When pals Tom Glover and Dave Hallam started making beer together seven years ago, they decided to experiment like mad scientists with unconventional ingredients. Keeping with that spirit, they’re now serving their suds in beakers at Abjuration Brewing Co. in McKees Rocks.
“If you’re going to drink something really special, it should be in a special glass,” says Glover, hoisting a pint of IPA made with jasmine rice.
The beaker glasses come in three sizes — 4, 8 and 16 ounces — and have been a hit with millennials, whose Instagram posts and fondness for weird beers are helping one of Pittsburgh’s smallest breweries become bigger.
Abjuration’s story is one fit for the silver screen, which is appropriate since it’s located inside an old movie house. Last fall, Glover and Hallam set up shop at the newly renovated Parkway Theater, built in 1937.
The Parkway is owned by Aaron Stubna, who bought it after his plan to revitalize the Garden Theater on the North Side fell through. As a kid, Stubna used to catch matinees at the Parkway. Today, he’s a Kennedy Township barber who dabbles in filmmaking and real estate, and runs the cinema as a nonprofit called the Community Reel Arts Center.
Stubna invested $180,000 to return the long dormant building to its former glory, and hopes the modern upgrades will attract folks from all over the region. He sees art, music and film — especially indie flicks and documentaries — as a great way to enrich the area.
In addition to the 43-seat, soundproof theater, the Parkway boasts a “Film Lounge” with a full-service bar, projection TV and stage for live performances. And now Abjuration shares the open space.
“I’m a craft beer nut,” Stubna says. “I thought if we could pull a brewery into McKees Rocks that would draw a whole new crowd to the area.
“I was searching for homebrewers who were looking to take the next step,” he says, “but I also wanted to be fond of their product.”
A contact put Stubna in touch with the Abjuration crew, a pair of self-proclaimed film nerds who jumped at the chance to work in such a unique setting. They run the brewery as a separate business from the theater, but it’s a great partnership for both sides.
“These are two separate passion projects that came together under one roof,” Glover says.
Currently, the brewery runs on a special permit limiting hours of operation to Fridays from 5 p.m. to midnight and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to midnight. Food trucks park outside during those hours. But more hours are coming: The state recently accepted Abjuration’s taproom plans.
After a few minor construction modifications to the facility, the duo can sell beer daily. That is, if the deliberately tiny operation can make enough to keep up with the demand.