Equipment Acquired

IMG_1264-2If you’ve visited our brewery at any point over the last few months, you’ve probably seen the early rumblings of a sizeable construction project: large piles of limestone sitting in our parking lot, heavy machinery coming and going, and the melodic sound of jackhammers on concrete.

While we’ve told you about our upcoming expansion, one piece of information we haven’t yet divulged is the size and scale of the project. Now that we’ve got a conspicuous quantity of brewing equipment sitting outside of our building, it’s high time we share what’s been going on.

Growth is expensive, plain and simple. Doing it correctly, with the long term in mind, is even more so. We have to be pragmatic, and invest in the things we believe contribute to a culture of quality, smart design, attention to detail, and being a great place to work and visit. Constant decisions must be made to find a balance between our standards and our budget.

Following the advice we’ve received from friends in the industry and learning from the headaches we’ve experienced over the past five years in our current space, top-notch floors and ceilings are non-negotiables for this project. This means a new roof, a new wastewater plumbing system, radiant heating, and new concrete floors with the appropriate slope and coating. These things certainly aren’t cheap, so how are we making it work?

Well, we’ve purchased a used brewing system. Pretty much an entire brewery, really.

We spent the past week in Jackson, Mississippi decommissioning a brewery that had recently gone out of business, loading everything onto a series of tractor trailers, and hauling it back to Pittsburgh. We’re now the proud owners of a two-vessel, 20bbl brewing system made by W.M. Sprinkman, along with four 40bbl fermenters, two 20bbl fermenters, and all of the requisite support equipment.

The system is damn near perfect: it’s American-made, under five years old, and designed with growth in mind. To top it off, Sprinkman is lending their full support to help us recommission the new system. Finding equipment that’s functionally identical to the system we were looking to purchase new was a serious case of right place, right time.

Getting everything reassembled and operational will take some time, but when all is said and done, we’ll finally be able to share more beer with more people – a goal that’s been years in the making. It’s going to be a wild summer.

Five Places to BYOGB

Piccolo Forno SquareWith our fifth anniversary just around the corner, we’ll be taking the month of May to share collections of five things that have made their mark on our past, present, and future. This week: five places to BYOGB around Pittsburgh.

Given our limited amount of distribution to local bars and restaurants (a situation we’ll be duly remedying through our upcoming expansion), there is a select list of places you can find Brew Gentlemen beer around Pittsburgh. But, dear reader, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a General Braddock’s alongside some of the best meals in the city – it just means that sometimes, you just need to Bring Your Own General Braddock’s (BYOGB!).

1. Chengdu Gourmet

Whenever we have friends visiting from out of town, we subscribe to a preset group of activities that has come to officially be known as “Playing the Hits”. Towards the top of our list of said Hits is a trip to Chengdu Gourmet, the venerable Szechuan restaurant nestled at the bottom of Squirrel Hill. It’s best enjoyed in groups so as to accommodate a wide range of dishes. Based on the level of heat that some of our favorites pack – a product feature that ranges from extreme at its most merciful to borderline psychedelic at its most potent* – a meal here is best enjoyed with a General Braddock’s in hand.

Our picks: Diced Chicken w/ Dried Pepper Chongqing-Style, Pork w/ Sweet Flour Paste, Mapo Tofu, Beef in Hot Broth Chongqing-Style, Green Beans w/ Minced Pork, Cold Cucumber Salad

2. Piccolo Forno

In a neighborhood that’s been a revolving door of bars and restaurants, Lawrenceville’s Piccolo Forno stalwartly remains. The well-loved Tuscan restaurant has been churning out handmade pasta, wood-fired pizza, and focaccia panini for over fourteen years, with elegant and uncomplicated recipes utilizing fresh, high-quality ingredients. The atmosphere is equally warm and inviting.

Our picks: Pappardelle con Coniglio e Funghi, Molto Stracco Pizza, Lasagna Toscana

3. Noodlehead

Noodlehead clearly revels in its unapologetic simplicity. There’s no phone, they don’t take reservations, they’re cash-only, and they’ll only seat you if everyone in your party is present. But their modus operandi is completely justified: the menu is concise and consistent, turnaround is quick, and the food is marvelous. Their selection of Thai noodle dishes and soups are rich and flavorful, begging to be paired with a hop-forward beer.

