Post-Gazette Blogs

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Giving thanks

Brian Eaton at Grist House: Thankful for session beers.

Brian Eaton at Grist House: Thankful for session beers.

If you’re here, it’s probably safe for me to assume that you’re thankful for craft beer.

It’s also safe to assume that the folks who work in the business — from distributors to brewers to bar managers — are pretty thankful for craft beer as well.

I asked a handful of our friends in the business to explain what they’re thankful for this Thanksgiving week … and I got anything but a bunch of canned, boring responses. And I added my own two cents at the end; spoiler alert: I’m mostly thankful for you guys, because you’re why we continue to do the show.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, everyone.

Telling the story of beer

Joe McAllister and Matt Sherwin, two of the people behind the effort to bring Brew: The Museum of Beer to Pittsburgh.

Joe McAllister and Matt Sherwin, two of the people behind the effort to bring Brew: The Museum of Beer to Pittsburgh.

If you want a complete history of beer, you’ll need to go back 10,000 years.

If you want a complete history of beer in the United States, Pittsburgh is as good a place as anywhere to start — after all, Fort Pitt was the home of the first brewery west of the Alleghenies, serving up beer to the troops stationed here.

That’s part of the thinking behind Brew: The Museum of Beer, a national beer museum that a group hopes to bring to Pittsburgh in the next two years.The team, known as The National Beer Museum Development Group, has been busy in recent weeks, unveiling its plans in the Post-Gazette in August and holding a kickoff party and fundraiser last month.

Joe McAllister and Matt Sherwin — along with third partner Denis Meinert — envision a 50,000-square-foot space close to Downtown. About 20,000 square feet of that would be reserved for exhibit space, but that won’t be the only attraction; the museum will also be home to a brewery and a 300-seat restaurant, serving beer made there but also emphasizing taps from other breweries in the region. There would also be an event space on the property, and a healthy retail operation.

Add it up, and you have what the team members hope will be on par with Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually. Could what works in Cleveland work here as well?

“That’s just one of the models we’ve been examining, but it’s a good comparison,” Mr. McAllister. “And Pittsburgh certainly has a legitimate history with brewing, one that goes back 250 years.”

Want to get involved with the museum well before the anticipated 2018 opening? The team is running an Indiegogo campaign to raise $50,000 to be used to complete studies and help with other, more substantial fundraising efforts. And if you’re wondering whether this museum has a shot: the crowdsourcing campaign has already raised nearly $20,000.

Bringing new beer to the Steel City

pound lohman

Shane Lohman understood Pittsburgh Craft Beer Envy — the knowledge that there are dozens of labels we can’t get readily available just over the state line in Ohio — better than most.

As a craft beer lover, Mr. Lohman knew firsthand the beers and breweries he couldn’t get here. And as the owner of a retail distributor — Lohman’s Beer in Wexford — he suspected that some of those breweries would do very well once they got started.

So Mr. Lohman did something about it. He sold his retail business to his father — Pennsylvania’s wholesale licensees cannot also hold retail distribution licenses — tracked down an importation license — one that would allow him to bring new labels into the state — found a warehouse in Lawrenceville and opened Steel City Beer Wholesalers.

It didn’t take long for Mr. Lohman to score his biggest coup to date, either — and he didn’t even have to leave the state. An evening email to the owners of Pizza Boy Brewing in suburban Harrisburg was followed by a trip to the brewery the next day — led to an agreement to distribute Pizza Boy’s excellent beers in Pittsburgh for the first time. Steel City’s flagship brand had been secured.

He had others set in his sights as well. California’s Knee Deep Brewing. Gypsy brewers Stillwater Artisanal and Evil Twin. Against the Grain from Louisville, Ky. Chicago’s Off Color Brewing.

What’s next? Mr. Lohman said he’d love to serve as the wholesale distributor for any local breweries that are looking for that kind of help. And he’s assembled a list of out-of-state targets, starting with some of the breweries in neighboring Ohio or those to Pennsylvania’s northeast.

“It’s just convincing those guys that Pittsburgh is a great craft beer market, and a growing craft beer market,” he says. “If they can see what we see here every day, Pittsburgh sells itself.”

IPA needs more than one day

Believe it or not, it’s coincidence that the Beer Me episode that focuses specifically on India Pale Ales is being released on National IPA Day.

And what makes the timing even more interesting is the point of this week’s show — these days, it’s nearly impossible to think of IPA as a single style.

Is it a crisply bitter, citrus-and-pine West Coast IPA? Is it built to accentuate the citrus characteristics of the hops, maybe with grapefruit added to the mix? Is it designed to be hazy, juicy and resinous, without a hint of bitterness? Is it black, white, red or orange? The answer to all of these questions: Yep, that’s an IPA.

I visited Piper’s Pub on East Carson Street to talk with cellarman Hart Johnson about the style and its history, and to get a taste of some local examples. The history of the style is as hazy as a glass of Heady Topper, but one thing is certain: brewers in the U.S. took a more balanced, mildly bitter British version and ran with it, boosting flavors, experimenting with hop and generally forgetting all the rules along the way.

The best part, of course, is the tasting, and we’re lucky to have the full range of IPA versions available to us here in Pittsburgh. You’ll see us sample beers from Pizza Boy Brewing, Roundabout Brewery and Brew Gentlemen Beer Co. in the show; you’ll also note that we really enjoyed the three widely divergent variations of the style.

National IPA Day? C’mon. To do it right, we’re going to need a National IPA Week instead.

Category: Pittsburgh | Tags:

East End finds a new home in the Strip

Posted 0 comment

IMG_6185

When the original Pittsburgh Public Market opened in the Smallman Street produce terminal in 2010, East End Brewing was there. And when the market moved to a larger space on Penn Avenue three years later, East End went along for the ride.

But even before that iteration of the market shut down earlier this year, East End’s Scott Smith had started to poke around the Strip District for a space better suited to what his presence in the market had become. Originally conceived as a spot to fill growlers with fresh East End beer, the Penn Avenue version became a de facto taproom, especially once the state’s rules governing breweries and retail sales of pints changed a couple years ago. On weekends in particular, the corner of the market occupied by the “growler shop” turned into something that looked an awful lot like a bar.

“It was a great spot to fill growlers,” Mr. Smith said of the Penn Avenue spot. “It wasn’t a great taproom.”

With the move to 102 19th St., Mr. Smith has a great tap room. East End is one of three Pittsburgh Public Market expats to occupy the building — Jonathan Moran Woodworks and The Olive Tap are the others — and it looks at home in the warm space with its brick, wood … and the hop-cone lights hanging over the bar. It’s easy to get excited about the potential for the space, too — there’s a 6,000 square-foot plaza behind the tap room that can host food purveyors, artists and events once it’s done.

And let’s not forget the beer. East End’s space was home to another bar in a previous life, and Mr. Smith said he hoped that the leftover tap system would be sufficient for his needs. That wasn’t the case, which meant building an entirely new system for the tap room. That system includes 11 taps and a nitro line, but there is also a full line of canned and bottled East End liquids, as well as a crowler machine that Mr. Smith said has already been busy. Want food? Customers have the entire Strip to choose from, as the new taproom is BYOF.

Moving twice couldn’t have been easy. But from my side of the bar at least, it looks like it will be worth it.

Post-Gazette coverage of East End Brewing’s Taproom in the Strip:

Category: Pittsburgh | Tags: ,