Quick Gratitude Barleywine Update

Quick Gratitude Barleywine Update

It's that time of year again, when I start fielding calls and emails about our Gratitude Barleywine, and when it will be released.  We poured some Bourbon Barrel Aged Gratitude at our GOOD WOOD Fest last night, so I figure it's time to formally lay our what our plan is.

Since it's our 10th Anniversary, we're releasing TWO versions of Gratitude this time around:

  • Gratitude that's been aging in Bourbon Barrels since March of 2014 (10th Anniversary Edition!)
  • Regular old boring Gratitude Barleywine

So as we've said before, this beer isn't going away, but the elaborate paper overwrap is.  It's just too much for us to pull off every year, and since we completed the ROY G. BIV spectrum with it, it seems like the right time to make that packaging change.

We'll be releasing BOTH of these beers in the standard 750ml bottles that we've been using for a couple years now, and we're currently expecting that to happen in (Update) MARCH 2015.  Yes, we've done it with this very timing before, and yes, we're still calling it "2014 Gratitude" because that's when the beer was brewed... or in the case of the "regular" version, WILL be brewed, later this month.

There will be a small amount of draft packaged for each of these beers, mostly for the Hell With The Lid Off Barleywine Festival, and it will appear on our tap list for by-the-glass sales in our newly opened BREWPUB at some point, but I don't expect we will offer it in Growler form.

When we get closer to picking a release date, I'll post more details about what that will all look like.  But plan on having some Gratitude to lighten up those long, cold, dark days of winter.

One last thing: Our very own Fat Gary (the guy, not the beer) has been squirreling away a bottle of Gratitude every year since we opened.  While he certainly likes barleywine, he's thinking that there are probably people out there who would appreciate a full vertical more than he would.  So he's decided to do something cool with it, with us... Auction it off, and donate all of the proceeds to a charity.  I need to see how we can do this legally and legitimately, and once I do, I'll add that info to the bottle release announcement.  So stay tuned for all of that stuff.

1/27/2015 Update: Looking like a release day will happen in March. More when we know it.

12/15/2014 Update: If you've been to our Gratitude Release Day before, you know we make EVERY POSSIBLE EFFORT to ensure that this all happens as fairly as humanly possible. So please don't ask me to reserve you some, to sell you some to pick up later, to ship you some (which we legally can't do), or try to convince me that your particular personal need for this beer is an extraordinary situation that I just HAVE to accommodate... because we won't do that. We CAN'T do that. Because playing favorites isn't fair, and...see the first sentence of this paragraph.

I hope you can understand this.  I think it's always been pretty clear that if you'd like to get some Gratitude, your best bet it to come to the Brewery on the day we release it.  Just like everyone else.  And of course, I also hope you'll do just that!

So, we made the paper recently: The Wall Street Journal


How a Brewing Hobby Became a Business

Scott Smith Talks About Growing His Beer Sales—but Not Too Much

By JAMES R. HAGERTY Oct. 19, 2014 4:52 p.m. ET

  ‘As craft beer grows, it’s taking share away from the big multinational brands,’ Mr. Smith says.   JAMES R. HAGERTY

‘As craft beer grows, it’s taking share away from the big multinational brands,’ Mr. Smith says. JAMES R. HAGERTY

Scott A. Smith has survived as a craft brewer through frugality, humor and improvisation.

A decade ago, when Mr. Smith was looking at a vacant building to rent for his new brewing business, the owner promised to remove all the dead rats. Mr. Smith didn’t mind the rodents. “Every rat I see, the rent’s coming down,” he recalls thinking.

Using his family’s savings, he bought used brewing equipment and made do without any employees for the first several years. His sign was a piece of cardboard held to the door with duct tape.


The 48-year-old mechanical engineer, a vegetarian and father of two, spent 13 years working as a manufacturing and information-technology manager at bleach maker Clorox Co. before abruptly quitting the corporate world when he was in his late 30s to turn his home-brewing hobby into a business.

His company, East End Brewing Co., is now one of Pittsburgh’s best-known craft beer makers, and today Mr. Smith can afford to pay four full-time and five part-time employees.

When he expanded capacity and bought a building in a better neighborhood three years ago, he raised $100,000 by persuading 100 people to pay in advance for $1,000 of beer and other merchandise—effectively a zero- interest loan. He has avoided bank loans, except for a second mortgage on his home to help finance the expansion.

He spoke recently with The Wall Street Journal. Here are edited excerpts:

The Personal Touch

WSJ: What were your goals when you started out?

MR. SMITH: I didn’t want to take over the world or become a beer mogul. I just wanted to be able to do something interesting. I like doing things with my hands and seeing the physical results of effort. The initial vision was just me in a building, making beer and delivering kegs around town.

