Brooklyn Brewery Mash includes entertainment and food around Western Pa.

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Meg Stemmler says she sensed “some kind of renaissance was under way” for food and culture in Pittsburgh after the Brooklyn Brewery Mash tour made a successful debut in the city last year.

“I think it's a very interesting moment for food and culture in Pittsburgh with new breweries, distilleries, restaurants, markets and the city having so much to offer culturally,” says the event director.

It's definitely a time for burgeoning talent, which she says is only possible through sustained community support.

“Pittsburgh seems to be a real launchpad for chefs, artists, brewers and business owners to experiment, take risks and grow,” Stemmler says. She believes residents are hungry for new experiences.

“The result is a symbiotic balance of supply and demand and a golden phase for opportunity. I'm excited to see how things evolve,” she says.

Stemmler and the staff of the award-winning Brooklyn Brewery return to offer such new experiences with the second annual tour, June 21 to 28, which she calls a celebration of “what's next” in food, film, comedy, music, books and craft beer.

It is the largest traveling food, beer and arts festival, customized to each individual city, “bringing people together to enjoy the things they love,” Stemmler says.

Collaboration is at the heart of the Mash. “Our goal is to celebrate each city we visit by engaging with the community and asking, ‘what matters to you?' ” she says.

Brooklyn Brewery has united with Pittsburgh chefs, artists and craft brewers to create what they hope will offer one-of-a-kind entertainment and educational experiences, including dinners, pairings with local chefs, beer school with home brewers, the Brooklyn Ha Ha comedy night, the acclaimed Found Footage video screening, a closing new school rock concert and much more at locations throughout the city and suburbs.

“We're happy to be part of the great things happening in Pittsburgh,” says craft brewing pioneer Steve Hindy, a former Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press who is president and co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery. Hindy, who grew up in Middleport, Ohio, will discuss his new book, “The Craft Beer Revolution” and its themes with other craft brewers on June 24 at the Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville.

“It's an amazing business story, a great human and American story about entrepreneurship and innovation and passion,” he says.

Hindy predicts significant growth for craft brewing.

“There are now more than 2,800 craft breweries in the United States and, without exception, each has had a very positive impact on the communities they serve, both in employing people and also contributing to community pride and spirit,” he says.

Chef Andrew Gerson, culinary ambassador of the Brooklyn Brewery and an active member of the Slow Food movement, says he felt that pride and spirit in his first visit to Pittsburgh last year.

“I met some really great people who really understand and appreciate what we are doing,” he says. “It's about fostering community and taking this ethos and value system on the road to other cities.”

This year, he hosts “Eat, Drink & Learn” at Giant Eagle Market District in Shadyside, June 21; works with Pittsburgh chefs for Dinner on the Farm, June 22, at Blackberry Meadows Farm, Fawn; teaches a pairing class June 25 at Marty's Market in the Strip District; and hosts a “Slow Supper” June 26 with Kate Romane of E2 at a surprise location, to be announced the day of the dinner.

It's time to place beer at its rightful place at the table, Gerson says. “The American palate has changed and is ready for better food and beer,” he says.

Pittsburgh resident Susan Barclay, a volunteer leader for Slow Food Pittsburgh, which helps arrange venues and promotes the tour to its 1,700 members, appreciates that the Brooklyn Brewery supports Slow Food principles of “good, clean, fair food for all.”

Brooklyn Ha Ha co-headliner Josh Gondelman hopes that Pittsburgh also will be hungry for the “really vibrant style of comedy happening in Brooklyn” when it is presented June 24 at the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville.

The way comedian-magician and host Lee Terbosic sees it, “Anything that puts comedy and great beer together is a win for everybody.”

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or

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