My night of beers began with a twisty road, on the way to the first brewery, called Grist House. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this brewery is out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by houses that look very creepy at night. You walk through the pebble-y parking lot to get to a little building surrounded by tables outside that are used during warmer weather. Walking in, it's easy to notice that the place has more of a "chill" type atmosphere. There are tables to stand at, some to sit at. There are two rooms which are too small, considering the apparent popularity of the brewery. One of the rooms is not well insulated, making the room chilly and not particularly comfortable.
I started out my night in the Grist House with a Kolsch on the Run. Definitely nothing close to a German Kolsch beer. This beer had a nice, golden color, but was pretty nicely bitter. It is described with, "Rich pilsner undertones, and a mild resident sweetness, balance this easily approachable beer. A crisp finish and clear golden color will win over your eyes and your tongue."
I agree about the pilsner undertones, but I tasted no mild sweetness. The taste is crisp indeed, but not a beer I would go back to.
Turning the corner, Draai Laag Brewery had a more welcoming atmosphere. Not quite as packed, but still a rather lively number of people. The brewery had a specific smell...something close to wet wood. But it barely bothers you, especially once those beers hit. Lined up against the wall are several large tables, and a few small tables scattered around. You see a menu with their current brews written in chalk above the counter. Now, keep in mind, this place is primarily sour beers. When you're in the mood for something sour, this beer hits the spot. Instead of ordering one specific beer, I ordered a taste test of three different kinds. With the flight, I got a Ragnarok, an R2 Koelschchip Ale, and Apples and Pears.
My favorite would have to be the Ragnarok. Sweet, strong and flavorful, this beer is the beer I had first, but should have had last. "Borrowing the Norse term for the “end of the world”, the Ragnarok is equal parts Strong Ale, Scottish Ale and Viking metal concert. Dark. Smokey. A little on the dirty side. This fruit-based fermentation starts out with a complex sour edge and mellows over time." Ale fermented with black cherry juice, elderberries, black currants and red raspberries, the flavor is magnificent.
My second favorite, the R2 Koelschchip Ale, was much closer to German Kolsch than I've tasted so far in the U.S. It is pretty much sour German Kolsch. It is very nice, refreshing, and a lot less sour than the Ragnarok. "Using spontaneous, open fermentation to collect wild yeast cultures native to Pennsylvania, R2 Koelschip is crafted with indigenous strains to create a tart, refreshing Belgian style Farmhouse ale in dedication to our first coolship (koelschip), nicknamed R2."
And my least favorite, the Apples and Pears. I found it close to sour water. It was a lot less flavorful, a lot more dry, and ever so slightly more sour than the Koelschip. "Ale fermented with apple juice, pears, and Elderflowers-- makes sense, as I greatly dislike the Elderflowers. Like a Brit with a cockney accent, this wild ale is both inspired by English ciders and true to its roots in Belgian farmhouse funk. Secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces, white wine yeast, elderflowers & the namesake fruits results in a tasty bouquet of dry, tart and floral notes. No porky."
After all those crafty beers, who doesn't need a quick break? We stopped at Primanti Brothers, where we grabbed a bite to eat (and to not be too drunk) where we also ordered a big, heaping glass of the good ol' Blue Moon. Blue Moon is delicious, a safe and refreshing choice wherever you go. If you're ever in doubt, grab a Blue Moon. Refreshing, citrus-y, and welcoming. It fills you up, but also makes you feel a lot more revitalized. The Blue Moon is the perfect beer for winter, summer, spring, and fall, for the day and the night.
You thought I was done?
And last but not least, the at home beer tasting! Ten beers, eight people. One excel spreadsheet for the beer scoring, and a bunch of drunken thoughts. A list of my favorites include the Viking Fraoch Scottish Sour, the Rodenbach Grand Cru, Westmalle Trappist Tripel, and the White Street Kolsch. There were many bitters this time around, and as I am not a notable fan of the bitters, it is not something I would prefer.
Overall, a night well spent!