Beer + A Good Cause

2015-08-19 16.22.16

One of the most special parts of the brewing industry is the enormous degree of collaboration. Sometimes, that collaboration goes a step further to benefit a good cause. Even cooler is when we get to be a part of it.

Earlier this year, we were fortunate to be selected as one of 80ish breweries in the country to be a part of this year’s Ales for ALS program. So how does the program work? In short, Loftus Ranches, one of the longest running hop farms in Yakima Valley, provides a proprietary blend of hops, free of charge, to all participating breweries. The participating breweries create a beer of whatever style they please using this hop blend, donating $1 from every pint sold to benefit the ALS Therapy Development Institute, the world’s leader in ALS research.

Your familiarity with ALS was most likely broadened due to the insane virality of the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”, which dominated many social media feeds last summer. If you’re not familiar with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to paralysis due to the death of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. There is no known cure for the disease, and the average person survives only two to five years following diagnosis. About 5,000 people in the US are diagnosed with ALS each year.

Last year, one of those 5,000 diagnoses was our longtime fraternity advisor and mentor, Bob Dax. The Donut Dash, Carnegie Mellon’s largest student-organized philanthropy event, became an ALS fundraiser immediately following Bob’s diagnosis, raising over $100,000 for ALS research during last year’s event. Bob is still fighting his battle with ALS, and although we certainly won’t be able to make as large a contribution as Donut Dash has, we’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to help in any way we can.

All of this being said, we’re excited to announce the release of Lou, a beer made in partnership with the nationwide Ales for ALS program. With a hop blend featuring Equinox, Mosaic, and five other experimental hop varietals, we knew immediately what we had to do: a big, dank, and hazy Double IPA. Clocking in at 8% ABV, Lou is a symphony of lychee, pineapple, mangoes, peaches, grapefruit, and grass – a tropical fruit salad, if you will.

From now until we run out, we will be donating $1 from every pint (plus $0.50/taster, $2/750mL, and $3/2L) to ALS TDI. Join in and drink for a good cause.

A special thanks to Jena McEwen, Jeff Mich, Bob Dax, Neil & Suzanne Alexander, Loftus Ranches, Hopunion, Ben Eagle & ALSTDI, Donut Dash, and LiveLikeLou for your continued support, stories, and fight against ALS.

Beer + Yoga Summer Blowout

Beer + Yoga Carrie Poster-01

To conclude a rather successful Summer session of Beer + Yoga classes, we decided to do things a little bigger than our taproom in Braddock. On August 23rd, we’ll be taking it to one of our favorite places on earth: Carrie Furnace.

We’ll be teaming up with South Hills Power Yoga to host a massive yet casual one-hour yoga class in the hangar of a historic iron mill. You may get a bit of soot on your knees, but this cavernous, graffiti-drenched cathedral of bygone industry and rust is a wonderfully calming place in which to do yoga. After the class, feel free to explore the furnace grounds, take some photos, and hang out.

_DSC7467

Carrie Furnace is just a short way down from the brewery, so we’ll be hosting the official afterparty in our taproom, complete with brunch from Second Breakfast and complimentary 5oz beers for all participants.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will go towards the Pittsburgh Yoga Collective, a nonprofit that aims to bring the practice of yoga and mindfulness to underserved and at-risk populations in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.

Don’t worry, our regular Sunday Beer + Yoga classes will be returning in the fall. We’ve had a blast hosting you all over the past few months, and are incredibly happy that we’ve been able to provide awesome experiences through both yoga and beer for so many people.

WHAT: Beer + Yoga Summer Blowout

WHEN: Sunday, August 23rd – 11am

WHERE: Carrie Furnaces – Rankin, PA

[Photo credit: Eva Lin Photography]

A Rather Busy August

We’ve got some good news and some bad news. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to just get the bad news out of the way first: sadly, we will not be hosting Garden Party again this year.

It’s a bummer, we know. We all had a lot of fun at last year’s event. It’ll be back next summer, I promise; the cards just didn’t fall into place for us to host a major event at the current juncture.

