East End Brewing: 10 Years and Still Going Strong
East End Brewing recently celebrated their 10th anniversary and to the joy of every fan of the brewery, founder Scott Smith planned a week of events to celebrate the occasion. Each event, while as weird and unique as a long underwear bike ride ending at the brewery to as high class as a beer and cheese pairing, each featured the outstanding beers brewed in the building on Julius Street. While the week of festivities might be over, the beer is a far cry from running out any time soon. With demand growing and the guys at East End brewing at near full capacity, it’s a good time to have a good beer from East End Brewing and like Scott suggests, you should probably get one of those good beers for a good friend, too.
Before getting to the amazing events that made up Scott’s Week of Shenanigans, it’s probably best to get to the heart of the celebration, which is obviously the beer. East End Brewing (EEBC) prides itself on a solid lineup of year round beers as well as an ever-changing list of seasonal and rotating rarities. For starters, hands-down the most popular beer in EEBC’s lineup is Big Hop.
Big Hop IPA – This 5.8% ABV American IPA features a healthy dose of Centennial and Cascade hops that give the beer a huge hop flavor and aroma without making it overly bitter. The beer is expertly balanced between malty and bitter, and if you question why it’s the most popular beer from the brewery, just check out your local craft beer bar and try a pint, as it’s also the most heavily distributed beer from East End Brewing in the Pittsburgh area.
If you’re lucky and catch it on draft, East End produces a fresh hop version of this beer every fall called Big Hop Harvest. This version is slightly higher in ABV at 6.4% and features tons of fresh hop aroma and flavor.
Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale – While the actual Fat Gary (yep, he’s a real guy) wasn’t in attendance for the 10th anniversary festivities with Harris Grill (more on that in a little bit), his namesake beer most definitely was. Far Gary Nut Brown Ale is a deep brown with a toasted malt character and a nutty, somewhat sweet taste that is a very sessionable 3.8% ABV.
Fat Gary is just about the perfect beer to have on draft while watching the Pens play and since it’s lower in alcohol and not in taste, you can enjoy a few of them during the game.
Monkey Boy Hefeweizen – While you might think hefeweizens are only for the summer months, East End’s Monkey Boy will quickly change your mind. The 5% ABV year-round hefeweizen features a distinct ester profile that gives the beer slight banana flavors while finishing crisp and delicious. Like other hefeweizens, Monkey boy doesn’t have any actual bananas in it, just some hard-working German yeast that give Monkey Boy a taste that’ll remind you of summer all year long.
Black Strap Stout – Colder months call for darker beers, or so the belief goes. If you’re one of the dark beer fans when the temperature drops, then Black Strap Stout is the beer you want to ask for the next time you’re snowed in at the bar. Brewed with black strap molasses and brown sugar, Black Strap Stout features tastes of dark chocolate and a hint of black coffee.
At 6.2% ABV, Black Strap Stout is a little more bitter than you’d probably expect, but in a very good way. The beer is well balanced and finishes with a slight bit of sweetness paired with a distinct American hop profile.
East End also has a solid lineup of beers that come out only once a year but when you see them on draft, make sure you try them first, as they’re usually produced in smaller batches than the year-round beers so they come and go a little more quickly than you’d like.
Snow Melt Winter Ale – Available starting in November each year, Snow Melt is a dark and malty 7% ABV winter warmer that’s brewed to keep you warm, even with a beer that’s cold. Malty, hoppy, and all-around amazing, Snow Melt is one of the best winter beers you’ll have all year, from Pittsburgh or anywhere.
Monkey Girl – The darker sibling of Monkey Boy, this 4% ABV dunkelweizen, or dark wheat beer, has a fruity aroma that features the same banana esters as Monkey Boy, but with a darker color and a slightly more malty taste. Perfect for the colder months as much as the warmer ones, Monkey Girl isn’t the easiest beer to find, but if your local craft beer bar doesn’t get it on tap, they can always get the bar to request it from their distributor.
Along Came a Cider – Not every seasonal beer has to be a beer, so to speak. Take Along Came a Cider, a 5% all-Pennsylvania apple cider made at East End Brewing. This cider is like biting into a fresh cut apple and just like the real thing, it’s tart yet sweet with a surprisingly dry finish.
East End Brewing’s 10th Anniversary Party
In 2004 two things happened, and Pittsburgh is all the better for both. East End Brewing Company opening their doors being the first and Harris Grill serving their first customer being the second. Since then both companies have grown to be outstanding examples of a brewery and a restaurant in their respective areas. Today, each is thriving and since both opened in the same year, it should be no surprise that both Harris Grill and East End Brewing are celebrating their 10th anniversaries this year. To celebrate this feat and to kick off EEBC’s Week of Shenanigans, they joined forces and threw one heck of a party at the brewery. There were party hats, great beer, and about 200 of their closest friends to celebrate and enjoy some great food paired with amazing beer. There was even cake and an..interesting…rendition of Happy Birthday.
The idea was simple: Harris Grill chose 5 of their favorite dishes from their menu and East End paired each with one of their beers. Everyone in attendance got a cool 10th anniversary glass that’s shaped like a can to put their beer in, and six stations in both the new brewpub and throughout the brewery to get said beer and the food to go with it.
Each pairing was thoughtfully planned and while there was quite a bit of bacon in attendance (as you’d expect from Harris Grill), there were great vegetarian options, too.
The party wrapped up with a joint cutting of the cake with the people behind both Harris Grill as well as East End’s very own Scott Smith and thankfully everyone walked away with as many fingers as they came into it with. Everyone had some cake and a little more beer and the night ended on a very high note, as any night that ends with cake and beer rightfully should.
As for the food and beer pairings, they included:
• Mac & Cheese with Black Hop IPA
• Pierogis with Monkey Girl Dunkelweizen
• Lettuce Wraps with Along Came a Cider
• The Garden Weasel Veggie Sandwich with Big Hop Harvest IPA
• Pork Shank Reduction with Fatter Gary Imperial Nut Brown Ale
• Black Strap Stout Muffin with Nunkin
Each pairing was great, and I see a few of them getting recreated at Harris Grill in the near future for sure, even if it’s not official.
While you can get all of these beers at the brewery and glasses of them at the newly-licensed brewpub at East End Brewing, the closer option is to get your East End Brewing fix at your local craft beer bar where you’ll find their year-round beers fairly frequently and the seasonal beers every now and then. It’s been a great 110 years and from all of us at Nightwire Magazine, we wish Scott and everyone else at East End Brewing another 10 and then some.
East End Brewing is proudly distributed in the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing Co. and can be found on draft in your favorite craft beer bars throughout the city and surrounding areas.