History of Penn Brewery
Pennsylvania Brewing Company
Allegheny Brewery & Pub
Penn Brewery


This Document First Published: October 29, 2017
Revised and updated: January 5, 2019

Note: This supersedes the document on
www.pubnetwork.com, which has been deleted. I have moved the contents of that document here to keep it with the other brewing history pages. There are significant corrections concerning the timeline in the 1800’s.

1961: According to a Pittsburgh History & Landmarks newsletter, a Boston collector acquired original ink on linen architectural and engineering drawings. They went missing in 1961 and sometime after that the collector acquired them. He returned them to the brewery (after the brewery opened in 1989) but I do not know under what type of agreement. I also do not know if they still exist.

In a talk with Linda Nyman (September 31, 2012) of Penn Brewery it appears that they are no longer in the brewery.

The History

The Penn Brewery in Pittsburgh, Pa. was founded by Tom & Mary Beth Pastorius. One small note: some publications spell Mary Beth’s name incorrectly as Marybeth. Tom is a direct descendent of Franz Daniel Pastorius (1651 – 1720), who was a founder of Germantown, Pennsylvania. Under the leadership of Pastorius, 13 families from Crefeld, Germany founded Germantown on June 20, 1683.

Pennsylvania Brewing Company


1986 March 3: Pennsylvania Brewing Co. incorporates in Philadelphia, Pa. (assumed city). The Pennsylvania Department of State has the following dates:
1887, June 26, Entity created per Pa Department of State
1986, March 3, Created
1987, July 29, Amendment
1989, May 30, Amendment
1989, August 21, Amendment
1994, July 25, Fictitious name Penn Brewery created
2003, September 17, Merger
2008, December 5: Officers: The Lion Brewery, Inc. Wilkes Barre
2011, February 17: Amendment.

The Pennsylvania Department of State shows the Pennsylvania Brewing Co. as a County Orphan created in 1897. The Pennsylvania Brewing Company was incorporated on June 24, 1897 with a capital stock of $1,000 as noted in the
Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1899. This could have been the Central Pennsylvania Brewing Company.

1986: Production at Pittsburgh Brewing Co.
(
This year is correct): Production (of Pennsylvania Pilsner) begins at Pittsburgh Brewing prior to the Allegheny Brewery opening. Historical note: Samuel Adams Boston Lager was first brewed at Pittsburgh Brewing in 1885.

Jim Koch of Boston Beer and Tom Pastorius hired Joseph Owades (July 9, 1919 – December 16, 2005), the director of the San Francisco Center for Brewing Studies to develop their respective recipes. Both Jim’s and Tom’s beers were first brewed at Pittsburgh Brewing.

1986 September 6: Zoning Approval
Bob Hoover reported (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, page 7) that on Thursday, the City of Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Appeals approved the $3.5 million project. Tom Pastorius is to install about $500,000 in brewing, restaurant and tavern equipment starting in December in the first floor of the Victorian structure while office space will go into the remaining three floors.
Thomas V. Pastorius, a Sewickley businessman and beer lover, has joined with the North Side Civic Development Council in plans to return the Eberhardt and Ober Brewery at the base of Troy Hill into a brew pub and office complex.

As reported, a beer garden is also planned on the hill behind the building. The brewery should be in place by mid-1987. Tom’s beer, currently made at Pittsburgh Brewing, would be produced at 20 barrels per run and would be served on draft. The article noted that at the time Tom was thinking about making
ale rather than lager due to time and cost of producing lager. Tom also had a desire to operate the production brewery in tandem with a restaurant but at this time that was not permitted under Pa. law.

1987: Production at Jones Brewing Co, Smithton (Westmoreland Co) Pa.
Tom discontinued production at Pittsburgh Brewing as PBC wanted all rights for distribution in western Pennsylvania. Production was moved to Smithton, the makers of Stoney’s Beer. Jones went bankrupt in 2000.

From Penn’s website, Mr. Beer dot com (no longer available): The Beginning of Penn Pilsner and The Beginning of Craft Brewing in Pennsylvania. Tom Pastorius introduces Pennsylvania Pilsner to Philadelphia at City Tavern, in June 1986. (A number of websites incorrectly date the Penn Brewery as 1987. This is false and misleading. It also shows a lack in research on their part.)

1987: Penn Pilsner, a German Amber lager, was brewed at the Jones Brewery in Smithton, Westmoreland County. Production ceased in 1989. 1997?

