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Brewing partnerships highlight Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week

Enthusiasts anticipate this year's eight "collaboration beers"

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Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is — gasp — not a week. Running April 17-26, it is actually 10 days devoted to learning about, celebrating and (mainly) drinking craft beer. And of the 300 or so events scheduled for this year's PCBW, there's one that's got everyone buzzing: the debut of the collaboration beers.

"We have been doing these collaborations as long as Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week has been around," says David Cerminara, owner of Carnegie-based Apis Mead & Winery, and brewer representative for PCBW. "The initial idea was to just get all the region's brewers together and have a pint or two." And it turns out that when you put a bunch of creative brewers in one room, ideas start to flow as freely as the beer.

Now, in the event's fourth year, collaboration brews have become central to the week. This year, combinations of nearly two dozen area brewers created eight beers for PCBW. The names are groaners. There's "50 Shades of Grain," the East End/Costar/Spoonwood collaboration that uses a pinch of every grain they had around. Then there's "For Wheat's Sake," a wheat IPA from Grist House, Hop Farm and Hitchhiker. The strangest entry is surely "Ghoul Branch Burrito," the Rock Bottom/Milkman/Bloom Brew ale that's made with "a popular brand of tortilla chips."

Of course, the beers provide more than just an opportunity for awful puns. "One of the best parts of the collaboration beers is that you get to know all the other great brewers in the city and get a chance to see each others' brewing techniques," Cerminara says. "Everyone has their own style and equipment, so it strengthens each and every brewer involved."

You can find the beers at bars around the city during the week, or try them all at Caliente's unofficial kickoff party, on April 17. Try them early — most won't last past PCBW — and raise your glass to education, collaboration and Doritos.

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