Monday, January 7, 2019

First Beer Engine in Pittsburgh

This all came from my collection of notes taken over the years for the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers. I wrote the newsletter, The TRASH Can for eleven years. Looking back I wish I took more detailed notes. C'est la vie.

In olden times (‘90’s) Kangaroo’s Outback Café was in the North Hills and in Robinson I visited the North Hill pub and found it to be a nice place with a good beer selection as well as good food. In September 1995 they did something no other beer-serving restaurant in Pittsburgh thought to do; they purchased a beer engine. I did not visit the Robinson location so I do not know if they had an engine nor do I know how many they actually had. I can’t remember how I knew of this but as others from the homebrew club was there I have to think it was from the late Tony Knipling. Tony had his ear on all thing s beer in Pittsburgh. My notes tell me that one engine went to the Fuel & Fuddle and two went to the Fox and Hounds.

Specifically I can’t remember the day we went to Kangaroo’s but Pittsburgh radio personality Jim Quinn was at there that evening as well as a few TRASH members. I think Quinn was having one of his think tanks. We older ‘burghers remember “the daddyo of the radio” when he was a DJ on KQV-FM back in the ’60. I was there for the beer. I also remember getting the swordfish and bursting out with !!!!’s on how good it was.

Nobody in Pittsburgh had any knowledge on how to keep and serve beer with a hand pump back then. Not too soon after its debut it was pulled from duty. It does take dome tender loving care and some find it a tad warm.

The Sharp Edge was the second tavern in Pittsburgh to sell Cask Conditioned Ale. They had one engine and served a new keg every Wednesday at 6PM and ran it until it kicks. I don’t have the specific date but I believe it was in 1996.The first beer out of the swan neck was Rouge Red at $4.25. Eventually they installed a second engine about March 1997. The Church Brew Works as well as Three Rivers Brewing opened in 1996. I can’t find anything squirreled away in my notes when they started pulling the pump but Seam Casey of the Church has pictures of me pulling the first draft.

The third tavern to sell cask ale was the Fuel & Fuddle in Oakland. Fist pull was in June or July 1997.  The only served one keg of Pretzel City IPA and took the hand pump off.  They wanted to continue with the cask but they could not keep the keg at the proper temperature. The beer was on the warm side and more than it should have been for cask ale. There was no room under the bar and no place convenient under the floor. They purchased the one hand pump from Kangaroo's. 1998.

John Harvard’s opened in 1997 and I have to believe they stated doing cask beer right from the get-go. The Foundry Ale Works followed that year but no cask until 1998.

The Carson Street Chop House had a beer engine on the bar during my visit on February 10, 1998. The beer that day was Victory Briar Bitter. The House was a sister pub to Fat Heads South Shore Saloon across the street. We know the House today as Pipers Pub (opened 1999). Fat Heads eventually put an engine on for several years but after a remodeling it was taken out of service. Tony then acquired it from Glenn and used it for TRASH meeting and other events around town.

One engine was installed at Strip Brewery on Penn Avenue in the Strip District (of course) on March 1, 1998. After this visit I went out to the Foundry Ale Works on Smallman. They were closed every Sunday in February for work and reopened today. It was nice to see 2 engines waiting for me. We were blessed on Sunday, April 5, 1998 when the Foundry Ale Works installed three beer engines (at end of March). This was a Pittsburgh first.

On my June 15, 1998 visit to John Harvard’s in Wilkins Township I got nice treat. Today was the day they served their first cask ale. I did not write the beer in my notes but I did take note that it was $2.75. The next day I waddled into the Strip Brewery on Penn Avenue and found one engine. As I recall the Strip and John Harvard’s were the only two breweries serving beer on gravity from wood casks. Penn Brewery did gravity during functions like Christmas and their birthday party but the cask was plastic lined and with regular beer. I never complained.  Gravity beer is not under pressure nor is it pumped or forced from the cask. It just pours out on its own into your mug. 

