Neil Glausier is an engineer who enjoys a good challenge and a good beer.
As co-owner and brewmaster at Burgh’ers Brewing in Lawrenceville and Zelienople, Glausier gets to tackle both on a daily basis, especially during a pandemic. He single-handedly set up the brewery’s new, state-of-the-art canning line which, through a lot of trial and error, began rolling in mid-July.
To celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary in 2020, Glausier and his business partner, chef Fiore Moletz, are planning to open a 10,000-square-foot production brewery and restaurant at an undisclosed site. While they aren’t speculating about the opening date, they do say the new location will serve the brand’s signature smash burgers — made with ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients — but beer production will be the main focus.
“We’re really trying to establish ourselves as a key player on the local beer scene,” says Glausier, an Army veteran and graduate of Siebel Institute of Technology’s Advanced Brewing Theory Program. “We intended to do cans when we started brewing in 2017. COVID implored us to pivot and make a capital investment and add a canning line.”
The brewing facility in Zelienople is now equipped with an Alpha Brewing Operations beer cannon series capable of churning out 24 cans per minute. It is a production-level machine with available upgrades.
Since fewer people are bellying up to the bar for a freshly poured pint, the aluminum receptacles have taken center stage at breweries during the pandemic. Unlike glass bottles and growlers, the vessels prevent light and oxygen — beer’s worst enemies — from getting to the liquid.
The demand for cans has caused a nationwide shortage.
On August 8, Burgh’ers started selling canned libations, including its contribution to the Black is Beautiful movement, a collaborative effort among the brewing community to raise awareness for the injustices people of color face daily and to raise funds for police brutality reform.
To create the brew, Burgh’ers tweaked Texas-based Weathered Souls Brewing Company’s imperial stout-style base recipe with chocolate wheat, chocolate rye and an array of hops. All proceeds from the sale of the beer will be donated to the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.
“We are heartened that our mission and efforts are being amplified by organizations like Burgh’ers Brewery and we are encouraged that our commitment to the work of equality and equity for all is supported by the community,” says Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. “When we are all in this together, only then can Pittsburgh be a great place to live for all, regardless of your skin color.”
The beer, which is 8.8 percent alcohol by volume, is available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans and also on draft at both Burgh’ers locations. (The Butler Street space will reopen for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Wednesday.)
Glausier produced 210 gallons of stout to start and will make more throughout the year.
“This message doesn’t get across in one batch,” he says. “This message needs to be amplified and constant.”