Photo courtesy of Cinderlands Beer Co.

There once was a girl who loved beer.
She drank at bars far and near.
Coronavirus descended,
Her life was upended,
She’s been drinking at home for a year.

I call this limerick Ode to 2020. I miss sipping a pint at a bar while I chat with the brewer — not only about the deliciousness in my glass, but about life in general.

Breweries are my favorite social hubs because they’re microcosms of their neighborhoods and they attract folks from all over the city … even the world. Covid has robbed us of a lot of great over-the-bar conversations, but there are signs of hope. Several area breweries are launching new, stripped-down locations in 2021. They’ve mastered the takeout business model and adapted to a pandemic world.

Here’s the latest info on some out-of-this-world breweries and their satellites.

Cinderlands Taproom in Wexford. Photo courtesy of Cinderlands Beer Co.

Cinderlands Taproom, Wexford

Cinderlands Beer Co., which started in Lawrenceville in 2017 and expanded to the Strip District in 2019, debuts its Wexford site on Feb. 24. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are required for seating and curbside pickup is available.

Cinderlands Taproom at 171 Wexford Bayne Road specializes in to-go beer and food selections.

The new spot has 12 taps, as well as an extensive bottle and can selection, including hazy IPAs, oak-fermented farmhouse ales and signature Tartshakes. There’s a small amount of table and lounge seating for parties of four people or fewer. Eventually, when Covid restrictions are relaxed, customers can gather at the eight-seat bar. A patio will open this spring.

There’s no on-site kitchen, but Executive Chef Joe Kiefer created a to-go menu with salads, snacks, dips and other casual bites. All of the menu offerings are prepared at the original Cinderlands Foederhouse on Butler Street, which is temporarily closed due to Covid, and the two-story Cinderlands Warehouse on Smallman Street, which just reopened for dine-in service.

Managing Partner Jamie Warden says last year taught us all the value of community gathering places.

“I’m excited to have those gatherings happen over a round of Squish Pale Ales at our Wexford Taproom,” he says. “At our core, we’re a beer and hospitality business. Missing the buzz of the pub for the last year has made the excitement for Wexford even greater.”

Butler Brew Works, Oakmont

Photo courtesy of Butler Brew Works.

Even before opening Butler Brew Works in 2016, the company’s owners had their sights set on Oakmont.

Soon they’ll bring beer to the community with a bottle shop at 319 Maryland Ave.

The 600-square-foot retail space will sell single cans, mixed four-packs, bottles and merchandise — including beer-centric soaps, snacks and other novelties. Although there’s no food menu, Burk’s BBQ is next door, offering takeout to complement the brews.

“Covid absolutely changed how we operate,” says Nick Fazzoni, who co-owns Butler Brew Works with Travis Tuttle. “Oakmont was a market we had a lot of interest in, and the way things shifted in 2020, it reprioritized that for us. We pushed into a distribution model and added a canning line.”

Oakmont, Fazzoni says, has the same hometown feel as Butler’s Main Street, and they’re excited to be part of the community.

They’ve already collaborated with Inner Groove Brewing in neighboring Verona on Pawitdapaw, a hazy IPA made with pawpaw fruit and they look forward to other business partnerships.

Tuttle also is involved in Bonafide Beer Co., a brewery project in the Strip District that’s expected to open this year.

Recon Brewing, Cranberry

Another Butler-based beer business is heading south.

This spring, you can report for duty at Recon Brewing’s second base at 301 Tillary Lane (Suite A) in Cranberry. Recon at Meeder, located in a new Charter Homes community, is planned as a 3,000-square-foot restaurant and taproom that overlooks a three-acre green space.

The site will have indoor and outdoor seating for 100 patrons and 12 draft beers, including Karma Tap, a beverage benefiting a different local charity each quarter.

Other notable expansions

Charleroi’s Four Points Brewing announced on social media in January that it’s taking over the old Shamrock Inn Restaurant at 917 Western Ave. on the North Side. The taproom is expected to open this spring or summer.

Dancing Gnome Brewery is expanding in Sharpsburg, but owner Andrew Witchey isn’t ready to share full details on the project’s completion.

“The dates we keep aiming for are getting demolished, so it’s not really even worth speculating at this point,” Witchey says. “One thing I do know is that we have no plans to open the taproom until Covid restrictions are completely lifted. We will begin brewing in there as soon as we’re able to though.”

Covid also put the kibosh on Hitchhiker Brewing Co.’s plans to open a Downtown location at 604 Liberty Ave. The proposed spot — a coffee shop and taproom — would have been the company’s third branch. It currently operates takeout-only taprooms in Sharpsburg and Mt. Lebanon.

Owner Gary Olden says he’ll keep NEXTpittsburgh updated on Hitchhiker’s journey.

The NEXT Beer is a new column highlighting different brews, breweries and events in and around Pittsburgh. If you’ve got a beer-related news tip, send me an email. Cheers!

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.