The Beer Nut: Pennsylvania Brewing Company Back in a Big Way

Written By Norman Miller for GateHouse News Service

The Pennsylvania Brewing Company almost died in 2008.

Founder Tom Pastorius sold the Pittsburgh brewery to a private equity firm. Instead of keeping the small brewery and brewpub open, they fired the whole brewing team and closed the brewery and restaurant and paid another brewery to brew the beer at a much lower quality and price.

But Pastorius and three new partners bought the business back in 2009 and reopened in 2010. Now the Pennsylvania Brewing Company, which is also known as the Penn. Brewery, is now distributing its beers.

“When Tom retired, they kind of ran us into the ground,” said brewer Andy Rich. “It’s been an uphill battle, and we’re gaining ground. There have been some growing pains, but we’re getting there.”

That’s good news for lager lovers because the Penn. Brewery specializes in German-style lagers.

“We’ve always done German-style lagers,” said Rich. “(Pastorius) worked over in Germany, loved the beer, and really couldn’t find something of that quality over here.”

So instead of trying to find imported beers, Pastorius started brewing his own beers in 1986. They were the first-brewery in the Pittsburgh area. They are still one of the few U.S. breweries that brews mostly lagers.

“We’re definitely a unique part of the craft segment,” said Rich. “People are doing more ales. That’s kind of unique. It’s a more expensive way of doing beer because you have to pay for all of the cooling costs. There aren’t a lot of people doing that kind of thing.”

Penn. Pilsner is the brewery’s flagship beer. It’s a 4 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) Vienna-style lager (the same style of beer as Samuel Adams Boston Lager).

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