WSJ: How have your goals changed over the years?

MR. SMITH: We don’t really do the corporate “Hey, what should we be in five years or 10 years?” We usually have our head down and we’re trying to figure out the goals for the week. Right now, the goal is getting the doors open on our new brewpub.

WSJ: How do you decide how big a craft business should grow?

MR. SMITH: That’s something my wife, Julie, and I spend a lot of time talking about. How big is too big? [Maybe] it’s when you become an administrator instead of a beer maker. Our focus is going to continue to be local. I don’t see us shipping beer across the country. The farther the beer gets away from the brewery, the harder it is to control the quality, and then it becomes a commodity. I don’t want to lose the personal feel.

WSJ: How do you evaluate potential employees?

MR. SMITH: We don’t have a whole lot in the way of a formal hiring practice. Generally, we’ll have somebody help out for a period and see how it works out. We get feedback from everybody in the room, and ask if this is the right fit. I value the feedback from the rest of the crew more than my own.

WSJ: Why have you avoided borrowing money from banks?

MR. SMITH: There’s probably a bunch of businesspeople out there with M.B.A.s who would look at that and say, “Do you know how cheap money is right now? You could get a loan and do X, Y, Z.” 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.

Braving the Crowd

WSJ: What’s the biggest threat to your business?

MR. SMITH: Not paying attention. We just went through a process of looking through our costs in excruciating detail. We were actually selling one brand, Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale, below cost. From an ingredient basis, it’s the cheapest beer we make, so I was charging less for it. But ingredient cost is such a small portion of the cost of beer. Labor and overhead are much bigger. I didn’t have a [precise] number for any of the costs at all; I just made a wild guess.

The baseline financial planning when we started was, “Hey, is there more money in the bank account than there was last month?” If so, great! I think we might be doing something right, so keep doing that.

WSJ: How important is social media?

MR. SMITH: It’s become a huge part of what we do. I can talk about a new beer on Twitter and have people show up at the brewery for that beer that evening.

WSJ: Is the craft brew market getting too crowded?

MR. SMITH: It definitely gives me pause when I see all these new guys coming out, and a lot of them are making fantastic beer. It energizes us to make sure we are on top of our quality. But I don’t think the craft beer market is overcrowded.

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.

Seeking a Sign

WSJ: What’s your advice for people setting up a business like yours?

MR. SMITH: Find your identity, and then throw everything you have behind that, because that’s going to be the most honest and genuine way to connect with people. If you’re trying to be something that you’re not, it will show. Embrace your flaws—and call them character, if you need to.

WSJ: What flaws do you embrace?

MR. SMITH: We still don’t have a sign on the front of our building. This is the year it’s finally going to happen, I swear. It’s become kind of a running gag, but at the same time I’m completely embarrassed by it.

WSJ: Selling beer usually involves quirky humor. Could you run this type of business without a sense of humor?

MR. SMITH: If you’re in the beer business and you don’t have a sense of humor, why are you in the beer business? I mean, it’s fun. By nature, it’s intoxicating.

Mr. Hagerty is news editor for The Wall Street Journal in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at bob.hagerty@wsj.com

Copyright 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Beer Belly Yoga at EEBC!

Beer Belly Yoga at EEBC!


Here's what $20 will get you:

  • 45 minute yoga class, in the ACTUAL brewery, taught by the awesome Rebecca Rankin of Bikram Yoga in Squirrel Hill.
  • Free "Hey, we're a BREWPUB now!" fancy-schmancy glass... because by then, we will be.
  • ...Filled with the beer of your choice
  • ...To enjoy on a quick post-yoga tour of our brewing operations
  • And you'll get a token, good for a FREE Yoga Class at Bikram Yoga in Squirrel Hill!

Date and time still TBD, but it will be during our Brewpub's Grand Opening "Week of SHENANIGANS".  Class size is limited to 40 people.  Watch this space for ticketing info.

UPDATE: This event is now LIVE and, subsequently SOLD OUT over here. Chances are, we'll do this again sometime.

*  People not in possession of a Beer Belly will not be turned away.  But if you need one, maybe we can help.  This is a class suitable for all experience levels.  Yoga mats provided if you need them.

Come for a stretch, Namaste for a beer...

Bayardstown BIG Bottle -  Release Day 10/16

Bayardstown BIG Bottle - Release Day 10/16

Maybe you've heard of Bayardstown Social Club?  If not, have a look at this article which gives you a nice view of what it is, and how it came to be, thanks to our pals at DeepLocal.  And if you read that article carefully, you'll undoubtedly pick up on the special release of a Bayardstown BIG Bottle Beer, done in collaboration with a certain local brewery... Hey, that's us!

