Does a Kennedy pub have the most locally sourced sammie in Greater Pittsburgh? Either way, it’s got a good story.
Summer is a great time to visit a brewery or three, especially with so many new ones bubbling up around the region.
“West of the city is starting to spontaneously ferment with new breweries. Love it,” tweeted the folks at the yet-to-open Abjuration Brewing Co. after seeing a story earlier this year about the new 412 Brewery in McKees Rocks.
You can check out several new operations serving a variety of seasonal beers by following all or part of our Ohio River beer trail from Pittsburgh to Beaver County.
412 Brewery doesn’t have a taproom, so this is a sip instead of a stop. The production brewery started making beer in February in a garage behind a former pizza place on Island Avenue by the McKees Rocks Bridge. You can’t buy one here but you can find draft and bottles at watering holes including Carmody’s Grille in a former hotel on nearby Neville Island. In a nod to its location on the Ohio River, the session India pale ale — under 5 percent alcohol — is named “Boats ’n’ Hops.”
412 Brewery, 706 Island Ave., McKees Rocks 15136
Carmody’s Grille, 4905 Grand Ave., Neville 15225
Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Fri. and Sat. and noon-10 p.m. Sun.
Abjuration Brewing Co. is expected to start brewing any day now and to open sometime in July in the old Parkway Theater on Broadway Avenue in Stowe/McKees Rocks. Former homebrewer friends Dave Hallam and Tom Glover knew they wanted to open west of Pittsburgh and really liked the vibe of Aaron Stubna’s classic theater, so they worked out a deal to lease some space (including the former stage). Mr. Stubna also has been renovating part of the space into a theater-within-a-theater called The Film Lounge to serve patrons cocktails and other fare. He hopes to open that in July before the new screening room. As he puts it, “There’s nothing like it in Pittsburgh.”
Mr. Hallam said a sure bet to be on tap for the brewery’s opening night is its session dry-hopped American Blonde, which he described as “a quaffable 3.2 percent” alcohol that “hits the spot on a summery day. Each version is heavily dry-hopped with a different hop combination.
Abjuration Brewing Co., 644 Broadway Ave., McKees Rocks 15136
Aurochs Brewing Co. in Emsworth is especially of interest if you avoid gluten. Aurochs makes a range of naturally gluten-free brews at its cozy brewery and taproom that opened in September. A good summer pick is the new White IPA, which partner Ryan Bove describes as an easy-drinking, light-bodied India pale ale “that packs in citrus flavor from an array of citrusy hops and orange peel.”
Aurochs Brewing Co., 8321 Ohio River Blvd., Emsworth 15202
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Thurs. and Fri., noon-10 p.m. Sat.
Just north on Route 51, in half of a concrete-block warehouse, Sewickley’s Tim Janowiak and some family and friends are just beginning to build a new brewery he’s calling 180 and Tapped. The hope is that it will help turn around the area (180 degrees) for the better.
They plan to do a first brew in July and open in August and to give a portion of proceeds to local charities. They’ll sell draft through local distributors and bars at first, but hope to bottle and retail on premises eventually. A beer to toast the place? The Doubleback Amber Bock, brewed with lager yeast but at ale temperatures for what he says is a unique and less-than-5-percent alcohol summer sip.
180 and Tapped
2010A State Ave. (Route 51), Coraopolis 15108
Cobblehaus Brewing Co. is a short trip up Route 51. The brewery opened in a corner storefront on the main drag this spring, serving beer, wine and mead. Owner and brewer Scott Mills’ tagline is “Olde World Styles ... New World Twists.” Try the Sammy B, a German-style hefeweizen. This wheat beer is often cloudy with yeast, which gives it distinctive banana and clove flavors “with a dry and tart edge” -— not bitter or highly alcoholic. Brand new is Porch Swing, a Dampfbier, an old-school, southeastern Bavarian barley ale fermented with a Weissbier yeast. Mr. Mills describes it as “medium bodied, lightly hopped and typically brewed in the summer.”