The Sharp Edge Creek House (opened 1998) next to the Thornburg Bridge on Rt. 60 stared cask beer in February 1999. Jeff Walewski was an early supporter of cask beer. Jeffery traveled with me to Chicago for the first Real Ale Festive in November 1997. It was fun for us, and a learning experience for Jeff. A real treat for me was having drinks and breakfast with world famous beer writer Rodger Protz. We stayed in contact ever since and that is something I will always treasure.  

The Fox & Hounds in the North Hills opened in 1999 and the manager was formerly with Kangaroo's. He had two cask pumps but had no plans to install them. I wish he did as that would have been a perfect place for me to chill between London trips.

On the South Side Pipers Pub (operating 4 engines because I go there a lot) and Carson Street Deli (one pump at my barstool). Smoken Joes had one but I haven’t had a brew there in a while. Rock Bottom has two. East End Brewing has one that is at the ready. The Map Room in Regent Square had one doing Scot Smith’s brews. Now closed Rivertowne Brewery in Monroeville had one and North Country Brewing has one. Although not via an engine the Hofbräuhaus in the South Side Works does a gravity keg every First Wednesday of the moth when they debut a beer of the month. I don’t know the status of today. Over the years they have come and gone. I know I probably missed some spots. Sorry, I need to get out more.

Brewery opening dates not after 1999:
Penn Brewery September 12, 1989 as Allegheny Brewery & Pub
Church Brew Works August 1, 1996
Three Rivers Brewery December 4, 1996
Valhalla Brewery May 1997
Strip Brewery June 1997
John Harvard’s August 26, 1997
Foundry Ale Works November 1997

If I get updates I should repost this for the benefit of future parakeets.
(If you read my newsletters you would understand the parakeet reference)
I wanted to get this out there as I was always in awe that Kangaroo’s had the first beer engine. At that time there were no breweries other than Allegheny and they only served draft and bottles. We had a good representation of imported beer but American craft was nothing like it is today.

Cheers, Ed Vidunas

Monday, December 24, 2018

Winter Brothers Brewery Pittsburgh

I found articles on the death of Frank (son) and Wolfgang (father) Winter and found an error. Reports on the death of Wolfgang contains an error so I am correcting it here.

The Brewers Journal, Volume 58, Issues 7-11, 1922 and Find a reported on the death of Wolfgang Winter. Mr. Winter was one of the owners of the M. Winter Brothers Brewery in Pittsburgh’s South Side. After selling the company to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1899 he and his brother, Michael moved to Orange New Jersey where they opened the Orange Brewery. The third brother, Alois, remained in Pittsburgh as superintendent of the Winter Brewery for PBC. Both the Brewers Journal and Find a Grave are both in error. The Journal got some family history wrong and the Grave copied it.

They reported that Wolfgang worked in Pittsburgh and Homestead, Pa. This reference did not apply to Wolfgang but rather his son, Frank M. Winter. Frank was born in Chicago when the brothers were living in Chicago before moving to Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Press on December 26, 1939 reported on the death of Frank. The Press had Frank being “associated all his life with brewery firms, having worked for the Homestead Brewery, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company and recently with the Washington Brewery”. I hope anyone researching the Winter family will find their way here and not repeat the error. I can't find a better title to identify this in search engines so you see what I did.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Allegheny County Pa. Breweries Count

This is the status and count of all the breweries that currently exist in Allegheny County, Pa, and those in the past and proposed. Proposed breweries are those who have received a conditional permit from the Pa. LCB. Please be advised that the data on the LCB website has errors and omissions as not all that is shown has been updated. This list is accurate as of December 2, 2018.