We just got the final label approvals in place for this beer TODAY, so it's time to book the release party and get the beer into your hands.  Oh, the beer... I should talk about that.

We brewed what we hope is the ultimate backyard quencher, perfect for an evening around the fire pit, with a few GOOD FRIENDS.  It's a light, crisp, hazy, wheat-based beer, brewed with a significant, tropical fruit hop character.  At a modest 4.7% abv, it's also something you can spend the day with and not hurt yourself.

I should also mention that you might know this beer under the name WheatHop, which we released on draft about a week and a half ago.  Same beer.  But of course, bottle conditioning a beer can alter the flavor profile slightly...  Hopefully, making it even better.  The Bayardstown label on it certainly makes it COOLER.

We're doing a special release for these bottles at Bayardstown Social Club, but we haven't set the date just yet.  But stay tuned, as you'll not want to miss it.  

Update: Release is 10/16/2014 at Bayardstown!

Especially if you're a Bayardstown Social Club member, because if you can prove it, you'll save a couple bucks per bottle...at the Brewery, and at our Growler Shop.

Barrel Aged Beer Festival at EEBC - Nov 22

Barrel Aged Beer Festival at EEBC - Nov 22

We kicked off our Bourbon Barrel and Sour Beer Programs BIG TIME earlier this year, loading up a total of 28 barrels with beer.  Most of these are going to be ready to serve this fall, so I figured we should put something together, and invite any other local brewers who have something from a barrel that they want to bring out to serve to the Barrel-aged Beer-loving public.

Turns out, the folks at Wigle were cooking up a similar idea, what with their abundance of freshly emptied Whiskey barrels... just ASKING to be filled with beer!  So, we've decided to join forces, and do this event together.

We're still sorting out all of the details, and heck, we still need to get the formal invitation out to the other breweries!  So this is really just a "save the date" kind of thing... for now.  More when we know it!



Cacao-Cacao! ...this year's BigPour Brew on tap TODAY

Cacao-Cacao! ...this year's BigPour Brew on tap TODAY

In the last couple weeks, we've tapped WheatHop, Nunkin, and BigHop Harvest, and put two new beers into the tanks.  So it's not too surprising that I've neglected to post anything about the new beer we're tapping today at the BigPour, and at both of our locations... so let's remedy that!

On a recent visit to Brazil for the World Cup, a couple of our brewers were inspired by a cacao spiced brazilian brew.  (Yes, that's a big ol handful of Cacao Nibs in that photo!)  This year's big pour brew follows that inspiration.  A 4.8% amber aged on cocoa nibs.  We are naming it "cacao-cacao", best pronounced as a shreek across the festival floor as 'ka-kow ka-kow!!'.  Or if you're not hitting the fest, across the bar to your favorite Growler Hours hosts.

Simul-Tapping is at 1:30pm today, at all THREE locations!



Wonderful Distractions

Wonderful Distractions

For at least a year and a half now, we've been talking about getting a license in place to sell beer by the glass.  Actually, you've been asking us for a place to sit down with a pint of freshly drawn East End Brew right here, at the source... pretty much since we opened our doors nearly 10 years ago.  (TEN YEARS!)  Now that we've got the space for it, we've been working on the rest of what it will take to make this happen.

But, it's so easy to get distracted.  And by that, I mean the typical, primary priorities of safety, quality, and production that come with running a production brewery.  Settling into the new place has taken us quite a while, but it gets better every week.  And if you've been following us on twitter/fb, you know that we've also been doing some kind of construction in here EVERY SINGLE MONTH since we opened the new place.  And it's still happening. 


This past Spring we ripped out a massive internal steel structure to make way for 1600 sq feet of new concrete.  In addition to making a spot for couple new tanks, and some oak barrels, this space opens up a bunch of new possibilities for us...think CANS.  And that's just the work in the back. 

This fall, we'll turn our attention to the front of house, creating a proper entryway, complete with some serious facade improvements, reconfiguring our lot, and (gasp!)... proper signage.  And hopefully, we'll get all this in place before we're ready for our Grand Opening Week of SHENNAGINS... but more on that in another post later on. 

No, we will not be restricting parking to red, green, and white cars.


Back in December, without hardly trying, the ACHD license kind of fell into our laps.  Turns out, we just had a couple of minor things to get into place for Brewpub service, and those were easy to pull off.

