Editor’s Note: Day Bracey is a stand-up comedian and host of the Drinking Partners Podcast on the Epicast Network. He chronicles Pittsburgh’s craft-beer scene for the Pittsburgh Current.
Aug. 11, 9 a.m: Mayor Bill Peduto has declared today “Fresh Fest Day,” and I couldn’t be more nervous and excited.
Aug. 11, 11 p.m.: I’m largely sober, exhausted and thirsty. More than 1,200 people walked through the Nova Place courtyard and I hugged as many as I could while putting out fires before they spread thanks to a dedicated team of family, friends and volunteers. But, so much work prevented me from drinking a lot of beer. I managed to try three out of the 25 collaborations, and none of the fabled “Equilibrium” that everyone raved about leading up to the event. Butler Brew Works was kind enough to leave me with a couple of bottles of “Ice Cream and Moscato,” an ale brewed with Muscat grapes, lactose, and vanilla in collaboration with local rapper Dr. Hollyhood. But don’t let the name fool you. Much like Dr. Hollyhood, this drink is smooth, tart, and will knock you on your ass at 9.3 percent abv. It tastes like eight months of hard work paying off, and exactly what this scene needs more of, with hints of Fresh Fest ’19.
Aug. 12, 3 p.m.: The black brewers from the fest are meeting up at East End Brewing before they all disappear to their corners of the country. Mike Potter is releasing his collaboration aptly named, “For The Culture,” a brut IPA that drinks like champagne. To top it off, Mike hands me a four-pack of Equilibrium! Maybe there is a god?! We all trade stories, jokes, plans for the future, and snap dozens of pics before heading home. As I leave, I remember I left that four pack on the table outside. I rush back to find it no longer there, reinforcing my lack of faith in a deity, or my assumption that I pissed her off at birth. The jury is out.
Aug. 15, 7 p.m.: I’m meeting up with Mike at Burgh’ers to go over Fresh Fest, and try the collaboration with Mars Jackson called, “Corduroy Shorts,” a black IPA. Mars surprises us with a visit and tells us how much he enjoyed the festival, and the relationship he now has with Neil Glausier, head brewer. It warms my heart as the ale warms my liver. “I’ve got another keg of Equilibrium left, if you want to pour it at your show Saturday,” Mike says to me. He’s clearly playing with my emotions… Or is he?
Aug. 17, 8 p.m.: It’s local comedian Tim Ross’s birthday, and he’s celebrating with a couple of drinking-themed comedy shows this weekend, the first of which is at Petrucci Bros in New Brighton. I was here when they first opened up years ago and were going by Four Brothers. Back then, the beer tasted like something a first year brewery would make. This year, it tastes like someone who mastered the system and is pumping out ales fit for a king. Speaking of which, that King Ludwig’s Imperial IPA would make any German nobility proud. I’m assuming. I’m only like .005 percent German on my daughter’s side.
Anywho, it’s a drinking card game, and every card requires a different response from the comedians/contestants. Failure to respond adequately means drinking. Success also means drinking. Alcoholism means drinking in between. I try every beer on the list, dance with an older, mulleted woman, mention Obama several times in front of a Trumpish crowd, and later have the best taco meat & pierogies you can find in the Beaver Valley (Hint: Tim’s kitchen). All in all, a good evening. I hear they’re doing more comedy shows there in the future. In fact, I hear a lot of folks are doing more podcasts and comedy shows in breweries these days. It’s nice to see a movement flourish. Pass me that Kingpin IPA, will you?
Aug. 18, 8 p.m.: Ed Bailey and I are back down at Arcade Comedy Theater for our monthly Night of EPIC Comedy. Mike wasn’t kidding! He has a sixtel of Equilibrium left! On top of that, he has some Island to Island and Harlem Brewing left over as well! Mindful is bringing their FF collab with Chef Jae called “Peachy Keene,” a peach Berliner weisse. It’s tart, fruity, sessionable, and we now have more beer than people, despite it being a nearly sold out show. I drink as many PKs as I can while pouring beers alongside brewer Nick J. Bones, fill up a few growlers of Equilibrium, and head over to the new Burning Bridges comedy club (formerly Hambone’s comedy room) for Tim’s second show of the weekend. My mouth is watering for this highly sought after booze. When I get to the door the server tells me, “You can’t bring outside beverages in here, sir.” Full Pint “Living Color” it is then.
Aug. 19, 3 p.m.: Back in the studio for another session of Drinking Partners and I finally pour my first glass of Equilibrium. It’s a sour. Like, heavy sour. Warheads type shit. I’m pretty disappointed; not gonna lie. I was expecting a New England from New England. I can’t drink 12 of these things. Later in the evening, our producer Buzzy and I are talking shop. “Fresh Fest was sick, bro! We left with a keg of some juicy Equilibrium! It was awesome!”
God is a spiteful wench…
Day Bracey covers the city’s craft beer scene for the Pittsburgh Current. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.