Now for the good news: We’ve planned a whole slew of other events for the month of August to make up for it. As always, you can find details for all of our events on our Facebook page, but here’s the overview:

  • FOOD TRUCK ROUNDUP: Kicking things off this Saturday is our monthly Food Truck Roundup. It’s going to be a hot day, so we’ll have our roll-up door open, our sexy new ceiling fans on their highest setting, and a ton of cold beer waiting for you.
  • BEER + YOGA: We’ve got three more summer sessions of Beer + Yoga (Aug. 2nd, Aug. 9th, and Aug. 16th). These will lead up to an epic summer yoga blowout at Carrie Furnace on Aug. 23rd. Tickets can be purchased here for $10, with $5 from each ticket going towards the Pittsburgh Yoga Collective, a local nonprofit who brings the practice of yoga and mindfulness to under-served and at-risk populations in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
  • BEER + ICE CREAM SANDWICHES III: If yoga wasn’t enough, we’ll be teaming up with our good friends from Leona’s for Beer + Ice Cream Sandwiches III. Tickets are $35 (tax, tip, fees included) and can be purchased here. We’ll be releasing more details (including the menu) soon, but based on our previous experiences working with the Leona’s gals, it’s guaranteed to be awesome.
  • BRADDOCK VFD FUNDRAISER: To close out the month, we’re hosting an open party to support the Braddock Volunteer Fire Department. The crew will be on site with demos, the trucks, and other activities, while we will obviously be on hand with beer.

If that’s not enough, here’s a few other things we’ll be celebrating in August:

  • I will be turning 25, most likely retaining my position as Pittsburgh’s youngest brewery owner
  • Head brewer Zach Gordon will be brewing his 100th batch of beer as part of the Brew Gentlemen team, a momentous occasion indeed
  • The release of a special new beer in conjunction with Ales for ALS , with a portion of the profits going towards ALS research (we’re one of three PA breweries chosen to do so)
  • The release of our BGxAHA collaboration beer with the American Homebrewer’s Association
  • Driftwood Oven will be joining us in Braddock for the first time to cook some pizzas (Aug. 2nd)
  • DJs & BeerJs Vols. 13-16 (every Thursday in the taproom)
  • Cask Friday, now with added dankness (Aug. 7th)

We always tell ourselves that next month, we’re going to slow down, take it easy, and fly under the radar. Then we look down at our calendar and realize we’ve somehow booked ourselves to hell and back. Fortunately for us, we’re having a blast doing all of these crazy things, and we hope you can join us for a few of them. Stay cool, family.

 

Too Many Ships On The Sea

A flagship was commonly known as the lead ship in a fleet of vessels, typically the first, largest, fastest, most heavily armed, or best known.

As with many other naval terms, flagship has crossed over into common parlance. It is now commonly used as an adjective to describe the most prominent or highly touted product, brand, location, or service among those offered by a company.

And now that I’m done paraphrasing Wikipedia, you’re probably wondering why I’m even bringing this up – we’ve already spoken at length about our five flagship beers, so what more is there to discuss? Well, we’re making a few changes here at the brewery, so it’s EXPLANATORY BLOG POST TIME.

We’re going to bring you a wider variety of beer, starting tomorrow.

Our portfolio was one of the topics that Asa and I deliberated ad nauseam during the whiteboard-our-brains-out planning phase of the company. I’d say we’ve done a pretty solid job of following our original vision, even though the last time I looked at this picture was probably two years ago. Isn’t that crazy?

This past April, after attending the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland, I found myself at a crossroads. One of the highlights of my trip was a panel of employees from three highly respected breweries (Sierra Nevada, Deschutes, and Solemn Oath). The topic of discussion: Maintaining flagship brands. Without boring you, here’s where each brewery stands on the matter:

Sierra Nevada: Their flagship, somewhat obviously, is the ubiquitous Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It’s iconic, it’s high quality, and it’s available nearly anywhere in the country. All beers released on a national scale receive tons of support from marketing – you’ll damn well know when they come out with a new beer.

Deschutes: They initially struggled with being erroneously referred to as “Mirror Pond Brewery” or “Black Butte Brewery”, the names of their two flagships. After years of producing those two leading brands, they rolled out Fresh Squeezed IPA, which is now their top seller in 20 out of 28 states.

Solemn Oath: They’re around three years old, and have no permanent flagships. They continuously make new beers and figure out what works best.

Upon hearing them go back and forth and defend their respective strategies with extremely solid points, it began to shake up what I previously thought was the “right way” to approach flagships. Each one was making their situation work, and each had their gripes. The funniest part was that all three wished they had a little bit more of what the other two had. I sat there wondering how we could be in the middle of all three.