Cobblehaus sometimes hosts mobile food vendors and you can order food from neighboring restaurants. It now serves some Pennsylvania spirits and wine, too.
Cobblehaus Brewing Co., 1021 Fifth Ave., Coraopolis 15108
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Weds. and Thurs., 5-11 p.m. Fri., noon-11 p.m. Sat.
Let’s head northwest into Beaver County and cross the Ohio River:
Brixton Brewing in Rochester, Beaver County, officially started selling its brews at its sister business, the Hollywood Gardens Bar, in the fall of 2015. Brewer Zack Ruskin and owner Frank Elia give their beers the first names of customers and friends; Matt is named for an area beer rep. “We just try to have fun with it,” says Mr. Elia.
A good beer to try this summer, perhaps on the little side deck, is Hanz, their weizen (wheat beer), sometime flavored with blueberry or other fruit. Mr. Elia says that on June 29, they’re brewing Jonathan, a New England-style IPA that will be ready in July. “But our special beer on now is Roland, an 11.8-percent Belgian-style pale ale. He’s a heart breaker.”
The Hollywood, which was Mr. Elia’s dad’s for 50 years, has been impeccably remodeled. But in the sleek, dark interior, it’s easy to feel like you’ve gone back to the days of the Rat Pack.
The food menu is modern and excellent, and in addition to a dozen beers on tap, there are lots of other brews to choose from. They regularly offer live music, but as the menu notes: “We do not have televisions. We are the original social media. If you cannot hold a conversation with another person, we are probably not your kind of bar.” There are TVs and shuffleboard and darts, as well as wine and cocktails in Roots Rochester, the cozy nightspot that opened in May downstairs.
Brixton Brewing at Hollywood Gardens Bar, 169 Pinney St., Rochester 15074
Hours: 4-midnight (kitchen til 10 p.m.) Tues.-Sat.
Now head up the Beaver River:
Petrucci Brothers Brewing opened in New Brighton in September 2015 as 4 Brothers Brewing in a former Columbia Gas building. Two of the brothers, Steve and Dave Petrucci, run the place, The taproom, which is open on Fridays and Saturdays, feels like your favorite uncle’s garage with old wire spools for tables, a vintage fridge, toys and games and cornhole and pingpong in the back.
This summer, try the Hop Dreams English IPA, which is about 6 percent alcohol by volume and “a little on the citrusy side, but that’s from the hops,” Steve says. They make an IPA with blood orange for nearby Sammy K’s. They also serve wine and soft drinks and sometimes host mobile food vendors.
Petrucci Brothers Brewing, 911 5th Ave., New Brighton 15066
Hours: 3-10 p.m. Fri., noon-10 p.m. Sat.
Dan Woodske moved Beaver Brewing Co. into this Beaver Falls storefront in 2013. His nanobrewery is planning some unusual early summer treats, including fan favorite Watermelon Wheat. “We add 75 pounds of real watermelon for every 45 gallons of the beer we make,” he explains. “Also use Huell melon hops from Germany that have a really unique cucumber flavor to them — pairs perfectly together.”
Barrel-aged brews including a farmhouse ale that’s aged in a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel and is brewed with Jarrylo hops “that yield a really crazy pear flavor and aroma.” His homey brewpub also serves simple food as well as cider and Pennsylvania wine and spirits. Thanks to recent loosening of the liquor laws, his brews are also served at Waffles INCaffeinated in Beaver, which is otherwise a “dry” town.
Mr. Woodske says he gets noticeable numbers of beer tourists from Pittsburgh and other places in the summertime. He always recommends visitors also stop at his two Beaver County neighbors.
"They're all very different places, very different vibes and very different experiences. You're bound to find one you like."
Beaver Brewing Co., 1820 7th Ave., Beaver Falls 15010
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.
Waffles INCaffeinated, 435 Third St., Beaver 15009
Bob Batz Jr.: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.