craft beer
Matt Gouwens, owner of Hop Farm Brewing Company in Lawrenceville.

Matt Gouwens doesn’t get out much. As the owner of Hop Farm Brewing, he spends most of his time in his home and his Lawrenceville brewery.

The maker of some of Pittsburgh’s best sours, Gouwens’s Hop Farm Brewery currently features features B.B. Blue, a tart and fruity blueberry Berliner Weiss that drinks like a medium-dry rosè. In the coming weeks, he’s planning on more than doubling his tap capacity and releasing a plethora of barrel-aged brews he’s been cellaring for the better part of the year.

I work way too much so I really seldom get to go out and eat. I was actually in here for 18 hours one day last week. Either I’m eating at home or I’m eating at work, but the benefit to eating at work is that we carry sausages from Butcher on Butler in the taproom.

They make a lot of different flavors, so I experiment a lot. I tend to go with the sausage over greens and kimchi in lieu of the bun. It’s just a nice, low-carb option. So I had the kielbasa over mixed greens, sesame seeds and a sesame-miso dressing, topped with kimchi.

Their product is top-notch. The kielbasa is the old Foster’s Meats recipe. When they bought the building, they bought the recipes as well. So this is a recipe of Slovenian origin that’s been in the neighborhood for 70 years. It’s consistent, and everyone who tastes it when they come in compares it to other locally made kielbasa. Some people even bring in their own kielbasa and have me try it, but I still think Butcher on Butler’s is the best.

Hop Farm Brewing will release a new batch of Cherry Bomb—a sour cherry Berliner—shortly before the July 4th weekend. Gouwens is also planning to can Hop Farm’s Session IPA, One Nut Brown, IPA and Provision Saison for a mid-summer release. “I wouldn’t rule out throwing together a variety pack,” he says. The Brewery will also host its second annual Hoptoberfest on September 26th, featuring 30 different food and beer pairings across two sessions as a fundraiser for Camp Chihopi.

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Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all of the editorial meetings light-hearted and interesting. His interests include sorting books, looking at old things and candles which smell like old-growth pine forests.