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
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)