American Breweriana Journal May/June 2021
The Pittsburgh Brewery Tour Revisited
By Rich Wagner
When Rich Dochter and I started documenting standing brewery buildings in Pennsylvania in 1980, it didn’t take long for us to try and figure out what to do with all information and photographs we had amassed. One of the first things was an article on the historic breweries of Pittsburgh for Zymurgy, Magazine of the American Homebrewers Association in 1985. That led to the first Pittsburgh Brewery Tour sponsored by the Landmarks Foundation (May 1990), then three more: E.C.B.A. (July 1991), Society For Industrial Archeology (June 1993) and NABA (August 1994).
Lots has changed with respect to brewing in Pittsburgh and if anyone is checking out the current scene, addresses of some of the old time breweries have been included so you can take in a little history between present day beer offerings.
Note: PBC: Pittsburgh Brewing Co., IBCP: Independent Brewing Co. of Pittsburgh.
Stop #1 Duquesne B.C., 221st & Mary Sts. South Side.
01_01 Duquesne’s ultra-modern brewery completed in 1950. (Wagner 1985)
01_02 World’s largest clock face advertised Duke Beer until the brewery closed in 1972. A wholesale beer distributor took over the warehouse and changed the face of the clock. (Wagner 1985)
01_03 Original brew house and stock house, 1899. Duquesne was the main branch of IBCP. (Wagner 1985)
01_04 Duquesne brewery complex viewed from 21st St. looking south. (Wagner 1985)
Stop #2 Henry J. Wilhelm’s Washington Brewery, 26th & Josephine Sts. South Side.
02_01 The only other South Side brewery still standing was established in 1866 next to a hillside where storage vaults were carved. It became a branch of PBC in 1899 and was closed. (Wagner 1985)
Stop #3 Iron City, Main Branch of PBC, 32nd & Liberty Sts., Lawrenceville
03_01 The Iron City brewery complex property stands to be developed. This could include saving the office building which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and a brewpub in the Ober Haus hospitality center. The Iron City brand has been a contract brewed at City Brewery in Latrobe. Recent reports indicate Iron City B.C. will outfit a new brewery in a former PPG building in Creighton, PA. (Wagner 1985)
03_02 Brew house. (Wagner 1985)
03_03 Frauenheim & Miller started at this location in 1866, Mr. Vilsack bacame partner in 1870. (Wagner 2001)
Stop #4 Phoenix Brewery 24th & Smallman Sts., Strip District.
04-01 The Phoenix Brewery was established by Adam Wood in 1833. Later known as Spencer & McKay, it moved to this site in 1857, became a branch of PBC and remained in business until prohibition. It was adapted as a dairy plant and is now the Otto Milk Factory Condominiums. (Wagner 1991)
04-02 E.C.B.A. Tour. (Wagner 1991)
04_03 The brewery’s “Phoenix.” (Wagner 1991)
Stop #5 Eberhardt & Ober’s Eagle Brewery, now Penn Brewery, Troy Hill Rd. & Vinial St., North Side.
05_01 Conrad Eberhardt was involved with a number of breweries on Pittsburgh’s north side and established this one in 1849. A partnership, Eberhardt & Ober formed in 1870 when his son took over. It became a branch of PBC until it closed in 1952. (Wagner 1981)
05_02 The brewery was reincarnated as Pennsylvania’s first brewpub in 1989. (Wagner 2000)
05_03 Founder, Tom Pastorius purchased the brew house in Germany. (Wagner 1991)
Stop #6 Gast & Bros. Willow Grove Brewery, Millvale.
06_01 Michael Enz B.C. incorporated as the American B.C. in 1898. It became a branch of IBCP until prohibition. The buildings have been razed. (Wagner 1985)
Stop #7 Baeuerlein’s Star Brewery, 17th & Quarry Sts., Millvale.
07_01 Adam Baeuerlein had a brewery in Pittsburgh for 20 years before starting the Star Brewery in 1863. It became a branch of PBC and operated as Keystone Mfg. Co. during prohibition, closed in 1934. (Wagner 1985)
07_02 Stable. (Wagner 1985)
Stop #8 Henry Hoelle, Stanton Ave. & Black Alley, Millvale.
08_01 Hoelle’s brewery was established in 1863 and was absorbed by IBCP and closed in 1905.
Stop #9 Fort Pitt Brewery, 16th & Mary Sts., Sharpsburg.
09_01 Formed to compete with PBC and IBCP, Fort Pitt started in 1906. The beautiful art deco architecture represents their post-prohibition building program. Glass blocks proclaim “Ft. Pitt, That’s It!”(Wagner 1985)
09_02 Image of the fort for which the company was named.
Stop #10 Wainwright’s Winterton Brewery, 3615 Butler St., Lawrenceville.
10_01 Joseph Wainwright started the brewery in 1818. It became a branch of PBC and lasted until prohibition. The office building is all that remains. (Wagner 1985)
Stop #11 Hill Top Brewery, 132 Southern Ave. Mount Oliver.
11_01 The Hill Top B.C. was formed in 1902 and became a branch of IBCP until prohibition. (Wagner 1985)
Stop #12 Hazelwood B.C., 5007/5011 Lytle & Tecumseh Sts., Hazelwood.
12_01 This brewery started in 1905 and survived prohibition as the Derby B.C. (1934-48). (Wagner 1985)
Stop #13 Henry Schmelz’s Brewery, Steuben St. & Amherst Ave., West End.
13_01 They had just torn down an adjacent building when we found this ghost sign. The brewery was in business from 1870-90. (Wagner 1985)
Stop #14 Home Brewery, aka General Braddock B.C., Braddock.
14_01 The Home Brewing Co. was formed in 1902 and became a branch of the IBC. It came back for four years after repeal, famous because it was owned by the Rooney family of Pittsburgh Steelers Fame. Buildings have been razed. (Wagner 1985)
Stop #15 First National Brewery, Thomas St. & Railroad Alley, McKees Rocks.
15_01 First National B.C. was formed in 1901. It became a branch of IBCP continuing until 1951. (Wagner 1985)
NOTE: The article, complete with photographs, is available to members of the American Breweriana Association on their website.
Bauder, Bob. Demolition Cuts Into History. Pittsburgh Trib. November 26, 2010.
Brew Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. Story of Beer in Pennsylvania. Includes video interviews with Rich Wagner.
Dochter, Rich & Wagner, Rich. "The Brewing History of Pittsburgh, a Microcosm of the U.S. Brewing Industry." Zymurgy. Winter, 1985.
Togneri, Chris.”Brothers' bar in Squirrel Hill capitalizes on locally brewed trend.” Trib (Pittsburgh). Feb. 17, 2014.
Togneri, Chris.”Craft breweries proliferate in Pa., nationally with room to keep growing.” Trib (Pittsburgh). Dec. 28, 2014.
Wagner, Rich. “Brewing in the Iron City.” American Breweriana Journal. May/June 2006.
Wagner, Rich. “City of Steel and Beer: Celebrating Pittsburgh's Heritage.” Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. June/July 2006.
Wagner, Rich. Guidebook to the Pittsburgh Brewery Tour. Soy World, 1993. Out of Print
Wagner, Rich. “Pittsburgh Brewing Company – After Repeal.” American Breweriana Journal. May/June 2006.
Wagner, Rich. “Pittsburgh, Iron City Brand Go Their Separate Ways. Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. Aug./Sept. 2009.