A few weeks back, I reviewed a beer from Green Bay that I was able to secure and taste before the NFC Championship game. I wanted to do the same for something from Pittsburgh, but there is none to be found around here. Iron City has left for Latrobe, PA, and the local micro brands have not greased the right palms to get distributed here. But I did have had one Pittsburgh beer a few months ago, and its brewer made the news this week with his attempt to get the President to have some of his brew, at the White House Super Bowl party (you know the O'Man will be putting his feet on the Rutherford B. Hayes ottoman for the game) to balance out the Hinterland beers he got during a whistle stop in Green Bay.
Scott Smith, owner of East End Brewing, has hit upon a guerilla marketing campaign called "Send East End to the White House." Using the power of a Twitter account (hashtag #EastEndtoDC) and Facebook page, Smith has tried to raise media attention and spark a bipartisan effort to get some of his beer past the gates to match the cheese-head beers. Scott has e-mailed me in response to aquery that they hope to get some national coverage and a positive response in time for the game. As long as some aide didn't just pop over to the A&P for some Yuengling and call it a day.
I don't think East End's Gratitude Barley Wine would be among a hypothetical care package for the game. People at the White House need to be awake and have their fingers on the button the next day, after all. But it's the one Pittsbugh beer I've had, back at the impromptu tasting I wrote about this past fall.
This barley wine is a yearly release, usually around 11.5% abv, sold in a 750 ml bottle. It uniquely packaged with brown kraft paper wrapped tighly around it and sealed with wax, and each year's wrapper has a different drawing of a bird printed on it. I traded some Chicago beers a few years ago with a RateBeer member in Pennsylvania, and got a 2007 "Goldfinch" bottle from him. So from this bottle, I offer this review:
Pours with a lot of floaties, or particles of settled out bits of yeast or hop, which sometimes happens if the beer is unfiltered. One taster says he got impressions of honey mustard. Well, it's not the first beer I've had with mustard, but I just figured it was a little spicy character brought on by yeast. The hop taste seems to be brought in through alcohol vapors. Hops are really quite brusque, I suspect the Northern Brewer variety more than anything else. However, as the bottle warmed up, and as we got further into it, a nice fruity ale taste started to emerge. Lots of sticky malt on the lips and tongue. There was still plenty of yeast in suspension, yet that didn't affect the taste too much. This was aged for three years, which seems to be about right for a barley wine.
Total Rating 4.0 of 5.0.
I still don't know whom I should give a fig about for this big game. The Packers, because it proves how tough the ol' "Black & Blue" division is, or the Steelers, because, c'mon; anyone but the Packers! But I know I'll be watching with a fine beer in my hand. I just don't have one available from either team's home town.