The license for by-the-glass sales has proven to be a bit more elusive.  And as you might imagine, a whole lot more frustrating.  So with our licensing paperwork submitted and the orange sign hung for coming up on 2 months now, we continue to wait, and field the occasional odd question from the PLCB while they more our application... forward?  I hope!

When the time comes, we will serve REAL FOOD.  Something light and simple, something tasty that we ourselves would want to eat.  Something complimentary to the beers we will be serving.  And of course something LOCAL.  In all likelihood, we'll be partnering with local food experts to help us put together something easy to execute every day we're open.  This will satisfy the PLCB's food requirement.  And then we'll likely supplement that by enlisting the portable food pros from Pittsburgh's ever-growing Food Truck scene.

So either way, you'll definitely be able to eat well here.  (And of course there will ALWAYS be vegetarian and vegan options.)  But it won't distract from what will continue to be our reason for existing: Brewing GOOD BEER for all of our GOOD FRIENDS... who we can't wait to have over for a few pints!

Now, with most of these wonderful distractions in the rear view, if that license would just come in, we can flip the switch and get this thing started!


It's HARVEST time!

It's HARVEST time!

As you may have seen a week or so ago, we got a nice pick of super-local hops from our pals at G-tech and Garfield Farms.  That was enough to wet-hop the 3 kegs we'll be serving from at our Hoptoberfest event with them later this month at Marty's Market.  But the MOTHER LODE of hops are just coming in now... as in, they were picked yesterday morning, and they were in the beer by nightfall!  This will be enough to cover about half of the 120-160bbls of BigHopHARVEST we're brewing this season... so that's something like 240-320 kegs, depending on how it all shakes out.

So, after a busy busy weekend of two beer tests and a large Brewery Tour, Nordy and Brendan hopped in our box truck on Sunday and headed North, toward the Finger Lakes region of NY State.  Of course, they managed to work in a brewery stop and a round of disc golf along the way, as these boys know how to road trip.

So while we wait another 1.5-2 weeks for HARVEST to be ready to tap, I thought I'd share some photos of their hop run to keep your nice and thirsty:


Close up view of hops on the bine, with more hops in the background.  Also, hops!


Based on that grin, I think the hop aromas are maybe seeping into his brain.


Doesn't look like much, but here's where the hops are processed... and where you wait for the truck to come in from the field.


This is the ancient, insane, pre-prohibition era machine that separates the hop cones from the rest of the plant... with a good bit of human intervention.


Highly automated operations here, especially the tables.  (Not really.)  Weighing, bagging, more grinning... EVERYTHING here smells hoppy, and is done by hand.

Below... Hops picked, bagged, loaded in our truck, and ready to roll. Time's a wastin!


Thanks for the hops Upstate New York.  See you again in a few weeks when the other varieties are ready for picking!  By then, we'll be enjoying our first batches of HARVEST here at the brewery.  Stop by for some?

Hop Convergence #IPAday

Hop Convergence #IPAday

It's Hop Harvest time of year again, and that of course means it's time to make our long drive to the hop farms of upstate NY to bring back a thousand or so pounds of fresh-picked wet hops for our Big Hop HARVEST Ale.  We've just about got this routine down now after so many years at it... we start driving, they start picking, we arrive, they load us up, and we drive back home and get it into the tanks, and into the beer.  Easier said than done, but it's always worth it!

In addition to HARVEST, we've somewhat accidentally managed to get a bit of hoppy beer convergence here with some other beers in our lineup, and soon to be in our lineup.  Here's the full rundown:

With help from our pals at Gtech and Garfield Farms (and a number of our GOOD BEER Fans!), we've once again gotten a load of super-local wet hops that we're using to conjure up 3 wet-hopped versions of our beers for Gtech's Hoptoberfest Celebration in early September at Marty's Market.  There will be food+beer pairings to enjoy, you can meet the hop farmers, and hear all about what I believe to be the BEST way to put otherwise vacant and neglected land to use in our city...growing hops.  Watch for an announcement of this coming shortly, and a chance to get your tickets before it sells out.  (There is a limited supply of these beers.)

It's our tradition that when someone brews their first recipe here at East End Brewing, we tuck their name into the beer to ensure that they get their fair share of credit or blame, depending on how it turns out.  Well, our man Joe Green put together a 100% Citra-hopped IPA called Green Giant  that's on tap now, and quickly becoming a crowd favorite.  At this rate, it won't last forever, so get in here and get some while it's on.  And you can credit/blame him in person.

Wheat Hop returns too!  This year with a really unique mix of tropical hops that bring an amazing amount of floral fruitiness to an otherwise low alcohol, lightly flavored wheat beer.  You could call it a Session IPA, but mostly we just call it WheatHop.  Though a bit of it is also going to go into bottles for our pals at Bayardstown Social Club... bottles available to members at a discount, but also available to all of yinz as well in Growler and bottled forms.  Watch for the Bayardstown Big Bottle here in another month or so.

