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East End Brewing

I did this short piece on East End Brewing for Ale Street News, and wanted to make it available.

 

2004 was not a good year for microbrewing in Pittsburgh. The Foundry closed, Valhalla closed, and even though Penn and the Church continued to do well, and Rock Bottom sailed along with the continual crowds at the Waterfront, it was kind of depressing. Why couldnít Da Burgh keep its small breweries alive?

Scott Smith is determined to buck the trend. He scooped up the Foundryís New World brewhouse and some tanks, rigged them into an old brick building in a rough-cut Homewood neighborhood, and has opened up his one-man operation as East End Brewing Company. It is real rough-cut, too. "Iíve camouflaged the brewery as an abandoned building," Scott joked. Bring your Club if youíre going to park for a visit.

He has three beers, and one of them is pretty rough-cut as well. Black Strap Stout, made with blackstrap molasses and plenty of hops, is a prickly stout that just bulges out with flavor all over, hoppy like a west coaster, but with a big burnt bitterness thatís almost imperial in its stockiness. "Iím just another homebrewer gone wild," Scott said, grinning.

Well, not quite. Scottís a mechanical engineer with years of experience in the food manufacturing industry. "I made a lot of salad dressing," he said. A Pittsburgh native, he lived in Chicago and the Bay Area, making salad dressing at work and beer at home, before moving back to Pittsburgh with his wife and two children in January of 2004.

Scottís got three beers going (heís got three fermenters, so that works): the Black Strap Stout, Big Hop IPA, and East End Witte. Big Hop IPA is packed with Centennial and Cascade hop flavor, while retaining a solid malt foundation, a classic PA IPA. East End Witte is a Belgian wit that will come on more as the warm weather sets in.

All production is draft; there are no plans for bottling for now, and that ties in with Scottís plans for sustainable brewing. Heís going organic as much as possible, recycling building materials, using a more efficient single step infusion mash, and working with a bakery on using spent grain and yeast. "Iím looking at selling growlers out of the brewery," he said. "Anything thatís re-usable."

After a short regulatory shuffle, prompted by state labeling requirements, East Endís out on the streets of Pittsburgh, every drop delivered by Scott in his pickup truck. Scott plans to self-distribute for the near future, probably a wise move during an apparent bar honeymoon. "Iíve got places calling me," he said. "They want to get my beer on. Iíve got ten places already lined up to take beer, and more are calling."

Look for East End in Pittsburgh for now, but donít be surprised to see it stretching out along the Turnpike and I-79. Pittsburghís newest brewery is going to go a long way just on spirit.

(East End Brewing is at 6923 Susquehanna Street, Pittsburgh, (412) 537-2337, www.eastendbrewing.com)

 
Copyright © 2008 Lew Bryson. All rights reserved. 
Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.
Revised: April 22, 2005