37 Active Breweries
1            180 and Tapped Brewery (Commercial)            Active
2            412 Brews (Brewery) (Commercial)            Active
3            Allegheny City Brewery            Active
4            American Beverage (Commercial) Active (makers of Daily's Little Hugs)
5            Aurochs Brewery             Active
6            Cinderlands Brewery            Active
7            Cobblehause Brewery            Active
8            Copper Kettle Brewery (Brew Your Own)            Active
9            Costar Brewery (Garage-Commercial)            Active
10            Couch Brewery            Active
11            Dancing Gnome Brewery            Active
12            East End Brewery            Active
13            Eleventh Hour Brewery            Active
14            Enix Brewery            Active
15            Grist House Brewery            Active
16            Helicon Brewery            Active
17            Hitchhiker Brewery            Active
18            Hofbrauhause Brewery            Active
19            Hop Yard Brewery            Active
20            Insurrection Brewery            Active
21            Kim's Dog House Brewery            Active (down the street from Insurrection)
22            Lawrecnceville Brewery dba Church Brew Works            Active
23            Mindful Brewery            Active
24            Penn Brewery             Active
25            Pig Hill Brewery             Active
26            Pittsburgh Bottle Shop & Brewhouse Active with recent new owner
27            Rivertowne Brewery            Active
28            Rock Bottom Brewery            Active
29            Roundabout Brewery            Active
30            Southern Tier Brewery            Active
31            Spoonwood Brewery            Active
32            Spring Hill Brewery            Active
33            Strange Roots Experimental Ales Gibsonia            Active
34            The Brew Gentlemen Brewery            Active
35            The Leaning Cask Brewery            Active
36            The Parkway Theater Brewery            Active
37            War Streets Brewery - Biers Pub            Active

10 Breweries that closed
1            Draai Laag Brewery Alison Park            Closed
2            Draai Laag Brewery Millvale            Closed
3            Iron City Brewery Lawrenceville            Closed
4            John Harvard's Brew House            Closed
5            Milkman Brewery            Closed
6            Penn Brewery             Closed but reopened (don't get me started on this)
7            Strip Brewery            Closed
8            Sweet Water Brewery dba Foundry Ale Works            Closed
9            Three Rivers Brewery            Closed
10           Valhalla Brewery Strip District            Closed

5 Breweries that moved to a new location and remain active.
1            Aurochs Brewery             Moved
2            East End Brewing            Moved
3            Hitchhiker Brewery            Moved
4            Pig Hill Brewery 1            Moved
5            War Streets Brewery            Moved

As it says
1            Three Mugs Brew Pub            Never Opened
2            Robber Baron Brewery            Never Opened
1            Inner Groove Brewery Verona            Pending
2            Copper Kettle Brewery Bloomfield            Planning
1            Grist House Brewery Collier Township            Planniung
1            Allegheny Brewery & Pub            Renamed Penn Brewery
2            Trios Brewery            Renamed Enix Brewery
1            Acrospire Brewery            Safekeeping
2            Cinderlands Brewery Strip District            Safekeeping
3            Lincoln Avenue Brewery Bellvue            Safekeeping
4            Rogan Brewery Duquesne            Safekeeping
5            Stonewall Cider House and Meadery Verona            Safekeeping

1            Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar            Special
Note: Arsenal received a pending brewing license by the Pa.  LCB but let let go expired. This was for the Penn Hills location that is currently in production.

If we count the 37 active breweries plus 9 of the 10 closed we have 46 breweries that have been in production since 1989. I am not counting the two that never opened or Arsenal.
This list will be posted with more information on

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Eberhardt & Ober Brewery Fire of 1883

Storues about the Penn Brewery building burning down in 1883 are wrong.

In 1883 The Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company bought the John Straub Brewing Company. Both breweries were located on Pittsburgh’s North Side in the Deutschtown neighborhood. That same year Eberhardt & Ober (E & O) rebuilt the stock house on Vinial Street. That building is known today as the Penn Brewery. The Straub Brewery on nearby South Canal Street was reconfigured to become a grain elevator. It has been written numerous times that the stock house was destroyed by fire in 1883 and rebuilt as the building we know today. This is incorrect. Somehow the date of the fire was misread by a writer and what he wrote was copied time and time again. To be clear, the stock house, currently the Penn Brewery, was never on fire.

William Eberhardt and Peter Ober were related by marriage as Peter married William’s sister Sarah in 1871. The Conrad Eberhardt Brewery was adjacent to the George Ober Brewery and the two families obviously engaged with each other. Things happen. The two breweries were however independent of one another.

