Boom Concepts

Beer Brakes Barriers by Alex Young

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They're calling Fresh Fest Pittsburgh's first black beer festival. Black Brew Culture magazine and the Drinking Partners Podcast are responsible for making it happen.

Overall, Fresh Fest highlights local brew culture in Pittsburgh, except the spotlight is on the people who typically go unnoticed in the brew scene. "It's the most embarrassing thing to me that I can't say that I know a single black brewer in Pittsburgh. That's pitiful and that needs to be rectified," Andy Kwiatkowski, part owner of Hitchhiker Brewing Company, said.

On Saturday, August 11 at Nova Place and Alloy 26 in what used to be the Allegheny Center Mall on the North Side, black brewers, black entrepreneurs and even black public officials join the beer community. 21 collaborations between black businesses and Pittsburgh breweries feature at Fresh Fest where attendees can drink craft beer, ciders and more spirits. Food trucks and music supply the fun atmosphere. People can see musicians like singer Clara Kent, bassist Jonny Good and rapper Mars Jackson perform.

The key part of the beer festival is the welcoming attitude for the community. Like the Greek food festival, more nationalities and ethnicities can be part of Fresh Fest. It's not discriminatorily only for black people. It's about "not having this opportunity to having this opportunity," Thomas Agnew, co-owner of BOOM Concepts said as he sipped on the BOOM Shandy, a beer he and his partner Darrell Kinsel crafted with Hitchhiker Brewing for Fresh Fest.

Any alcohol is a communal beverage... It’s all about bringing people together. That’s why the name’s Hitchhiker. It’s because it brings people from all walks of life together.
— Andy Kwiatkowski of Hitchhiker Brewing Company

While breaking down racial barriers and having a good human conversation, Thomas, DeVaughn Rodgers, Andy and myself talked about what Fresh Fest means for Pittsburgh and the incredibly tasty BOOM Shandy.

Nova Place

100 S Commons

Pittsburgh, PA 15212

5pm - 9pm

Thomas Agnew with his BOOM Shandy | photographs of Agnew and the BOOM Shandy by Alex Young, Thomas Agnew and via  Hitchhiker Brewing

Thomas Agnew with his BOOM Shandy | photographs of Agnew and the BOOM Shandy by Alex Young, Thomas Agnew and via Hitchhiker Brewing

Thomas Agnew of BOOM Concepts: We just sat and talked about the different beers. Darrell and myself drink light beers. We talked about different fruits that would be smart to use for the summertime. We wanted it to be something for the summer. But this is the BOOM Shandy.

InTheRough: How many test runs did you guys go through before arriving to this beer?

Andy Kwiatkowski of Hitchhiker Brewing Company: This is the test round. [laughs]

Thomas: We had all the faith in Andy.

Andy: I've never made a shandy before. It worked out.

Thomas: First time for both. First time shandy and first beer for BOOM. This is great.

ITR: Shandies are light on alcohol content, right?

Andy: Yes, but this is 4.5%. This is .3% more than Miller Lite.

Thomas: It'll get the job done though.

Andy: Yeah, you finish one of those off yourself you're good.

Thomas: We went down to the Hitchhiker Brewing to see his process. It was really cool, but the biggest thing, especially with this Fresh Fest beer festival, was having the people of color representation to be a part of something like this. I never imagined I'd be sitting across from someone who brews beer and talk about, "Let's make a beer." How do we take steps to do other things with this and make that work? Being in a brewery seeing the big stacks and seeing him pouring in the wheat and seeing it mix in this big thing they had. It was crazy to see them make beer legally.

ITR: "Beerland" on Viceland, I don't know if you've seen the Pittsburgh episode, but from a people of color perspective it was nice to see them highlight a little bit of how black people and other minorities add to the brew culture in Pittsburgh.

Andy: I used to be in the hip-hop community. A lot more diversity to a field that has literally no diversity whatsoever. It's all white dudes. This is the most needed thing to be done. I'm so excited the beer and the festival is here. I'm really excited about it. It's the most embarrassing thing to me that I can't say that I know a single black brewer in Pittsburgh. That's pitiful and that needs to be rectified.

Thomas: I think also on the backend when we think about diversity, it's always talking about that cost. How it's never affordable for us. Like how much does your equipment cost?

Andy: All of the equipment is like $750,000. Initially, we had a smaller set-up that led to this viable business and bigger set-up. Initially, our equipment was like $60,000. You could do it way cheaper than that, but you won't make any money. It's economies of scale. The more volume you can produce the more you can make profitable. One of those big tanks that we make in 12 hours now is as much beer we made in a month at the old spot.

