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Philadelphia Brewing Co. joins Pittsburgh craft beer scene

One of Philadelphia's most prized craft breweries is setting up shop in Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia Brewing Co. established its one-man operation on this side of the state in September, in a 500-square-foot warehouse space at 2120 Jane St., in the former home of Duquesne Brewing Co. on the South Side.

The brewery launched in 2007 in the wake of a split with the Yards Brewing partners. In this short time, P.B.C.'s flagship Kenzinger ale, named after Philly's Kensington neighborhood where it's brewed, has become one of the most popular craft beers in Philadelphia, and P.B.C. can be found in at least 100 bars around the city.

Does this mean P.B.C. will be challenging East End Brewing Company and the Church Brew Works for the title of Pittsburgh's favorite local microbrew?

Not quite.

There won't be brewing happening (yet... perhaps) on this side of the state, says Matt Nienhuis, who's behind P.B.C.'s Pittsburgh division. That's still exclusive to P.B.C.'s North Philly brewery. But this expansion does mean Pittsburgh's got another option for craft beer. P.B.C. is the only brewery in Pennsylvania to self-distribute its product to retail beer distributors, restaurants, bars and delis, so before P.B.C. had a man stationed locally, the closest P.B.C. option was a one-off in Chambersburg, with almost all of the distribution limited to Philadelphia and its outliers, as well as a few spots in Jersey.

"It's pretty unorthodox for a brewery of our size, or any brewery, to self-distribute, but a good way to get to know our customers and keep our prices low," says Nienhuis, who who's single-handedly responsible for P.B.C. sales, promotion and delivery in Pittsburgh.

So what inspired P.B.C.'s growth to the Pittsburgh market? Nienhuis, a longtime employee at P.B.C. and Yards before it, moved to Pittsburgh (Highland Park, in particular) in August with his wife, who started a job teaching at the new Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy in Oakland. Nienhuis, who grew up in Chicago, finds Pittsburgh "nice," and without the "East Coast roughness" he experienced in Philadelphia.

P.B.C. is now available on draft at Peter's Pub in Oakland and Kelly's Bar & Lounge in East Liberty, as well as about a dozen beer distributors throughout the city and suburbs.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Matt Nienhuis, Philadelphia Brewing Co.

Photograph courtesy of Philadelphia Brewing Co.

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