Mindful Brewing Co. opens today in Castle Shannon

Craft beer fans have been quite mindful of the brewery/​restaurant/​bottleshop coming together over the past year on the site of the John McGinnis & Co. grocery at the busy Castle Shannon intersection of Castle Shannon Boulevard and Route 88. Hundreds got a preview on the Friday before Christmas, and more were looking forward to an announced Jan. 2 opening that did not come to pass.

Today, Mindful Brewing Co. finally opens, and many customers likely will feel it was worth the wait.

The place has been built on the market’s footprint in cool tones of gray and black with touches of stained wood and accents of green. Looking from out front at the building, topped with big light-up red letters that spell out “Mindful Brewing Co.,” you can see the gleaming 10-barrel brewhouse on the right. The main dining space and galley kitchen are in the middle. And to the left is the tap room and bottle shop, which are topped with a second-story beer bar and outdoor patio featuring a movable herb garden, fire pit and overhead heaters.

“It’s completely unrecognizable,” said Nick Jones, who marveled at the transformation while brewing test batches at night after leaving his former job as general manager at 99 Bottles in Carnegie. Also coming over from there are co-owners including Dustin Jones, who is not related to Nick, and the chef, Eddie Lilliock. The place has a lot going on.

First, the beer. Nick Jones is joined in the tight brewhouse by Marcus Cox, who worked for the past seven years at Thunder Road Brewing Co. in Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne in his native Australia. He came to Pittsburgh, where his wife is working at the University of Pittsburgh, holding back-to-back Champion Medium Australian Brewer awards.

They plan to make and serve up to 20 of their own beers, including a handful of mainstays such as a kolsch, an as-approachable amber, an edgier turbid pale ale, a Baltic porter and a lime-agave wheat beer. They’ll also be doing a lot of collaboration beers with breweries in this region and beyond. On Jan. 3, they brewed Beets by Kolsch with Harvey Kenney visiting from Great Raft Brewing in Shreveport, La.

Mr. Cox, who worked with Mr. Kenney in Australia, says the beer will have a rose hue from the beets in it when it’s available later this month. “And I neglected to mention the obvious. The name is a play on Beats by Dre, as in music.”

Mindful will pour beers from more than 50 taps, 20 of which are duplicated in the upstairs bar. Other taps will pour eight wines and five mixed drinks. From adjacent coolers and shelves, Mindful also will sell not only some 1,000 different bottles and cans of beer, but also bottles of wine and Pennsylvania spirits to go. Dustin Jones grins as he says, “It’s a one-stop destination,” at least for booze.

For food, the menu highlights local products transformed into burgers and other sandwiches, pizzas, salads, soups and snacks such as wings, as well as fried chicken made with chicken from Gerber Poultry in Northeastern Ohio. Choose from buttermilk fried, Nashville hot and chicken and waffles. And there’s a kids’ menu.

All told, there’s room for nearly 300 customers and seating for 140. There also are about 140 parking spaces outside after an adjacent building was razed. There are 11 big screens — including a huge one that drops down the glass walls to the brewhouse.

They’re already talking about distributing some of their drafts to a few other places and eventually plan to package their beers for distribution, but in the meantime, they’ll fill you a crowler, or 32-ounce aluminum can, that you can take with you, too.

How will Mindful find its niche in a region that has so many breweries — including nearby Hitchhiker and Spoonwood brewing companies? Nick Jones says, “I think, really, what’s going to make the difference is putting quality products in the glass.”

Mindful Brewing Co., 3759 Library Road, Castle Shannon, PA 15234, is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays (closed Mondays). More at mindfulbrewing.com or call 412-668-3857.

Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.


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