William was the son on Conrad Eberhardt, who foundered the Eagle Brewery in 1852. William took control in 1870 when his father retired from the business. Peter was the son of George Ober who took control of the Amber Brewery sometie after 1860. George had three sons, Frank, Charles and Peter. Peter, for some reason did not stay with his family’s brewery but joined William in 1870. When the William Ober Brewing Company bought Straub in 1883 Peter had become a partner and the company became the Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company.

The year when E & O bought Straub the company enlarged operations as the rebuilding of the stock house and grain elevator illustrates. The grain elevator was located on South Cannel Street between Chestnut Street and X Street. The rail line that we see today running through the North Side next to the Heinz plant was at the time a branch of the Pennsylvania Cannel. The cannel played a small part in Pittsburgh’s brewing history as John Straub (not related to Peter from St. Marys) had yeast shipped from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in1848 on the cannel. That yeast enabled Straub to make Pittsburgh’s first lager beer.

Adjacent to Straub’s old brewery was the Godfrey & Clark Paper Company and the Heinz Pickle factory. On Aprl4, 1893, a fire broke out in the paper company at 2:30 in the afternoon. This made national news and the reports from several newspapers are exhibited below:

April 5, 1893
The Newark Advocate from Newark, Ohio · Page 1

Eberhardt & Ober, the Godfrey Clark Paper Company and the H. J. Heinz Pickle Company, Besides a Number of Small Property Owners, Burned Out.

Allegheny City was visited by fire yesterday evening, which destroyed about $400,000 worth of property. The principal sufferers were: Eberhardt Ober, the Godfrey Clark Paper company and the H. J. Heinz Pickle company, besides a number of small property owners. The fire is supposed to have been caused by a spark from their own smokestack flying into an open window of the sorting room of Godfrey Clark's warehouse. It spread rapidly, enveloping that building in flames and then spreading to the malthonse, warehouse and elevator of Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company. The Allegheny department, after a futile attempt to stay the course of-the fire, summoned aid from Pittsburg. The firemen fought hard, but did not succeed in getting control of the fire until a late hour last night. The fire burned over the best part of two blocks, also destroying the lumber yard and planning will of Kopp Voeghtly, the old Hope cotton mill building, occupied by the H. J. Heinz Pickle company as a warehouse, and a number of dwellings, A number of minor accidents occurred. The losses as near as can be obtained are: Eberhardt & Ober, $75,000' on building, insured for $44.000; stock $125,000, insured for $50,000; Godfrey Clark, $25.000 on building, insured for $20,000; $35,000 on stock, insured for $31,000: E. M. Ferguson, owner of the Hope cotton mill building, $22,000; insurance not known; H, J.- Heinz Pickle company, on stock, $20.000, partially insured; four houses owned by Thomas Loughery, $10,000, small insurance: Kopp Voeghtly, lumber yard and planning mill, $30,000, insurance not known; a number of dwelling houses, stc., increasing the loss to $400,000. Eberhardt & Ober were unable last night to furnish a list of the companies for which they were insured. Godfrey Clark are insured in 30 different companies, in sums ranging from $500 to $3,000, the principal companies being the Mutual of New York for $5,500 and the Columbia of Louisville for $3,000. This is the fourth time they have burned out in 15 years, their losses amounting to $410,000. with a total insurance only of $110,000. Both companies will rebuild at once.

