Pre-gaming for a concert or Steelers game (or museum, if you like to make learning fun) on the North Shore often involves tiny grills and mountains of trash. All well and good, but if you want to class it up on your next visit, the options have never been better. Local Brewhouse and Burgatory opened their doors in recent months, and new spots like The Foundry and Tequila Cowboy are right on the horizon. But beer buffs are buzzing loudest about the new Southern Tier brewpub, which broke ground at 316 North Shore Drive last week.
The brewpub will be Southern Tier Brewing Company’s first ever satellite location. Since opening in 2002, the New York-based brewery has built a devoted following with a lineup of bold IPAs and sought-after seasonals. (Though it’s become far easier to find, Southern Tier’s Pumking is still a coveted fall beer.) Southern Tier has done especially well in Pittsburgh: The city is the company’s second-biggest market.
“We’ve always had a connection with the area,” says Southern Tier co-founder Phin DeMink. “We’re kind of a destination brewery.” Tucked in the small town of Lakewood, N.Y. (about 150 miles north of Pittsburgh), Southern Tier has long attracted Pittsburghers searching for a boozy day trip. When the team began to scout locations for a new brewpub, Pittsburgh was a natural fit.
The Pittsburgh location will boast a 10-hectoliter German brewhouse, 30 taps and a 10,000-square-foot beer garden complete with a hop canopy and a stage. CEO John Coleman stresses that even Southern Tier fanatics will find some surprises. “Most of the stuff we brew here will be strictly for Pittsburgh,” he says, including recipes developed specifically for the new brewery. The brewpub is slated to open in October, in time for most of Steelers season.
DeMink says the decision to open in Pittsburgh is about more than money. “It’s hard to tell your story when you’re just a case of beer on the shelf,” he notes. “We’ve been taking our time with this. … We want to make sure it’s unique, that it feels like Southern Tier.” For DeMink, the new outpost provides a chance to increase Southern Tier’s visibility in Pittsburgh, and to put a face to a name the city already loves.
Of course, some are already decrying Southern Tier for stepping on the toes of the city’s numerous hometown brewers. But DeMink aims to be a part of that community rather than shade it out. He cites plans for collaboration beers with area breweries, and intends to invite local brewers up to Lakewood for a “Pittsburgh speed date”: a Chopped-style challenge where teams of brewers get creative with limited raw ingredients. “It’s great to see so many breweries making some awesome beer,” says DeMink. “The more there are, the better the category becomes.”