Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Craft Beer in the Laurel Highlands: Kegg Brewing Company

Kegg Brewing Company is the most unique nano-brewery I have visited in recent memory. The brewery is located in the basement of a house, located along a narrow country road southeast of Pittsburgh, and with two guard dogs announcing your arrival. And the tasting room area is confined to any open space between the tap lines and the brewing equipment.

After Frank Kegg retired from the Greater Latrobe School District, he and his wife Tracey decided that opening a brewery was the logical next phase. Logical in the sense that Frank was a 6th grade Science teacher and his brother Mark owns Full Pint Brewing so there is a chemistry background and inherent family lineage and support system. It also helps that the Keggs reside only a few miles from Seven Springs Mountain Resort so there's a steady supply of traffic headed in their direction.

That being said, Frank created a half barrel brew house in his basement built around four one barrel fermenters. The raw materials consist of as local as possible grain, hops, honey, fruit and well water as the base. The tasting area?  In cold weather, any open space around the fermenters and mash barrels. In warmer weather the garage doors open for driveway sipping.

That may be unique enough for most but the special part doesn't start until visitors begin sampling in the basement and spend the next hour talking to Frank. The diverse beer styles only enhance the conversation. They are not only really solid beers but the range in styles are once again unique. Our tasting started with a Cranberry Blonde Ale, followed by a Winter Ale - based on a red ale, a Coffee Porter, Pumpkin Stout, Coconut Stout, and standard IPA (as opposed to a Hoppy Bolbat IPA and Death by Hops IPA). This IPA seemed a fan favorite and was very smooth with a seamless transition from the drop hopped induce aroma through the dense beer to the bitter finish. I enjoyed the Coffee Porter and the Coconut Stout - the later the result of a flawed attempt to craft a Chocolate Coconut Stout - but I thought was fine as a stand alone. And I think my palate is turning towards coffee flavored beers.

Kegg Brewing is easy to find, but as always theCompass Craft Beverage Finder will guide you there quickly. Cheers and safe drinking and skiing.

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