- Ryan Deto
- Brian Eaton and Matt McMahon of the Pittsburgh Brewery Guild
The number of craft breweries in Allegheny County has increased dramatically in the past few years. It wasn't long ago that you could count them on one hand. Now there are 32. The industry has grown so fast in Pittsburgh that breweries have had scant chance to organize. But that’s changing.
Last year, 30 breweries in Allegheny County formed the Pittsburgh Brewery Guild to collaborate on recipes and work together to market their beer.
“We needed a unified voice,” says Brian Eaton of Grist House brewery in Millvale. “We needed an organization [to help ramp up] beer tourism. There is a lot of great craft beer being made here, but we are not part of the national conversation.”
On August 24, the guild will launch its website, which offers an interactive and detailed map of the 30 guild breweries. (Out of Allegheny County's 32 breweries, two don’t have tap rooms.)
Matt McMahon, of Eleventh Hour brewery in Lawrenceville, says the website should give beer enthusiasts a fun, informative, and easy way to learn about all the beer Allegheny County has to offer. Users can apply filters to see which breweries are dog-friendly, which have food trucks or kitchens, and which have happy hours and outdoor seating.
“The interactive web portion, getting that is a huge win,” said McMahon. “You now have a one-stop shop for all the brewers in the county.”
Eaton calls the website, which was designed by Cranberry-based MarketSpace Communications, the “gold standard” for city brewery guides.
The guild is also creating physical “beer passports.” Beer nerds rejoice: The passports include all the information provided on the website, including beer recommendations for new visitors. Patrons can purchase their passport for $10, and get them stamped at each brewery. After visiting all 30 and turning in the passport to select locations like Visit Pittsburgh’s store, drinkers will receive a special Pittsburgh Brewery Guild beer tumbler.
“We wanted to make it worthwhile,” says Eaton. “They get a prize at the end of the beer-filled rainbow.”
And worry not, the passports are beer-proof, in case a tipsy spill occurs.
Eaton says the guide was made possible thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Promotion Act, and support from Visit Pittsburgh.
Want to try all 30 breweries in one night? The guild has you covered.
To mark the website and passport release, Pittsburgh Brewery Guild is hosting a party. Participants will have four hours to sample 10 beers, each made in collaboration between three breweries. The brewery groups were picked at random, so expect some unique beers.
Dancing Gnome, Penn Brewing, and Hofbräuhaus collaborated on a Red IPA (a style none had attempted before). Hitchhiker, Southern Tier, and Rivertowne were inspired by campfires and made a S’more beer. Helicon, Rock Bottom, and Roundabout created a craft version of a Pittsburgh guilty pleasure: a German-style Helles with mango, to replicate an IC Light Mango.
Party-goers will also get a first-edition Pittsburgh beer passport, and the special guild beer tumbler. Cheers, Pittsburgh!