Barrel & Circulate debuts in Pittsburgh; Celebrating Black-Owned Breweries

PITTSBURGH – Beer lovers can enjoy one-of-a-kind beers on September 11th, poured fresh from the barrel at a landmark event in Pittsburgh.

Barrel & Flow Fest makes its debut at SouthSide Works, a renamed sequel to Fresh Fest, the world’s first festival to celebrate Black-owned craft breweries.

Launched in 2018 on Nova Place on the North Side of Pittsburgh, the festival is moving this year to the more spacious SouthSide Works and a riverside area with multiple stages and 72 beer tents, half of which worked with black artists on new beers.

“It’s like a street fair feel,” said Day Bracey, founder of Barrel & Flow Fest / Fresh Fest, a Beaver resident. “We cordoned off seven or eight blocks from the Hot Metal Bridge down to the Hofbräuhaus and all this green space. The Music on The Mon stage that just emerged will be our main stage. We have the amphitheater next to the Hofbräuhaus” as ours Secondary stage. And our DJ stage is in front of the Cheesecake Factory. “

The country's first black beer festival, renamed Barrel & Flow Fest, takes place at the SouthSide Works in Pittsburgh.

Early entry guests ($ 75 ticket) arrive at 3:00 p.m., regular admission ($ 50) starts at 5:00 p.m.

“More people are coming from outside this year,” said Bracey. “It holds about 13,000; Nova Place has a cap of about 3,000. But we’re going to leave it at 5,000 so that everything is spread out at less than half capacity with 3 feet of space between the tents and people outdoors. And many of the spaces that we don’t face vendors are a little less cramped than at other events. But this year we’ve gone even further with COVID. “

Barrel & Flow Fest includes grocery vendors and live entertainment, like headlining Ghost Note, a nationwide touring jazz and funk band, Pittsburgh multi-instrumentalist rapper Benji. and the jazz fusion artist Feralcat.

Ghost-Note brings its funk and jazz fusion to the Barrel & Flow Fest.

As for beer, diners can enjoy creative offerings from places like 18th Street Brew of Hammond, Ind., Named America’s # 1 Brewpub in a USA Today reader survey; Mack Brewing Co. of West Philadelphia; Harlem Brewing Co. and Rhythm Brewing Co. of New Haven, Connecticut, were featured in the Robert Morris University rap star / former football player Wale’s music video for BGM.

Many western Pennsylvania breweries will be represented, working with black musicians from Pittsburgh on specialty beers. These pairings include rapper singer Jordan Montgomery with Inner Groove Brewing of Verona, singer-songwriter INEZ and Butler Brew Works, and rapper Livefromthecity with Old Thunder Brewing of Pittsburgh.

Montgomery had a great time attending the festival known as Fresh Fest for the first time in 2019.

“Owners Kelly and Jennifer were just as excited as I was to work together,” said Montgomery. “They ditched so many beer ideas that I couldn’t keep up inspired by my song ‘Welch’s Grape’. I thank the Barrel & Flow team for their help in diversifying the craft brew industry. I hope this won’t be the last time I’ll make my own beer. “

The Barrel & Flow Fest in Pittsburgh highlights unique craft beer collaborations and breweries owned by Black.

One of the previous Fresh Fest collaborations, rocker Byron Nash and Helltown Brewing, is not only returning for Barrel & Flow, but has cultivated a professional relationship with Nash now the creative director of the beer maker. Their original Fresh Fest collaboration, BLQ Metal IPA, is sold in stores such as select Giant Eagles.

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“For me, the festival is so trend-setting in its concept of collaboration, creativity and inclusion,” said Nash of the umbrella, helping African American brewers gain recognition and notoriety. I mean, having my own beer is pretty cool, but it’s amazing that you have a career change option from this festival, as a musician.

Pittsburgh rocker Byron Nash is again partnering with Helltown Brewing in conjunction with Barrel & Flow Fest.  Nash and Helltown's BLQ Metal IPA is sold in stores such as select Giant Eagles.

