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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

East End Brewing in London

East End Brewing Company in Pittsburgh's Larimer neighborhood is creating a beer especially for this year's Britsburgh (@BACPgh) merriment. It is appropriate that Scott Smith has been selected for this.


In late 2011 two of his brews were introduced to the European beer distribution network. Big Hop IPA and Black Strap Stout were on tap in Denmark, France, and of course, England. Getting feedback from Twitter it was found that the Europeans were glad to have these brews from da Burgh. Upon my December visit I found his beers on tap in Craft Beer (pub) on Leather Lane London EC1. I met my long time pen-pal from 1968 there for lunch and we enjoyed the pleasure of a Pittsburgh Stout. I was very proud to see a beer on tap in a London pub from my home city.


This came about from an importer who had to send empty kegs back to Europe. This cost money and sending empty kegs did not seem to be a good business practice. They gave Scott 40 clean kegs. All he had to do was to fill the kegs and cash a check. The importer did all the paperwork and hauling. This hasn't occurred since but let's hope it happens again soon.


East End has the distinction of being the only brewery in Pittsburgh or Allegheny County to have their beers sent to London. Some years ago Labatts bought Latrobe's Rolling Rock Brewery. The Company based in Canada sent the beer to England but they actually owned the brewery. Plus the brewery was in Westmorland County. I found the beer in Oddbins on Fleet Street going for about twice what we were paying here at the time. Yikes!

Also see: @BACPgh @EastEndBrewing  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Three Mugs Brew Pub Easter Update

I took a drive by their Broad Street Mall location several months ago and saw that there was no work being done other than what was finished when they first went to building out. Nothing has changed in the building work on today's visit other than contractor's tools have been moved about.

The company was given a brewer's license as well as a brewery-pub license by the state but they have been removed. I can't find if they are in safe keeping or no longer wanted. I can't say for certain if the company is out of business as they may be facing financial issues. A recent in Craft Pittsburgh magazine noted they were looking to open in late 2016. That could happen. But for now I am perplexed. Are they in business or out? Why the removal of the licenses? Maybe we shall see later this year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Imbibe Northside Tasting 2016

The Pittsburgh Mattress factory will host a tasting on January 30 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM at 500 Sampsonia Way 15212. The event is produced by War Streets Brewery & Distillers.

Participants are:
War Streets Brewery
Allegheny City Brewery
Wigle Whiskey
Commonplace Coffee
PGH Taco Truck
Mac & Gold Food Truck
Penn Brewery
Klavon's Ice Cream
Spring Hill Brewery
Music by Joel Pace Organ Trio

Suggested donation is $20.

This looks like a great way to introduce yourself to some of Pittsburgh's small business people and enjoy what they produce.