There’s a lot percolating at Hitchhiker Brewing.
The company, which operates locations in Mt. Lebanon and Sharpsburg (and a winter pop-up in Allentown), is opening a third spot at 604 Liberty Ave. in Downtown Pittsburgh. In addition to serving beer, the site will offer cold brew coffee, espresso and other caffeinated beverages.
Owner Gary Olden says he’s hopeful they’ll open in 2020, but there’s a lot of work to be done. Built in the 1800s, the oddly shaped structure (it’s 13 feet wide by 70 feet deep) is creating a lot of unique challenges for the architects.
Throughout its long history, the space has served as a deli, a newsstand and a cigar-rolling facility.
Olden has had his eye on the building for a while and thinks the location will allow Hitchhiker to attract daytime office workers.
The as-yet-unnamed café will offer to-go food options and will feature an espresso bar. The brew crew will get just as creative with the coffee offerings as it does with the beers.
Coffee is a key ingredient in many Hitchhiker brews, such as The Shakes Coffee Porter, Woke Breakfast Stout and an entire series of Next to Normal Sours brewed with fruit and coffee.
Cococino, a popular porter made with coconut, coffee, cacao nibs, milk sugar and vanilla, is returning this weekend, alongside a non-alcoholic cold brew version on tap.
Hitchhiker has a partnership with 19 Coffee Company in Washington, PA. The beer-maker purchases the raw materials and uses 19 Coffee’s equipment and guidance to create its own special blends, which are sold in bags to coincide with the release of the beers they go into. Olden says he’s learned a lot through the experience. He wants to try new things while staying true to Hitchhiker’s loyal customers.
“We’re working on changing our guest experience this year,” Olden says. “The coffee and the Downtown location are somehow a catalyst for us to refocus. I guess it’s like a hitchhiker’s journey: it’s not about the destination, it’s about the trip.”