2020 might be a dumpster fire, but this year’s International Beer and Pizza Day will be Friday, Oct. 9 — it’s high time this sacred holiday falls on a Friday — hot on the heels of National Perogi Day and National Fluffernutter Day, both Oct. 8. With a lineup like that, you’d expect Oct. 10 to be National Head to the Gym Day, but no: It’s National Hug a Drummer Day. This is all pertinent information.
Do we need a day celebrating the combination of beer and pizza — possibly the most common food and beverage pairing out there? Probably not, but there it is. But why look a gift horse in the mouth? Head over to Erie’s Echo Brewing and Pizzeria and make the most out of it.
Located in a converted firehouse at 600 Briggs St., the Echo Brewing Co. story began in 2012, in nearby Frederick, when the Richards family — Erie residents Melissa, brothers Daniel and Dennis, sister Katy and husband Shannon — opened the brewery on a seven-barrel system. Two years later, the spacious Erie brewpub followed. Then, in 2019, Steve and Theresa Schirner joined the Richards brothers as owners of the Frederick brewery, prompting a name change to Mirror Image Brewing Company, which both “mirrored” the different direction the brewery was heading while paying tribute to Echo Brewing’s flagship IPA.
But Erie’s Echo Brewing and Pizzeria hasn’t changed one iota as it celebrates its sixth anniversary this month. The beer is still delicious, and its brick-oven pizza is some of the best around: Tangy sauce, savory toppings and a cracker crust that’s chewy in all the right places. It’s superb. The dough is made from scratch: Italian Caputo flour, water, yeast and salt (gluten-free crust also available). And the size of the pies is respectable. It’s advisable to split, but if you were in the right headspace, it wouldn’t be unthinkable to put one down on your own. You might regret it an hour later when that crust starts expanding, but glory rarely follows caution.
But do try and save room for beer. Echo has 15 on tap (plus a couple of guest ciders), covering the flavor spectrum: From light and crisp kölsches and pilsners to malty märzens and yeasty hefeweizen. Like juicy hops? Hazy Morning IPA is a session IPA weighing in at 4.8% ABV with a surprising amount of body for a session ale, while providing a powerful pop of saturated hops. Need something denser? Try the Junebug Farmhouse Ale, a full-bodied Bière de Garde that binds farmhouse sweetness with old-world hops.
But the best beer to pair with your pizza has to be the Two Pup Pale Ale, a beautiful balance of smooth and sweet malt and snappy and citrusy hops: Ahtanum, Citra, Cascade and Simcoe. It’ll cut through the spice, should you hit the red chili flakes too hard, while also bringing the San Marzano sauce to life. Happy holidays.