ITR: Where are you selling?

Andy: We're in over 100 bars and restaurants around the area. We have cans in Giant Eagle, Whole Foods and other select distributors.

Thomas: That's what I'm saying. I want to see BOOM Shandy in Giant Eagle. I was losing my mind.

ITR: Yeah, this is tasty.

Andy: Any beer we can Giant Eagle buys. Whole Foods buys.

ITR: What's your plan with this beer? Is it coming and then going or coming and staying?

Thomas: Hell nah. It's coming and staying. I mess with this for real. This is like, "How do I make money without having to do hard ass work?" We are willing to invest in this and then continuously doing that. You go from not having this opportunity to having this opportunity. We don't know if anybody else is thinking like this. "Oh, it's just a collaboration for this time." We're like, "So, we want to make more beer. How do we do it? How much does it cost? Can we give you some money and see how it does?" Also, with what we do here and all the opportunities we try to build working with different organizations. If we can figure out a way of how to do this with events like at the Carnegie Museum. Like, "Yo, we have our own beer. You don't even need to bring beer. We have a brewery we work with." This is a move and the shit tastes good.

Andy: Right, it's not gross! It has balance.

Thomas: It's good, man.

Andy: We were dumping in like Country Time lemonade mix. I was like, "I don't know what's going to happen with this." [laughs]

ITR: You did your thing. This tastes like beer. I'm not big on alcohol, but this tastes good. I feel like I'm drinking a good beer. This has it's place.

DeVaughn Rodgers: Have you ever had a shandy before?

ITR: Yeah. The shandies I've had were like ciders and sweet though.

DeVaughn: Right, I don't need that.

Andy: That's what we talked about. We wanted to make a "beer" version of a shandy.

Thomas: We got deep into it. Going down to the brewery.

ITR: How do you think breweries bring together people in Pittsburgh?

Andy: Any alcohol is a communal beverage. There are people who sit at home and drink by themselves, but it's a communal beverage. It's all about bringing people together. That's why the name's Hitchhiker. It's because it brings people from all walks of life together. It doesn't matter if you're unemployed, down on your luck, The C.E.O., and you're the the man, it doesn't matter. You could be sitting at the bar next to someone who you have no idea of their circumstances, where they came from or what their upbringing was. It starts a conversation. There everyday at the bar, people randomly don't know each other. They connect over beer. They start a conversation. They become friends. That's what it's all about and that's the way that alcohol has been since inception. It settled down nomadic man. It made people cultivate crops because they wanted to get lit and the rest is history.

Thomas: Yeah, this shit's great, man.

Andy: It'll be even better by Saturday for the festival. When we move beer around it gets beat up. It needs a couple days to mellow out. Usually day one or two after we carbonate a beer I fucking hate it and I don't hate this. So, that says a lot.

Thomas: Good, I'm glad you don't hate it. This is extra fire.



Cool Things Happening in Pittsburgh (Vol. 3) by Alex Young

a piece of history - respect to late Mayor of Pittsburgh Bob O'Connor

a piece of history - respect to late Mayor of Pittsburgh Bob O'Connor

Youth and popular culture in the 'Burgh flourishes because the movers are extremely active in pushing their innovation, creativity, community, and business minds. With this, the responsible public creates masterpieces like events or products that residents and tourists can enjoy.

Basically, the following reports on cool things happening in Pittsburgh to look out for.

1. Uptown Florals 2.0 by Makayla Wray

Cheers to this design prodigy. Since releasing a couple custom Nike Air Force 1 back in 2015, Makayla Wray returns to her bread and butter. Wray's Uptown Florals 2.0 are extensions of her "Warhol Flower AF1" and "BLK AF1" projects, Nike's iconic sneaker decorated with flowers. Officially under the "MAW" label, Uptown Florals 2.0 appreciate Swoosh heritage, Wray's ability to craft premium leather goods (the flower petals on 2.0 are calfskin), and "my uproot from Pittsburgh to New York—parallel to the same path taken by Andy Warhol," she says.

Stylistically, Florals is great. Though Wray spends a lot of time in New York, the Pittsburgh native is back in the city often, and she linked with locals model Donovan Green and photographer Preslav for the shoe's visual presentation.

