Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is in full swing, and while some are probably still smarting from missing out on Friday's sold-out Beer Barge booze cruise on the Gateway Clipper, there are still plenty of events worth checking out.
When I found out Wild Purveyors in Lawrenceville would be pairing Pennsylvania cheeses and wild foods with beers from the East End Brewing Co., I knew that was the event for me: the promise of cheese, beer and ramps within walking distance of my house. (Like everyone else, I'm obsessed with ramps this time of year because they're one of the first true signs of spring -- we can all take a break from root vegetable soups and stews for a few months.)
Wild Purveyors and East End did not disappoint during the two tastings held Tuesday night. For $15 in advance or $20 at the door, tasters got two hours to try four beers, each with a food pairing.
East End's Big Hop cozied up with spring rolls that contained a mix of spring and winter vegetables -- wild nettles, ramps and garlic chives with pickled beets and radishes. The beets bled through the transparent wrappers and made the greens look even greener.
Up next, more ramps: East End's Monkey Girl Dunkelweizen was teamed with "ramp hammocks" -- wild ramps topped with egg salad, cured trout with wild aromatics and cracked pink pepper.
That wound up being my favorite pairing of the night -- I could've consumed an entree-sized ramp hammock, and though I normally shy away from German beers, the Monkey Girl was delicious.
The savory cheese pairings occupied two long tables in Wild Purveyors' second room.
Cavan Patterson, who owns Wild Purveyors with his brother Tom, said the trickiest thing was figuring out what to pair with East End's Pennsyl-tucky Uncommon, one of the five "Collaboration Beers" made for PCBW. He said he tried a variety of cheeses with the unusual beer, a mix of Pennsylvania swankey (spiced with star anise) and Kentucky common ale, but nothing seemed quite right. In the end, though, he nailed it with a dollop of sheep's milk ricotta on baguette topped with a bit of maple syrup.
The last pairing was a pile of Birchrun bleu cheese paired with East End's chocolate-covered cherry stout. The savory cheese and desserty beer were the perfect end to the tour (not that we didn't go back through to sample the other food and beers again.)
If this post has your thirsty for East End brews, Scott Smith will be pouring samples tonight at Whole Foods in East Liberty from 5 to 7 p.m. The brewery will also host growler hours at the Julius St. location from 4 to 8 p.m.
The big event is Saturday morning, when 650 riders celebrate the season's first kegs of Pedal Pale Ale. Sign in starts at 9:30 a.m. and the ride leaves at 11 a.m. Buy tickets before the event here
Ih search of dinner plans? Wild Purveyors and Lancaster Brewing join Bigelow Grille
Downtown for a pairing dinner tonight at 6 p.m. Click here
for info.Wild Purveyors photo