Last Updated on December 9, 2021 by Jeremy
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When it comes to Pittsburgh beer festivals, for a while it felt like we had seen it all. We've been to Beers of the Burgh (100% Western PA focused), Rose All Day (all things rose- beer, wine, and other spirits), and even the Good Wood Festival (where everything must have seen the inside of a barrel) to name a few.
It wasn't until the local beer website and podcast, Fueled by Hops, launched a beer festival in 2021 that we realized we were missing a category. Drink the Cookie Table was focused on all things dessert beer and brought both local and popular national breweries together to share their most devious sweet creations all under the branding of Pittsburgh's favorite wedding tradition- the cookie table.
We were fortunate enough to attend Drink the Cookie Table as guests of our friends at Fueled by Hops, and share a bit more about what it was like in this one to get you excited for when it (hopefully) returns next!
22 Breweries Showcasing the Best Dessert Beers
During Drink the Cookie Table, Fueled by Hops brought in 22 breweries to Spirit in Lawrenceville. The event had a near-equal mix of Pittsburgh breweries (like Abjuration, Cellar Works, Inner Groove, and 412) as well as regional and national breweries (like The Answer, Fourscore, Pilger Ruh, and Aslin) to name a few. This allowed us to try some new creations from local favorites as well as discover a few regional gems we need to visit in the near future.
At first, you may think that 22 breweries sounds a bit light for a beer fest, and while this may be true for other festivals, for one that is as dessert-beer oriented as Drink the Cookie Table (and the smaller space inside Spirit), the selection felt just right.
Part of this was simply the practicality of it all- you can only drink so much 10-15% ABV dessert beers before getting palate fatigue and/or overloaded on alcohol. But the other part was that we were able to sample more or less every beer at the festival (sans nut-flavored ones for Angie due to her allergy). As one of our biggest regrets at other beer festivals is simply running out of room to try new brews, it was refreshing to be able to sample more or less everything that was offered in a single session.
Beyond this, one of the biggest highlights of the event was that many unique beers were also brewed specifically for the festival. These were often collab beers between breweries and local bakeries/other dessert producers and had some flavor profiles we really have never seen in beer before.
Altered Genius partnered with The Pie Place for an apple pie beer. Monday's worked with Sarris Candies for a dark chocolate stout. Tattered Flag collaborated with Thicc Bois Glass for a salted caramel pistachio macaroon stout as well as a sour ale with fruit and lactose. Inner Groove and Oakmont Bakery were natural partners for a cherry chewbillie cookie beer with the bakery's popular cookie. We could go on.
Of course, some breweries also brought along some conventional favorites like an orange milkshake IPA from The Answer and the famous fruit whips from Cellar Works which rivaled the collaboration beers as some of the best of the event.
In fact, while the event felt fairly crowded due to the smaller nature of Spirit in Lawrenceville, it was only at these specific breweries that we noticed any appreciable line for pours. Pittsburgh beer fans know who is serving up rare and hard to find beers at every festival, and the line for Richmond-based The Answer was really the only appreciable wait we had during the entire event (this was a good one to get in early because a few kegs were shut off later on to reserve beer for the second session outright). But as far as crowd control was concerned, despite feeling a bit tight the beer-to-guest level was more or less perfect as well (a plus-side to offering two sessions!).
Overall, while a smaller festival than others in the area, Drink the Cookie Table came together to show us that we could still use more beer festivals with different themes. Dessert beers may not be everyone's preferred beer style, but it was a lovely event to see what brewers could come up with all under the umbrella of sweet beer- especially in tandem with local bakeries. As we hear this one will be returning again in 2022 and beyond, well, we look forward to more sweet brews as well as our customary cookie bag on the way out the door!
Drink the Cookie Table is put on by Fueled by Hops and in 2021 was hosted at Spirit in Lawrenceville. We were guests of Fueled by Hops for this review. As always, all opinions are our own.