“Sharing your successes as well as your failures has always been important to me,” he says. “Because I think it makes us more real — a small group of people working on something that we are all very passionate about.”
Another key? The growing community of people seeking expertly crafted food and drink in Pittsburgh.
“The Pittsburgh food scene coming along has helped in terms of showing people how to appreciate craft and quality,” says McMahon. “You don’t have to just stuff down a cheeseburger and chug down a $2 beer.”
And local brewers have been happy to meet rising expectations.
“People are finally starting to talk about Pittsburgh as a craft beer town,” he says, noting that the city is being recognized nationally alongside cities like Asheville, N.C.
“Nobody was talking about Asheville until it was promoted as a ‘beer city,’” adds Eaton. “They had an organized, concrete push to get people to visit for beer. We’re just as great of a beer town. We just haven’t had the push to get people to recognize that.”
Though the brewer’s guild is just starting to mobilize for formal recognition, Pittsburgh beer already has a reputation across the pond.
The U.K.-based Beer Adventures app recently added more than a dozen new American tours, including a 2.5-mile exploration of Pittsburgh’s beer scene that users can purchase for $3.99.
Beer Adventures founder Jonny Quirk says, “There’s a real vibrancy to the city that you can feel as soon as you enter its bars and taprooms.”
The six-destination tour begins in Friendship at Sharp Edge Beer Emporium — Pittsburghers’ original go-to for Belgian brews — and winds down with stops at East End and Couch Brewery.
Darren Gailey, the co-owner and CEO of Couch Brewery, believes the scene is having a moment for two reasons: Because “Pittsburgh brewers make fantastic beer,” he says, and because “Pittsburghers love to drink great beer.”
His own brewery — located along Washington Boulevard — will celebrate its first anniversary in late April. Gailey hopes tools like the Pittsburgh Brewery Guide and Beer Adventures app will link brewers to new customers.
“It helps us get the word out,” he says, “that Pittsburgh beer has arrived.”