And of course, we've still got one more batch of Pedal Pale Ale to brew for the season.  It's hard to believe summer is winding down already, and even harder to say goodbye to this beer for the year.  But plan on seeing it here at least until Halloween, for your hoppy enjoyment, whether you've just ridden your bike or not.

Oh!  And I almost forgot (adding this about half an hour later)! We're putting a fresh batch of BiggerHop into the tank late next week, continuing to tweak and improve this double ipa recipe.  For maximum freshness, we're only going to bottle a little this time, and release the rest into the wild in draft form.  This way, we can keep our bottled stock refrigerated, fresh, and tasty.  Just like the draft.

So yeah, a hoppy convergence here at EEBC, just in time for #IPADay, which is TODAY!

Cheers, Scott

July 4th Growler Hours, at your Independent Brewery

Happy Independence Day America!  July 4th falls on a Friday this year, so to better accommodate your schedules and your thirst, we're tweaking our hours a little this week at both locations...


  • TUE 4-8pm
  • WED 4-8pm
  • THU 4-8pm
  • FRI 10-2pm

  • SAT 12-5pm
  • SUN 10-2pm


  • WED 10-4pm
  • THU 10-4pm
  • FRI 10-4pm

  • SAT 9-5pm
  • SUN 10-4pm

Crystal Schip - embracing the whoops!

Crystal Schip - embracing the whoops!

When you brew BigHop a couple times every week for nearly 10 years, eventually there will be the occasional mis-step.  We had one a couple weeks ago when we accidentally substituted the large percentage of a character malt (Munich) in the grain bill with Crystal 60L Malt.  For those that don't know what that is, Crystal Malt is a specialty malt used to create body and sweetness in a finished beer, as the sugars it brings are largely unfermentable.  In smaller amounts, this sweetness is what provides the balance to the hops in a beer like BigHop or Pedal Pale Ale.

In LARGE amounts like we got with this error, you end up with a thick, malt-bomb of a beer that's pretty out of whack, and kind of useless... that is, unless you step back and consider what you just brewed, and what you might be able to do with it.

2014 is the year we're launching our "Sour Beer" program in earnest.  We've already got 4 wine barrels full of Illustration Ale working with Brettanomyces in our tasting room, and there's plans for a batch of 100% Brettanomyces-fermented BigHop and a Lactobacillis-fermented Berliner Weisse this summer.  This year will also see the long anticipated revisiting our our "Sourdough Kvass".  (Anticipated by ME anyway!)  This is all made possible by the addition of an old dairy tank that we recently added to our fleet.  Having a devoted equipment to handle these funky beers is the best way to avoid cross contamination of these persistent fermenting agents into our "regular" lineup of beers.

So, back to our malt-bomb: The fermenting agents in a funky beer not only love regular fermentable sugars, they also eat the sugars that regular ale yeasts like ours hardly touch... sugars that come from grains like Crystal Malts.  But some of them also hate hops. But luckily we saw the problem early and saw what we could do with this beer while running off the mash.  So we were able to stop and change course to skip the large hop additions that BigHop usually gets.  Our sour beer program just got a swift kick start!

Our seat-of-the-pants-plan was this: Ferment this batch as usual with our house ale yeast, see how it tastes, and if it's the malt-bomb we expect it to be, move it into another tank and start the funky fermentation.  As it turns out, the finished beer is on the sweet side, but not nearly as crazy sweet as we expected it would be.  (Think Scottish/Scotch Ale)   So we're splitting this 20bbl batch in half and taking it down two paths to see where it leads us...

  • Crystal Ship went on tap yesterday at the brewery, and has turned out to be a nice little beer!  Especially for those liking something on the malty side, and almost completely hop-free.
  • Crystal Schip will sit for another 3-6 months on lacto and brett, and we'll see what we get from it.

For the record, that odd spelling of the name is intentional.  Crystal Ship is of course a reference to the accidental ingredient substitution, as well a musical reference.  Crystal Schip is a nod to a "Koolschip", the shallow, open-topped vessel that the Belgians use to cast their fresh wort into, inoculating it with the airborne flora of their region.

There was a third version of this name... and in fact it was the first version we used during the brew day.  We'll keep it at the ready in case things go horribly wrong and we have to dump some of this batch.  But so far, it looks like there will NOT be a beer that we have to refer to as Crystal Shit. (A more obscure musical reference.) So we've got that going for us.

Enjoy the happy accidents!