The start of the new year means Dry January for some. And local breweries are catering both to those making the pledge — and those who aren’t. Here’s the latest in brewery news.
The Open Road shop in Allentown has a remarkable selection of non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits. BrewDog in East Liberty has NA beers on tap, though they’re made in Cincinnati. (But you can get free refills throughout January.)
Two Frays in Garfield is perhaps the only local brewery that’s offering its own non-alcoholic creations on tap.
“We’ve been talking about doing this since we opened” in 2020, says Mike Onofray, who owns Two Frays with his wife Jen and serves as head brewer.
True to their motto of offering “something for everyone in Garfield,” the Onofrays strive for a diverse selection, and the two NA beers — a porter and a tangerine sour, both called You Do You — fit right in. (They also have Half Way There Hoppy Amber; at 0.9% ABV, it just misses the state requirement of 0.5% or less.)
“These are for the designated driver, or someone who has to work tomorrow,” as well as the Dry Januarians, says Mike Onofray. They went on tap on New Year’s Day, and the brewery plans to have at least one NA beer available year-round.
In other Dry January brewery news, Sly Fox Brewing is offering an array of mocktails at both of its locations, in Downtown Pittsburgh and at The Highline on the Southside. Creations include a Mango Mule with mango puree and ginger beer, and Thai Water with coconut water, lime and fresh jalapeño. And as an alternative, Sly Fox has opened Boot Camp to “train our livers” for St. Patrick’s Day. Patrons who visit on Wednesdays at The Highline or on Thursdays Downtown will be entered into a raffle to win a trip to Ireland and other prizes.
Pittsburgh’s best breweries
Hop Culture, the online magazine based in Pittsburgh that covers the national beer scene, has included a couple of local breweries in its year-end best of 2022 lists.
Old Thunder Brewing Company in Blawnox was rated one of the 14 Best Breweries of the Year along with spots from Astoria, Oregon, (Fort George Brewery) to Beacon, New York (Hudson Valley Brewery). The editors note Old Thunder’s “charming taproom design” and “well-made pale ales, IPAs and lagers.”
And Necromancer Brewing Co. in Ross Township made the magazine’s list of 27 Best Beers We Drank in 2022 with its Bone’s Desire, a Grodziskie-style wheat smoked beer. It’s a traditional Polish beer “with just the right complement of smoke,” notes Hop Culture.
28 Bridges production is paused
The future of 28 Bridges Brewery is unclear.
Head Brewer Justin Schau moved to Montana in August, according to a spokesperson at the Pittsburgh Bottleshop in Collier, where the brewery was located. According to LinkedIn, Schau is now head brewer at Ruby Valley Brew in Sheridan, Montana.
Beer production at 28 Bridges is “paused,” though the tanks are still standing.
Groundhog Day at Wigle Whiskey
Winter is more or less assured here for the next few weeks, until attention turns to Punxsutawney on Feb. 2 and Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog emerges to see his shadow — or not.
Interestingly enough, Phil’s going on tour before the big day. He’s the star of Phil-A-Palooza on Friday, January 13 at the Wigle Whiskey Distillery in the Strip District and on Saturday, January, 14 at Threadbare Cider House over on the North Side. Phil will be celebrating the release of Phil’s Shadow, a rye whiskey finished in maple syrup barrels. Admission includes a Phil’s Shadow cocktail, a whiskey sample and a taste of Threadbare Cider’s Phil’s Burrow Cider, along with a meet and greet. Friday’s event is sold-out, but plenty of tickets are still available for Threadbare on Saturday.
Grand opening in Sewickley
Big Sewickley Creek Brewery celebrated its grand opening this past weekend. It’s open Friday through Sunday, sticking strictly to high-quality lagers. (“No gimmicky names and seasonal flavors,” according to the website.)
The location — 2030 Big Sewickley Creek Road in Sewickley — is nestled along the creek and should be very appealing come springtime.