Craft brew, food tasting event set for Monroeville
There's a lot of buzz about the evolution of the local beer scene.
No one is more aware of the changes than Luke McKelvy, Erich Walls and Jared Herman, partners in Levity Brewery Co. and taproom in Indiana, a relatively new addition to the regional craft beer industry.
Their latest brews — Korrie & Her Wheat with coriander and lemon zest flavor, Saison Kick and its kick of fresh ginger, Hoodlebug Brown ale with caramel malts and Headlamp Stout's flavors of roast coffee and dark cherry — sound more like dessert than beverage to those not familiar with the new microbrewery varieties.
They will be among the 100 featured beers at Brew 'n Chew, an annual beer-tasting and food-sampling event being held June 18 at Monroeville Convention Center.
“It's an exciting time for beer,” Walls says. “We're rediscovering all the unique styles that are steeped in European history.”
Relatively new to the industry themselves, the Levity brewers are under the tutelage of Draai Laag Brewing Co. in Millvale. Walls says they've already learned a lot from the pros.
“We built a relationship with them, and they decided to help launch us,” he says. “For them to take us under their wing to teach us more about beer is wonderful.”
The Levity brewers have a particular interest in sour beer, a Belgian-style brew that takes a lot of time and effort. Sour beer must be aged in barrels over a period of a year or longer to achieve its fruity tartness.
“We know we have to be patient,” Walls says. “The beer we started the end of May is a year away.”
Herman, Levity's head brewer, will be part of a Brewer's Roundtable at 2:30 p.m. featuring a panel of craft brewers sharing their stories. The moderator will be Jason Cercone from the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Network.
Participants include James Evans, assistant brewer, Spoonwood Brewing Co.; Andy Kwiatkowski, head brewer at Hitchhiker Brewing Co.; Brian Mechling, sales and distribution at Helltown Brewing; Sean Hallisey, co-owner and brewer at Full Pint Brewing; and Meg Evans, head brewer at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery at the Waterfront in Homestead.
Evans is one of less than a handful of women in the Pittsburgh area employed as head brewers at local establishments. She started the Western Pa. chapter of the Pink Boots Society, an all-female professional beer society, and serves as chairwoman.
Evans was attending classes in fermentation science at Oregon State University when she was offered a job in brewing. She was part of the brewing team at Southern Tier Brewing Co. and Rivertowne Brewing in Pittsburgh until she joined Rock Bottom and became the head brewer in September 2015.
“It's always a good place to learn in a fun atmosphere,” she says about the event.
New features this year will include a Bacon Beer Bar.
“Chefs will be preparing bacon beer bits and pairing them with smoke-infused beers,” says Dee Weinberg, organizer of Brew 'n Chew. “We have the expert on smoke-infused beers explaining the process, taste and pairings: David Frost of Aecht Schlenkerla smoked beer from Bamberg, Germany.”
Participating chefs will include Jared Lorden, Social at Bakery Square; Chris Jones, Share Restaurant in the Monroeville Doubletree; and Phil Enck, Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Also new will be a Beer Float Bar, offering attendees ice-cream floats with hard soda. Proceeds will go to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. A biergarten with samplings of European beers will be held outside, weather permitting.
There will be tavern games and live music provided by acoustic duo Jason Craig & Mark Anthony and The House Band.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.