By Drew Frichtel, Point Park News Service:
Two young entrepreneurs developed an adventurous mission to create craft beer while still attending Carnegie Mellon University.
They acted on their dream, developed a Kickstarter campaign that yielded more than $32,000 and found unlikely support from Braddock’s mayor.
Now, they are one catalyst for the re-birth of a former steel town.
“What do you say about a town that’s lost 90 percent of what it had? What the mayor keeps reiterating is that there was a point where 90 percent of Braddock was in a landfill somewhere,” co-founder Asa Foster said.
In less than half a year of operation, the company has grown into a blossoming microbrewery and tap room known as The Brew Gentlemen. The company has already begun changing the landscape of Braddock.
The building’s side parking lot features a mural portraying the flagship beer General Braddock’s IPA in off-white with orange outlines. A black silhouette of General Braddock is the centerpiece.
Inside, three wooden tables sit on top of a hardwood floor, along with cream-colored walls and a ceiling of white, square tiles. The atmosphere is moody and low, with dimly lit candles and seats aplenty. The place has a subtle feel of elegant comfort.
“We love stemmed glassware. And we love low lights, candles, flowers and collared shirts behind the bar,” Foster said. “I think there’s a part of this that hasn’t been fulfilled in Pittsburgh in the sense of giving that air to beer.”
Creating a comfortable taproom and craft beer comes with its trials and tribulations though. When the company started the process of aging beer in oak barrels, the brewers ran into some issues. After receiving inadequate barrels from a California cooperage, owner and brewmaster Brandon Capps had to take things into his own hands.
“I contacted some cooperages out in Kentucky and lined about what a 17-foot U-Haul would fit,” he explained. “I flew into Kentucky early the next day, took a Uber to the U-Haul, and picked everything up and headed back to Pittsburgh.”
No short cuts and a strong dedication to the company have resulted in early successes and a large following. Long-time craft brew enthusiast and fan Jason Senecal said the company has shown considerable growth since its opening.
“I, for one, am really impressed with the progress they’ve made in this short amount of time,” he said. “I’m always impressed with the level of attention that they give their beers and the ever-increasing crowds that pile up to the bar with every new test batch or Pilot [Batch] series release.”
The Pilot Batch series or PBS beers are essentially a scratch off series. These allow the brewers to ability to experiment and try new recipes. There is a Pilot Batch release each Thursday.
The Brew Gentlemen have produced more than 25 different varieties and have even brewed with cucumbers and chipotle spice. Each beer has multiple layers of flavor. Their emphasis on the culinary side of beer has help set them apart from the competition.
“Yes, there are the classic beer styles we try to follow. But we also nod our head to the culinary world where they are doing interesting things,” co-founder Matt Katase said. “They’re using unique ingredients [and] blending flavors that you normally wouldn’t associate. Why does there have to be a limit on what beer can be?”
The taproom is open 5-11 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 3-11 p.m. Saturdays.
Sampler glasses start at $2; pints, $5.50; and growler refills, $16.
Select drafts are available in bottle.