Beer + Yoga

Beer + Yoga square

Next in our series of Events with Overly Straighforward Titles, we’re teaming up with South Hills Power Yoga to offer a series of Sunday yoga classes in the taproom. Brewery yoga is not a new concept. By this point it’s become a well  documented  trend; several breweries, including fellow Pittsburgh spots, have begun offering their own brand of the glorious combo. But while we didn’t come up with the idea, we do feel that we’re uniquely suited to offer an extra-special brewery yoga experience.

This will be a series of five Sundays, with some special extras: the first, third, fourth, and fifth installments will also include a special brunch menu from Street Foods, with the fifth and final event being a large-scale grand finale event for charity. All classes are free to attend and begin at 11am (with reservations available via EventBrite). Here are the dates:

A big thanks to our friends over at Fittsburgh for being the media sponsor for this series.

The Food Gentlemen

Having both grown up in an environment where our parents cooked, we helped in the kitchen, and sit-down family meals were valued, Matt and I have both always had a deep love of and respect for food. This shared background was a huge influence for us in deciding to work together to go into the beverage industry. In terms of general influence for The Brew Gentlemen, we’ve probably taken more cues from restaurants and bars than we have from other breweries. When we travel, our excitement peaks when we find a place that nails both food and drink. As I previously noted in our introduction to our newest flagship, Table Beer – even though we don’t have a kitchen at the brewery, food has always been central to our company culture.

The halcyon summer between our junior and senior years of college was full of dinners cooked outside on the porch, always featuring either a fastidiously selected six-pack from the beer cave at D’s or a case of low-fills from the then-fledgling Full Pint Brewing at which Matt briefly interned. The company was still very much in the planning stages, and appeasing our rampant curiosity for beer and brewing was far higher on the priority list than whatever other menial obligations we had that summer. And thus, the first summer of our company’s unofficial existence was spent chasing those simple pleasures, the exact types of experiences we eventually wanted to be able to provide to others.

The real work towards building a foundation for the company began once we became seniors, and food remained a running theme. Pairing became a field of study which required hands-on practice. Matt and his girlfriend attended beer dinners and toted beer along to BYOB restaurants. I tasted everything I could get my hands on while working at Mad Mex and burned through books on beer and food.

Then, during a second-semester entrepreneurship class, we were assigned a project to turn $150 of seed money into as much profit as possible in two weeks; after our first real research blitz into food pairing, we planned, cooked and served a two-sitting, four-course beer dinner. We ended up losing the competition, and therefore all $1800 of our profits, to a group sold their old textbooks online. But, you know, we’re most definitely not still bitter about that or anything.

Less than a month later, we were already part of our first public, ticketed beer dinner with an actual establishment: the gorgeous Hartwood Restaurant just north of the city. A second dinner at Hartwood and a few events with our good friends at Bar Marco provided further opportunities for practical application. This series of experiences, combined with field trips to gorgeous, classy, beer-focused bars and restaurants in other cities, further fueled our desire to create an establishment that treated beer with the same level of sophistication and elegance with which the fine dining world treats wine.

By late 2013, we began studying for the Certified Cicerone exam, which meant formalizing all of our self-taught knowledge about pairings. A large part of the program focuses on beer’s relationship with food, teaching the central tenets of matching intensities, finding resonance, and creating contrast. For myself in particular, especially as the least technically-focused member of our team, this was the most compelling part of the syllabus. We were both quite happy when one of the exam questions was an essay on choosing a beer for a specific dish based on its ingredients and preparation.

All of this is to say, we have a passionate romance with beer and food. Even though our taproom doesn’t currently have the infrastructure to install a kitchen, we think about it all the time. When people visit the taproom, we try to recommend specific taco/burger/bbq/gyro and beer combinations from whomever’s posted up outside. We celebrate beer and dessert with our Beer & Ice Cream Sandwiches events. We sneak our way into events (in exchange for kitchen beers, of course) just to be around good people cooking amazing food.

Now, after years of hard work, we have finally built the infrastructure to be able to partner with a chef, host a dinner in our taproom, and provide the beer for each and every course. When you look at where all this started, you can imagine how much this means to us. We hope you can join us this Sunday as we team up with Keith Fuller of Root 174 to bring you Strange Root, our inaugural taproom beer dinner.

Hopefully this will be the first of a long-running series of taproom dinners. If there’s a particular chef or restaurant that you think might be a good collaboration for us, let us know in the comments or on social media. The amazing momentum that the Pittsburgh food scene has developed since we moved here in 2008 is incredible to see and even more incredible to now be a part of, and we’re proud of all of our friends who’ve kept that momentum going.

