Going to Barrel & Flow? What to drink, hear, and see at this year's Black beer fest | Pittsburgh City Paper

Going to Barrel & Flow? What to drink, hear, and see at this year's Black beer fest

click to enlarge A man smiles and holds his hands together proudly across his chest as a woman tries a glass of beer while a man and woman on either side of him look on and smile
Photo: Courtesy of Epicenter
Barrel & Flow Fest

At this point, Barrel & Flow Fest needs little introduction. Year by year, the celebration of Black beer, Black music, and Black culture has grown in influence not just locally, but on an international level. It’s pretty simple what it is at this point; one of the most important and impressive beer festivals in the world.

So instead of re-hashing all the things that make the festival great, let’s take a look at some of what you can expect if you’re attending on Saturday:

Biggest Hype Beer

Other Half x Rock Leopard - “What’s the Scenario?”
Not to be cliche, but anytime Other Half is involved, there’s a chance it’ll be on the most hyped beer list. The Brooklyn-based legends will be cooking up a new version of their famous IPAs, and they’re doing it with Britain’s Black-owned Rock Leopard Brewery, which also qualifies it for the furthest distance that a brewery is traveling for the festival.

Best Label Design

Levante x Four City x SVRVH Designs - “Fine Hearts”
With Barrel & Flow, this might be the hardest category to choose. With every label being done by a Black artist specifically for the fest, the beer is accompanied by a series of stunning graphics. But this design by SVRVH Designs is just beautiful, and immediately draws your eye to the Strawberry Hefe these breweries have concocted.

click to enlarge A woman and a man standing close to each other with huge smiles
Photo provided
Pittsburgh musicians Jacquea Mae and Byron Nash

Best Musical Act

Listen, I’m not being creative here, but NASH.V.ILL, the brainchild of brilliant Pittsburgh guitarist Byron Nash and vocalist Jacquea Mae, deserves the headliner slot for a reason. A mix of funk, rock, soul, spoken word, and so much more that is guaranteed to bring down the house.

click to enlarge A can of beer with "Steel City Sunshine" written on the label above a smiling illustration of a sun sits next to a glass of beer
Photo: Courtesy of Grist House
Steel City Sunshine from Grist House and Wiz Khalifa

Most Unique Collaboration

Grist House x Wiz Khalifa - “Steel City Sunshine”
A collab between one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic craft breweries and … Wiz Khalifa and the rest of Taylor Gang? Yeah, that’s a moment. This wheat ale brewed with terpenes will probably be both delicious and as unique as the people involved in making it.

Most Underrated Brewery to Watch For

Dream State Brewing
Another category that has so many choices, but if you’re there Saturday, make sure to try out Florida’s Dream State, and their collab with local legends Voodoo Brewery. Dream State, a Black-owned start-up from Miami, is hitting the hype that most new breweries only dream of, and they’re just getting going. Might as well get them now while you can.

Best Food Spot to Hit

Sooo Delicious Kitchen
Look, it’s pretty simple. You’re drinking a lot of beers in the sun, right? So there is literally no better way to combat that than soaking them up with decadent waffles, fried chicken, and mac bowls. It’s a winning formula to get the most out of your indulgence.
Barrel & Flow Fest. 12-9 p.m. (VIP), 3-9 p.m. (Early Access), 5-9 p.m. (General Admission.) Sat. Aug. 13. The Stacks at 3 Crossings. 2865 Railroad St., Strip District. $27-215. barrelandflow.com