Post-Gazette Blogs

A good start for Helicon

It’s natural to expect that a brand new brewery might have some growing pains. Going from a homebrewing scale to a 15-barrel brewing system isn’t an easy transition, and that says nothing of all of the other tasks that come with opening and running a beer-making business.

Unless, apparently, you work at Helicon Brewing in Oakdale.

For Chris Brunetti and Andy Weigel, the first brew day on their new system wasn’t ideal — it took more than twice as long as it should, for one thing.

But it’s tough to argue with the result: 001 Pale Ale, a nicely balanced American pale that has become the brewery’s best-seller in its first month in business. Close on its heels: 002 India Pale Ale, a juicy New England style IPA that can make even a cold December afternoon feel like a day in the tropics.

Add to that — among others — a blonde ale, an imperial stout and what is sure to be a long list of Mr. Weigel’s lagers — all good enough to prompt a cult-like following among Pittsburgh’s homebrewing community — and you get the sense that Helicon is going to do just fine.

The brewery’s┬ádistinction of being the first in western Allegheny County — it’s just a few minutes’ drive south of the shopping areas in Robinson and North Fayette — will likely help as well, although that wasn’t part of the business plan; that’s just where Mr. Brunetti was able find space. It should work out well in the future, too; the parcel in Oakdale, the site of a former dog food factory, is big enough to accommodate the owner’s plans for a restaurant and other businesses.

And the fact that the Panhandle Trail runs right along the property means there should be a ready-made audience for a cold beer or two in the warmer months.

But don’t wait until then to give Helicon a try. You’d miss out on one of the region’s best new breweries.

Category: Allegheny County | Tags: ,