#PCBW2014 Collaboration Beers: "Steel Valley Saison" and "Rojo Ahumado"


Making beer with another brewery is one of the coolest parts of what we get to do.  It's an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day demands of brewing, share tips, techniques, equipment favorites, war stories, and of course a few beers with our local industry brethren.  It's also a great chance to learn.  And because you've got twice the number of people in the room "helping", it also works out to be a pretty light work day.

For this year's Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, we participated in 2 Collaboration Brews with Jason and Jason from Lavery Brewing in Erie, PA.  We brewed a batch on their system a few weeks ago (3/11/14), and then the next week (3/21), they came to Pittsburgh to brew one here.  I don't think we have settled on the names for either of these beers yet, but I can tell you a little bit about them.

The Lavery Brew is a Hoppy Saison - a farmhouse ale.  It went into a 7bbl single-walled tank on wheels.  This tank has no temperature control, which means that a high-temperature tolerant Belgian yeast strain is probably about the only thing that can be used, if we want the beer to be tasty.  The fact that it's dry-hopped with 1.8# of Styrian Golding PER BARREL pretty much confirms that this will be the case.

We've brewed into a single-walled tank here in the past, usually just with low gravity second runnings beers like "Black Something" and "Bitter End", since the fermentations are brief and not so vigorous.  It's kinda like riding a bike with no hands.

Rojo Ahumado or "Red Smoke" (the beer we brewed at East End Brewing) is a Chili Smoked Amber Ale, with cherry wood smoked malt in the mash, guajillo/chipotle/pasilla/ancho peppers in the mash and the kettle.  And probably a bit more peppers to come in the fermenter or bright tank, if I had to guess.  The smoked malt smells and tastes amazing, and is very different from the german rauch malt we've handled here in the past.  It's a great fit with the peppers... which aside from bringing a little heat, will contribute some incredibly rich smokey, woody flavors.  We brewed a 20bbl batch of this one.


Our plan is to swap some kegs so that we'll be able to have BOTH beers on tap, side by side in our brewery taprooms during #PCBW.  A little of the Lavery brew will make it outside their building too, though not a huge amount, given the smaller batch size.  The East End Batch will be available through our regular distribution channels as Pgh Craft Beer Week approaches, in halves and sixtels with pricing similar to BigHop, maybe a little more.  Hopefully there will be enough for everyone who wants to run this beer,  given the batch size.  Contact the folks at Vecenie Distributing if you'd like to pre-order some of the "EastEnd/Lavery Collaboration Beer", and they'll set some aside for you when it comes in.

Meanwhile, enjoy these photos of us "working" to brew these beers for you...