Pittsburgh Craft Beer Columnist Day Bracey
Aug 8, 4 p.m.: I’m at Cinderlands for the release of Surrealism, a Fresh Fest collaboration with photographer BamCrown who heavily uses natural shadows to add contrast to his work. Arie Cole is spinning next to him, and they have a chef frying up plantains for anyone looking to pair their Pancake Galaxy Banana Chocolate Chip Tartshake. I’m selling merch and desperately pleading with people to come to our festival. The artwork for the Surrealism can is stunning, and certainly one of my favorites this year. That Apollo from Eleventh Hour has a special place in my ‘80s baby heart though.
Aug 8, 7 p.m.: I’m at Carmi’s for a Fresh Fest Kickoff Mixer. Ale Sharpton is in the building and pouring his collaboration with New Belgium called Piano Keys, an imperial stout with vanilla. Crown & Hops, Afro Beer Chick, Uncap Everything, and several other prominent Black craft influencers have traveled from across the country to be a part of the family reunion. The vibe is filled with love and excitement. It’s a bit overwhelming. I didn’t take a shower today, and there are so many people to hug!
Aug 9, 12 p.m.: I arrive late to Ace Hotel for the symposiums on inclusion in the industry hosted by Ale Sharpton. I walk in to a packed room of people intently listening and engaging in meaningful discussions. I can’t believe so many people traveled to learn. I just thought they came for the beer. It was interesting to hear about the added hurdles some Black entrepreneurs go through to get a legit business off the ground or to be taken seriously as a skilled and knowledgeable representative of the industry, compared to their white counterparts. It was even more interesting to hear how they overcame those hurdles and to listen as they offered their assistance to those in need. Kiyas Delicias is serving empanadas outside, while New Belgium has a hazy, juicy Voodoo Ranger on tap. It’s a perfect lunch combo.
Aug 9, 6 p.m.: The bottle share at Casa Brasil is already packed and electric. So many Black and brown faces from all across America, many of which have never been to Pennsylvania. There is a free buffet of Brazilian delights to keep us upright. A Florida Man brought us a bottle of White Henny. Wasn’t aware Drinking Partners had listeners in Florida. I still feel strongly that we should replace Florida with Puerto Rico as our 50th state, but there are some good eggs in the bunch. #NotAllFloridaMen
Aug 10, 8 a.m.: I guess this is happening.
Aug 10, 9 a.m.: Didn’t you read the email? There was a map with a roster attached.
Aug 10, 9:30 a.m.: Where the fuck is this Crystal Springs place? Google maps takes us right here. Let’s ask these feral cats if they have a clue.
Aug 10, 10 a.m.: I’m at Steel City right now picking up beer. I’m sorry you can’t get up the ramp right now. I’ll be back shortly to sort it out.
Aug 10, 10:30 a.m.: The contract says you get a 10×10 space, this is a 20×20 space. I need you to give us these extra tables back and MOVE YOUR GODDAMN VAN SO PEOPLE CAN GET UP THE RAMP!
Aug 10, 11 a.m.: No. No. No. No. No. The port-o-johns can’t go there! Where did all of this random furniture come from? I’m sure someone has an extra jockey box you can use. I don’t know where your beer is, but it should be here soon. Is someone getting ice?
Aug 10, 12 p.m.: DID YOU READ THE EMAILS?!
Aug 10, 12:30 p.m.: Glad you’re enjoying the VIP experience. Sorry, I’m in a bit of a rush. Has anyone seen Chris? I left my shirt in his truck.
Aug 10, 1 p.m.: I’m recording the Drinking Partners podcast LIVE with Garrett Oliver and I don’t have a shirt. Exactly how I wanted to meet a god. The room is vibrant, tipsy and diverse. The conversation is meaningful and impactful. This is America at its finest. As Mr. Oliver plainly stated, “We were all supposed to be in the same damn room in the first place having a good time!”
Aug 10, 2:30 p.m.: WHERE IS ALL THE ICE AND WATER?! Wait… Is that Rick Sebak working the desk?!
Aug 10, 4:30 p.m.: I finally get a chance to take a few bites of food and enjoy a guitar solo by Elias Khouri. Everyone seems happy with the turnout. I tell them to strap in. We still have 2000 more people coming into this bitch. Drink up!
Aug 10, 9 p.m.: Today, I saw what Pittsburgh could be if it were the most livable city in America for everyone, and not just the European population. Inclusion isn’t a charity, something you do to meet quotas. It’s a strength and humanity at its best. Using the hive mind to move us forward. Segregating cultures is like separating portions of a brain. Echo chambers are vacuums for ideas. Cross-culturalization is a breath of fresh air.