Our Pittsburgh-based Juicy Brews Valentine’s Day craft beer festival is in the books. I have to say, it was quite a fest. A damn good fest.

Over the course of the week, we had five different events, from a hop workshop to a beer dinner to a tap takeover. Then, on 2/15, we had our biggest East Coast event yet. Two sessions of 500+ people. Forty-five breweries, meaderies, cideries, and kombucha makers, including team favorites The Alchemist, Allagash, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, and Trillium. We were sold out a month and a half before the festival even began.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already counting down the days until our next event in the 412. Our Steel City fans are kind, respectful, and ready to party. It’s events like these that make me proud to call Pittsburgh home.

The Story Behind The Venue

juicy brews valentines day

We originally found our venue, Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, in late 2017, when we threw a festival celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. That intimate event was a ton of fun (lots of green and a sick bagpipe set) and really showcased the uniqueness of the space, which was once a YMCA. When we came up with the idea of a Pittsburgh-based, Valentine’s Day-themed craft beer festival, it only made sense to return to the Ace. Not only did they have two floors of event space, but they also had a working disco ball.

Sharing Beer and Conversation

The night before the festival we teamed up with our friends at Pittsburgh-based creative agency Top Hat to put together a VIP-exclusive bottle share and brewer panel. The panel featured Suzy Woods of Allagash, Parker Olen of Mast Landing, Mike Dyer of Trillium, Colin Davis of Shacksbury, Ben Butler of Top Hat, and Chris Tropeano of Resident Culture.

juicy brews valentines day panel

The panel focused on marketing, social media, and branding but the conversation ranged from best practices for a brewery on Untappd, navigating negativity on Instagram, standing out on retail shelves, and why Allagash White is so damn good. We had a great group of VIP ticket holders who joined the conversation and stuck around to pop open some rare and tasty beer.

The Music of DJ Thom Lessner

juicy brews valentines day thom lessner

Almost more than the beer, people had questions about the DJ. Who was that amazing character, and who was the woman dancing with him? Ladies and gentlemen, that was our friend Thom Lessner.

Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Thom now lives in Philadelphia with his beautiful wife, Rose (aka the dancing queen). In addition to DJing about half of our Hop Culture events, Thom is the artist for Hoof Hearted Brewery and Kitchen in Columbus, Ohio. He’s the one who designed an awesome set of pins for us. He’s also a vegan and enjoys running marathons. You can learn more about him here.

If you want to catch Thom again in the near future, come see him perform at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Craft Beer Festival in Canton on May 9th!

Hop Culture Valentine’s Day Merch

Of late, we’ve worked with the brilliant artists Killer Acid, Yeye Weller, and Kailah Ogawa. However, time and time again we return to our OG illustrator, London-based Sam Taylor. We thought Sam could knock the branding out of the park for this event. He didn’t disappoint, coming up with a red and pink color scheme and a friendly heart mascot.

For the event glass, Sam drew a full wrap of colorful Valentine’s Day mascots. We sold nearly all of our inventory, but have a few left on the online store. We also have a special deal going on last year’s Valen-steins, which you can also find on the Hop Culture store.

The Food

Food for the event was provided by the fantastic Pittsburgh Sandwich Society, one of our favorite Pittsburgh-based vendors. Not only do they make the best chicken sandwich in town, but they’re always a pleasure to work with. As a testament to their flair for hospitality, they brought beepers so people could enjoy the fest without worrying about when their food would be ready.

In addition to Pittsburgh Sandwich Society, we tapped our friend Jay Gray from Food for Thought in Ogunquit, Maine, who put together one of the raddest menus we’ve had at a fest. If you enjoyed Jay’s food, you’ll have even more opportunity to try it now that Food For Thought is opening up a spot in Boston. We love Jay and can’t wait to see how his new spot develops!

The Sponsors

Once again, we want to shout out Fort Pitt Capital, Brentwood Bank, Marino’s American Eatery, Zimmer Kunz, Green Mountain Energy, Troegs Independent Brewing, Top Hat, and Origin Malt for helping make the event happen.

The tasting glasses were provided by DejaBrew, whom we highly recommend for anyone looking to make their own custom glassware. Check them out to learn more about their capabilities.

What’s Next For Hop Culture?

For those of you who want to relive the magic, we’ll be celebrating our basketball-themed Juicy Brews Balls To The Wall down in Charlotte on 3/21. If you didn’t hear, that festival was just nominated as one of the ten best in the country by USA Today. Learn more about that here.

Then we’ve got WestFest in Berkeley, California, on 4/18. And if you can’t make either trip, we’re coming closer to home with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Craft Beer Festival in Canton, Ohio on 5/9 (stay tuned for more info).

If you want to follow along on our adventures, follow us on Instagram or subscribe to the newsletter.

From the bottom of my heart — and on behalf of the entire Hop Culture team — thank you to the city of Pittsburgh for an amazing event. Let’s go Pens!

Stay juicy,

Kenny Gould
Founder, Hop Culture

Liked this article? Sign up for our newsletter to get the best craft beer writing on the web delivered straight to your inbox.