Our picks: Chiang Mai Curry, Pad See Yew, Love Boat Soup

4. Gaucho Parrilla Argentina

There’s a reason that Gaucho has held the highest Yelp rating of any restaurant in Pittsburgh. People tend to like places where the team is both dominant at their craft and are having a shitload of fun while they’re at it. This powerhouse of Argentinian food does exactly that, with perfectly executed dishes and a supremely relaxed feel to the space. Bring along a General Braddock’s, and don’t skimp on the chimichurri.

Some of our favorites: Anything involving steak, Rosemary Braised Beef Sandwich, Qui Qui Chicky

5. Nak Won Garden

Authentic Korean food in Pittsburgh exists in the form of Nak Won Garden. Located on Centre Ave right next to the Shadyside Giant Eagle, you’ve likely driven right past it numerous times without ever realizing it was there. Their extensive menu features noodles, soups, stews, and grilled meats – all served with an array of tasty banchan (side dishes). Sure, you could always drink soju, but GB fits the bill, especially with their galbi. 

Our picks: Mandoo, Beef Soondubu, Japchae, Galbi

*Potentially resulting in a condition known as “Chengdoom”.

The End 2019

The End FB

Before we even get into the thick of things with our anniversary celebrations, we have a special semi-surprise to tide you over. The End, our bourbon barrel-aged vanilla imperial stout, is returning this Sunday. 

This time around, we’re combining the best aspects of two different release systems: the bulk of the bottles will be released in our taproom on Sunday, May 5th using our standard in-person reservation system; the following week, an additional number of bottle reservations will be made available online via Eventbrite on Monday, May 6th at noon.

IN-PERSON RESERVATIONS (5/1 – 5/4)
  • From this Wednesday, May 1st through this Saturday, May 4th, a set number of in-person reservations in our taproom will be available each day.
  • Reservations allow for the purchase of up to two 375mL bottles of The End on Sunday, May 5th during one of two pickup windows (3-4:30pm or 4:30-6pm).
ONLINE RESERVATIONS (5/6)
  • On Monday, May 6th at noon, additional reservations will be made available online.
  • Online reservations allow for the purchase of up to two 375mL bottles.
  • Those with an online reservation may purchase and pick up their bottles during regular taproom hours the week of Wednesday, May 8th through Sunday, May 12th.
GENERAL INFORMATION
  • 375mL bottles of The End are $14 each.
  • Those who reserve bottles in person for Sunday’s release will not be eligible for online reservations.
  • A reservation is not a presale – no money will be taken until bottles are picked up in our taproom.
  • A valid photo ID matching the name on your reservation is required for pickup. Both reservation and pickup must be made by the same individual. One reservation may be made per person.
  • A reservation is required to purchase bottles of The End. No additional bottles will be available without a reservation during Sunday’s release or during regular taproom hours.
  • Bottles must be picked up within your respective pickup window. Bottles that are not picked up will not be held for future pickup. If you have any questions, please email us at info@brewgentlemen.com.

Additionally, The End will be available on draft during Sunday’s release starting at noon.

Five Ways Braddock Has Shaped Us

Braddock mural Square

With our fifth anniversary just around the corner, we’ll be taking the next five weeks to share collections of five things that have made their mark on our past, present, and future. First and foremost among these: five ways Braddock has shaped who we are as a company.

1. LOCAL GUIDANCE

From the moment we first arrived in Braddock, our neighbors have played a crucial part in helping us define our role within the local ecosystem. Organizations such as the borough management, the Volunteer Fire Department, and the Braddock Library have lent a massive degree of support (especially during our rookie year) as we navigate the complexities of municipal operations. These are the people who keep the gears of the town turning.