Last month, Crowns & Hops Brewing Co., the first craft beer brand owned by Black in Inglewood, Calif., Released The Blue Peach – a Blueberry Peach Gose made in partnership with Barrel & Flow and Black Calder Brewing, the first Black. Brewed – own brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The beer was made in honor of the political ruler Georgia Stacey Abrams, who is featured on every can. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to Fair Fight, a national voting rights organization.


Barrel & Flow’s national reach is evidenced by the famous rap duo Run The Jewels with one of the most acclaimed albums of 2020 introducing themselves for a festival beer collaboration with Brew Gentlemen in Braddock.

“I’m a huge fan,” Bracey said, admitting that he was trying to contain his emotions when the Run The Jewels rep contacted him about participating.

“I tried to be cool and calm and said, ‘Yeah, we’ll see if we can fit you in,'” recalls Bracey, co-host of the award-winning Drinking Partners podcast, with a laugh.

“They said they heard our name and looked at us and liked what we were doing and wanted to know how to support.”

Run The Jewels, the acclaimed rap duo, made a beer collaboration for Barrel & Flow in Pittsburgh.

The full day of the Barrel & Flow symposium begins on Friday, September 10th, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Greentree DoubleTree Hotel. There will be edutaining discussions with key players in craft brewing. There will also be a bottle swap, where attendees from across the country swap and sample their favorite craft beers while enjoying appetizers and listening to fresh beats.

The Barrel & Flow Fest at SouthSide Works in Pittsburgh joins breweries owned by black breweries in the Pittsburgh area who work with black artists.

There are 250 VIP tickets for the festival on Saturday, including an exclusive beer collection along with a catering lunch and entry to the Sunday Brewers Brunch in the Greentree DoubleTree with special food and beer pairings.

Festival tickets and further information can be found at

Bracey recommends downloading The Barrel & Flow app, which lists the festival’s speakers, artists, and breweries that sell on-site or home-delivery collab beers, as well as a national directory of Black breweries.

To keep art going, Barrel & Flow also launched art + biz, a year-long initiative that brings together artists, musicians, designers and writers with small business owners for project development, design ideas and imaginative combinations.

The original Fresh Fest, which twice ranked No. 2 in a USA Today poll of top beer festivals, began in 2018 with a mission to make the craft beer industry more racist.

In that three-year span, the number of craft breweries nationwide has grown from 7,500 to 8,500, although Black-owned breweries have grown from 70 to fewer than 100.

And most of these black-owned companies are contract brewing brands.

Bracey said the number of actual black-run breweries are fewer than 50, “which is kind of sad.

“There are three Black owned breweries in PA, but none of them are stationary. You can’t sit down and have a beer, nor is there a consistency in brewing that you know these places will always be like black-owned beer that you can support. The numbers are much grimmer than what I was aware of at the start of this festival, “said Bracey.

However, Barrel & Flow and its predecessor made people aware of the issue.

“The number of people trying or trying to get into the industry has grown,” Bracey said. “The conversation has expanded.”

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The Barrel & Flow Fest concerts also include rapper Benji.

Covid19 precautions

Barrel & Flow Fest’s admission guidelines require a full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours of admission. Both digital and printed copies are accepted.

“We even set up rapid tests at the gate,” Bracey said. “If for some reason you didn’t get your test on time, 15 minutes and we’ll see if we can get you in or not.”

The organizers of Barrel & Flow “urge vaccination for the vulnerable communities we want to support and nurture, and for those as excited as we are to experience our exclusive draft beers collaborations and our fantastic Flow musical offerings.” . ” it says in the press release of the festival. “We have also implemented other security protocols: keeping our attendees and salespeople at less than half capacity to allow for additional clearance, additional hand washing stations, social distancing signage, and recommendations that all salespeople wear masks while serving.”

People can also participate virtually through Digi Flow, a two-day, $ 10 digital festival that mails speakers, music, art, and beer.

The first two Fresh Fests were hailed as one of the top two American beer festivals in a USA Today poll.  Now renamed and relocated to Barrel & Flow Fest, the fun returns on September 11th.

Scott Tady is the local entertainment reporter for The Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He can be easily reached at Follow him on Twitter at @scotttady

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