Archive

Best beer to Bier: North Side man’s porter tops at competition | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Best beer to Bier: North Side man’s porter tops at competition

ptrbeer6111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Samples are taken in during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014 as more than 50 homebrewers competed with their aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer7111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Jake Bier hoists his trophy in the air after winning a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer8111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
A jubilant Teresa Narey (left) celebrates with her husband Daniel and friend Ashley Zajacs as they hear the Peoples Choice Award winner during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. Her future brother-in-law, Kevin Martin, was the winner among more than 50 homebrewers who aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer5111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Judge Matt Wein samples a homebrew at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels for the competition.
ptrbeer4111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Judge Matt Wein samples a beer as his co-judges Mike Beattie (left) and Hart Johnson do their part during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer3111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
A sample is poured during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014 that had more than 50 homebrewers age their ales in whiskey barrels for the competition.
ptrbeer2111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Beer judge Hart Johnson adjusts his samples during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer1111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Beer judge Hart Johnson compares his samples during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer6111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Samples are taken in during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014 as more than 50 homebrewers competed with their aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer7111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Jake Bier hoists his trophy in the air after winning a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer8111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
A jubilant Teresa Narey (left) celebrates with her husband Daniel and friend Ashley Zajacs as they hear the Peoples Choice Award winner during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. Her future brother-in-law, Kevin Martin, was the winner among more than 50 homebrewers who aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer5111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Judge Matt Wein samples a homebrew at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels for the competition.
ptrbeer4111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Judge Matt Wein samples a beer as his co-judges Mike Beattie (left) and Hart Johnson do their part during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer3111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
A sample is poured during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014 that had more than 50 homebrewers age their ales in whiskey barrels for the competition.
ptrbeer2111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Beer judge Hart Johnson adjusts his samples during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels.
ptrbeer1111714
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Beer judge Hart Johnson compares his samples during a homebrew competition at Wigle Whiskey in Spring Garden Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. More than 50 homebrewers aged their ales in whiskey barrels.

The winner’s last name, fittingly enough, was Bier — pronounced “beer.”

“I hoped I’d win, but I didn’t expect to,” said Jake Bier, 26, of the Mexican War Streets, who won the homebrewing beer competition Sunday at Wigle Whiskey’s barrelhouse in Spring Garden. “I’ve been home brewing for five years, my last name is Bier, and I love beer.”

Bier was among 54 homebrewers who submitted their unique, homemade beers. His winning recipe was for a spiced pumpkin porter.

The competition illustrated the surging popularity of homebrewing in Western Pennsylvania, which in turn fuels the region’s love and support of craft and micro-breweries, said judges at the event.

Hart Johnson, cellarman at Piper’s Pub in the South Side, said customers increasingly seek out distinct locally brewed beers.

Years ago, he said, Piper’s sold three cases of a national brand such as Miller Lite on a Saturday night. “And last night, we sold just six bottles of it,” he said.

Dozens of breweries have opened in Western Pennsylvania in recent years. So many, in fact, that one bar in Squirrel Hill sells only beer made here.

“That wouldn’t have worked 15 years ago — there weren’t enough breweries,” said Matt Wein, a bartender at the Independent Brewing Co. bar. “Now, we can’t get all the local breweries into the bar.”

The competition kicked off a week of events, organized by Wigle and East End Brewing Co., to celebrate beer aged in spirit barrels. About 200 people crammed into Wigle’s barrelhouse to sample the beers.

For winning, Bier won one of Wigle’s spirit barrels, which he can use to age his next batch. Wigle sells its freshly drained 10- and 15-gallon barrels for $150. Other prizes included bottles of Wigle whiskey, T-shirts and barrelhouse tours.

The panel of eight judges included local beer experts and journalists, including the Tribune-Review’s Chris Fleisher, who co-writes the First Draft beer column.

Even homebrewers who did not win said the experience was valuable.

“To come here and serve your beer to people who really know and appreciate good beer, and then get their feedback … it’s such a cool thing,” said Linda Willhide of Ross as she poured samples of her husband Mike’s “Shiver Me Timbers” English-style amber ale.

“People like local,” Mike Willhide said. “You want to have a good hometown beer.”

Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.