2. FELLOW BUSINESSES

Similarly, the local businesses that have weathered the course of history help provide context to our own business. Our advantageous proximity to Mele Florist, for instance – in business on the Avenue since 1955 – has afforded us our signature move of having fresh flowers to transform our taproom and all of our offsite events. Newer ventures such as The Hollander Project (a group providing workspaces and coaching to women-owned startups) give us hope for the town’s future and provide the opportunity to pay forward some of the guidance we have been so graciously afforded.

3. A RICH HISTORY

To the extent that Braddock’s multilayered history has impacted our own company’s development, it has had a far broader impact on the course of history for Pittsburgh, the nation, and the world: from its earliest beginnings as the site of a disastrous battle that radically altered one of the largest clashes of civilizations in history (and established the obviously consequential military career of one Lieutenant George Washington), to its Gilded Age zenith as the epicenter of Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire, to the industrial collapse and subsequent renaissance that shaped the identity of the entire Pittsburgh region. With such a vibrant past, it’s humbling to be part of whatever the future holds. 

4. CONTRASTING BEAUTY

Throughout town, colorful patches of graffiti, murals, street art, and painted signage (much of which has been done by our good friend Tony Purcell, who collaborated with us on the General Braddock’s mural on the side of our brewery and with whom we’re working on a project for our upcoming outdoor space) peek out from the overgrowth and crumbling masonry. As nature slowly reclaims dilapidated structures, the bones of Braddock’s industrial past seem proud to have served their purpose while new construction looks on. This contrast between a bygone era and life anew, growing warmest at dusk, has majorly impacted our brewery’s aesthetics and design approach.

5. ENDLESS POSSIBILITY

One of the most important factors when it comes to Braddock’s future is its inherent sense of possibility. With so many residential and commercial vacancies left in the aftermath of its tumultuous second half of the twentieth century, ample room exists for inclusive revitalization. Just as a destructive flood can leave the land more fertile in its wake, Braddock overflows with opportunities for creativity and commerce.

To learn more about the history and future of the place our brewery calls home, join us for a walking tour of Braddock during our Fifth Anniversary Week on Saturday, May 25th.

BG Turns Five

Fifth Anniversary Newsletter-01Leading up to the recent announcement of our expansion, we’ve been focused squarely on the future of Brew Gentlemen. Smack-dab in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the coming months is our fifth anniversary, prompting us to do a bit of looking back on how far we’ve come: From the small fraternity garage where our story began, to the modest electrical supply store where we established our roots, to the sizable warehouse where we’ll be building the next episode.

In everything that we’ve learned over these five years, beer is about bringing people together. And thus, at the end of May, we’ll be celebrating this milestone of ours with a full week of events with some of our favorite people – including, hopefully, you.

TUESDAY, 5/21: ANNIVERSARY BEER DINNER

To highlight the actual anniversary date of opening our doors, we are combining forces with Luke Cypher and the Blue Sparrow team to host an evening of beer, food and friends. Three courses plus dessert, paired with our beers – ticket sales will be announced next week here in our newsletter.

WEDNESDAY, 5/22: ULTRAWEDNESDAY

Wednesdays have become one of the more eventful nights in our taproom – it’s when new beers hit the taps, small-batch Prototype Series beers are released, and Lager & Pong transforms the annex into a paddle royale. We’re combining all three of these things for ULTRAWEDNESDAY with the release of a new maibock lager, a batch of our throwback chai-spiced wheat beer, White Sky, a new Prototype Series release, and a full-on Pong throwdown.

THURSDAY, 5/23: AS IS TRADITION AT PIPER’S PUB

As is Tradition, we’re heading to Piper’s on a Thursday. What to expect: lots of lager. Two casks: Lemongrass/Ginger Lager and BG Maibock. These are naturally carbonated and conditioned, true cask style. Four Kegs: BG Steam, BG Maibock, BG Pilsner, Deep Brunch (coffee cream ale). The kitchen will be whipping up a special food menu as well.

FRIDAY, 5/24: COMMUNITY PIG ROAST WITH BLOWFISH BBQ

Our resident barbecue technician Hootie has been a fixture of our mobile food family since the very beginning (and a friend since well before the beginning), and as such, we’ve had the pleasure of watching him perfect his craft over the years. Come see him on his A-game as he smokes up a whole pig on Friday evening for a community cookout.

