It’s hard to believe that our first event is in the books. After dozens of phone calls and as many emails — and six hours crammed in the back of a MINI Cooper (sorry John) — Juicy Brews went better than we had hoped. I wanted to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to everyone who helped make the day happen.

Hats off to Andrew, Mike, and the entire team at Dancing Gnome for hosting the event at their space. A little over a year ago, the brewery didn’t exist; now it’s a staple of Pittsburgh’s craft beer scene. Personally, I think it’s telling that DG’s most recent release, Nobody’s Robot, was one of my favorites ever. The staff is warm, kind, and empathetic, and the care they have for each other and their community comes through in their products.

Without Shane Lohman and Steel City Beer Distributors, we never could’ve brought vendors from outside Pennsylvania into the city. For a long time, Pittsburgh has been getting the same brands, but Shane is pulling down walls and opening the city to some much needed fresh air.

Thanks to the visiting brewers. When our team came up with the idea for Juicy Brews, we sat down with Andrew Witchey and Mike Dunlay from Dancing Gnome and made a list of seven out-of-town breweries with whom we’d like to spend some time: Triple Crossing, Aslin, Ocelot, Magnify, SingleCut, Seventh Son, and Hoof Hearted. If you recognize the list, it’s because that’s exactly who came to the festival. Not a single out-of-town brewery we asked to attend turned us down. It was a tremendous vote of confidence for a first-time event from a relatively new craft beer magazine. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the out-of-town and local breweries (Voodoo and Grist House) who chose to support us by sending their beer and employees.

Similarly, thank you to our festival-goers, who took a chance on the $50 ticket. The fact that we were able to sell out an event during the Steelers-Ravens game also speaks volumes to the fervor of the Pittsburgh’s growing craft beer scene. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but I can say with certainty that 2018 will be a phenomenal year for beer in Pittsburgh.

Justin from Hop House Distribution was an incredible resource, a fantastic volunteer, and an all-around good dude.

DJ Chris was so good that we hired him on the spot for our event in New York.

Our volunteers Noel, KC, Nanci, Mike T, Jaron, Nate, Al, Denise, Christian, Marina, Marissa, Kelsey, Joe, Brian, Hozella, Danae, Dannnnn, Nick, Andrew, Jade, and Andy made the event run smoothly. They volunteered their time and energy, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

Buzzy Torek from the Epicast Network provided photography, and Rob Soltis and the Craft Pittsburgh team were on hand with coverage.

Alberta’s Pizza and Pittsburgh Sandwich Society did the work of 1,000 chefs.

Thank you to 412 Food Rescue for the work they do to solve the problems of food instability and food insecurity in our community. Through the festival’s charity raffle, we raised $750 to help them continue their work.

Finally, big props to the entire Hop Culture team. I love you.

From left: John Paradiso, Kenny Gould, Dave Weiland, Evan Malachosky, Travis Smith, Ben Pratt. Photo by: Brandon Duff