Tap into something different during Three Rivers Beer Week.
The inaugural celebration, which runs Oct. 6-10, was developed by the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild, a nonprofit organization made up of 42 Allegheny County breweries. Each brewery will host its own activities during Three Rivers Beer Week.
In 2019, the guild received a $75,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverage Industry Promotion Board to revamp and relaunch Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, an event that was run by beer lovers, but not necessarily beer makers. The funds were earmarked for 2020, but, due to the pandemic, the guild was given an extension in mid-2021 to establish the new festival.
“The first-ever Pittsburgh craft beer week was held in 2012 and ran until 2018,” says Brian Eaton, president of the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild president and a co-founder of Grist House Craft Brewery. “It set out to help grow the craft beer scene in Pittsburgh at a time when only five breweries were in operation in Allegheny County. Today, there are more than 40 breweries that call Pittsburgh home, and the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild determined that it was time to relaunch and rebrand.”
The festivities actually start on Oct. 5 at The First Pour Kick-Off Event at the Pennsylvanian on Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.
From 6 to 10 p.m., beer lovers can rub elbows with local brewers, raise a complimentary tasting glass designed by Permanent Hangover and enter for a chance to win two tickets to the Steel City Big Pour, which benefits Construction Junction on Oct. 16.
At the First Pour Kick-Off , which will be held outdoors in a covered space, brewing pros will share their brand offerings with 300 attendees while debuting 476 Appalachian Pale Ale, the official collaboration beer of Three Rivers Beer Week.
Earlier this month, suds makers from the Asheville Brewers Alliance made the 476-mile journey from Asheville, North Carolina, to Pittsburgh and worked with the local contingent to create the 5.9 percent ABV beverage. The double batch was whipped up at Lawrenceville’s Eleventh Hour Brewing using a grain bill made up of ingredients grown in North Carolina and some from Butler County’s CNC Malt. In 2022, Pittsburgh brewers will travel to Asheville to help brewers there make a beer for their city’s beer week.
The pale ale will be available on draft and in cans at all guild breweries and at a few bars around town. Events at the individual taprooms range from Autumnfest at Spoonwood Brewing and a glass-blowing demonstration at Two Frays Brewery to Disco Boogie at Hop Farm Brewing. Through a search feature on the festival’s website, people can explore daily events — which are mostly free — and add them to their Google calendar.
“That was the whole plan for the website. You can create your own little Beer Week adventure,” says Jen Walzer, co-owner of Inner Groove Brewing in Verona and the guild’s communications and outreach coordinator.
To help you on your journey, you can pick up the guild’s Pittsburgh Brewery Guide for $10. The passport-style book is filled with information about the guild’s member breweries in Allegheny County as well as seven designated beer trails featured on the organization’s website. Folks who visit a certain number of breweries can win prizes.
Walzer says that while the local craft beer industry isn’t back to its pre-pandemic glory, she’s happy the guild can offer customers a wide range of activities to welcome them back.
“People are still hesitant, which they should be, but they’re also looking for things to do,” she says. “I see a lot of breweries thinking outside the box to accommodate them.”