Pittsburgh’s Craft Beer family welcomes a new member today as Necromancer Brewing Co. opens for can sales at 2257 Babcock Blvd. in the North Hills, in a baby store in the United States.
In the 14,400-square-foot building that previously housed a Spirit Halloween store, owners Ben Butler and Aaron Easler will be selling four packs of NE IPA, Ever, and a lemony grisette called Wildwood. They’ll be bringing out two more main beers next weekend.
You can pick up the bundles of joy on Friday from 4pm to 8pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. Or until the cooler is kicked.
It’s been about nine months since I first wrote about Necromancer, but I have a long history with his headquarters.
I bought my daughter’s cot along with bottles, bibs and a breast pump on the construction site 12 years ago when the construction site was a superstore for baby items. This horror-loving mother has also stocked up on fake blood and plastic ghouls while the structure is staying as a seasonal trading hub for all scary things.
Now I can get beer there! Gosh, I love when the circle comes full circle.
I didn’t see any babies during my first look inside the facility (despite Butler is a new dad), but there are still a few skeletons on the walls next to the beer labels.
That’s the thing about Necromancer: it resurrects dead beer styles and gives them a modern incarnation.
“I’ve always wanted to have a brewery, but I didn’t want it to only offer trendy beers,” says Butler, a certified cicerone, the beer industry equivalent of a sommelier.
It’s not a new concept. The American craft beer revolution began in the 1980s when people revived old standbys like India Pale Ale for the next generation.
Master brewer Lauren Hughes, a veteran homebrewer and a member of the Pink Boots Society and the Master Brewers Association, has searched for historic beers for years. She has discovered more than 60 recipes that she would like to modify to please today’s drinkers.
Many old beers relied on spice blends rather than hops. The drinks were very good, but not very tasty.
“The fun part is staying true to the style for the most part, but in a way, people are going to enjoy it,” says Hughes. “When you revive something, you can improve it.”
Necromancer will introduce two to three new beers each month. Look for long-forgotten styles like Kentucky Common Cream Ale, Black Beer, Braggot Ale, Purl, and other ghosts of bygone pints.
On June 1st, Necromancer will be releasing She Knows Beer, a fruity IPA brewed with Simcoe, Citra and Amarillo hops and conditioned on heaps of orange puree for a citrus taste. Necromancer worked with Trace Brewing on the project led by the Pittsburgh Brewery and Taproom Diversity Council. Hughes and Necromancer’s assistant brewer Mikey Orellano is on the seven-person committee along with Aadam Soorma from Trace.
A portion of the revenue will go to SisTers PGH, a Black and Trans-led nonprofit that serves QTBIPOC (Queer Trans Black Indigenous People of Color) and non-binary people in southwestern Pennsylvania. Trace will be hosting a charity drag brunch at 4312 Main St. in Bloomfield on June 6th at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
She knows beer is similar to the Black is Beautiful, which was developed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Beer manufacturers from all over the city give the basic recipe their personal touch and then donate part of the proceeds from their beer to a non-profit organization.
When can you drink at Necromancer?
Butler says there will be tables and chairs in the 2,200-square-foot foyer by the end of May. Food trucks will provide food in the car park with 36 parking spaces. In 2022, the Necromancer skeleton crew plans to ramp up production and open a 330-seat beer hall in the back of the building.
As a West View resident, I’m glad Butler and Easler decided to live their dream in the North Hills. I look forward to seeing it grow.
The NEXT Beer is a new column that features various beers, breweries and events in and around Pittsburgh. If you have a beer-related news tip, email me. Bottom up!
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