1987 August 12: E & O Partners Property Owner
In 1987 E & O Partners bought the building (Allegheny Co. Lot & Block 24-K-369) on August 12 for $257,000. E & O Partners was created on January 21, 1987. 1000 California Avenue 15212 per Department of State. DLB Management, Inc. was a general partner. E & O Partners LLC was located at 1000 California Avenue (North Side) 15212. Until 1987 the brewery and property were owned by the same entity. At this time the building was owned independently from the brewery.

The sale allowed renovations to begin. A great deal of the renovation, demolition, ownership and other general information can be found of the Historic Survey page.

1987: The building is placed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 5
th.

1989 April: Brewing began in Pittsburgh at the Allegheny Brewery. (Pa. Liquor License application lists April 10, 1989). The copper kettles were made in Germany and assembled in Pittsburgh by German craftsmen brought over for the job. The beers made at this brewery are of the northern German style. Alex Demel was the start-up brewer. The brewery’s name is taken from the City of Allegheny, the former city prior to being annexed by Pittsburgh.

When the state first permitted brewery – restaurant (brewpubs) it was the first time a brewery could sell beer in an attached restaurant. The license permitted beer only. It would be a while before the state permitted the sale of wines and spirits.

1989: The brand, Pennsylvania Pilsner, was contracted out to Pittsburgh Brewing. Production was moved to Jones Brewery, Smithton, Pa. after a dispute with Pittsburgh Brewing. Pennsylvania Pilsner was trademarked on March 24, 1988 but was abandoned as of January 16, 1989. Jones Brewery filed for bankruptcy in late (October-November) 2000.

1989: The same time Pennsylvania Pilsner was contracted out to Jones, the brand changed names from “Pennsylvania Pilsner” to “Penn Pilsner”.

1989 June: Penn Light and Penn Dark are introduced, but only on draft.

1989 September 12 (Tuesday): Restaurant opened for business as the Allegheny Brewery & Pub; Pennsylvania’s first brewpub since prohibition.

Penn-Stoudts Disputed Dates:
Pennsylvania Brewing formed in Philadelphia in 1986 as a microbrewery but without any brewing equipment. Stoudts opened in 1987 as a microbrewery only. Carol & Ed had to divorce so that no financial connection between brewery and restaurant could be established. The Pittsburgh brewing operations of Penn began September 12, 1989 and included the restaurant. Stoudts pub room did not open until the fall of 1996. Note: dates came from Penn and Stoudts published literature. (I had published material from Stoudts supporting this, now some is lost)

The Sam Adams brewpub in Philadelphia opened on November 29, 1989 to become Pa.’s second brewpub. It has since closed.

1989 September 17: It was reported in the
Observer-Reporter that one of the owners in E & O was Herman Bloedel (d. January 3, 1915). His great-grandson, Curt Naeser was at the opening of the Allegheny Brewery and donated artifacts from E & O to Tom & Mary Beth. They are: a wooden dolly, wagon jack, wooden gear wheel and a 1900’s scale. They are/were displayed in the restaurant.

Curt was President of Good Intent Log Homes of Claysville, Pa. Good Intent is an actual town in Washington County.

Herman Bloedel was a master plumber in 1905 Allegheny City. A photo of him can be found in the
Plumbers Trade Journal, Volume 38, Page 312. He lived on Chestnut Street.

Late 1988-89: Production ceases at Pittsburgh Brewing. Brewing and bottling (of Penn Pilsner) moved to Jones Brewery in Smithton, Pa. about 1989. (Stoney’s beer, Shirley Jones, actress family)

Brewery historian Rich Wagner of Philadelphia has this date as 1988. Both dates were prior to the installation of a bottling line in Pittsburgh. I can’t re-verify my 1989 date but Rich is probably correct on his. Any Stoney’s guys know?
See: (
http://pabreweryhistorians.tripod.com/whatsbrw.htm)

1990 May 31, (Thursday): Michael Jackson (the Beer Hunter) visits the Allegheny Brewery & Pub as well as the Jones Brewery in Smithton, Pa. This was Mr. Jackson’s first of two visits to Pittsburgh, the other being August 12, 2003 (Tuesday) to visit the Church Brew Works. Mr. Jackson died on August 30, 2007 (Thursday). Mr. Jackson also visited the Jones Brewery in the 1990 visit, as Penn Pilsner was being produced and bottled there at the time. (Greg Walz, president of TRASH was Mr. Jackson’s escort for the 1990 visit, as he needed transportation. Mr. Jackson’s secretary contacted Greg directly for this. Brewer Bryan Pearson of the Church Brew Works brought Mr. Jackson in for the 2003 visit)

1990: Penn takes their first gold medal at the GABF for the Münchener Helles 4.0%ABV. The Helles is known today as Penn Gold. At the time many people did not know what to expect in seeing the name Helles so Tom made it more user friendly.

