Standing in the middle of Pittsburgh Brewing Co.’s new 170,000-square-foot production facility in Creighton, President Todd Zwicker is dwarfed by tanks that’ll soon churn out Iron City Beer.
“This is not a small endeavor,” he says. “When all is said and done, it’ll be one of the biggest breweries on the East Coast.”
After more than a decade of contract brewing in Latrobe, Pittsburgh Brewing will soon make all of its products in-house at the former PPG plant that closed in 2018. Brewery owner Cliff Forrest, who is also the founder of Kittanning-based Rosebud Mining Co., bought the plant the following year.
It’s the perfect spot to revitalize the iconic company’s brewing heritage.
Over the next few years, the 40-acre site along the Allegheny River will feature a restaurant, outdoor event venue, store, beer museum (not affiliated with BREW: The Museum of Beer) and a marina. Tours of the massive complex also will be offered.
All of the state-of-the-art, German-made equipment should be installed by March. Large-scale brewing will start this summer, upping the company’s capacity from 120,000 to 200,000 barrels per year, with the potential to produce 500,000 barrels a year. The facility’s size and equipment — including an automated packaging line — will allow Pittsburgh Brewing to make beer for other breweries, too.
In addition to repurposing the Creighton property — which was erected by PPG in 1883 to fabricate glass for cars, planes and buildings — Pittsburgh Brewing is renovating its historic, 9-acre complex in Lawrenceville, where the company’s corporate offices are housed. While plans for that site include the addition of a taproom, no construction timeline has been set.
Since 1861, the company has released more than 100 unique beverages. Brewmaster Mike Carota has been overseeing the production of the flagship libations — including Iron City, I.C. Light, Old German, American and Block House — since 1975.
I.C. Light is the company’s biggest seller, but the iconic Iron City will be the first batch brewed on the new system. It’s another historic moment for the beer, which was the first canned beer with a pull-tab can and made Thrillist’s list of 30 Beers That Changed America in 2020.
That same year, Pittsburgh Brewing partnered with Sharpsburg’s Dancing Gnome to resurrect Robin Hood Cream Ale, a popular beverage first released in the mid-1970s. Zwicker says customers can expect more collaborations with other local businesses.