April 5, 1893
Lincoln Daily News from Lincoln, Nebraska · Page 2

Pittsburgh, April 5. At 2 o'clock Tuesday afternoon fire broke out on the second floor of the ' paper warehouse; of Godfrey & Clark on South Canal street. Allegheny, and a general alarm was sent in, and within an hour the lavc frame building, which was filled with a stock of paper, was totally destroyed. At 3:4o o'clock the flames had communicated to the 5-story malt house of Eberhardt & Ober's brewery. The strong-wind fanned the flames into intense hot waves, which fairly melted that building and contents to the ground. The wind drove the flames to the midst of a row of brick and frame dwellings on South Canal street. Aid From Pitttslurg Chief 31 u ?hy telephoned to the Pittsburg fire department for aid, which sent. Before the two companies in Pittsburg had arrived, the dwellings were in flames and their total destruction was only a question of time. 3:43 the large lumber yard and planning mill of Klopp & Voegtly, on Cannel street, was on fire, and the Heinz Picke1 works were in danger. Five hours later, the Hope Cotton mill, on Ma., street, became ignited and was soon destroyed. Three dwellings in the rear of the cotton mill also caught about that time and were also destroyed. At o'clock it was thought the fire was under control. Iy is reported that a child was burned to death and that several residents of the South Cannel street dwellings were seriously injured. Total losses at this writing cannot be estimated. Firemen injured. Robert Badger and John Bohneyo, the firemen injured by falling walls, regained consciousness shortly after their arrival at the Allegheny general hospital, and will recover. The report that a child had been burned to death, also that a number of people had been seriously injured, is not correct. Several, however, were slightly burned. A correct statement of losses and insurance is as follows: The Losses. Eberhardt & Ober, grain elevator slightly burned. A correct statement of losses and insurance is as follows: Eberhardt & Ober, grain elevator and malt house with contents, worth $175,000 insured for $94,0O0; Godfrey & Clarke, paper warehouse and contents, $65,000, insured for $30,000: Samuel Martin, three residences worth $-5,001', insured for $10 000. The lumberyard and planning mill owned by Klopp & Voegtly, as well as the Hope cotton mill, in which H. J. Heinze had stored a large quantity of stock, was damaged to a considerable extent but not beyond repair, ad was the other property enumerated above. The high wind carried burning embers to an almost incredible distance and many blocks away people were kept busy extinguishing small fires, which caught on the roofs of their residences.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Allegheny County, Pa. Breweries 2016 End

It is almost two weeks before Turkey Day so I thought I would do a brewery count for Allegheny County and Pittsburgh. This list is gleaned from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board data base and does not actually reflect what is happening in real life. This makes me suspect the accuracy of the LBC. But this is what they show as of November 12, 2016.

Active Breweries in Allegheny County: 31, 7 of which have 2 licenses
Active Breweries in Pittsburgh alone:  10, 3 of which have 2 licenses
Note: The brewery in Varona is a commercial drinks manufacturer.
Also as shown below, Church and Copper Kettle have expired licenses, which I thing the LCB is in error. How is this on the state-wide level?

Expired Breweries in Allegheny County: 8, which includes Church Brew Works & Copper Kettle
Expired Breweries in Pittsburgh alone: 6, which includes Church Brew Works & Copper Kettle

Pending Breweries in Allegheny County: 2
Pending Breweries in Pittsburgh alone: 0

Safekeeping Breweries in Allegheny County: 9, of which 3 have 2 licenses in safekeeping
Safekeeping Breweries in Pittsburgh alone:  3, of which 1 has 2 licenses in safekeeping
Note: Mindful has 2 in safekeeping but had one license expire so it seems as they applied for 3 in total.

Brewery Storage Areas in Allegheny County: 2, I Expired
Brewery Storage Areas in Pittsburgh alone: 1

Of the breweries noted above there are 10 brewery-pub licenses but of those Draai Laag in Millvale has 2 brewery-pub licenses and I have no idea why. Two breweries have had there brewery-pub license expire: Iron City, which tried to open a small pilot brewery at the Liberty Avenue Ober Haus, and East End, which does not need it anymore.

Three breweries have an Active Brewery Storage license: East End, Pig Hill and Auroch. Penn Brewery had one but it expired in 2012.

The state has never shown The Strip Brewery in Pittsburgh of ever having a license and even though it looked like a brewery-pub it may not have. The Church operates independently of the Lawrenceville Brewing Co. and the Foundry Ale Works operated independently from the Sweet Water Brewing Co. So, this muddles things a bit. To further muck thing up Three Mugs Brew Pub actually received a license but never opened and is no longer listed in the LCB data base. I cannot confirm is Penn Brewery ever actually have a brewery-pub license.

