The Observer Journal of the Pennsylvania Liquor Industry February 12, 1990

What's Brewing in Pennsylvania Microbreweries?

By Rich Wagner

The OBSERVER reported the opening of Stoudt's microbrewery in June of 1988. More recent developments include the opening of two brewpubs in the Commonwealth. One may ask how many microbreweries can fit in your pocket, but "microbrewery" is a term used to describe a small brewery that produces no more than 10,000 barrels of beer annually. Now that Pittsburgh and Philadelphia each have a brewpub one may ask "what's a brewpub?" The brewpub originated in England as a pub which brewed its own ale. Actually many breweries functioned this way in colonial Pennsylvania, they were just not called "brewpubs." A brewpub generally produces less beer than a microbrewery.

The trend is contrary to what has been happening the the beer industry since repeal of prohibition. The overall industry trend has been towards bigness and the "tied house" was a thing of the past in 1920. But another trend began in 1977 when Jack McAuliffe founded the New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, California. This was the nation's first "microbrewery." Five years later Bert Grant opened America's first "brewpub" in Yakima, Washington. Pennsylvania had its first microbrewery in 1987 and its first brewpub in September of 1989.

Brewpubs have been springing up all over North America in recent years. Their numbers are greater in the west but residents in the midwest and east are now getting the opportunity to sample fresh brews made on the premises. Most brewpubs function as a combination restaurant/brewery. The brewer in the brewpub gets to experiment with recipes and offer specialty brews to customers on a regular basis. Nationally, most brewpubs tend to produce top fermented ales which are ready for consumption in one or two weeks. The ales vary, but most are full-bodied, malty brews with a noticeable "hop nose."


The Stoudt Brewing Company in Adamstown is owned by Carol Stoudt. She brews excellent German-style lager beers. The standard brews are her Pilsner, Golden Lager, Amber and Dark, with seasonal Bocks, and Weizen (Wheat) in the summer months. Her wheat beer won the Gold Medal in its class at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver last fall, while her Golden Lager won a silver medal in 1988.

All of Stoudt's beers are made only from malted barley, hops, yeast and water in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law of 1516. The brewery sells beer in kegs and cases to licensees and the public. A case consists of twelve Champagne bottles. Last year's sales were 1275 barrels. Stoudt Brewing Company also contracts with the Lion Brewing Co. in Wilkes-Barre to produce cases of Stoudt's Golden Lager in twelve ounce bottles which are available in several counties in eastern Pennsylvania. The Lion also produced Stoudt's Oktoberfest Beer and Stoudt's Holiday Ale this fall.

Carol's best customer is her husband, Ed Stoudt, who proudly serves Stoudt's beers at his Black Angus Restaurant which is adjacent to thebrewery and in 'Brewers' Hall' during the summer Bavarian Festival. Participants at the festival can look through glass windows and see the fermenting tanks and keg racking area. Four Packs are available at the Black Angus as well as the Bavarian Festival.

There's always something new brewing at Stoudt's. This holiday season it was a Holiday Bock and Wassail. The Wassail was in the style of a spicey holiday brew designed to taste like a piece of apple pie. This year's Mardis Gras Beer has just been kegged.


Tom Pastorius realized his dream of opening a brewpub this fall. The Pennsylvania Brewing Company's Allegheny Brewpub was on line with a gala grand opening on September 12, 1989. Mayor Sophie Masloff and Governor Bob Casey were on hand to tap the first keg. And tapping this keg meant hammering the tap into a wooden barrel, the old fashioned way.

The Pennsylvania Brewing Company began by contracting with the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1986. Pennsylvania Pilsner was a full-bodied, rich German-style brew that had people across the state taking notice. Two years later Jones Brewing Company began producing Penn Pilsner. While his contract beer was catching on throughout Pennsylvania and other states, Tom was busy restoring an old brewery complex on Pittsburgh's north side; the old Eberhardt & Ober brewery at Troy Hill Rd. and Vinial St.