SATURDAY, 5/25: A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN BRADDOCK

Starting at noon on Saturday, we’ll be unearthing a few barrel-aged goodies from the cellar for your drinking pleasure in bottles and on draft. Meanwhile, we’ll also be leading walking tours of Braddock to discuss the borough’s history (from the French-Indian War to Andrew Carnegie and beyond), see some of the many pieces of public art, and get an idea of why we’re so proud to call Braddock our home.

SUNDAY, 5/26: FIFTH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION + BG OPEN AIR GRAND OPENING

Join us on the final day of celebrations for the grand finale: The official BG Fifth Anniversary Celebration will feature a special 90-minute edition of Beer + Yoga in the morning, bottle pickup for our two anniversary beers, and a special draft list. The grand opening of BG Open Air will kick off in the late afternoon and run into the evening with Blue Sparrow, PGH Tortas, and DJ Sunkist Smith spinning.

We’ll be giving you more details about each of these events in the coming weeks, so stay tuned here, our Facebook events page, and on Instagram

The Next Episode

Next Episode WordPress.png

Over the nearly five years since Brew Gentlemen opened its doors, we’ve had time to think about what we want our brewery to be when it grows up. Even though we’ve been quiet about the specifics along the way, we’ve been laying the groundwork for the future of Brew Gentlemen.

This has brought us to our next episode: renovating the warehouse behind our location in Braddock to build a full-scale production brewhouse, in which we will be producing and canning our beer at a greatly increased capacity. All operations in our existing brewery and taproom will continue in tandem in their current form.

Part of our expansion’s purpose – more beer, for more people, in a more convenient way – involves providing meaningful experiences when you visit our brewery. To that end, we’re simultaneously in the process of constructing an outdoor space, BG Open Air, in the courtyard next to our warehouse. The grand opening of this summer pop-up will coincide with our fifth anniversary celebration during the week of May 20th-26th, and it will remain open throughout the warmer months.

Through all of these new developments, we’re proud to be able to double down on investing in Braddock. Many breweries are forced to look elsewhere when they outgrow their original locations, a situation we were fortunate to avoid when the property adjacent to ours became available. We want to be good neighbors, build something special, and continue to reinvest in the historic town that’s become our company’s home.

An expansion of this scale is a monumental undertaking for a brewery of our current size, and those in the industry whom we looked for advice have unanimously stressed the importance of doing it right the first time. Being deliberate has been a serious test of patience, and we’ve made a number of difficult decisions along the way in the service of our long-term vision. Still, we believe that the course we’ve mapped will provide an ample runway for years to come, allowing us to more fully realize our mission of brewing soft and balanced beers, creating meaningful experiences, and participating in the revitalization of Braddock.

Wheels up.

The Quarterly Update: Q1 2019

Pittsburgh Map Green-01This week, our co-founder and CEO Matt Katase drops by to reflect on the state of Brew Gentlemen as we close out the first quarter of 2019.

More beer for more people in a more convenient way is the gong we’ve been ringing since the beginning of the year in order to broadly summarize our goals for 2019. By now you’ve heard some vague rumblings from us (and potentially some rumors from others) about our expansion plans, but today, as we move into the second quarter, we wanted to talk about what those goals have meant to us.

More beer…
Three months into 2019, we’ve released four new beers in bottles (Hanging Gardens: Raspberry, two Brukfust variants and Awake End) and thirteen new draft beers, four of which were the result of the renewed energy we’ve put toward our Prototype Series. Even though we’ve been operating at full capacity for some time now, we’ve still found ways to experiment within our own constraints.

…For more people…
While we’ve developed close relationships with the handful of accounts we distribute to, part of giving more people access to our beer means expanding to a few more bars and restaurants. We want to be able to share what we make with people who’ve expressed genuine excitement for it.

If there’s somewhere you’d like to see our beer, tell us here. If you’re a bar manager or beer buyer who’s reached out or has already been added to our waitlist, please fill out this form so we know you’re still interested.

