Scott Smith

The Wall St. Journal sat down with Scott Smith, founder and owner of East End Brewing Company who shared the history of the company with writer James R. Hagerty.

While East End is one of Pittsburgh’s favorite local breweries, Smith put up quite a fight to stay afloat, including renting a rat-infested space, using cardboard advertisements and used brewing equipment, along with a highly effective “promise-of-beer” loan system.

In fact, one of the most irregular things about Scott’s business plan is that it intentionally excludes bank loans. Smith told Hagerty, “It’s probably foolish, but it’s never been part of our mind-set here. It’s my way of managing risk, so that if for some reason the business goes south, I’m not beholden to the bank to make a monthly payment. I don’t have that hanging over me.”

Instead, Hagerty says, Smith persuaded 100 people to buy $1,000 worth of beer…just a little bit in advance.

It’s a timely study in brewery management, as Pittsburgh is gaining national attention for its microbreweries including  Penn Brewing, Church Brew Works, The Brew Gentlemen, Rivertowne and a slew more.

“I don’t think the craft beer market is overcrowded,” Smith says. “As craft beer grows, it’s taking share away from the big multinational brands. And we’re pushing the idea that this is something that’s made in your backyard. Local beer is fresh beer.”

To hear what advice Smith would give to others ready to start home-brewing, read the full article here.

Rebekah Zook is a Duquesne grad and all-around story-telling enthusiast. A former fellow at WESA, she worked as a production assistant for their daily talk show. Most recently, she taught in the Propel Charter School system as a visiting artist. When she isn’t writing, Rebekah is a trip leader for the local non-profit organization Venture Outdoors. You can usually find her in a bright yellow kayak.