The old E & O building is now home to a number of firms which are trying to get established. This innovative business campus is called an "incubator." The complex offers low rent office space and the expertise of consultants to people just starting out with a business. Tom had the office space fully rented before he sold his first glass of beer at the Allegheny Brewpub.

 The brewpub itself is a $2 million project. Tom and brewmaster Alex Deml have built a real brewery from the ground up. The brewery has been built to have a yearly capacity of 20,000 barrels which makes it larger than the 10,000 barrel "microbrewery." All beers will be brewed in strict adherence to the Reinheitsgebot, with only the finest malted barley, hops, yeast, and water as ingredients. Much of the equipment has been imported from Germany and much has been fabricated on site. Alex graduated at the top of his class from Germany's most prestigious brewing school and could have taken a job with any brewery in the world, but he chose this project as a challenge to his expertise.

Since opening in the fall Tom reports that he is selling half of his capacity which is twice what he expected to be selling at this point. There are already plans under way for expansion. Standard beers at the Allegheny Brewpub are the Penn Pilsner, Penn Light Lager, Penn Dark, and Kaiser Pils. The Weizen (wheat) beer, which is usually considered a summer drink, has been such a big hit that it is now available year-round. The Christmas Celebrator Bock, a well balanced, smooth, mellow holiday brew met with rave reviews. For New Year's eve there was even a Weizen Bock Beer (a bock beer made with malted wheat). Together with the Christmas Celebrator and the giant pretzel at midnight, this ceremony must have been a memorable event. A Maibock (May Bock) is currently in the works for the spring.

The Allegheny Brewpub has a full kitchen which provides gourmet fare including baked goods and some excellent pastries. The fourteen kitchen employees serve two hundred and fifty dinners every Saturday night. Entertainment is provided by Bob Hamilton, the Mad Bavarian. Beer brewed at the brewpub is available by the keg to licensees and the public.


Ever since he brewed his first batch of homebrew, restaurant owner David Mink dreamed of operating a brewpub. He had plenty of experience in the restaurant business, he just needed a partner with expertise in operating a brewery. He found his partner in Jim Koch, a successful entrepreneur and owner of the Boston Beer Company.

Jim introduced Samuel Adams as a contract beer in 1984. This was the second major contract label to be introduced into the American market and has been, by far, the most successful. It is a full bodied amber brew characteristic of the way beer used to taste in America. To borrow from the advertisement, "it's the beer that beats the imports," and "declare your independence from imported beers."

These two successful businessmen have teamed up to open Philadelphia's first brewpub. The Samuel Adams Brew House celebrated its gala opening on November 29, 1989. It is located at 1516 Sansom St. atop Mink's Sansom Street Oyster House. David's wife owns the brewpub while he maintains ownership of the Oyster House restaurant. The two are separate establishments and operate independently.

The seven barrel brewhouse produces Ben Franklin Gold, a "best bitter" style ale, Poor Richard's Amber, a classic British-style ale, and George Washington's Porter, a strong dark porter. The porter won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the Fall. Its rich malt flavor is complimented by the addition of just the right amount of honey to add a drop of sweetness to the brew. The only place to sample this beer is on the premises.

The Philadelphia Brewing Company brews its beers from malt extract and has a capacity to brew about 1,000 barrels of beer per year. Right now, brewmaster Jim Pericles is brewing three times a week to keep the Sam Adam's clientele supplied with the freshest beer in the city. After fermentation the beer goes to large serving tanks and directly to the taps. A large wooden bar imported from England forms the pub area. There is additional seating for forty in the rear which is separated from the bar by the brewing area.

Traditional "pub-grub" as well as some excellent gourmet selections are available from the kitchen. This writer suggests the Matjes herring and Cajun fries! The pub opens at 11 A.M. and is open Monday through Saturday.


The Dock Street Brewing Company was established in 1986. The beer is made under contract by the F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica, NY. This is another full flavored amber brew which offers the beer connoisseur an alternative to lighter domestic beers. It was ranked as the third most popular beer in America at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in 1986. Dock Street beer is currently available in fourteen states on the east coast, as well as in California, and France. The beer is available through distributors by the keg and case.