…In a more convenient way.
Convenience is an interesting topic – Convenient for who? Convenient for what occasion?

We realize that making a trip to Braddock is still a barrier for some. We knew that would be a factor when we passed on Lawrenceville and the Strip District in our original business plan we wrote back in 2011 (though it’s been great to see so many of our friends thrive in those neighborhoods since then). If you live just far enough away that visiting our taproom requires some effort, then convenience means having more to offer when you make that effort.

In the upcoming quarter, we want to give you more reasons to come to Braddock – whether it’s through exciting one-off Prototype Series releases, taproom programming like Lager & Pong or Beer + Yoga, or some major announcements we’ll be talking about next week.

Stay tuned – there’s lots more on the way.

Alaina’s Three Years

Alaina 3 years Edited SquareWith our GM Alaina Webber celebrating three years with our company, we’re giving her the floor this week to talk a bit about her time here at BG.

Three years ago, Matt, Asa and I sat down over breakfast at Nancy’s Diner in Wilkinsburg, and they officially invited me to join the team as General Manager. Months of discussion led up to the transition from being an occasional Wednesday customer to having my own desk. Now, as a partner, my role has expanded to include work such as operationalizing our values and designing our communication.

One thing that’s remained consistent is being present with people.

Beer has taken me from coast to coast and across the ocean – studying food systems in France with Eating City, gaining inspiration in Toronto at Bellwoods*, touring Allagash and star-gazing after Oxbow’s Goods from the Woods event in Maine, devouring pizza with a bottle of Turbo Bam at The Masonry in Seattle, and spending quiet nights at Proletariat in New York, my favorite city.

All the while, our Braddock taproom remains one of my favorite places in the world. It’s an intentional space – from its physical location on main street to the fresh flowers on the bar. Whether you visit weekly, at the holidays, or in my case, daily, the space is occupied by people who plan on spending time together.

On countless occasions, I’ve quoted Danny Meyer’s foundational book Setting the Table: “Hospitality is the sum of all the thoughtful, caring, gracious things our staff does to make you feel that we are on your side when you are with us.”

It’s easy to think that because we stand behind a bar, we are the ones who practice hospitality. But, truthfully, the last three years for me have been equally marked by receiving a warm welcome – from our team and from you, people who enjoy our beer – as much as extending it.

Brew Gentlemen is comprised of very different individuals – we are practical, conceptual, creative, and technical. Still, in so many ways, our team has shown that they are on my side – which, in turn, gives me courage to exchange a comparable graciousness with strangers (who inevitably become friends!) wherever our beer is poured.

One of my surest convictions is that food and drink belong together as a dual experience – and sharing generously puts people at the center of that picture. Our beer is better alongside brisket, a banh mi, buttermilk fried chicken, and great company. Caring, knowledgeable partners – both those who vend at the taproom and those who run the restaurants and bars we work with and distribute to – are in the arena with us, feeding people well and navigating this business.

On a similar note, our Beer + Yoga teachers Hallie, Becca, and Maryellen have taught me that self-improvement often requires being present in the company of others. At first, I sought out yoga to relax and be alone, but attending a drop-in class quickly multiplied into several sessions per week. Over time, a consistent practice that includes their classes has convinced me: To get stronger, you must first show up.

Operating a brewery, or any business, for that matter, hasn’t gotten (and arguably shouldn’t get) easier over time. Instead, the reward in the work deepens as the problems we want to solve and the change we’re trying to make in the industry comes into clearer focus.

When I consider the last three years, the faces of people who’ve connected with us, along with the conversations and beverages that accompanied those moments, flood my mind and bring a pause. Looking ahead, I’m in awe of how much more there is to share.

You’ve made Brew Gentlemen part of your life, and consequently given me the joy of doing work I love. For both, thank you. If we haven’t met yet, please say hi next time you visit Braddock, or drop us a line in the meantime.

In short, beer is people, and there’s always room at the table.

