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Spoonwood starts small in a big space


Steve Ilnicki doesn’t have designs on becoming huge.

But that doesn’t mean the head brewer of Bethel Park’s Spoonwood Brewing didn’t start big when the brewpub opened in late January. It’s a big space: a 15-barrel brewhouse, a full food menu, easy seating for 250 thirsty customers – or more, now that the patio is open. And it’s off to a big start.

While working as an assistant brewer at Homestead’s Rock Bottom, Mr. Ilnicki answered an ad on a jobs board at the American Brewing Guild’s web site for a new Pittsburgh brew pub; that turned out to be a new building at the site of an old railroad-themed restaurant – and an older train station – on Baptist Road in Bethel Park. Construction on the spacious building began late last summer and was wrapped up in time for a mid-winter soft opening.

Mr. Ilnicki likes drinking India Pale Ales, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are two on the tap list now – Killer Diller and Good-Eye Sniper – and the promise of more to come this summer. But he’s also a fan of Belgian styles, and he said more of those should join Elise, Spoonwood’s saison, very soon. There are some delicious, quirky beers ready to taste as well, especially Taffy Gruffudd, a Welsh ale – I’m not making that up, although Mr. Ilnicki might be – that boasts a malty sweetness and enough alcohol heat that it reminds me of a barleywine.

And while you’re sampling the beer, be sure to get something to eat; a pizza, just out of the wood-fired oven, is likely to be adorned with basil that was grown out back.

The pub and the brewhouse are spacious, and that means Mr. Ilnicki and partner Grant Scorsone won’t bump up against brewing capacity any time soon, even as they send a few kegs out to other pubs once in a while. Even with all that room, Mr. Ilnicki says he’ll be content to stay small.

Post-Gazette coverage of Spoonwood Brewing:


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