Bottoms up! Penn Brewery
reopens its restaurant to the public this Wednesday with some new beers and a new menu that plays on traditional German influences with a Pittsburgh-lensed international approach.
Classic German fare includes schnitzel and a wide variety of wursts, but as Pittsburgh is a "melting pot," says co-owner Linda Nyman, the brewery is incorporating lots of ethnic dishes, such as Hungarian goulash and chicken paprikash, Polish pierogies and kielbasa, a French fry-topped Pittsburgh salad, unique Buffalo-style pierogies stuffed with chicken and hot sauce, and a brand new fresh salad bar for sit-down or to-go lunchers.
New beers include the Penndemonium, a strong, full-bodied, gold-colored Maibock that will be released this week, as well as the Allegheny Pale Ale, a rich amber, medium-bodied ale released mid-April at a Penn Brewery fundraiser to benefit the Point State Park fountain. The Pale ale is Penn Brewery's first non-German style beer.
Penn Brewery's restaurant has been closed since August 2009. The brewery itself stopped brewing beer on-site back in November 2008, when new owners started brewing at Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre. Original owner Tom Pastorius bought back Penn Brewery, with several partners, in November 2009, and in December resumed brewing at the historic North Side location. Penn Brewery is based in the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery in the historic Deutschtown section of the North Side, where beer has been made since 1848. The buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
"The beer really didn't taste the same brewed in Wilkes-Barre," says co-owner Linda Nyman. "It wasn't up to the same standards that it had been. It was really key to the new ownership to guarantee that we are producing the same product here that has been produced at this property for the last few decades."
For the past few weeks, the brewery has hosted a smattering events, and starting in March, hosted Friday night "growler hours." The brewery, which started shipping kegs against in February, will start bottling beer again in early May. Penn Brewery currently has distribution of its Pittsburgh-produced keg beer in nearly 100 locations.
Nyman says Penn Brewery was able to start making and serving beer before it could serve food because the kitchen and dining areas needed an overhaul. The owners did much of the renovation work themselves, including resurfacing the cobblestones in the beer garden.
The capacity of Penn Brewery, including its indoor dining area and outdoor beer garden, is about 240. During Oktoberfest, the brewery sees about 10,000 guests, making use of its two-level parking garage.
Penn Brewery will be hosting a Pennsylvania Microbrewery Festival, with about 28 guest breweries, on June 5.
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Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Linda Nyman, co-owner and marketing director, Penn Brewery
Photograph courtesy of Penn Brewery