Everything about Cinderlands Beer Co. is small and handmade with care: the beers, the food, the snug, lovingly-restored storefront on Butler Street in Lawrenceville.

But the beer company will soon open a second brewpub in a much bigger space, formerly occupied by Spaghetti Warehouse, in the Strip District. 

Right now, it’s a pile of bricks and rubble with only a few walls remaining. “That was all that was salvageable,” says owner Jamie Warden. “The rest of the building was falling down. Our goal is to use as much brick and woodwork from it as possible.”

The current Butler Street Cinderlands, which opened in late November last year, seats up to 80 or so and is often packed. On warmer days, like a recent Tuesday in February, the front window opens to become a bar with four barstools attached. 

The new spot will hold a lot more, with 300 seats. That’s two separate breweries in two adjacent neighborhoods, just 11 blocks apart. 

“We run through beer quickly,” explains Warden. “So we can experiment with a lot of new things. We’ll have several taps that are coffee and tea-inspired and more wild styles, sour beers, farmhouse saisons.

For the moment, their specialty is “modern, bright beers,” notes Paul Schneider, Cinderlands’ head brewer.

“Beers with a ‘pop’ to them,” he says. “Beers that focus on a couple of distinct flavors. It’s why there’s orange peel and a really bright coffee in Blazing Crude, a stout.”

Another stout, Midnight Ramble, features blackberry and raspberry, and layers of espresso and vanilla bean. On the lighter side, there’s bright and lemony Gypsy Hollow Gose.

Gypsy Hollow Gose. Photo courtesy of Cinderlands Beer Co.

Like most brewers, Schneider started out as a homebrewer. He had a solid career as a high school history teacher in Chicago until a beer blog that he started took off and drew him to the craft brewing scene.

Unlike a lot of brewpubs, Cinderlands’ food menu, which changes frequently, isn’t an afterthought. 

“It’s elevated, but not fussy pub food,” says Schneider.

“We’re going to have ramps, rhubarb, asparagus, English peas,” says chef Joe Kiefer, who’s excited for the weather to change. “I like whatever’s fresh and tasty. Who wants to eat carrots that taste like nothing in mid-winter?”

Beer turns up throughout the menu in dishes like the spent grain chicharrones — made with spent grains from the brewing process — or the pastrami sandwich, which features beer bread and beer mustard, along with fontina cheese, soured radicchio and pickled peppers.

They’ve got a nine-course beer dinner coming up, featuring a pig that’s been raised on a nearby farm, fed on their spent Cinderlands grains. According to Kiefer: “It’s going to be a big pig.” 

As for the brewery’s name? It’s a nod to Pittsburgh’s industrial past.

“When the furnaces were firing, cinders would blanket the city,” says Schneider. “You’d go outside and see piles of cinders everywhere, some still burning.” 

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.