It’s a Spring Cleaning Merch Sale

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Since opening our doors in May, we’ve made several changes to our merchandise lineup. Most notable have been the gradual updates made to our glassware selection, which has been slowly shifting over from our original flagship icon glassware over to newer, nicer glassware with our company logo. We’ve also gotten new t-shirts, after not only updating our logo itself but also receiving universal feedback to add “Braddock, Pennsylvania” to the design.

All of this is to say that we have a lot of obsolete inventory that will serve you far better than it currently serves us. So in order to more easily facilitate the transfer process, we’re letting you pay what you want for it. Starting this Wednesday, March 11th, we’ll be selling all of our extra glassware and t-shirts for whatever you think is fair. We’ll tell you what we paid for it, we’ll tell you how much we’d normally charge for it, you decide. Whatever we make off of this will go directly towards further upgrading our swag. Sorry, no shipping – taproom only.

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Appalachian Spring

spring seasonals

Building out a product lineup has been one of the most enthralling parts of owning and operating a brewery. It’s entirely open-ended, and a the choices a brewery makes in regard to its family of beers defines its niche. We’ve been tweaking and adding to our lineup ever since we brewed our first batches of White Sky and General Braddock’s in our fraternity garage. Business Casual and Build and Destroy came shortly thereafter, and those original four that we launched with became five with the recent addition of Table Beer. Seasonals, however, have been incorporated piecemeal; starting last summer with Garden Party, we’ve been slowly building our lineup of two annual releases per season. Mexican Coffee, our first fall seasonal, was the fastest-selling beer we’ve made to date. Our pair of winter seasonals, Winter Warmer and Mammoth, were similarly well-received, selling out much sooner than expected. So now that spring is soon to be upon us, we’re proud to announce the two newest beers in the Brew Gentlemen lineup: Loose Seal, a well-hopped saison fermented with a blend of saccharomyces and brettanomyces (“brett”) yeast, and Overgrowth, a dank, juicy pale wheat ale.

When our pilot batch of cucumber wheat beer (part of our now-defunct Rapid Prototype Factory Series) was met with an exceptional level of praise, we knew that it warranted a spot in the seasonal lineup. It reappeared a couple of months later under the name Garden Party, the step towards our eventual goal of having eight reoccurring seasonals. A similar apotheosis has now occurred with New World Saison, a dry, funky saison that we very quietly released last December. We’ve renamed and redesigned New World in order to match the branding of our other flagships and seasonals, and it will join the seasonal lineup this spring as Loose Seal.

Alongside our newfound semiaquatic friend is a beer that combines two of our favorite aspects of the beer world: the clean, refreshing, American-style wheat beer, and the modern trend of hop-forward beers with low bitterness. The result: a smooth, soft wheat beer made with a huge addition of US and New Zealand hops, bursting with big notes of tropical fruit and pine. It’s named after an often-beautiful symptom of Braddock’s dramatic downfall: Overgrowth.

Personal context time: I’ve been in love with the concept of nature retaking human construction for as long as I can remember. As a kid, discovering overgrown abandoned cars in the woods felt like finding buried treasure. Fallout is my favorite video game franchise. Hiyao Miyazaki, my all-time favorite animator, uses overgrowth as a recurring theme across several of his movies.

Somewhat obviously, this long-standing interest in abandoned and overgrown things is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to Braddock. There’s no time that it’s more evident than in spring, when small sprouts of green begin popping up in all the nooks and crannies of the abandoned structures. So when it came time to give a name to one of our lushest, most floral beers, Overgrowth seemed like a perfect fit. Although we kept the design clean and simple to match its peers, we’ve already begun playing around with overgrown imagery with our labels for  New World Saison and its sequel, Nelson Saison, with more to come.

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The darker, thicker, heavier beers that helped get us through the cold months are slowly being replaced by fresher, crisper offerings. We’re incredibly excited to introduce these two new additions to the lineup over the coming weeks, especially as we usher in those first few glimpses of green.

Overgrowth will be released on draft starting Wednesday, March 18th, with Loose Seal following shortly thereafter. For the most up-to-date release information, join our weekly email blast.

And Now Introducing Table Beer

tablebeer square

As you may imagine, making an addition to our year-round lineup is a pretty momentous change that requires a lot of forethought. We’ve already made a number of augmentations to existing beers, the most notable being Business Casual’s upgrade from Session Red Ale to Imperial Red Ale. But we’ve had only four flagships in mind since long before we opened – White Sky, General Braddock’s IPA, Business Casual, and Build & Destroy – and that lineup has worked extremely well for us so far. So why fix what ain’t broke?