Only 50 pairs of the Uptown Florals 2.0 will be available on July 1 via at 4:12 p.m. EST. [$280]

2. No Joke with Paizley

Do you want to dance? Come to No Joke and be turnt. Paizley, the DJ, will keep the bangers going. The first time I heard Paizley was a year ago at Finesse with EYEJAY. He threw down, and I left the event sweaty. You can have fun at No Joke because Paizley advertises it as "Trap, Rap & Whatever Else." It's lit.

To give yourself fuel for No Joke on Saturday, July 1 at Remedy in Lawrenceville, listen to Paizley's new mix called "Blue Collar" that celebrates the 'Burgh's underground rap and hip-hop culture. "To be something special in Pittsburgh means working non-stop on your own time and with little resources," he says.


5121 Butler Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15201

3. Creatives Independence Collection

"Creatives" becomes a way-of-life in Pittsburgh. The brand and slogan honor the people behind great productions. The staple that Cody Baker and Chancelor Humphrey have established in their Creatives Drink party they now transfer into core Creatives garments. The Creatives Independence Collection includes two Champion mesh short colorways and three Champion T-shirt colorways. Each comes with an American embroidered flag. Creatives' range drops on July 4 at 11 a.m. EST and will be available for 24 hours at

4. Summer Livin

Splash around. Enjoy summer. Summer Livin provides energy and feels with food and music at the Highland Park Pool on June 30 from 1-9 p.m. Songbird Sierra Sellers and hot rappers like James Perry, and Lokal Foreners, have performances.

If you miss the pool party, attend LiveFromTheCity's Sun Fest '17 on July 7 in partnership with the 1Hood Media and Boom Concepts collectives. Support a community clothing drive and music.

Highland Park Pool

151 Lake Drive

Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Boom Concepts

5139 Penn Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

5. Supa Jefe Tour with Kap-G and J.R. Donato at Spirit

Georgia spits out rappers like faucets spit out water. Up and comer Kap-G, the dude who moans "I just took a flick with your girlfriend," is the latest product from The Peach State and he comes to Pittsburgh on July 10. Some of the city's prime rappers like Calvin Portsworth, Pet Zebra, and Pk Delay open for Kap-G.


242 51st Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15201

6. JAILBREAK Festival

[The] intent is to create strength in numbers by bringing together the diverse groups in this city while having a banging good time doing it.

The theme and date of this event was inspired by Bastille Day, where a mob of over 1,000 people united and stormed the walls of the Bastille prison in Paris, sparking a turning point in the French Revolution.

May JAILBREAK start a massive movement in Pittsburgh that people cannot ignore, an annual festival that brings local talent and local consumers to a big party. Heavyweights Choo Jackson, Benji, Mikey P, Tairey, Slim Tha DJ, DJ Seams, DJ Topgun, and much more entertain the crowd. The underground's best will also be in attendance on July 15 at JAILBREAK. Acquaint yourself with BABYT33TH and 1Geno. Review the entire festival lineup and show up to JAILBREAK for the culture. 

7. InTheRough Features with Geechi P and Yung Mulatto

Here are Pittsburgh's fashion forefather and Pittsburgh hip-hop's creative director. Geechi P and Yung Mulatto respectively move in their own lanes while influencing their peers. Geechi's attention to high fashion and streetwear educates a Pittsburgh public who is behind the fashion curve. Mulatto collects production credits for rappers like Blackboi, and he is the visual connection between artists' image and their music. Both young men are key players in the 'Burgh's progressive society. Learn more about them soon under Life's Goods.

Cool Things Happening in Pittsburgh by Alex Young

a piece of history - respect to late Mayor of Pittsburgh Bob O'Connor

a piece of history - respect to late Mayor of Pittsburgh Bob O'Connor

Youth and popular culture in the 'Burgh flourishes because the movers are extremely active in pushing their innovation, creativity, community, and business minds. With this, the responsible public creates masterpieces like events or products that residents and tourists can enjoy.

Basically, the following reports on cool things happening in Pittsburgh to look out for.

1. Javed + Serene at Matt's Music Mine

A knowledgeable and excited hip-hop culture comes together at Mr. Roboto Project on May 26. Rapper Javed and his Serene team flex a stylish and fun atmosphere on stage. Crisp production from retrorosser and bars from Calvin P, Jet and illiterate form Serene into an entertaining lineup. Other musicians, like the experimental band Skeletonized, are set to perform at the Matt's Music Mine event, a showcase of up and coming talent from Pittsburgh.

Mr. Roboto Project

5106 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

$5 | 7 p.m.

