You might think that to become a member of the Pittsburgh Beer Society, you'd need a pewter cup handed down by your great uncle Dunston, who christened it with the jowly spit of Handsome Dan during a cloak-and-dagger ceremony in the basement of Mory's, in the summer of 1922.
Think again, beer nut. No pedigree is required, academic or otherwise. A love for fine beer is your secret handshake. All you need to do is show up, slap on a name-tag, peruse the list of beers du jour, and mingle. You can sign up that night or register online (www.pittsburghbeersociety.org).
The PBS (affectionately called "beer club") is a diverse group -- 450 strong -- who meet twice a month to drink and discuss diverse beers. Any number of members -- from 30 to 100 -- assemble each first and third Wednesday at D's Six Pax and Dogz, in Regent Square. There, for a mere $10, members taste six 4-oz beer samples from D's massive beer cave.
President Shaun Gilmour came up with idea for the PBS in the fall of 2005, while hosting series of house parties where craft beer was the focus.
"We had so much fun at those parties, and it seemed like there was a lack of organized beer aficionados in the city," says Gilmour. "There's a couple of home-brew clubs, but no club for people who just want to taste and experience new beers." In addition to D's selection, there are exclusive "first look" offerings from local and regional breweries. The PBS has hosted a number of beer-makers, including Victory, Bullfrog, East End, Magic Hat, Great Lakes and Erie.
"What I love about the concept of the PBS is that I can try the beer in that $20 bottle without having to commit to it," explains member Nicole Merritt. "It has definitely opened my eyes to a lot of beers that I may have never otherwise tried." Chimay's "Grande Reserve," Merritt's favorite variety, is chief among them.
"Beer club is the sunshine of my life," says Kate Cosgrove. "No matter how crappy a day or week, I walk in, have my pre-meeting pint and sit down with friends and the world just seems a little better. You'll be hard pressed to find a group of people that have more fun on a Wednesday night than us."