A new microbrewery in Deustchtown will soon join the ranks of Pittsburgh’s heady craft brew scene.
Matt and Amy Yurkovich and Al Grasso have purchased a building at 507 Foreland Street, on Pittsburgh’s Northside, where they intend to open Allegheny City Brewing in the coming months.
The brewery, scheduled to open in early 2016 pending regulatory approval, takes its name from Allegheny City, the name of the independent city that existed on present-day Northside until 1907, when it was annexed by the City of Pittsburgh.
Matt, his sister Amy, and her partner Al were first inspired to open a microbrewery during a camping trip to Glacier National Park 15 years ago.
“We spent a lot of time driving around these small towns,” says Grasso, “and all these small towns have little local breweries. We fell in love with the tap rooms and the local beer.”
Until a few years ago Amy and Al lived in Colorado, within walking distance to two local neighborhood breweries that they frequented as much for the beer as for the community. For example, Al was a member of a brewery Run Club where neighbors could jog a few miles then chase a few pints.
It’s this community aspect the trio hopes to foster in their new Deustchtown digs.
“You have home, you have work and you have a ‘third place,’ which is where you go to relax and get to know your neighbors – just spend quality time,” explains Grasso.
The idea of a third place comes from American sociologist Ray Oldenburg, whose book The Great Good Place explores and champions the importance of local coffee shops, barbers, cafes, and other neighborhood hangouts outside of work and home.
Matt and Amy grew up on the Northside and knew that they wanted to open their brewery in that area.
“One of the things we heard from people that lived around here was that you really want to talk to the neighborhood groups,” says Amy. “And honestly, that’s where we started before anything. We really wanted to make sure that they wanted us; we didn’t want to shove ourselves into a community or neighborhood.”
Cody Walters, Main Street Development Director for the Northside Leadership Conference, assisted the trio in finding their present location. He says that new, community-minded businesses in Deutschtown, like Allegheny City Brewing, have led to “a renaissance in our business district” in recent years and expansion of that “third place.”
“They’ve really involved themselves in their community; it’s not just a new business,” he notes.
The brewery itself will be divided into two sides, one for brewing beer and another for serving it. The taproom will have seating for about 40 to 50 people, not including plans for café-style seating outside. Patrons can enjoy a pint at the bar or take a growler to go.
“We’re not a shot-and-a-beer type bar,” says Grasso. “We’re not open until 2 a.m. We’re just a community place. We have no plans for distribution. No plans for bottling and big grain silos.”
Ultimately, the three recognize that their success will come down to the quality of their beer.
“We realize that a new brewery in town is going to attract people on its opening weekend,” says Grasso. “They’ll come back the second time if we have great beer.”
He says that Allegheny City Brewing will be a “seven barrel brewhouse,” meaning that they will be able to brew 210 gallons of beer at a time, 30 gallons in each of their seven barrels. This will allow them to keep up with demand in the taproom but also experiment with new flavors in relatively smaller batches.
They intend to have eight beers on tap when the brewery opens, four year-round varieties and four seasonal and experimental styles. The brewery has held a number of tastings so far, and some of the favorites include their Grapefruit IPA and the Deutstchtown Brown.
Grasso says they also plan to have a “pretty significant” souring program, and that one of the first sour beers will be made with locally sourced serviceberries. But he won’t go into more detail about some of the more experimental beers until the brewery is open. All he’ll say is this:
“We really want to push the envelope.”