My love for beer runs deep.

I became a member of Fuel and Fuddle’s Beer Cult in 2000, when I was a newly minted 21-year-old. My kitchen is adorned with the breweriana I’ve amassed during my taproom-hopping travels. I served as the official “Beer Guru” at the 2014 Beers of the Burgh Winter Warmer, donning a bottle costume and giving attendees information about the festival’s liquid lineup. You are what you drink, I guess.

Not only do I enjoy sipping stouts, porters, ales, lagers, sours and hazy IPAs, I like writing about the people behind these intoxicating beverages.

I’ve profiled professional suds-makers, homebrewers, hop farmers, can collectors and artists who design the labels. There’s so much more to beer than what goes in the glass; this weekly column will explore all of that stuff. I call it The NEXT Beer, because, well, that’s always my favorite one.

If you’ve got a beer-related news tip, send me an email. Cheers!

Photo courtesy of Inner Groove Brewing.

Inner Groove Brewing – Happy Twogether

“I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you, for all my life … when you’re with me, baby, the skies will be blue, for all my life.”

I’ve been singing The Turtles’ “Happy Together” since I visited Inner Groove Brewing in Verona last weekend. Their latest release, called Happy Twogether, is actually a double offering: a grape jelly porter and a peanut butter porter.

I got mine in a mixed four-pack and combined the flavors in one glass to create a 7.5-percent ABV, liquid PB&J sandwich. If you’re a nostalgic imbiber like me, drink it out of a vintage jelly jar while watching cartoons.

The cans are selling out fast, but if you visit Inner Groove at 751 E. Railroad Ave., they’ll pour you a draft.

“It has become a normal occurrence in our taproom for customers to ask us to blend two beers in one pint,” Co-owner Jennifer Walzer says. “We figured if they like doing it here, they will like doing it at home where they can blend it to their own liking. We have gotten extremely positive feedback and intend to make this a regular concept. One four-pack with three beer possibilities. We already have the next one planned and it will be released just in time for Valentine’s Day.”

Inner Groove, named after the spot on a vinyl record where bands place hidden tracks, opened in June 2019. In that time, they’ve produced 120 musically themed beers. There’s one year-round offering, My Verona Golden Ale. Offerings depend a lot on consumer perception, ingredient availability and what’s happening in the world.

“One thing our brewers are very passionate about is the creative process around creating recipes and experimenting,” says Walzer, who also serves as communications director for the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild. “We will bring beers back once or twice a year, but what you will generally see is us trying new styles, new hops, hop blends and fun concoctions. Our brewing team wouldn’t be very excited to brew the same beer week after week.”