*A note from Asa, your trusty newsletter author: If this is your favorite brewery newsletter, Bellwoods is ours. Sign up at the bottom of their homepage for a monthly dose of exceptional writing, even if (like us) you don’t live in Toronto.

The Professor

Rob Square webThe man pictured in this photo is Robert Dillman. “The Professor”, as he is known by some, enjoys fine old whiskey, bottomless ramen bowls, and the occasional mosh pit. He’s also our assistant brewer, and the man at the helm of our ultra-small-batch Prototype Series.

Because of its limited size, the series gives us the opportunity to test new techniques that may not be feasible at a production scale. We’re able to dive into unfamiliar territory with new ingredients, as well as learn how ingredients we’re already familiar with interact with each other in different quantities. We’re able to resurrect recipes from our own past and pay homage to classic recipes from elsewhere. All in all, the series gives us an outlet for rapid experimentation and the chance to get immediate, direct feedback from everyone who gets to try these limited runs.

When Rob talks about the Prototype Series and what he’s most excited about, it all comes down to real, high-quality specialty ingredients. Adjuncts like toasted coconut, single-origin coffee, and potent vanilla beans from exotic locales (a few of The Professor’s standbys) can often be far too expensive for routine use – on a small scale, however, we’re free to go hard.

It isn’t always about cost, however – the Prototype Series is often a test site for emergent new hop varietals and yeast strains, or simply new ideas. Many of the successes we’ve had with beers made at production scale began as experiments on this small system: mixed-fermentation saisons laid the groundwork for the Mise en Rose Collection; a particularly excellent coffee milk stout became Deep Breakfast; lupulin powder IPAs, maple stouts, and fruited hop-forward beers all found their way into the bigger mix. 

The newest concoction in the series, Prototype: BluBois Smoov-E, is a 9% ABV double IPA conditioned on blueberries, boysenberries, and Tahitian vanilla beans and subsequently dry-hopped with Mosaic lupulin powder. Catch it on draft today.

The 2019 Spring Lineup

spring seasonals 2018 square.pngOur modern world is a rapidly changing place, dear reader, and change can often be scary and uncomfortable. Sometimes, however, change can be tropical and delicious.

The spring seasonal lineup here at BG has seen a number of alterations over the past few years, and in the spirit of keeping you on your toes, we’ve got a few new upgrades for the coming season. While our spring American IPA Miyabi will stay largely the same, its compatriots Muchos Mahalos and Albatross will be returning in new forms.

Miyabi continues our theme of seasonal IPAs named after the four Japanese philosophies that make up our company values (alongside Shoshin, Kanso, and Kaizen). Meaning elegance or refinement, the concept of Miyabi relates to the elimination of all that is rough or unnecessary. We strive to achieve simplicity and balance in all we do, and a big part of that is the removal of anything and everything that is not completely essential.

Miyabi is an American IPA made with Simcoe, Amarillo, and Loral hops, with a dry and floral character of nectarine, grapefruit, and pine.

Building on last year’s debut of Muchos Mahalos as a mango beer, we’ve doubled down on the tropical vibes by making this year’s version with the Hawaiian holy trinity: passionfruit, orange, and guava (well known in Hawaii by its acronym, POG). Even if a straggling burst of winter inflicts itself upon our fair city midway through spring, Muchos Mahalos serves to inject a restorative burst of Pacific sunshine.

Despite all of that Pacific sunshine, Australian hop farmers have had an increasingly difficult time keeping up with the growing demand for one of their most prized varietals, Galaxy. With nary a bud to go around between America’s ever-expanding number of small brewers, the fate of our all-Galaxy double IPA, Albatross, has been left to the hop gods. Rather than attempt a second-rate facsimile using American-grown alternatives, we decided to keep Albatross rooted in the same geographic region by using hops from nearby New Zealand: this year’s updated version primarily features Motueka hops, one of our all time favorite varietals. With big, bright flavors of fresh flowers, lemon, and lime zest, it appears that the waning availability of Galaxy hops didn’t present much of a problem for Albatross after all.

Catch all three of our new spring seasonals on draft and in growlers in the taproom beginning tomorrow.