After Thanksgiving excess, the the body will pine for healthy, light fare like the all-vegan menu with heavy Middle Eastern accents at B52.
The region’s next brewery started out life as a Studebaker car dealership in the town of Washington, Pa., where its co-owners — who also own neighboring The Washington Winery and the former Upper Crust Italian Bistro — have quickly transformed it into an eye-catching drinks-and-food destination.
The Washington Brewing Co. opens Friday, a joint project of Angela and John Burgess, who own the winery and sister business A&M Wine and Beer Supplies, and John and Michele DeFede. The DeFedes moved their restaurant into the new space, which, in addition to its lineup of brews, will serve Washington Winery wines as well as cocktails made with spirits from hometown distilleries and Liberty Pole and Red Pump, both of which are just blocks away.
The couples began the project, nicknamed “TWBC,” this spring and are finishing it up at an exceptional pace. The brewhouse and restaurant — serving lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch — share the main floor, which has an occupancy of nearly 100. This fall, they plan to add 50 more seats in the basement calling it “Studebaker’s Lounge.”
The gleaming 15-barrel brewhouse is visible through tall new windows on the front of the freshly painted building, which sports the painted concrete Studebaker logo.
Mr. Burgess, a longtime homebrewer who regularly samples his stuff next door in the winery/brewing supply store, is being helped with brewing by Brandon Kolljeski, who used to work in computing and information technology, among many other things, including coal mining.
For opening weekend, they plan to serve a half dozen brews: Washington Lager, plus a pale ale, an India pale ale, a double IPA, a Bassett Town brown ale and a coffee brown ale.
“Our target is 10 to 12,” says Mr. Burgess, a longtime home brewer whose commercial brewery pet peeves include places that have too many high-alcohol brews. TWBC brews will tend to be “easy drinking,” he says.
“You’re going to see a lot of 4.8- to 6-percent things that are light and crisp,” he says, although they will have more high-test ones in the rotation, too.
Food-wise, executive chef Mr. DeFede is looking forward to keeping the favorites from the old location — wood-fired pizza, sandwiches — and amping up the menu, with more housemade breads and pastas and more specials.
As his friend Mr. Burgess puts it, “John won’t brag on himself, but he makes some pretty awesome food.”
The Burgesses and friends regularly travel for daylong “brunch with the DaFoodies,” where the couples and friends eat their way through other Western Pennsylvania establishments. Mr. DeFede promises lots of local flavor on his new menu, including fried cauliflower and a pierogi dip. “We’re keeping it fairly Italian, but throwing in a little bit of pub food.” (Peek at the menu at thewashingtonbrewingcompany.com/menu.)
The couples’ excitement has been rubbing off on other people here, including Christy Bean Rowing, executive director of Citywide Development Corp., who calls the brewery “a watermark for what can be accomplished here in Washington. Talented, passionate, hardworking people setting out to do something with their whole heart.
“Not only will it be a unique place to eat and drink, but it really is a tremendous asset to our economic development plan.”
Beginning hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
The Washington Brewing Co. is at 28 East Maiden St., Washington, PA 15301. More at thewashingtonbrewingcompany.com or 724-222-5050.
Laurel Highlands Brewing Co.’s plans a we’re-open party in the next few week’s, but the new Uniontown production brewery this past Saturday started distributing its brown ale and River Drifter pale ale. Two places that have it on tap are Uniontown’s Mom Maruca’s Pizza Shop and Ohiopyle’s Falls City Pub. Look for locations on the brewery’s website — http://laurelhighlandsbrewing.com — and social media.
Also getting very close to opening is the new Hitchhiker Brewing Co. in Sharpsburg, which is holding by-invitation-only soft openings this week. The brewery and tap room are located in part of the former Fort Pitt Brewing Co.
The North Side’s Teutonia Mannerchor, a private German club and singing society, is holding its public Oktoberfest Friday (5 to 11 p.m.), Saturday (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Admission is $10. More at pghmannerchor.com/events. Penn Brewery and Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh are holding their Oktoberfests on the weekends of Sept. 15 and 22.
Bob Batz Jr.: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.