2. Aris Tatalovich ROY G BIV Bag

Aris Tatalovich is a young designer from the 'Burgh's outskirts who is responsible for handmade bags. Tatalovich's merch receives authentic appreciation from subculture heroes, and that is a plus as he looks toward longevity and market success. His bag seen on style icon Ian Connor and fresh rapper Playboi Carti hypes the ROY G BIV release, although Tatalovich's talent makes his brand stand alone.

Shop the Tatalovich bag here on May 26. $220 | 25 numbered bags available

@playboicarti $100k in who bag? 🌈🌈🌈

A post shared by Aris Tatalovich (@aristatalovich) on

3. Summer Sound Series #1 by Studio A.M.

Studio A.M.'s footprint in Pittsburgh's art community is consistent. They do best at bringing eclectic audiences to their artwork, painter Baron Batch's colorfully inspiring pieces or Chef Steve's food. Brunch, weekly yoga nights, and now the Summer Sound Series show the range of Studio A.M.'s interactions. On May 26, musical acts Starship Mantis, Mars Jackson, and Royal Haunts will perform alongside guest DJ RPM. Starship Mantis is a band who go by the phrase "dedicated to make you move," Mars Jackson is an O.G. hip-hop lyricist and live talent who is preparing to release a new album, and Royal Haunts fits the bill as a versatile singer-songwriter. The Summer Sound Series show starts at 9 p.m., and Studio A.m.'s brand manager Tori Meglio says the series will run throughout the summer months.

Studio A.M. - photo by Tori Meglio

Studio A.M. - photo by Tori Meglio

4. Trap Dojo with Choo Jackson, Mikey P and Friends

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Choo Jackson leads hip-hop's underground on Saturday, May 27, as he takes the stage at Boom Concepts with a solid cast of young artists. Choo readies to drop his new project called "Parade," which he recorded with I.D. Labs, and a party with Trap Masters Banks and Flack as the hosts in the Trap Dojo only aims excitement around Choo's music. Rapper Mikey P, spoken word artist Brittney Chantele, and Virginia native Miah Travis accompany Choo for the concert.

5. Jenesis Magazine x Drinking Partners Podcast

This year Jenesis Magazine celebrates their tenth year as Pittsburgh's "word up" news source. They've thrown an anniversary party and an archival gallery at their culture kitchen Boom Concepts. During episode 92 of comedians Ed Bailey and Day Bracey's Drinking Partners podcast, Jenesis founder Thomas Agnew and his business partner D.S. Kinsel spoke about their mission to add to Pittsburgh's creative communities. Together, Jenesis and Boom feed opportunities to local artists. Both entities show love to many people. In the name of collaboration and celebrating Jenesis's 10th anniversary, Drinking Partners will join the magazine to host brunch and record an episode of their podcast in front of a live audience. Drinks are unlimited, and you can get your ticket for the Sunday brunch event here.

6. The Couch Crasher Tour by Daily Bread x Lokal Foreners

Daily Bread, a streetwear clothier, and Lokal Foreners, a rap and skate crew, have enjoyed an effective partnership. Their images combine in music videos, lookbooks, and now a tour that stretches from their Pittsburgh home to Alabama and other locations. On June 2 or June 3, catch Hippy Swizzy, Que Dafoe, Ahse, James Perry, and the rest of the Lokal Foreners crew at Daily Bread in Pittsburgh or at the Greensburg, Pa. stop of The Couch Crasher Tour.


7. Three Rivers Arts Festival

Stop down to Point State Park in dahntahn Pittsburgh from June 2-11 for the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival. Enjoy plenty of free visual and experiential art, as well as major music shows for local acts. Rappers Choo Jackson, Hubbs, and others join the legendary DJ Selecta on June 8 for Beats + Bars. Explore all the events for the festival here.

Look for another edition of "Cool Things Happening in Pittsburgh" soon to ITR.

Jenesis Magazine Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Party and Hennessy by Alex Young

Jenesis Magazine covers

Jenesis Magazine covers

Jenesis Magazine, Pittsburgh's "word up" publication, will celebrate their 10th anniversary on April 1.

"How many people do you know have done something good for 10 years?" Thomas Agnew, Jenesis' publisher and managing editor, said to his Instagram story.

Encouraging a community is the fruit of Jenesis' thorough work. The magazine's commentary has supported many different artists across the country. Jenesis was present to document the ascension of Pittsburgh legends like Mac Miller, Girl Talk, and Wiz Khalifa. Agnew's curiosities, as well as those of the interviewers and photographers who have contributed to Jenesis, have generated conversations and imagery about heroes like rappers Smoke DZA, ScHoolboy Q, and photographer Cam Kirk.