 For a bit more on this and in further detail, see, which means I now have to update my Breweries in Allegheny County page, thank you very much.

Cheers, Ed

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Passport Hell

This past April I sent in a form, photo and fee to renew my U.S. passport. My check was cashed in July. By the end of August I was living in a nightmare. I went to the passport office website to see about my status as I was due to receive it and saw that it was being processed. I also logged in to receive email messages. About a week more with no passport in my mailbox I started calling the number provided. They could not tell me anything more than what was on the website. When I thought it was long overdue I called a few more time with the same negative result. Once a man said he would request somebody call me about why I had not received it. To date no call. Finally after desperation set in and that it was not mid-September I called twice in one week. The call center could tell me nothing. Why am I calling them I wondered? It was time to speak with a supervisor. While on hold somebody pushed a button too quickly and I heard said supervisor say “Well, he is going to have to comply like everyone else”. Yes, I wanted to I thought.


I found that the call center is a third party and they have no information other that what you see on the site. I was told (in September) that I was sent a letter in April telling me my AAA photo was rejected. Thanks to the Post Office I never received it. The super did request somebody call me and the next day I finally found out the photo was rejected as it was grainy and not the right white background. It is now going on six months and still no passport. I sent in a new one taken at a post office.


Why have people take questions if they have no ability to give answers or direct you to people who can? The supervisors at the call center have no clue that people are calling for real answers. I sent is a new photo and have no confidence that I may get my passport in my lifetime. This is the third time in my life I have renewed and the first time I am living in hell.


In a merry-go-round system, the passport website says to call for more information but when you do they tell you to visit the site for more information. If you miss getting a letter you are out of luck as there is no other number to call. They are truly behind a wall. Mr. Trump, tear down this wall.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Octoberfest Bier English Style

As this is the Oktoberfest season I thought I would tell a short story on the origins of Oktoberfest. No, not the party but the beer.

Right to the point, English Pale Ale was the forerunner of Oktoberfest and Vienna (Austrian) bier. Yes, I said that and a sober man I be. In the 1830’s two continental brewers, Anton Dreher (from Vienna) and Gabriel Sedlmayer II (from Munich) visited England to learn brewing techniques. They were very good brewers but wanted to see and learn more. They knew something was brewing in England (sorry, I just had to use that line) so in the 1820’s and 30’s they went on a massive tour d’ brew. Beer was made using brown malt for centuries as that was pretty much it. Brewers knew of pale malt but it was hard to make and expensive. The first pale beers on the continent were Dreher’s Vienna and a Pilsner from Bohemia in 1842. English country gentlemen were making pale ale since the early 1700’s.

Sedlmayer continued to brew brown beer in Munich but he developed consistent brews by using bottom-settling yeast. His methods produced beers that allowed the malt to fully express itself as opposed to the top-floating yeast that gave fruity flavors. Dreher as well as the English were using “top-fermenting” yeast in their brewing but Sedlmayer was exploring the use of “bottom-fermenting” brewing. The brewers of Munich were using bottom yeast sine the 1400’s. But it was not known in Austria until much later.

In Vienna, Dreher attempted to brew English-style ale using the new pale-malt. It did not sell well but that was probably due to regional taste. He then made a lager (and history) when he combined pale-malt and Sedlmayer’s brewing method. This March beer had a good body and clean taste, but what made this different was the copper color. It took the name Vienna to distance it from all other German Märzenbiers that were still brown in color. Vienna malt takes its name from the city as that is where it was developed. Taken to the Munich Oktoberfest Dreher’s beer was excitedly received by the patrons who proclaimed it the official Oktoberfest bier. And that is why Oktoberfest beer is not (or was not) quite the same as Märzenbier.

In Pittsburgh one can enjoy a fine Vienna beer made by Penn Brewery in Deutschtown.

Rule Britannia,

Ed Vidunas