Monday, May 10, 2010

Sharp Edge Beer Festival

Well, summer is upon us and that means beer festivals. Pittsburgh is blessed to have the return of the Pennsylvania Micro Brewer’s Fest and towards the end (September) we can look forward to the Big Pour. Even East End Brewery will have an event. One well established festival is the European Beer Festival at the Sharp Edge Beer Emporium. I think they need mentioned because they are doing something nobody else is doing.

Back in the day, we were lucky to have a smidgen of brews. Even Guinness was hard to find here. Then the imports started to come in and people went for them like mad.

A lot of bars were slow to catch the wave but eventually all the good bars had a line of imports. Social networking sites were activated so people could spread the word when a new beer came to town. Back then it was called using the landline telephone to call your friends. It was fun to seek out bars that had something new. Every Friday was like Christmas morning with beer. But who drinks on Christmas morning? Then something happened to change drinking in bas forever; micro-brewed draft beer made in the United States. Just as we desired the imports we found new pleasure in drinking beers made in American, and on draft. Bottled beers from Europe could not compete and lost ground, sorry to say. But one tavern owner held his ground and put his bars on the map.

Jeff Walewski of the Sharp Edge is noted worldwide for his selection of Belgian and European beers. I separated Belgian beers because I don’t think you can find more on tap or in bottles that he has anywhere in the country. Most bars today focus on US craft beers but the Edge is all about the old world. Jeff’s festival, started in 1997, at the end of June is the only festival in the country that serves only European beers. This event gives a splendid opportunity for people to try beers they may never knew existed. There is a world of beers out there and you can find them at the Edge.

From my old notes I remember that the Sharp Edge was the second tavern in Pittsburgh to sell Cask Conditioned Ale. Kangaroo's was first but they did not know how to handle it and the product was removed. The third tavern to sell cask ale was the Fuel & Fuddle in Oakland in June 1997. First cask was Pretzel City IPA. They could not keep the keg at the proper temperature as the cask sat on the top of the bar and there was no room under the bar for a cooler. They purchased the one hand pump from Kangaroo's. I can’t say that I remember Kangaroo's but I think they were on McKnight Road.

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