While on the smaller end of beer festivals, this one packs a punch as all beers served have been aged in barrels- our kind of niche beer festival in Pittsburgh!
The Best Part About the Good Wood Barrel-Aged Festival? The Size
Before discussing the beer, we have to talk about one of the real perks of the Good Wood Barrel-Aged Beer Festival, and that is its size.
You see, normal beer festivals are often in large venues that have hundreds if not thousands of attendees. While many are well managed and have minimal lines, this particular beer festival has a rather low volume of tickets sold and felt much more intimate.
There were hardly any lines, most of the samples were being poured by the brewers of a particular spot (not volunteers), and overall was a really relaxed atmosphere for conversation and enjoying fine beers.
Nearly 20 Breweries Bringing Their Game
As the name of the festival suggests, all of the beers available at this one were barrel aged. And while your first thought may be for robust, dark, high ABV beers like Imperial Porters, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the 20 or so breweries brought a cross-section of options.
Yes, there were a ton of bourbon barrel aged porters clocking in at 10-13%, but other breweries served sours, IPAs, saisons, and other lighter style beers as well that you wouldn't normally expect to be barrel aged (some created specifically for the event, too!).
This balance, coupled with the fact that most breweries outside of East End (the host) had only one or two beers (East End had over a dozen), meant that we were able to sample the vast majority of beers with our ticket (with one or two ounce pours max and trading sips).
This all came together for a wonderful evening with like-minded beer fans, brewers we know and love, and finding an array of new favorites to watch out for in the future.
A Few Favorites to Look Out For
While we were able to sample almost every beer at the event outside of East End's large tap list, a few stood out as the most memorable. They were:
- Grist House – BA Siberian Highway with vanilla, cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, and lactose. Our winner of the night with complex flavors rich on chocolate.
- East End – Mashaguna – A bourbon barrel aged pastry stout that was a bit on the sweeter side and clocking in at 10.1%
- Hop Farm – Cranhattan – A lighter barrel aged cranberry that had a bit of a sour bite and really refreshing flavors.
- Bloom Brew – Grahamas – A 13% barrel aged brew with speculoos and graham cracker.
- Butler Brew Works – Patience and Perseverance – An ale aged in red wine barrels with Brettanomyces
- Strange Roots – Spontaneous Roots (Raspberry) – A spontaneously fermented beer made with 100% local ingredients from the fruit to the yeast and everything in between. Very fruity!
Suffice it to say, if you ever see any of these do yourselves a favor and try them. To put it bluntly, they were astounding. (That being said, there were hardly any misses at the entire event. We may be a bit biased when we say that most local breweries do a great job with their barrel aging programs.)
Overall, the Good Wood Barrel-Aged Beer Festival is a stellar event. While barrel aged beers are not for everyone, the event had a nice spread of barrel aged sours to high ABV porters and everything in between.
Going further, the limited crowd size offered a wonderful patron-to-brewery ratio that meant there was almost never a line at any vendor, and since most brew masters (or assistant brewers) were the ones manning the booths we were also able to nerd out with many renowned local brewers as well. A win in our books!
The Good Wood Barrel Aged Beer Festival takes place in the winter each year, and in 2019 occurred in mid-January.