Eat/Drink is NEXT’s weekly look at what’s crazy good in the Pittsburgh food scene.
Fort Pitt is it!
When it comes to beer, Mark Dudash likes his served with a rich sense of history.
He worked for the Pittsburgh Brewing Company back when it was still making Iron City in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, and he remembers the old, long-retired brewery employees dropping by the brewery around Christmas to pick up a free case of beer. While they were there, they’d reminisce about delivering beer around town in horse-drawn carriages.
“The guys would get so [drunk] by the end of the day that they relied on the horses to get them back to the breweries,” Dudash says. “You get people who’ll call you and tell you about their grandfather working there and just going down memory lane, which is a great thing. That appreciation really did it for me. It’s really the fabric of Pittsburgh.”
Dudash, the Upper St. Clair attorney who in 2010 revived the long-dormant Duquesne Pilsener brand and resumed its production at the former Rolling Rock Brewery in Latrobe, is back with another gem from Pittsburgh’s past.
He’s getting ready to roll out a reincarnation of Fort Pitt Beer, a local mainstay from 1906 to 1957 which was brewed out of a facility in Sharpsburg. But Dudash’s new version of Fort Pitt will differ from the original.
Instead of producing another pilsner — he has a masterfully crafted one already in Duquesne — Dudash will hearken back to beer’s earliest Pittsburgh roots. After thorough research, he’s come up with a recipe that attempts to replicate the style of beer which British soldiers drank while stationed at Fort Pitt in the years before the American Revolution.
“They had the first brewery there [at Fort Pitt],” Dudash says. “You didn’t know if it was always safe to drink the water because you could get dysentery. That’s why armies traveled with beer – so they wouldn’t get sick.”
Accordingly, the new Fort Pitt Ale will be an English-style ale. Over the last few years, Dudash has made several trips to Williamsburg, Virgnia to research the kinds of hops, malts and processes through which British soldiers in the colonies made their beer. Most of them came from vineyards in Williamsburg after being transplanted from England. The new Fort Pitt will use three different kinds of hops.
“Two hops are English and were definitely around back at that time, and I have a third hop that we’re going to go with,” Dudash says, adding that he hopes to have the first batch out to distributors in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The label will feature the artwork of Fort Pitt’s last edition from the ‘50s, with “ale” replacing “lager” as the only major alteration.
Bread and Salt will open in Bloomfield
Rick Easton, one of the Pittsburgh food scene’s most popular bakers, has spent time collaborating with chefs in nearly every Pittsburgh kitchen of consequence over the last year or so. Now, he has finally found a space of his own. Easton will open his Bread and Salt Bakery at 330 Pearl Street in Bloomfield in the space which formerly held Adrian’s Pizza. There’s no word yet on an opening date, but you should follow Bread and Salt on Facebook for updates because Rick makes bread the way bread was meant to be.
Tickets on sale for North Side Sandwich Week’s sampler party
North Side Sandwich week, the perennial celebration of all kinds of things held together with bread, will take place from June 20 to 26. And while the festivities certainly give diners ample time to make the rounds, the annual sampler party has become its signature event in NSW’s first three years on the scene.
The party will take place at the Priory Grand Hall on June 26 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Tickets to the party are available online for $30. Each ticket includes samples of sandwiches from all 13 participating North Side restaurants as well as two Penn Brewery beers.
Speaking of sandwiches…
There’s no surer sign of spring than the sight of Lucy Nguyen artfully crafting banh mi behind her cart in the parking lot next to Bar Marco, at 2216 Penn Avenue in the Strip. Lucy is back for the season as of last week, and her incredible sandwiches are somehow still one of Pittsburgh’s best-kept secrets.
Pittsburgh Real Ale Festival postponed
The Pittsburgh Real Ale Festival, scheduled to be held on the field at Highmark Stadium, was supposed to be one of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week’s biggest events. But due to slumping ticket sales owing mainly to the cost of booking the venue, event sponsor Piper’s Pub decided to reschedule the festival for this fall. Perhaps something to coincide with Guy Fawkes Night?