer…. They should have to qualify. They’re going to co-opt anything we use anyway, right? Flip the script. Let’s co-opt them. As history has it and as I’ve been told, beer is rumored to have been started in small local establishments, not multi-national companies. And, I’m making and assumption here, when Paul Revere, Van Gogh, or the King of a random African kingdom wanted to imbibe a sip of tasty beverage, they just said, “let’s go grab a beer” (or something to the same effect). They didn’t qualify with craft, handmade, or independent… It was simply beer. I like to think we still make the real stuff in the small establishments. I don’t need a qualifier to tell me what I like to drink is good, and I’m certainly no elitist that needs a title. Beer and our craft didn’t come from the elite, so why does it need to be elevated now. What I make is beer. What is mass industrial produced is something else… call it macro beer, call it industrial beer, call it crap, call it … just don’t leave it at “Beer.” We don’t need a licensed professional to tell us what’s good… We’re beer drinkers. We know what’s good when we taste it. We already give too much thought to who we are, what we want to be, and more than anything, the burning question everyone wants to...

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We get asked A LOT about saturation of the brewing industry here in Pittsburgh. Those of you who know us on brew day in the garage know that we spend an inordinate amount of time watching all sorts of brewing related youtube, podcasts, and movies. In fact, I think we may be close to the end of that universe! This has some great benefits in learning and inspiration. However, it’s also very revealing on the state of the growing brewing industry. It’s no secret that there are more homebrewers turning pro than ever. When you start listening to all of these stories, something becomes very apparent. While we are not at a saturation point in breweries, in my opinion, the story has a real chance of becoming stale. New is only new, as long as the model continues to reinvent itself. Now, we are admittedly guilty of contributing to this repetitive story of two guys who were homebrewers, had a few friends that liked their beer, and made the moves to try and brew on a saleable scale. There are minute differences in each of these stories across the country, but this narrative seems to be very dominant. The small guys struggling to become something against the oppressive local gov’t or big guy brewers, and yes, this is all very true. But it is not unique to the brewing industry. This is small business. This is reality of building something you’re passionate about. IT is a struggle… that we all go through. No one starting, continuing, or rebranding a brewery has it easy these days. It’s a symptom of our success. What we don’t hear, is a lot about the beer, the product, and what is being reinvented. Yes, everyone will tell you they are all about quality first. We say it. I’d be concerned if your pitch was, “We make crappy beer, but hey… we’re making beer close to where you live.” At some point, someone has to really step up and put this up-and-comer narrative on the bookshelf and start talking about what is really going to keep brewing, beer, and this amazing industry new to the consumer. We certainly don’t want to become Pop music where everything sounds exactly alike. We all don’t need chalk board menus, a barrel program, dog friendly atmospheres, or to focus on the same popular style of beer (apparently the milky NE IPA as of today). These are all great things, and they fit certain breweries, but we need to work to prevent the cookie cutter brewery operation. https://www.ted.com/talks/shekhar_kapur_we_are_the_stories_we_tell_ourselves?language=en There was just an article in a local blog about what we...

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The 90’s punk and grunge movement may have looked crass, uneducated, ignorant, and dirty to the outside, but I’ll argue that it was a more elevated society than we live in today. Going back to the music of the day vs. today is all one needs to do. I recently watched a documentary in the brewery where a supposed subculture/anti-establishment group was followed. In that documentary, they droned on about how “cool” they were. How “punk” they are. How others should aspire to be them only to be shut out… WHAT? I got pissed. Now I feel that I have to put a few ideas there only tangentially related to beer. First, let’s put this on the table: Beer and music, in my humble opinion, are the catalysts to change thinking. Let’s be honest, a few beers and the new ideas flow a bit more free as do the words to express them. Many of these words and ideas gave birth to the punk movement and songs of the 90’s. At least in my experience, that’s where I came from. But I also think there are two greater catalysts to change thinking and actions… Education: Education doesn’t all mean book learning. Education can be self-teaching (Thank you Howard Zinn). Looking for that nugget of knowledge. The truths according to you. Today, we are force fed so much information as knowledge but not given the time to question it and truly learn it. You wouldn’t want to fall behind would you? You’d be an outsider. Sometimes you have to use the work FUCK. Sometimes you have you slam your fist. I know it’s not appropriate in the boardroom… wait, what the fuck? My advice: Pick up a book/pamphlet/documentary that you are uncomfortable with. React to it. You’ll be better off. Stop right here quick and watch this: Click Here Political awareness. How many political activists really exist today? I don’t see a single idol or public figure truly inciting unrest with questions. No one is screaming “FUCK AUTHORITY” in a very real way (Thank you Pennywise). Why would they? They are benefiting from the control of the upper class aren’t they? Or, they have been force fed that the establishment is bigger than them. From my currently perspective, we have more figureheads singing/talking about how they got dumped or how much liquor they can drink and still fuck than who’s pulling their strings. Yep… I said it. Kanye, you ain’t hard or world changing. You’re simply a distraction for the machine to keep moving on. My advice: Turn it off… all of it. At least for a weekend here and...

