It's Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, April 17 through 26, and there is a huge slate of events and special collaborative brews.
I was able to make it today to one event that captured the spirit of #PCBW on multiple levels: The Hardway Homebrew Competition at Hitchhiker Brewing Co., just a few blocks away from where I live in Mt. Lebanon.
The little brewpub invited homebrewers to submit their best brews for the contest, and 20 of them did. I know a couple of them, and feel certain they all were very excited at the chance for some public exposure. At stake: Hitchhiker said it would brew batches of two winners: judges' choice and people's choice.
At around 4:30 p.m., the two Hitchhiker honchos announced the results. The People's Choice winner is Malcolm Frazer, who served Citra Maximum, a Belgian wit infused with pomelo.
Mr. Kwiatkowski said that it was two hard to pick one judges' winner, so they picked two: Gregor Bendor for his PumperHiker, a rye ale with caraway, and Andrew Ritchie, for his Ed Citrahands, an American pale ale dryhopped with Citra hops and grapefruit.
Those are your winners in the photo above: From left, Gregor Bendor of Peters, Malcolm Frazer of Hopewell and Andrew Ritchie of Forest Hills. (Mr. Frazer also credits his longtime friend and assistant brewer, Josh Beckton of Shaler.)
It wasn't easy to judge, Mr. Kwiatkowski told the crowd. "Everone here makes great beer. Keep doing what you're doing."
As he noted, his job as a brewer at Hitchhiker hinged on a homebrewer's dream.
The three winners will get to keep dreaming, as they'll each get to brew their beer with Mr. Kwiatkowski at Hitchhiker, which will offer the brews to the public.
And Messrs. Kwiatkowski and Olden say they'll do this homebrew contest again.
Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, which my PG colleage Mike Pound also previewed on his video blog, continues. For a full schedule of events, visit the website.