Pittsburgh Craft Breweries create new beers, group spirit

Across the Pittsburgh area, local craft breweries encourage residents to trade their trusted draft beers for a one-of-a-kind experience.

While the craft brewery had its beginnings In the 1960sIn Pittsburgh, craft beers have gained considerable traction recently. With over 30 breweries In Pittsburgh alone, there are plenty of options for locals and tourists to indulge in a good craft brew.

Andrew Witchey, the owner of Dancing gnome in Sharpsburg, decided to open his shop in 2016 to share his love for beer with the local community. Witchey even went back to school to pursue his dream of owning a brewery.

“I think it all comes down to my love of beer in the end. As a young adult, I really got into craft beer and spent a lot of time in and around the industry, ”said Witchey. “I had a desire to do my own thing, so I went back to brewing commercial engineering school in 2014.”

According to Witchey, creating a craft beer is not a challenge. However, for a good craft beer, a brewer needs to understand how each step of the brewing process works together.

“The process of making beer isn’t exactly that difficult, but I really understand how I think every single step and parameter leads from the ability to make beer to making great beer,” said Witchey. “It’s also ready to explore and push boundaries and use history to make the best beer for the future.”

Like Witchey, Matt Katase, co-owner of Men brew at Braddock agrees that craft brewing can present significant challenges. Katase, who opened Brew Gentlemen in 2014 with Carnegie Mellon University graduate Asa Foster, said it can be difficult to create a craft beer that everyone likes. However, your company found a solution to the problem.

“I think understanding taste profiles is a challenge, which is why we made this decision a little easier by having some kind of general brewing philosophy that consists of soft and balanced beers,” said Katase.

One of the biggest challenges for brewers in 2020 was the COVID-19 pandemic. Katase said the pandemic has led many breweries to reassess their approach to craft brewing.

“The taprooms had to be closed, so many breweries switched to packaged products, whether it was about filling beer into cans or the growers filling or filling bottles. But overnight many small breweries saw their entire business model disappear, ”said Katase.

Katase said many consumers turned to what they knew during the pandemic, which detracted from the special atmosphere of the craft breweries. Many craft breweries had to get creative.

“It has forced a lot of innovation and creativity there, and for the entire industry, a lot of things have been much more focused on going back to what was known because so much of the world is unsafe. I’ve seen a lot of people return to tried and true brands, ”said Katase.

Despite the difficulties many breweries have faced this year, the current state of craft brewing has resulted in many innovative opportunities.

Day Bracey, the co-founder of Fresh feast, a beer festival for small breweries in black ownership, said this time the festival could be renamed as Barrel & Flow Fest. According to Bracey, Barrel & Flow not only allows black-owned breweries across the country to sell their wares, but also allows locals to partake in the artistic experiences associated with breweries.

“This year we will be renamed. It’s Barrel & Flow Fest now and we don’t want to go back to normal, ”said Bracey. “We want a fresh start, but we also want to expand and not only focus on craft beer, but also on music, art and cooking.”

Bracey said he hopes the event sets the stage for future festivals and black business owners.

“With the festival, I’d love to see us expand and just leave Pittsburgh. We are getting a lot of interest in a black beer and arts festival all over the country and even all over the world. Hopefully Barrel & Flow isn’t the only black art and beer festival, ”said Bracey. “If we are the only ones who do this, then we fail. We cannot publish the message. For black-owned breweries, we just want to see more of it. ”

The atmosphere of the craft breweries draws many local business owners into the craft brewing scene. Al Grasso who is co-owner Allegheny City Brewing on the north side with Amy Yurkovich, said he was inspired by the welcoming atmosphere of other breweries.

“We were originally founded and focus on the experience of coming into a brewery. We want to produce great beer, but we also want to offer great service and a great atmosphere, ”said Grasso.

When it comes to the local experience, breweries play an important role in welcoming visitors and residents alike, according to Grasso. Grasso said that everyone has three places to go tIt was her home on the one hand and her work on the other. He describes his business as the “third place” where people can gather and socialize.

“We want to be a place where people like to get to know their neighbors, bring a book, listen to music, bring your dog down, bring your kids,” said Grasso. “It means that you basically have your home, where you live, have your job, and then have a third place where you are comfortable and where you can socialize, and that’s us.”

The craft brewery is not just business-oriented – According to Grasso, it is community-oriented. He found it interesting how local craft breweries work together to improve the community in Pittsburgh.

“It’s a really cool community. Most of the people who own and operate all the breweries here all know each other, and you can borrow ingredients and ask for a favor if you need, ”said Grasso. “We all know that this region has world-class beer. The more we can educate and improve the culture here, the more we can do good for everyone. “

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