Finding the Right Words

August Wilson Mural located at 2037 Centre Avenue in the Hill District. This art piece was painted by a variety of artists including Kyle Holbrook and Edward Rawson. (Sourced from “Secret Pittsburgh Guide“)

I’ve had a, modest but always interesting, consulting hustle for a few years (let’s chat!) and this was a fun project.

The good folks at Burgh’ers Brewing in Pittsburgh asked me to help them write up some copy for a new beer they were creating.

The Brief

They were participating in the upcoming Fresh Fest Beer Fest, the country’s first Black brewing festival, and Burgh’ers Brewing were partnering with the rapper PK Delay for the event.

“Dad Year,” the opening track to PK Delay’s 2016 album, dad., effectively communicates his affection for pears. Given that, it was no surprise to hear that the collaboration with Burgh’ers Brewing would involve creating a pear-based beer.

The challenge: what do you call such a beer and how do you market it appropriately?

They landed on creating a fruited sour Berliner weisse beer with prickly pear and pear.

I needed to name the beer and find a couple of sentences that adequately express the joy of community and co-creativity that manifests itself in this product.

The copy also needs to reflect the meaningful history of the local area as well as demonstrate how the brewing process demonstrates the ethos of the business.

My Process

I started by learning as much as I could about PK Delay, Fresh Fest, and the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.

Delay hails from the Hill District, a locale I know from August Wilson’s play Fences, featured pears at the release party for his album at Threads on Carson, and has a thing for the numbers 222, his “angel numbers.”

His album “dad.” is an acronym that can mean “doing all deeds,” and it is an assertion that “everyone should be accountable to themselves and the people around them as to build a strong and honest community.”

I learned that “being the pear” (eso es la pera) is a Spanish idiomatic expression meaning, “to be the maximum that can be imagined, negatively or positively,” sorta like saying “it’s crazy hot today.”

I’d never heard the phrase “angel numbers” before so I asked my client what it meant and his initial, off-hand remark, was that they are “some kind of cosmic signal or something.” That phrase, “cosmic signal” jumped out at me and I suggested to him that it sounded like precisely the kind of neo-hippie phrase that typically accompanies craft brews like IPAs and sours.

Crossroads to the World

During the Great Migration, the Hill District of Pittsburgh was a center for Jazz culture. It was in the Hill District that Duke Ellington was crowned “the King of Jazz.”

So robust was the music scene in the Hill District that the Harlem Renaissance poet, Claude McKay, named it “the Crossroads of the World.”

The result

After about a week of drafting some versions, I gave Burgh’ers a few options and an explanation of how I arrived at these.

We both agreed that “Cosmic Signals” was the name for the beer, and here’s the copy describing it:

Effervescent and unexpected, this easy-drinking fruited sour beer features two pairs of pears (222) combining pear’s sweet, juicy floral flavor with prickly pear’s citrusy, melon and fig. Inspired by PK Delay’s love of pears with the sweet, green citrus of prickly pear. This sour fruited beer, we hope embodies the best of Fresh Fest bridging Lawrenceville and the Hill District, “the crossroads to the world.”

cheers!