Back in Braddock, all of our flagships were still selling out, so we never took the needed step back to see how it was affecting us. When it came time to reflect on the first half of the year and develop our goals moving forward, our entire team agreed – handling five flagships was burning / boring us out. We felt stagnant, especially when our draft list really thinned out as capacity became strained. We all agreed that it was time to shake things up, and here’s what we decided:

  1. White Sky and General Braddock’s IPA continue to be our two main flagship beers. We love these beers. They’re part of our company’s DNA. They’re also our best sellers, and often crowd favorites.
  2. The other familiar faces, Business Casual, Table Beer, and Build & Destroy, will transition to being brewed on a sporadic basis, dictated largely by scheduling and ingredient availability. They won’t be disappearing altogether, but they will no longer be offered year-round.
  3. We will continue to have our seasonal rotations available. Akamai, Garden Party, Overgrowth, Loose Seal, Mexican Coffee, etc. will always be available in season.
  4. The rest of our efforts will be put towards creating new, high-quality beers. We enjoy working on new things, you enjoy drinking new things. And every once in awhile, we’ll bring back an old favorite.

Someone has to play the main stage at a festival. We want to give White Sky and General Braddock’s IPA that opportunity, attention, and support. We also want to make sure that new undiscovered acts can show off in the taproom, build a fanbase, go on tour, and maybe one day return as a star (I’m looking at you, CPA).

Our goal is to keep improving the experience of visiting us in Braddock. As our situation changes, there come times when we have to deviate from our original plan. But I believe we’ve found a happy medium that helps us achieve that goal, while also allowing us broader creative freedom. It’s going to require some adjusting on our end, but it will make for a more exciting and educational experience with every visit.

We’ll kick things off with the release of MOMO Mosaic Pale Ale in the taproom this Thursday July 23rd. Worry not, for we have a good amount of Business Casual, Table Beer, and Build & Destroy on hand still. You can always find our most up to date draft list here

The 750mL Growler

2015-06-30 12.11.13-1

Beginning this week, we’re officially rolling out 750mL swing-top growlers, and we’re rather excited about it. Here’s why.

We’re a bit obsessive when it comes to packaging design. I spend a good deal of my idle time cruising around design blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest, searching out the breweries (and, more often than not, wineries) who are killing it with clean, classy branding*. We’ve always felt that beer is about the experience as a whole – not simply the liquid that’s inside the bottle – and that branding should be approached with just as much respect, effort, and consideration that goes into the brewing process. So when it became obvious that our taproom needed to offer a to-go container in a smaller size than the standard half-gallon growler, we knew there was going to be a hell of a lot of deliberation.

*A few of my personal favorites: Bellwoods Brewery (Toronto, ON), Allagash Brewing (Portland, ME), and Side Project Brewing (Maplewood, MO).

Our first thought was the 32oz. Boston Round, a simple and elegant straight-walled container that we thought was a good fit with our minimalistic brand identity. But we had heard that they weren’t pressure rated for beer, and after one of mine exploded on my nightstand at five o’clock in the morning, the Boston Round was immediately jettisoned from the list.

As taproom draft sales increased, the availability of our 750mL bottles dropped substantially. We decided that the only beers we’d be bottling for the foreseeable future would be from our Special Release line, and on top of that, only those that would be ageable.  Flagships and seasonals would no longer be packaged, and thus the demand for a container of that size remained unmet. We needed a different option, and one in particular fell perfectly into place.

A Friday night visit to the much-lauded Tree House Brewing Co. in my home state of Massachusetts provided the solution. We had seen 750mL swing-top growlers before, namely from the similarly hyped Hill Farmstead, but I had never really had a first-hand experience with them. But upon seeing the rustic wooden bar within the butts-to-nuts-crowded Tree House taproom laden with a small army of swing-top 750s, each adorned with their signature manila mail tags, I fell in love. These suckers were gorgeous, and given that we were already packaging the occasional bottle release in the same champagne-style bottles, they were just what we needed.

Turns out that they were not only a.) incredibly difficult to get a hold of, but also b.) rather difficult to fill with our current draft system. So after a large amount of sleuthing and the conversion of all sixteen of our primary bar’s taps over to flow-control faucets, we’re pleased to announce that at long last, we’re finally releasing Brew Gentlemen Beer Co. 750mL swing-top growlers.

And so, for the BYOB enthusiast, the beer trader, and anyone who’s ever expressed their undying love for a certain offering but lamented their inability to consume an entire half-gallon of it, we’ve finally got you covered.

750mL growlers will be available in the taproom beginning Wednesday, July 1st. Pricing can be found on our live menu on our website.

