As far as Jason Cercone’s concerned, if a liquid’s fermented in Western Pennsylvania, chances are it’s really good and highly quaffable.
The Executive Director of Pittsburgh Libations Week — a nine-day celebration that runs Oct. 12-20 — wants people to experience local booze through various events that highlight different aspects of the city’s drinking culture.
Currently, there are 25 sponsors and more than 30 happenings scheduled, with more being added each day.
“In regards to craft beverages,” Cercone says, “Pittsburgh has done incredible things and not just in the beer scene.”
And that’s not all: “We have solid whiskey, vodka, rum, cider and mead makers,” and Libations Week, “encapsulates it all in one, big package.”
A kick-off party featuring dozens of alcohol producers, food trucks and vendors will be held on Friday, Oct. 12 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Nova Place on the North Side. Folks who buy a ticket to the bash will automatically be entered into a drawing that will earn one winner free access into all Pittsburgh Libations Week events, a prize package worth approximately $600.
Other get-togethers include a golf scramble, seminars on beer and cider, a whiskey tasting with Level 2 Whiskey Sommelier Mitch Wettle, a bourbon dinner and a screening of the craft beer documentary “Poured in PA.”
Participants also will get to sample two collaboration beers made for the occasion: a brute IPA brewed by Homestead’s Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery and a cappuccino stout whipped up by the folks at Noble Stein Brewing in Indiana, Pa.
For critics who may say “What good can come from all of this drinking?” there is also a philanthropic side to Pittsburgh Libations Week.
A portion of the proceeds from sponsorships and events will go to Lending Hearts, a nonprofit organization that provides emotional and social support to children with cancer and their families.
The event has already raised $1,500 for the charity. The money will be used to fund activities including an in-hospital program that offers holistic care such as yoga, meditation, nutrition and massage to supplement medical treatments.
“Every month we serve about 150 to 200 individuals and there are 200 new cancer cases, on average, diagnosed every year,” says Vasso Paliouras, founder and executive director of Lending Hearts. “That’s who we’re serving and that’s who you’re helping. We’re so thankful to the libations community for your support.”
Cercone says the enjoyment of Pittsburgh’s myriad local libations doesn’t have to be limited to one week. He wants residents — and tourists — to eat, drink and be merry year-round in Pittsburgh.
“We’ve got a lot to be proud of here,” he says. “Our role in this isn’t going to revolutionize things, but we can be a catalyst to raise people’s awareness of what is at their fingertips.”