After a few months of looking around Braddock for a space to start brewing on a small scale, we’ve finally found a building. With gracious assistance from Mayor John Fetterman and a few community leaders, we checked out a few potential spaces in which to quickly establish a scalable operation. We’ve finally settled on the back end of an abandoned building at the corner of 8th St. and Woodlawn St., just off of Braddock Ave., the town’s main street. After meeting with some incredibly enthusiastic folks from Heritage Community Initiatives, a nonprofit focused on rehabilitating the area, we had some more insight into the building’s status.
The building has clearly seen the consequences of decades of abandonment. Dirt, debris, and various boxes and furniture left there by its former inhabitants litter almost every interior surface. But the place is structurally sound, and cleaning it out / fixing it up would be entirely feasible According to the folks from the community center, the building is scheduled to be renovated into a restaurant late this summer. Given that the improvements we would make would help the effort and significantly raise the building’s value, they have graciously told us that they are willing to give us the first year’s lease for free in exchange for the leasehold improvement. We plan to move in and start fixing it up by the end of May.
With a legitimate address for our facility, we will be able to take the first big steps to becoming a legal and operational production brewery. Although the electric and plumbing work probably won’t be cheap, the actual renovation shouldn’t be too difficult. Given that our friends and fraternity brothers are more than happy to be paid in beer in exchange for their assistance, we should be able to be up and running as soon as we install a system. Our plans are to purchase a smaller system with which to churn out a modest amount of beer, until we can expand into a larger building and upgrade to a larger system in a few years. Although working at the nanobrewery level isn’t profitable in the long run, using it as a stepping stone with which to quickly build a foothold in Pittsburgh looks to be the best option.
In terms of building that foothold, we are constantly in the process of learning and growing within the Pittsburgh craft beer community. Last night was our first time attending a Pittsburgh Craft Beer Alliance, a newly formed association of representatives from the region’s breweries, distributors, bars and restaurants. We were invited to join the Alliance after our participation in Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, and are excited to be given the opportunity to build our network. Although the meeting was an informal wrap-up of Craft Beer Week, for us it was a chance to meet a lot people we’d previously just been following on Twitter; folks from all around the city, including Bocktown, Piper’s Pub, and D’s (which will inevitably become a regular watering hole for us given both it’s staggering selection and convenient location between Pittsburgh and Braddock).
So, now that graduation is just around the corner and freedom is imminent, we’re all geared up to hit the ground running. It’s gonna be one hell of a summer.