American Breweriana Journal March/April 1991

New Micro Brings Old Brewery Back to Life

By Rich Wagner

When the Pennsylvania Brewing Company opened as the state's first "tied house" establishment just over a year ago, beer lovers and brewery historians shouted with glee.

A tied house is a restaurant or pub owned by a brewery. A special act of the state legislature enabled the brewing company to open its restaurant.

Located on Pittsburgh's North Side in the renovated nineteenth century Eberhard & Ober brewery, the Allegheny Brewery and Pub features a wall of glass which looks onto the copper kettles where seven varieties of authentic German beer, including the flagship Penn Pilsner are made.

Guests can experience several beers with their meal. In addition to Penn Pilsner, there is Penn Light Lager, Penn Dark, Weizen (wheat), Kaiser Pils, Alt (as close as Germans get to calling anything 'ale'), and specialty seasonal brews.

Tom Pastorius, founder and president of Pennsylvania Brewing Company, promised that the Allegheny Brewery and Pub would feature authentic German food in an "Old World" ambiance. And, say customers, it's a promise that has been kept in the fifteen months since opening.

"Penn Pilsner is one of only four American-brewed beers accepted for import into Germany, because it meets all the stringent purity requirements of that nation, called the 'Reinheitsgebot' (German purity law)," he said. "All of our beer compete in taste and quality with any imported beer and they are fresher.

"With the Allegheny Brewery, we offer a new generation of a microbrewery, competing with the imports not just in boldness and nostalgia, but also in quality," Pastorius said.

That "Old World" authenticity includes a Bavarian brewmaster working in a restored old brewery complex in a neighborhood once known as "Dutch Town" (an Anglicized version of Deutschtown).

Pastorius began brewing a the northside location in April 1989. During the ten-month construction phase, he hired Alexander Deml as Brewmaster. Deml was the top graduate of the University of Munich's world-famous Brewmaster's School, the Weihenstephan Institute. He was recruited by breweries all over the world, but chose Pennsylvania Brewing Company in Pittsburgh.

"I saw Tom;s commitment to brewing a real German beer under the same kind of quality and purity standards I was used to in Germany. It's a real challenge to start up a new brewery and I'm very proud of the beer we now produce. I've even taken some back to Germany and everyone there is very impressed," Deml said.

"Once Alexander was here overseeing the production of beer, I concentrated my efforts on getting the brew pub built," Pastorius said.

"There is no other facility like this in Pennsylvania, and only a handful of brew pubs tied to breweries throughout the country. Other so-called premium microbreweries seem to have decided to go after the mass market which means their beer is in the pipeline longer. That affects quality," he continued.

"We've targeted and limited our market," Pastorius noted, "and anyone who drinks our beer, at the brewpub, in their homes, or at a first class restaurant is getting a freshly brewed, quality beer that doesn't have any preservatives or additives."

The Allegheny Brewery and Pub is a 2,300 square-foot facility. The moderately priced pub will seat 80 and is open from 11 A.M. to midnight. Parking facilities for 100 cars have been built adjacent to the brewery which also features a restored cobblestone courtyard, which will serve as an outdoor beer garden.

To see pictures, click here.