Here is a quick update on summer beer festivals: they ain’t happening IRL.
OK, that being said – the 2020 edition of Fresh Fest plans to bring people together, virtually. And, like years past, Fresh Fest Digi Fest will spotlight Black-owned breweries and Pittsburgh brewers will prepare a one-time-only set of collaboration beers.
Finding creative ways to continue collaborating
ShuBrew, located in Zelienople, has been part of Fresh Fest since the inaugural festival in 2018. Head brewer Zach Shumaker feels like Fresh Fest is continuing to gain more and more momentum.
“I was so worried about losing the chance to work with Fresh Fest when all the festivals got canceled,” Shumaker explained. “But what a clever way to continue with the collaborations. It’s a testament to the organizers’ creativity.”
“Our industry (nationwide) needs this. Had we NOT had Fresh Fest this year, that would’ve been a tough setback.”
After being paired up to work with Four City Brewing out of Orange, New Jersey, Shumaker and the ShuBrew team started coming up with a beer that would be unlike anything they’ve brewed before.
“It’s gonna be a little different,” Shumaker chuckles. “Our collaboration beer is called ‘Brewers Gonna Work It Out’ and the best way I can describe it is to say, it’s a dark specialty ale.”
ABV Volume LXXVII
Brewers Gonna Work It Out
Per Shumaker, here’s what to expect from Brewers Gonna Work It Out – their 2020 Fresh Fest collaboration beer.
“We’re starting with the base recipe of a black wheat coffee beer – it has a roasty, chocolate character, reminiscent of a porter. Then, we are adding in cacao nibs, vanilla, lactose and Oreos. That’s why it’s hard to peg this beer as a particular style – with so many adjuncts and flavors, it’s an exciting and incredibly ambitious beer.”
Shumaker adds: “Don’t expect this to taste like a black dunkel or a black hefeweizen. Think of it more like if you’re visiting a Starbucks and you see ‘mocha cookie crumble frappuccino’ on the menu. It’s like that, but as a beer.”
Shumaker is projecting the beer to come in at right around 8% ABV.
“We’ve never brewed this before so we’re ALL learning. From each other, from our co-collaborators, from the Fresh Fest organizers – that’s the best part, we all learn a ton.”
COVID-19 Leads to a new collaboration process for Fresh Fest 2020
In the past, Fresh Fest collaboration beers were brewed literally hand-in-hand; collaborators would meet up at a predetermined site to brew their beers and package them up in time for attendees to enjoy at the beer festival.
This year, due to COVID-19, collaboration beers are actually being brewed in split batches; one batch at each participating brewery. From there, a wholesaler will take the canned beers and repackage them into variety packs. Those ‘collaborative variety packs’ containing multiple collaboration beers will then get delivered to Fresh Fest Digi Fest attendees using beverages2U (for locally brewed collabs shipped throughout PA) and Tavour (all collabs shipped to PA and all other eligible states).
“So, we manufactured ‘Brewers Gonna Work It Out’ at our brewery in Harmony; and then Four City is manufacturing the same beer up in New Jersey,” Shumaker explains. “The Pittsburgh-based breweries will send a portion of their beers out locally and the Black-owned breweries are working with Tavour to hit nationwide distribution. That way, folks tuning in to Fresh Fest Digi Fest (wherever they are) can have their beers hopefully by August 8.”
Shumaker adds: “Oh, and Four City has a local Black artist on board to work on the beer label. So the collaborations are all happening, but remotely and socially distanced.”
Can you try the collab beers after Fresh Fest?
As the local breweries can their beers for the Fresh Fest allotment, inevitably there will be some that’s leftover for folks to try over the next several weeks.
“We’ll probably do some kegs of it here to keep around at our place. If there’s enough, we may even send some out to select accounts (bars) – all depends on how much gets purchased for Fresh Fest and where we are at with COVID,” Shumaker says.
After August 8, folks can expect to try ShuBrew’s collaboration beer (and the other collaboration beers) at local breweries while supplies last.
What Else is happening at ShuBrew?
Besides the ambitious, logistical game of Tetris involved in nailing down this year’s Fresh Fest collaboration, ShuBrew also plans to welcome a few new beers into their lineup.
“We are releasing Shupacabra, a lime mexican lager. It’s our first-ever lime variant so we’re stoked about that.”
ShuBrew will also unveil Marshmallow Method – their first-ever milkshake IPA that they plan to keep around as a series of beers. This inaugural version will contain tangerine and pineapple.
Finally, ShuBrew will also release a new variant as part of their Smooshie Series of beers. What they are calling Marshmallow Fruit Salad will contain coconut, pineapple, cherry, manderine orange and marshmallow.
Get to Know Fresh Fest
Are you new to Fresh Fest? Check out our interview with the co-founders for a primer on what this is and why it’s an integral part of the craft beer industry.
Everything You Need to Know about Fresh Fest Digi Fest
ICYMI – be sure to catch our recent story on Fruit Whip from Cellar Works. Day Bracey, co-founder of Fresh Fest, raves about this highly sought-after smoothie sour beer.