Dock Street is currently setting in motion a massive $2 million project. A brewpub is in the works for Two Logan at 18th and Cherry Sts. In Philadelphia. Plans call for an eight barrel brew house with a capacity to brew 2,000 barrels of beer annually. The kettle will be copper clad and the tiled brew house will be visible from large glass panels. The brewing area will take up about fifteen per cent of the total 8,000 square foot establishment. Beer will be brewed from malted barley, hops, yeast and water by brewmaster Will Kemper.

There will be a forty foot long bar in the main pub area with seating for 200. There will be a separate game room for pool and darts and a mall six to eight patron bar elsewhere in the brewpub. In addition, a full menu will be available. There are still a few details to be worked out, none the least of which is Dock Street's brewery license. The owners optimistically look forward to opening this spring and plan on serving at least six different beers.


Only a few years ago the idea of a microbrewery or brewpub in Pennsylvania seemed far-fetched. With the closing of all but eight of the state's beer producers it seemed highly unlikely that a brewery would open. The fact that three new brewing establishments have opened and one is in the works should be proof enough that there is a market for this new type of brew. The test will be time. Ask any of those in the industry and they will be quick to point out that it is much easier to open a brewery than keep one operating in the black. Many seasoned veterans foresee the closing of one in ten microbreweries and brewpubs that are open today before the turn of the century. Some foresee a brewpub in every town. All the brewpubs and microbreweries in the country account for less than one percent of national beer production.

There are many differences in liquor codes from state to state. This accounts for the confusion many tourists experience when they don't know what's legal from one state to another. Imagine trying to buy a drink in Ocean City, New Jersey (any time), or buy a beer in North Dakota on Sunday as an out of state visitor. There are still places where you'll find no brewpubs or microbreweries. There are many states, however, where brewpubs can sell their own beer as well as beer produced by other breweries. California and Oregon brewpubs serve draft and packaged products from other breweries. In some states brewpubs may have a wine license while in others they may have a full liquor license. Would further change in the liquor code encourage the establishment of more brewpubs in Pennsylvania? Do these businesses promote tourism and commerce?

It is encouraging to see the development of this new niche of the industry growing here in Pennsylvania. Here's hoping these new ventures success in the beer business in Pennsylvania.


  1. First microbrewery in U.S.A., New Albion Brewing Co., Sonoma, CA..

  2. Five microbreweries in U.S.A. produce 3050 barrels per year.

  1. First brewpub in U.S.A. Grant's, Yakima, WA. California changes law to permit brewpubs. First "contract beer" brand "New Amsterdam" is produced by F.X. Matt in Utica, NY.

  2. Buffalo Bill's is First Brewpub in Hayward, California, Mendocino B.C. is a close second.

  3. Boston Beer Co. is founded and brand is first produced by Pittsburgh B.C.

  4. New Amsterdam opens first microbrewery/brewpub in New York City. There are 55 microbreweries and brewpubs in the U.S.A. which produce 43,240 barrels of the nation's 183 million barrels. Samuel Adams wins Best Beer in U.S.A. at Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

  5. Dock Street Brewing Co., Philadelphia contracts 3,500 cases of Dock Street Beer through F.X. Matt in Utica, NY.

  6. Schmidt's of Philadelphia closes. Stoudt Brewing Co. of Adamstown becomes the first microbrewery in PA. Pennsylvania changes law against the "tied house" which will permit brewpubs.

  7. 88 Microbreweries in U.S.A.

  8. Allegheny Brewpub becomes the first brewpub in PA. Samuel Adams Brew House becomes first brewpub in Philadelphia and wins silver medal at Great American Beer Festival in Denver for George Washington Porter.

  9. Regionally there are 6 new brewing companies in OH, 1 in NJ, 5 in NY, 4 in MD and 3 in PA.

Rich Wagner has toured over one hundred brewpubs and microbreweries in the United States and Canada, has done extensive research on the history of the brewing industry in Pennsylvania and is a homebrewer.