Dive into years of feature articles, interview clips, and day-in-the-life videos on Covet the print editions with iconic covers-- Wiz December 2009, "Deal Or No Deal."

Thomas Agnew signed copy of Issue 56 with Smoke DZA & vibe pin

Thomas Agnew signed copy of Issue 56 with Smoke DZA & vibe pin

10 years of documenting creative human life deserves a thank you. Jenesis has placed the spotlight on a lot of people by giving them words, stages to perform, and wall space to display. Boom Concepts, an event space under Jenesis and D.S. Kinsel's umbrella, hosts progress-makers and problem-solvers. Events like the Women's Focus Group Forum and the magazine's content detail progress-makers and problem-solvers.

Agnew and his team are Pittsburgh historians who have seen the city grow and nurture ambitious individuals, such as local business owners like Daniel Childs of Chromos Eyewear or rising musicians Choo Jackson and Tairey.

So when Jenesis Magazine celebrates their 10th anniversary on Saturday, a lot of people should attend their party at Boom Concepts. Not showing up is like not attending your grandma's 100th birthday party. People should want to express their gratitude for Jenesis taking responsibility to appreciate other artists' work and showcasing it to larger audiences.

The anniversary party kicks off at 10 p.m., and DJs iB Rease of Ohio and Wave Matthews of New York will offer hip-hop selections. Free Hennessy, a staple at Boom, spills from 11:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.

Show up for Jenesis, support their culture.

Boom Concepts

5139 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Two Men Who Feed Pittsburgh Culture Join Drinking Partners Podcast by Alex Young

Day Bracey and Ed Bailey of Drinking Partners with Thomas Agnew and D.S. Kinsel of Boom Concepts

Day Bracey and Ed Bailey of Drinking Partners with Thomas Agnew and D.S. Kinsel of Boom Concepts

On the latest episode of Drinking Partners podcast with Ed Bailey and Day Bracey, Thomas Agnew and D.S. Kinsel join the conversation.

Both D.S. and Thomas operate Boom Concepts, which the Drinking Partners combo claims has heavy influence in Pittsburgh's popular culture.

"Fuck the culture," Thomas says. "I feel like everybody just rides the waves... We don't follow any standards."

Instead of latching on to the trends or playing it safe, D.S. and Thomas are a part of the formula which makes Pittsburgh culture pop. D.S. is a self-trained artist and creative businessman. Thomas has been the brain behind the city's "word up magazine" since 2007, Jenesis.

Together, D.S. and Thomas combined to create Boom three years ago, which promotes and provides resources to a creative community in The 'Burgh.

"We feeding the culture [and Boom is] a place to cook," D.S. says.

Fundamentally, Boom Concepts is a workspace foremost, then a gallery (voted the third best gallery for local artists by the Pittsburgh City Paper) and incubation hub for art and entrepreneurship.

Through all the gentrification happening in the city's East Liberty neighborhood where Boom locates, the venue is a constant beacon for African American business and fun.

Whether it is from D.S.'s roots in The Hill District or Thomas' transfer from Toledo, Ohio to the city for schooling at the Art Institute in the early 2000s, both men are tapped into Pittsburgh.

The young men have created a safe space where people are "comfortable not being judged," Thomas says. Events like breastfeeding class, yoga class, and Wine and Trap have featured at Boom. Rap video has filmed in their basement and on their stage. 

Additionally, "we show artists how to be professionals... we support you conceptually," D.S. continues.

One of the ways the partners get support and show support is through grants. "Talk to Heinz Endowments, talk to Pittsburgh Foundation, the money is there for you to get," Thomas urges. There is free money available to artists in The Steel City. They just have to apply themselves to receive it. "We tell all the young niggas, you're not an artist, you're a creative entrepreneur," D.S. says. People need to think of themselves as a small business and find the money opportunities that will allow them to live off their craft.

Along with talk about D.S. and Thomas' joint and personal pursuits, episode 92 of Drinking Partners podcast comments on African Americans doing better at supporting one another. We have to "team up," Thomas says. "Throw the rope back over" once you make it to a place of stability and achievement, D.S. adds.

Listen to D.S. and Thomas' advice and their stories about hood awareness here in the newest episode of Drinking Partners, the best local podcast according to the City Paper.

More than anything, the effort from all the parties involved continues to contribute to the progression of the city of Pittsburgh.

Boom Concepts

5139 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15224