Summertime: Old Friends & New

summer seasonals

The quarterly rotation of seasonal beers is always a bittersweet moment for us. On one hand, we’re sad to see the previous two be unavailable for the next nine months, especially when that means no more Overgrowth mimosas. But on the other hand, it’s refreshing to get something new onto the board. Especially when one of those things is the single most inquired-about offering we’ve ever released. So this summer we bring back an old friend and introduce a new one: Garden Party, our long-awaited cucumber wheat beer, and Akamai, our new summer double IPA.

Many of you are already familiar with Garden Party, which we released last year at our eponymous event (side note: this year’s Garden Party will take place in August, as opposed to June). It became an immediate hit, and we’re extremely excited to bring it back. This year’s version is sure to be even better than the last – we’ll be using a more flavorful base malt and a smoother water profile, making it even cleaner and more refreshing than ever.

Our second summer seasonal, however, is a brand new endeavor – a full-bodied, juicy monster of a double IPA made with Citra, Simcoe, and Chinook hops. Akamaiwhich means ‘clever’ or ‘street smart’ in Hawaiian Pidgin, is a bigger, meaner version of our standard practice when brewing hop-forward beers: huge flavor, huge aroma, refined bitterness. We’ve never made a full-on traditional American double IPA yet (not that tradition has ever been something we’ve been interested in strictly adhering to), and it’s also the first time we’ve used this specific hop combination: Citra, a strongly-flavored hop with notes of mango, peach, and lemon; Simcoe, a dank, citrusy orange-bomb; and Chinook, used in the whirlpool for flavor, bringing the other two hop components together. It’s the perfect counter to such a light and refreshing companion as Garden Party, and a welcome departure from the prevalent low-flavor, low-alcohol American Summer Ale.

With the addition of Akamai, we’ve now released seven out of our eight seasonals, leaving only one remaining beer to join the gang in the fall (alongside returning favorite Mexican Coffee) before we’ve fully realized our seasonal lineup. I spoke a bit when we released Loose Seal and Overgrowth in the spring about how the development of our flagship and seasonal lineups have been one of the most exciting and fulfilling parts of getting The Brew Gentlemen Beer Co. off the ground. Watching as each piece of the puzzle falls into place, tasting each one for the first time as Zach creates new offerings and updates old ones, bringing them to life with names, designs, and identities – a lot of owning a brewery is phone calls and paperwork, but this is the side of it that we live for.

Garden Party will be released on draft this Thursday, June 11th at DJs and BeerJs, our weekly DJ set featuring DJ Angel Eyes and food from Brassero Grill.

The Return of Beer + Yoga, The Beginning of Sunday Brunch

Beer + Yoga facebook-01 copy

When our last Beer + Yoga class sold out in ninety seconds, we knew we had a cult hit on our hands. After a rained-out mega-class (don’t worry, we’ll be rescheduling that – we’ll keep you posted) and a brief hiatus, we’re bringing it back for a summer session on Sunday, June 14th. And this time around, we’ve got a couple major upgrades.

DSC_0656 copy

We’ve done some major renovations to the taproom annex, the side room where we’ve been holding the classes. With the addition of a new bar, the space is ever-so-slightly smaller, but what we lose in space we make up for in aesthetic; the room feels a lot more finished and filled out now, much better for a nice, relaxing Sunday morning yoga experience. We’re also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new garage door, which will transform the entire front wall of the annex into a giant roll-up window. This will be a total game-changer, and just in time for the summer weather.

Another big game-changer is the addition of the brand new Second Breakfast food truck to our weekly mobile food schedule. The grand opening of Second Breakfast will coincide with our June 14th Beer + Yoga event, and from that point forward, Sunday brunch at the taproom will be served weekly. You may not immediately think of a brewery with a food truck outside as a prime brunch spot, but if we’re going to commit to doing brunch on a regular basis, we aim to compete with any other legitimate Pittsburgh-area brunch options. A special brunch drink menu of mimosas, shandies, and radlers (in addition to our standard lineup of beer and mead) will keep things fresh each week from a beverage perspective, and provide a hell of a pairing for waffles and crepes.

We’ve got lots of awesome events and taproom upgrades planned over the course of the next few months. The best way to stay on top of our events (besides getting on our weekly email blast) is by subscribing to our events via Facebook by clicking the “Subscribe” button in the top right corner of the event box. It’s gonna be a fun summer, family – we hope you’ll be able to join us.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.01.13 AM

As always, all upcoming Beer + Yoga classes are $5 to attend and come with a complimentary 5oz. beer. Tickets go on sale at noon on the Monday beforehand (so tickets for the June 14th event will go on sale Monday, June 8th) via Eventbrite.