Beer’s relationship with food has always been a big part of our company culture. Although we have little physical ability to serve food in our taproom, we’ve always had a huge interest in food pairing. The topic is a sizable chunk of the syllabus for the Certified Cicerone exam, so we’ve armed ourselves with a bit of useful knowledge within that field. The majority of that knowledge comes from Garrett Oliver’s The Brewmaster’s Table (which I mentioned in our previous post about Nelson Saison), a book whose most shining selection of prose is his chapter on saison. That chapter is without a doubt my favorite piece of beer writing, a love letter to his (and my own) favorite beer style. Although the mouth-watering compendium on food pairing which covers most well-known beer styles, Oliver places saison above all else in terms of its relationship to food:

“Saison is not just versatile – it’s downright promiscuous. It seems to go with almost everything. The combination of dynamic bitterness, scouring carbonation, bright aromatics, spicy flavors, pepper notes, dark earthy underpinnings, and racy acidity gives these beers a hook to hang their hat on for a wide variety of dishes… it’s not just a match, it’s a torrid embrace.” 

With such a huge interest in food pairing, we all felt that our core lineup needed a beer specifically made to serve that purpose. Inspired by Belgian tafelbiers - low-alcohol beers meant to be served with meals – the goal was a beer that would not only be an easy-drinking session beer for long nights in the taproom, but also an all-purpose dinner beer made to pair with the widest possible range of dishes. Saison was the only option.

And thus, Table Beer was born.

This session-strength saison is mild, effervescent, and bursting with juicy hops. Lemon and lime dominate the flavor and aroma, backed up by a light, grainy malt base with notes of honey and oats. And best of all, it comes in at a nice, low 4.4% (a bit higher than tafelbier-strength). As for the name, we decided to keep it simple and straightforward as a throwback to its traditional roots, in the same way we so illustriously named our Winter Warmer “Winter Warmer”. No bullshit, just Table Beer.

Our goal for Table Beer is not only to round out our core lineup by adding a session-strength offering (without it, the average ABV of our four flagships would be 7.25%), but also to really solidify our love of beer’s affinity for food. Some day, we hope to walk into a nice restaurant and see one of you sharing a bottle of Table Beer over a great meal and a great conversation. Then we’ll know we’ve done our job.

Table Beer will be released on draft Wednesday, February 25th in the taproom, with bottles soon to come.

Special Release: Nelson Saison

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Ah, Saison. Saisons are one of our head brewer Zach’s favorite beers to both brew and drink, which bodes well for the rest of us given that we’re firmly in the same camp. Saison is the blonde bombshell in the backless dress at the metaphorical beer-style dinner party, and if you’d like to hear someone far more articulate than myself sing it’s praises, read the mouth-watering saison chapter of Garrett Oliver’s seminal beer-and-food-pairing Bible, The Brewmaster’s Table:

“…a sunny orange color; explosive carbonation producing an impressive rocky head; bright, spicy, fruity aromatics; a refreshing hop attack; and a dry, slightly tart finish… I consider these beers truly glorious and endlessly interesting.”

Our interest in saison lies in it’s openness for interpretation, a shapeshifter of a beer style that can be sour, hoppy, dark, light, classic, fruity, funky, clean… the list goes on. The specific strain of saison yeast that we use lends itself particularly well to hops and has a light funkiness, and our newest Special Release calls upon Zach’s love of fruity New Zealand hops to provide that bright, juicy hop backbone.

When I asked Zach why he decided to make this beer, he gave me a compelling answer: Having first brewed it in Akron before moving to Pittsburgh to join The Brew Gentlemen team, the keg “conditioned” in the back of the U-Haul during his trip from Akron to Pittsburgh. It was the first beer he tapped once he moved into his new house, and upon trying it he knew that it needed to be made on a production scale. Following our pattern of naming our Special Release saisons with the ever-creative “_____ Saison”, Nelson Saison was born.

Nelson Saison is a cousin to our previous Special Release saison, New World Saison (which will be making a grand return upon its rebranding as Loose Seal, one of our Spring seasonals) – a modern farmhouse ale, more well-hopped than the traditional Belgian style. This beer’s bursting with citrus, white grape and pineapple character from the liberal addition of Nelson Sauvin hops, it’s backed up by a light, crackery malt base, and it’s without a doubt one of the best beers we’ve made yet.

Nelson Saison will be released officially on draft Wednesday, February 18th in the taproom, with bottles soon to come.