8th Annual Brewhaha arrives with spring

Courtesy of Rachael Masterson | Hollow Oak Land Trust | In addition to the silent auction, which includes "big ticket" items, Brewhaha also hosts a ticket raffle with prizes and a spin-to-win wheel that reflects local flora and fauna in its prizes.

Emily Fritz | A&E Editor

Contrary to recent weather, the first day of spring has arrived and Hollow Oak Land Trust is ready to celebrate with their eighth annual ‘Brewhaha,’ a 21+ event complete with a silent auction, raffles, music and gourmet food with perfectly paired local beer, on Saturday, Mar. 23 at the Mayernik Center at Avonworth Community Park.

“We’re coming out of that gray and brown season coming into spring, the frogs are singing, the salamanders are making eggs and … there’s a different array of native wildflowers blooming in the woods,” Sean Brady, executive director of Hollow Oak, told The Duke.

The land trust, located in the Pittsburgh Airport Corridor, consists of nine conservation areas encompassing more than 700 acres. The organization focuses on “land acquisition, habitat stewardship, municipal partnerships and environmental education,” according to their website.

Inviting locals to enjoy the land comes from building miles and miles of trail for people to enjoy via hiking, biking, running, dog walking or anything that can be enjoyed without a motor. Born out of their volunteer slogan, “You volunteer, we bring the beer,” Brewhaha came about in 2016.

“We didn’t want to have another boring fundraising event, we wanted to make it fun, and Pittsburgh is such a hotbed for craft breweries,” Brady said. “So to make it fun, make it a little fancy, we created [a] pairings menu.”

Created by Chef Chaz Smith, owner and executive chef of Culinary Artists, the five-course menu features inspirations from his time abroad in Europe and Asia. For one dish alone, Smith and the Brewhaha committee tried 18 brews across three different breweries to perfect the pairings.

“You can complement, or contrast,” Smith said. “So I have those two elements in my head … I’m looking for something that’s either going to have the same … qualities that you’re going to find in the lentils, or … something that’s going to cleanse your palate and be a refreshing sip after.”

The VIP course, a Moroccan lamb tagine, will be paired with Penn Brewery’s flagship brew, the Penn Pilsner.

“Meeting the people and having them try what we have to offer is exciting,” said Penn Brewery office manager Amy Huseman. The local business hopes that once people try their Vienna lager, the restaurant will gain more foot traffic.

Other courses include a red lentil soup paired with an American IPA from Altered Genius Brewing, a salad paired with a German-style gose sour from Allegheny City Brewing, pasta accompanied by a black IPA from Cobblehaus Brewing, spicy chicken vindaloo complimented by a West coast IPA from Grist House Craft Brewery and a mixed berry cobbler dessert paired with a Sauerkirschen dry cider from A Few Bad Apples.

Versatility was a big component when drawing from six different breweries. Among lagers, IPAs and sours, the last is known for being the acquired taste in the craft beer world, but Smith’s salad is expected to introduce attendees to the sweet and sour profile.

“A lot of times we feel like our sours are fruit-forward; we add fruit after fermentation so you get a lot of sweetness from it but this one is a little different,” co-owner of Allegheny City Brewing Matt Yurkovich said.

The German-style gose is brewed with coriander and sea salt, then fermented for a second time with orange zest. Yurkovich added, “it’ll be fun to see people’s reactions for sure.”

Many of the 11 brewery sponsors share similar values and goals to Hollow Oak as well, whether by sourcing local, managing historical sites or by protecting green spaces through similar fundraising.

In addition to culinary art and delectable bites, Brewhaha will also bring in local wildlife from Interactive Environmental Programs, owned and operated by herpetologist April Claus.

At the event, Claus will introduce seven live species alongside several models and shells representing the various reptilian and amphibian species local to the Pittsburgh area.

“Everybody sort of puts their brick in the wall when it comes to conservation-minded issues,” she said. “[These animals] are a very misunderstood group of animals, you know, because it includes things that are really cute that people love, like frogs, but I gotta say the snakes are a tough sell.”

Introducing sustainably-sourced food and drink, local wildlife and a silent auction for outdoor recreation to the public align with Hollow Oak’s greater mission of developing, protecting and connecting green spaces to make them accessible for public enjoyment.

“That’s what they need most, [to] get outside, breathe fresh air and reduce that anxiety that they feel or isolation that they feel by feeling connected to something greater than themselves,” Claus said.

General admission for Brewhaha starts at $100 per seat, but members of the Duquesne community can receive $10 off by using promo code ‘DUQ24’ at checkout. VIP access can be purchased for an additional $25, which includes happy hour at 6 p.m., an additional course and wildlife with Claus.

Those dedicated to conservation and land stewardship can inquire about volunteer opportunities at Brewhaha by contacting Rachael Masterson at

“We’re a pretty small organization to have nine different conservation areas and over 25 miles of trail. The way that comes about is through volunteers,” Brady said. “And of course, it all supports the outdoors.”