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North Hills Monthly

CMU Graduates’ Start-up Company Documented in Blood, Sweat and Beer

Dec 30, 2014 12:07PM ● By Jill Cueni Cohen
Craft breweries are sweeping the nation as one of the trendiest businesses to open, and the journey of The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company in Braddock is one of two start-up breweries documented in Blood, Sweat and Beer, a film which will be released in early 2015.

Twenty-somethings Asa Foster and Matthew Katase, both recent graduates of Carnegie Mellon University, celebrated the opening of The Brew Gentlemen earlier this year, and they’ve already begun to expand. “We opened May 21, and since then, business has been solid,” said Foster, noting that Pittsburgh has been a little late coming to the craft brewery ball, but everyone in the local industry has been contributing to their collective success. “Pittsburgh is a newer market for craft brewing, so we’re teaching people what craft beer is.”

Also twenty-somethings, Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin are filmmakers from Maryland who took notice of the craft beer revolution as it forged on in bars and breweries across the country and decided to make a feature documentary about it. On the creative project funding website, Kickstarter, the couple promised to take viewers “on a fascinating journey beyond the pint to meet the brewers who are revitalizing American beer,” and chose to include The Brew Gentlemen in their project.

So, what is craft beer? According to Foster, there are as nearly as many different definitions as there are types of beers, but craft beer is basically about small, independent brewers creating unique beer recipes from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and its fermentation. “It’s an extremely cooperative, sportsmanlike business; it’s very collaborative,” he said.

Katase is a native of Hawaii, and Foster comes from Boston, but they’ve both fallen in love with Pittsburgh; Braddock in particular. “We have taken a lot of influence from other cities and the craft beer industry that already exists in Pittsburgh,” said Foster. “It’s an extremely cooperative business. It’s incredible the degree to which everyone is in it to make the entire industry succeed. It’s not just about your own establishment.”

Irvin says that the film highlights Braddock’s revitalization efforts. “We were intrigued with Braddock; it’s an industrial community that was essentially abandoned over the past couple of decades, but it’s a beautiful place with a rich history,” she said, adding that Mayor John Fetterman is dedicated to making the once run-down, crime-ridden neighborhood a local destination for specialty businesses like The Brew Gentlemen.

Located at 512 Braddock Avenue, The Brew Gentlemen offers an upscale taproom featuring unique brews for drinking as well as bottles for buying. “Chai-spiced wheat beer is our most popular offering,” said Foster, “but we’ve also brewed some wackier beers. For instance, for Thanksgiving, we made a beer with smoked turkey in it.” Food trucks often set up outside, which is bringing even more business into the area.

Everyone involved with the craft beer industry has a common love of beer, said Irvin. “I love beer, and that was a hazard of making the documentary.  Everyone was offering us beer, even at 8 a.m.!” she said. “I also appreciate beer a lot more after interviewing all of these breweries. I’m amazed at all of the effort, passion and dedication it takes to run a small business.”

“I like living and breathing beer,” added Foster, noting that his interest is more on the industry side of the business rather than the brewing side, but being surrounded by beer is a bonus. “I’m lucky to be doing what I love and am decent enough at it that I can apply it to my favorite thing. It’s all about being able to channel your talents into your passion.”  

To get a copy of the movie, go to www.bloodsweatbeer