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Wild Kindness Records, Spirit and Penn Brewery join up to benefit local bands with a new microbrew, Toasted Sessions Lager

A portion of sales of the beer will be donated by Penn Brewery and Spirit to mitigate the recording expenses of Wild Kindness artists.


Donald Ducote’s enthusiasm is infectious. As a co-owner of Spirit, in Lawrenceville, and the new general manager of Pittsburgh-based Wild Kindness Records, Ducote sees great things for the future of Pittsburgh’s music scene, and he wants to have a part in shaping it.

Ducote and Spirit partner Tom Barr moved to Pittsburgh from Brooklyn two years ago to open the bar and venue. In Pittsburgh, they found a population that was ready and willing to invest in its local scene. “It was really hard to get people to go out to shows in Brooklyn,” he says. “People come out to shows here. I think people want to support their bands. If they’ve got nothing going on, they’ll come out and see their friends’ show.”

Yet for all the venues, outlets and opportunities that Pittsburgh has to offer its up-and-coming musicians, Ducote still sees musicians struggling to fund their art. He aims to offer some assistance with his first major initiative as Wild Kindness GM. In partnership with Penn Brewery and Spirit, Wild Kindness has introduced Toasted Sessions Lager, a microbrew currently sold exclusively at Spirit (which provides the financial backing to Wild Kindness), with limited distribution in other venues in the works. A portion of sales of the beer — $100 per keg or roughly 20 percent of gross sales — will be donated by Penn Brewery and Spirit to mitigate the recording expenses of Wild Kindness artists. The first bands to benefit will be Slugss, It It, and Honey; each is currently in some stage of recording. Ducote sees potential in the model. “It’s the best way that we can think of for musicians that are actually putting out music they believe in without having to spend their own money to do it,” he says.

In crafting the brew, the collaborators sought to make something referential to its intended beneficiaries. “When we all sat down around a table in the basement of the brewery, everyone knew that we wanted it to be easy drinking and moderate in alcohol, a.k.a. ‘sessionable,’ for the obvious fact that we want people to drink as many as possible, so to raise as much money as we can for the bands,” Barr explains via email. “We thought sessions having a double entendre by referencing recording sessions and a sessionable beer was pretty clever.”

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Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story omitted Spirit as a partner with Penn Brewery and Wild Kindness and neglected to mention Spirit as the financial backer of Wild Kindness.

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