Along the way, Smith has been honest about the challenges of running a brewery — an attitude that has made him a valued resource to up-and-comers.
“Sharing your successes as well as your failures has always been important to me,” he says. “Because I think it makes us more real — a small group of people working on something that we are all very passionate about.”
Another key? The growing community of people seeking expertly crafted food and drink in Pittsburgh.
“The Pittsburgh food scene coming along has helped in terms of showing people how to appreciate craft and quality,” says McMahon. “You don’t have to just stuff down a cheeseburger and chug down a $2 beer.”
And local brewers have been happy to meet rising expectations.
“People are finally starting to talk about Pittsburgh as a craft beer town,” he says, noting that the city is being recognized nationally alongside cities like Asheville, N.C.
“Nobody was talking about Asheville until it was promoted as a ‘beer city,’” adds Eaton. “They had an organized, concrete push to get people to visit for beer. We’re just as great of a beer town. We just haven’t had the push to get people to recognize that.”
Though the brewer’s guild is just starting to mobilize for formal recognition, Pittsburgh beer already has a reputation across the pond.
Beer Adventures founder Jonny Quirk says, “There’s a real vibrancy to the city that you can feel as soon as you enter its bars and taprooms.”
Darren Gailey, the co-owner and CEO of Couch Brewery, believes the scene is having a moment for two reasons: Because “Pittsburgh brewers make fantastic beer,” he says, and because “Pittsburghers love to drink great beer.”
His own brewery — located along Washington Boulevard — will celebrate its first anniversary in late April. Gailey hopes tools like the Pittsburgh Brewery Guide and Beer Adventures app will link brewers to new customers.
“It helps us get the word out,” he says, “that Pittsburgh beer has arrived.”