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North Hills Monthly

Craft Brewers Bringing it to the ‘Burgh

Jul 31, 2017 08:31PM ● By Shari Berg

Zachary and Erika Shumaker of ShuBrew Handcrafted Ales & Food

Pittsburgh is known for many things: the steel industry and glass-making industries, Heinz Ketchup and even the Clark Bar. And who could forget the famous “fries on your sandwich” at Primanti Brothers?

But Pittsburgh also is becoming known for something else–the craft beer brewing industry. 

According to the Brewers Association, small and independent brewers continued to grow by the double digits in 2016, with Pennsylvania playing host to 205 craft beer breweries, placing it in the seventh percentile for the number of breweries per capita in relation to the rest of the U.S. As of April 2017, there are more than 35 craft beer breweries in the Pittsburgh region alone. 

North Hills Monthly talked to three local craft beer brewers to get to know a little more about what brought them to the ‘burgh. 

ShuBrew Handcrafted Ales & Food

210 Main Street, Zelienople

Located on the bustling main thoroughfare in downtown Zelienople, ShuBrew, which opened in September 2013, is owned and operated by husband-wife duo Erika and Zachary Shumaker. In addition to a range of beers with eclectic names such as Jungleboot IPA, Rosemary Jane, El Zapato and Mosaic Marathon, visitors to ShuBrew can find everything from traditional pizzas to rice and noodle bowls and pan-roasted chicken sandwiches. 

NHM: How did you get started in the craft beer brewing industry?

Erika: We met while working at Verizon Wireless and decided to open the brewery because of our love for good beer and food, along with the desire to leave the corporate world.

NHM: What makes your products unique?

Erika: We put just as much focus on our food as we do our beer. As a general rule, we don’t offer our customers food or drink options that we wouldn’t consume. We hired a chef who is responsible for coming up with great food selections that will complement our drink selection. Our menu is very diversified, which is something we take pride in. We know that good food and good beer go together. 

NHM: What made you choose to locate in Zelienople?

Erika: We liked that it was a small town and locals could walk to it. It would be away from the commercial chains in nearby Cranberry. There also wasn’t anything else like this in the area, so it really sets us apart.

Grist House Craft Brewery

10 E. Sherman Street, Millvale

Brian Eaton is the co-owner of Grist House, which bills itself as a place where grist (the combination of milled grains to be used in a particular brew) is turned into beer by a family dedicated to craft brewing. Eaton formerly worked as a fundraiser for a Washington, DC, nonprofit and had been a craft beer hobbyist for years. He and his brother-in-law, Kyle Mientkiewicz, started their search for a suitable home for their new endeavor, which led them to Millvale. 

NHM: Why did you decide to locate in Millvale?

Brian: I like to joke that Millvale found us. We searched everywhere for a building that would suit our needs before we found this one. We liked the location because it’s close to downtown, the stadiums, Route 28 and other popular Pittsburgh attractions. They’re doing great things here and are really encouraging of small business.

NHM: What are your most popular creations? 

Brian: Our flagship beer is the Hazedelic Juice Grenade, which is a Northeast-style beer that has become one of our best sellers. We’ve been brewing the Camp Slap Red, an American Amber Ale, the longest and it continues to be really popular.

NHM: What do you think about the craft beer scene in Pittsburgh? 

Brian: The growth has been tremendous over the last couple of years; it’s been awesome to see that, and it’s been great to see Pittsburgh embracing the craft beer scene. It’s such a neat community, and everyone has a really collaborative attitude. It’s fun to work with other local entrepreneurs who help each other not only on the business end, but also on the creative end of things.

Butler Brew Works

101 South Main Street, Butler

Butler Brew Works promises craft brew enthusiasts adventurous ales and delicious cuisine, paired together for the ultimate experience. President and co-founder Nick Fazzoni formerly worked at Verizon Wireless and before opening the doors of the brewery.  

NHM: How did you get started in the craft brewing business?  

Nick: It started as a hobby. I have an uncle who makes great wine, so I suggested to my friends at the time—now business partners—that we make wine for something to do. The wine idea got shut down, but they wanted to brew beer, so I reluctantly agreed. My only experience with beer at that point had been with cheap, watered-down beers and I wasn’t impressed, but once we started brewing and I learned how many different types of beers there were and all the different things you can do, I was hooked. As we started to make our own recipes and were putting out some good beer, we had a lot of friends and family asking us to brew for them so we decided to look into what it takes to go commercial. It snowballed from there.

NHM: That was a big change from your previous jobs.

Nick: I certainly learned a lot at Verizon and, but what I really learned was that corporate life wasn’t for me.  I wanted to be my own boss and do something that felt rewarding and fulfilling.

NHM: Why did you choose your current location? 

Nick: We chose to be in the city of Butler because the city needed it.  I grew up here; this has always been my backyard. I remember what downtown used to be, so I really wanted to give the city something to be proud of and try to become a catalyst in the growth and revitalization of downtown.

NHM: What makes your products unique?

Nick: We have a little slogan or phrase, or whatever you want to call it—Adventurous Ales. It reflects in our branding and beer names, but it also speaks to how we brew. We often brew outside of traditional style guidelines and use unusual ingredients. We want to create the best-tasting beer possible and don’t see a reason to follow in everyone else’s footsteps. It makes it difficult to enter our beers in most competitions out there, but it keeps brewing fun and creative for us.

NHM: Didn’t you just win a pretty big award?  

Nick:  We entered our first competition this year, the U.S. Open Beer Championship, and won a gold medal for our Ale of Eros in the Belgian-style fruit beer category. Over 6,000 beers from around the world were entered into 100 categories. To be in our first year and win gold at a major competition is an accomplishment we certainly didn’t expect!

Want to try a local craft brew?

There’s no shortage of good beers being created in the ‘burgh. Here are some suggestions on where to quench your thirst:

Butler Brew Works, Butler 

Church Brew Works, Lawrenceville

Draai Laage Brewing Company, Millvale

Grist House Craft Brewery, Millvale

Hop Farm Brewing Co., Lawrenceville

Roundabout Brewery, Lawrenceville

ShuBrew Handcrafted Ales & Food, Zelienople