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What is Pittsburgh Beer?


Posted By on Feb 19, 2016

What is Pittsburgh beer? That’s a question that continuously rolls through my head. As we brew, as we taste, as we meet beer drinkers, and as we read beer forums it’s hard to ignore a few trends. Some of these include the downgrading of the homebrew turned pro, the idea that Pittsburgh beer is somehow inferior due to a lack of national focus (outside of a few fellow brewers), that Pittsburgh is oversaturated, that certain people will only respect a brewery when someone outside the Pittsburgh community tells them at it is good. I call horse shit. As some may know, one of our brewers completed a Doctoral degree in Information Systems and Communications with a focus in marketing. And of course this had to do with beer in Western PA. The long and boring title is, “COLLECTIVE BEER BRAND IDENTITY: A SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS OF THE WEBSITES REPRESENTING SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES IN THE BREWING INDUSTRY OF WESTERN PA.” What the hell does that mean? Not much. It means that I looked at the communal brand identity of western PA breweries in 2013 to discover what Western PA brewing meant to someone on the outside who was looking at all of our websites. The concept was that each region of the US as a specific “brand” of beer. We often hear about the Vermont IPA, or the Colorado mountain influence, or the Asheville weirdness. What are we, if we are anything? But first, how the hell does this relate to my original questions. Well first, through this examination, I was able to prove a Western PA beer identity. So maybe those who don’t have faith in the current state of beer in Pittsburgh would just prefer a different brand of regional beer. Unfortunately and fortunately, I don’t think Pittsburgh beer is trying to be an imitator. It seems that Pittsburgh is where beer comes to be beer, not try to be the next xxx scene. In our humble opinion, this is a very good thing. Secondly, part of that freedom for beer to be beer is the ability of the homebrew to turn pro brewer. As someone who has completed a ton of education, I can firmly say that it has the ability to educate the creative process out of a profession. Thank God we have homebrewers turning pro brewer! Yes, mistakes will happen, but without mistakes and experimentation, how will we grow! I know there are those people saying that these mistakes should be ironed out as a homebrewer, and again, horse shit. Any pro brewer that says they don’t make mistakes is lying, however, I will concede...

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Response to an Ass-Hat


Posted By on Feb 17, 2016

We tried to hold our breath… we couldn’t. We apologize in advance.       Last week a certain TV reality star felt the need to express his viewpoint that craft beer is bound to fail and that we are on the verge of the bubble bursting. He expressed his opinion that 60% is not good beer along with a state of uncleanliness within these craft establishments. And finally, it is an industry driven by a greed to make money. This is the short version for your reference.                 To start, I’m not going to give this ass-hat the satisfaction of having his name needlessly glorified. If you don’t know who it is, you’ll have to look it up yourself. Secondly, I respect that these are his opinions and everyone is entitled to their own opinion and to express it however they want. I think that Julia Hertz’s response was well stated and done in a professional and respectful manner. We, however, reserve the same right to express our opinion in the manner we choose and when it comes to criticizing our industry, our response is guttural and raw… So here it is.                 Get out of our yard you big liquor funded, reality star, capitalizing on other’s misfortune ass hat. What in the world makes you, a self-proclaimed craft cocktail expert, think you are even close to qualified to critique craft beer? Have you ever brewed a batch? Have you ever spent 12 hours in a steaming hot brewery, hand milling malt and lifting 5 gallon bucket after 5 gallon bucket, all the time trying to ensure the most stringent sanitary standards, only to produce 30 gallons of a craft product that you are proud of and not making a single dime off of? I didn’t think so… so get out. You purport the glories of one of the largest liquor conglomerates in the world on your show… which only aligns you with the sort of thing we are fighting… huge, money hungry, conglomerates gobbling up everything in sight as this is the only way you can survive… kind of like you do to bar owners who just need a little help. I don’t have the proof, but I’d be willing to bet my brewery that those companies are somehow in your pocket.                 I can say that we, here at CoStar, have a FANTASTIC relationship with the local craft cocktail scene with some of them being our biggest supporters. How dare you taint that relationship, pitting craft cocktails and mixologists against craft beer. As a self proclaimed bar and alcohol expert, you have a responsibility to support all craft...

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