Plus, a chocolate pop-up, a Lawrenceville bar opening and a new Dormont coffee shop
Another new regional craft brewery is holding its grand opening this weekend, at which the young co-owners will pair samples of their brews with hors d'oeuvres from a nearby restaurant and have a lot of other fun.
Four Seasons Brewing Co., which is in Unity just off Route 30 and just outside Latrobe, about an hour east of Downtown Pittsburgh, will be celebrated from 1 to 5 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 9, with festivities including a ribbon cutting and tours of the brewery. The pairings, with food from Greensburg's One Eleven restaurant, happen from 2 to 3 p.m., and from 4 to 5 p.m., visitors are invited to meet the owners. In between, there'll be everything from hay bales and cornhole to DJ'd music, inside the brewery and outside, too.
"I always like throwing parties. Now I have a to celebrate," says Christian Simmons, 31, who co-owns the new operation with head brewer Mark Pavlik, 28.
The best friends officially opened on Sept. 1, in a spacious part of a block warehouse building within sight of St. Vincent College. That same week, they poured their brews at the Steel City Big Pour beer fest in Point Breeze. Talk about a fast start.
It's been especially crazy since they both have full-time day jobs -- Mr. Simmons in maintenance at the Kennametal carbide plant and Mr. Pavlik as a power-company electrical engineer. They run the brewery around that, with Mr. Simmons, who is the talker, focusing on guerrilla marketing and sales. They share duties such as delivering kegs to their draft accounts and staffing the hours when the brewery is open to sell growlers of beer.
As Mr. Simmons puts it, "We put our fair share in."
They're both local, but they didn't meet until after Mr. Simmons came back from a few years in Oregon, where he went after high school to pursue snowboarding and found himself.
In Mr. Pavlik, he found a kindred soul who also loved all outdoors pursuits. Mr. Pavlik also was an avid and accomplished home brewer, and so Mr. Simmons would join him in his garage for that.
One thing led to another and led to them renting this 4,000-square-feet space, spending much of the summer getting it ready, and then brewing on their three-barrel system to fill their two six-barrel fermenters. The Four Seasons name sprang from their love of, and location amid, Western Pennsylvania's woodsy mountains.
They started the business with help from their landlord as well as friends and family. "We have lenders, but not investors," says Mr. Simmons.
Plus, they both have strong work ethics, which is something that's appreciated in their still-rural area. There were other reasons than the fact that they live within walking distance (and the college, and the fact that Steelers training camp happens there) to open a craft brewery here.
"Rolling Rock is gone," says Mr. Simmons, who can remember when the green of locally brewed Rolling Rock was all you'd see in area watering holes and home refrigerators. But the brand was bought and then sold, and the big Latrobe brewery was sold to City Brewing Co. Mr. Simmons thinks locals will once again embrace a local brewery.
To start, they've kept the beers approachable. As Mr. Simmons puts it, "Mark's whole vision is ... to make an easy-drinking craft beer."
The 60° & Snowing Belgian single is 4.5-percent alcohol by volume, the Almost East Coast Pale Ale is 5.5 percent, the High Hopes India pale ale is 6.9 percent and the just-debuted Get Down Brown ale is 4.5 percent.
Many more are to come, including the saison that is one of Mr. Pavlik's signature brews. Next up looks to be a stout.
They hope to expand their draft sales outside the Latrobe area, and yes, eventually they may bottle or can beer, too. But for now, says Mr. Simmons, they're not only distributing it themselves, but also, "We're selling it as fast as we can make it."
As Mr. Pavlik finishes up harvesting some yeast from the fermenter and cleans up so he can go spend some of this past Sunday afternoon with his son, Mr. Simmons prepares to man the taps for growler sales and keep getting ready for the grand opening and everything after that. He points out the walls where the partners plan to allow local artists to hang art and give them 85 percent of the proceeds, with the other 15 percent going to local schools.
"I always wanted to do stuff like this, but I never had a podium," he says with a big grin.
To build this one, he says, "We've both given up a lot of things," from concerts and Penguins games to time just sitting on the couch.
"But this is fun!"
Four Seasons is open for growler sales from 3 to 7 p.m. Tues. and Thurs., 4 to 8 p.m. Fri., and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The glass jugs themselves cost $10, and it's $10 (or $12 for the IPA) to have them filled. For more information about the brewery or the grand opening, visit fsbrewing.com.
PA Brew Tours just announced that Four Seasons will be on its new Laurel Highlands Brew Tour with Helltown Brewing and All Saints Brewing (pabrewtours.com).
■ ■ ■
A new craft brewery is coming to Mt. Lebanon. Hitchhiker Brewing Co., which has applied for its state and federal licenses to brew, could open by this spring in the former Cammie Sin's Tea Boutique at 190 Castle Shannon Blvd, next to Luma Restaurant. A notice in the window has people around Mt. Lebanon buzzing, including home brewer par excellence Daniel Pipetone, who met with Hitchhiker president Gary Olden and toured the space.
Mr. Olden, who lives with his family in Mt. Lebanon, works running a global e-commerce group for a heavy industrial manufacturer, but he's been home brewing as a hobby for a couple of years. It's still early, but he's planning to have four brews, plus some rotating seasonals, at his brewpub, which will serve pints with snacks and also sell growlers to go.
On order is a three-barrel brewing system. "Most of the production is going to serve at the brewpub," he says, but he already has talked about selling some beer to be served at other bars and restaurants.
The significance of the name, he says, hinges on the fact that a hitchhiker might be a CEO or a blue-collar worker or a person down on his or her luck. And a hitchhiker could be picked up by various types of people, too.
"What I want Hitchhiker Brewing to be about is connecting different kinds of people."
■ ■ ■
Just out are two new beers from Straub. In the St. Marys' breweries new "legacy" sample case, you can try Harvest IPL, a fresh-hopped version of its India pale lager, as well as Straubator, a doppelbock. The sampler contains six each of those and of American Amber and 1872 Lager.
You also can try them on draft next Thursday and Friday, Nov. 14 and 15, when Straub president/CEO Bill Brock and vice president/general manager/head brewer Vince Assetta will be bar crawling in South Side and the Strip.
■ ■ ■
Organizer Ken Scott invites home brewers in this region and beyond to enter their creations in the Butler Homebrew BASH. The American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned competition is accepting entries (two 12-ounce bottles in up to six categories for $7 for the first entry and $5 for subsequent ones) until Nov. 16 and the contest will be judged starting at 9 a.m. on Nov. 23 at Associated Artists of Butler County Art Center.
The event is hosted by the Butler Area Society of Homebrewers (http://bash.smythenet.com/bcoem).
Bob Batz Jr.: email@example.com and 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.