Dancing Gnome founder Andrew Witchey on new, expanded taproom | Drink | Pittsburgh

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CP Photo: Owen Gabbey

Dancing Gnome new taproom in Sharpsburg

Few breweries have influenced the Pittsburgh beer scene like Dancing Gnome. Since opening in 2016, it has earned national recognition with IPAs and stouts that are well worth visiting no matter where beer fans are. This little brewery in Sharpsburg helped put Pittsburgh craft beer on the map, and it hasn’t slowed down since.

Now, five years later, Dancing Gnome has expanded and opened a new, huge room just down the street from its original location, with all the amenities one could want in a taproom in 2021. traditional place compared to most of the city’s breweries: all the futuristic vibes, large open spaces and a lot more bathrooms and parking spaces than the original location.

Pittsburgh City Paper spoke to founder / brewmaster Andrew Witchey about the new space and what it means for Dancing Gnome.

You opened Dancing Gnome as a humble taproom back in 2016, which is a lifetime in the craft beer industry. Have you ever dreamed that Dancing Gnome could be so successful five years ago?
I think yes and no. It was important to open the first place and build this space and see how this comes into play and be a small brewery making the beers we wanted to produce for Pittsburgh.

I remember those first few years vividly … we’re lucky enough to be a popular brand, we’ve had these releases from people camping out for our beers and people kept asking, “are you going to expand?” And to be honest, my answer was, “No, I don’t want to go through this. It took me two years to open this space. I want to brew beer. I opened this room up to brew beer. ”And then it got to the point where we realized we either had to grow or we had to take a step back because when we started growing as a company and wanted to do different things, was it difficult! We didn’t have the space to brew all the styles we wanted to brew, our taproom was small, it was busy all the time, which is great on some levels, but we want to be able to share our beer with everyone. It read, “Yes, I’m ready for another challenge,” and here we are.

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Dancing Gnomes New Taproom in Sharpsburg - CP PHOTO: OWEN GABBEY

CP Photo: Owen Gabbey

Dancing Gnome new taproom in Sharpsburg

As for the new build, it’s right down the street from the original. Was the plan to always stay in Sharpsburg and be part of this community?
It was always hope. I had gone through the trial in other places around town and then this place kind of fell into my lap. I knew the gentlemen who owned the house and said, “If you ever want to sell, make sure I am the first to know.” And I was actually negotiating another place and he called and said, “I think I’m ready to sell, do you want it?” and I said “yes!”

So it really worked out because I was able to stay in Sharpsburg, which was important. I love Sharpsburg, and I love being close to other places, and the cool thing about it is that there is the Sharpsburg community, but then there are a lot of other people building in Sharpsburg because of the closeness to other places.

What will this new space enable for production from the shower side?
Really volume. It’s much bigger, our production area (1025) is much bigger than our total area including the taproom in 925. The other thing is that it was built and designed from the ground up as a brewery so the efficiency is there. So we’re still growing modestly, but it allows us to brew more volume from every single beer, as well as more beer. We have a lot more tanks here, we have bigger tanks here, so we can really focus on the quality. We don’t have to worry about “OK, we have to get this beer out because we don’t have enough to serve the taproom this weekend.”

And what, from the customer’s point of view, are you most excited about the new taproom?
I think we ended up designing this space to be very comfortable. I think we created a cozy and comfortable atmosphere in our old taproom. We’ll always be product-oriented, and I think it’s important to me and our brand that it’s about the product. And we definitely want everyone who comes to us to have a wonderful experience, but for the most part, our demographic comes for the beer. So our old room was small and cozy and that’s what we wanted to translate here, but this new room is also a lot bigger and more open so it doesn’t feel as tight as it did at 925 when it felt shouldered on a Saturday.

So this was designed to convey the coziness of 925 and provide a space that feels much more open. It will also maximize service. Instead of the one tiny section at the bar that everyone had to order from, we can now have a 10-person bar that is unencumbered by anything else. So it’s designed for service so everyone can order their beer and enjoy their time with friends and family.

Dancing gnome. 1025 Hauptstrasse, Sharpsburg. dancegnomebeer.com

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