1991 August: Beer was $1.75, per a Pittsburgh History & Landmarks newsletter.

1991 September 10: News Record of North Hills
Reported that Allegheny Brewery & Pub Allegheny Brewery will triple its production capability with the addition of eight aging tanks. New refrigeration, hot water systems and grain silos were installed earlier this summer. Plans also are being made to expand the restaurant with the addition of a Rathskeller room in the basement.

1992: The restaurant name was changed from Allegheny Brewery & Pub to Penn Brewery. Unknown day or month but it did coincide with the opening of the Ratskeller. See 1994, as this date is probably wrong.

1992 June 30: (Tuesday): Ratskeller opens after new stairs are installed. The stairs from the main floor to the basement were not in place when the restaurant first opened. A second aging cellar was opened having nine new lager tanks. The stairs to the Ratskeller were put in place to allow for the delivery of the tanks and equipment.

The LCB has December 2, 1993 for the Ratskeller opening. The Pa. Department of State has July 25, 1994 when the name Allegheny Brewery Ratskeller was recoded.

1994: The Pennsylvania Department of State has July 25, 1994 when the fictitious names Penn Brewery and Allegheny Brewery Ratskeller was filed.

1995: First Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest at the brewery. They would continue until 2016 when the final fest took place.

1996: A 110 year-old retaining wall in the loading dock area collapsed on Thursday, April 4. It toppled a power pole and blew a transformer, which cut power to the area for a while. Two 30-foot silos were damaged. The spent grain silo slightly damaged but the malt silo was damaged beyond repair. It was the hot topic at Friday’s happy hour.

Liquor License: Church Brew Works was first brewpub in the state to receive a liquor license on December 6, 1996. I have a letter sent to me by Sean Casey confirming that. It is unknown to me when Penn received one. Penn Brewery did receive a liquor license but I do not know that date.

1997 March
The Pa LCB has this date for the Ratskeller but as a licensed storage area.

1997: Penn Weizen (Wheat) beer won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival out of 83 entries.

1998 July: Tom came back from a trip to Germany and brought back a different hop for use in his Kaiser Pils. He also brought German Wine bearing his name.

2000 June: Crew Lager débuts. It was a Dortmunder/Helles style of beer at 4.0%ABV.

2001: Production ceases at Jones Brewery. Unknown date when they stopped brewing for Penn, but they went bankrupt in 2000. Bottle production moves to Fredrick, Md.

Acquisition by Birchmere Capital


Tom needed to expand operations but was in need of capital. There was room at the brewery but Tom also gave consideration in moving some of the operations to a new building. He was looking at the vacant Gateway Engineers building at the end of the Ninth Street Bridge (now Rachel Carson Bridge) but that was not moved on. Tom rebuilt this brewery with his own hands and to sell to investors was the last thing he wanted to do. But as he told me after the sale he felt he had no choice but to sign with the devil.

2003: Tom sold all but a minority holding to Birchmere Capital. He was scheduled to stay with the brewery for 5 years. In a press release, Birchmere Capital, L.P. announced its investment in the brewery. Jack Isherwood is the Managing Principal of Birchmere. The date was listed with the Pennsylvania Department of State on September 17, 2003. Birchmere had 82% ownership of the brewery.

2003: Brewer Bryan Pearson of the Church Brew Works brought Mr. Jackson in to Pittsburgh for his second, and final visit. This was a private affair but members of The Three Rivers Alliance of Serious of Homebrewers were able to meet with him at the Church Brew Works. Mr. Jackson’s visit to Penn was strictly private.

2004 May 25: The grain silos above the parking garage along Troy Hill Road came down this day (Tuesday), as they were unsafe.

2006: Some beers are contracted out to Frederick Brewing Co., Md. because demand was too great for the capacity of the brewery.

2006: With $500,000 from Birchmere, the brewery expanded its capacity from 10,000 barrels per year to 20,000. Six beer tanks were installed as well as additional bottling equipment.

2006 July: They were the first brewpub in Pittsburgh to go non-smoking within the building. Allegheny County Council introduced a bill in July and the ordinance was passed in October. I don’t know if Tom expected the bill to pass but he probably thought it was the time to do this. Business did not suffer.

2008 September 12 (Friday): Tom leaves the building after a farewell speech during the anniversary party at the brewery.

2008 November 12:
Reported in the Pittsburgh Business Times by Tim Schooley, Len Caric, who became president and CEO after Tom retired stated that his goals for the company. He wanted to grow the company and in doing so redesigned packaging, brand logo and case configuration. Kaiser Pils, which was seasonal was now year-round. Production was to increase to 12,000 barrels annually and buling a new brewery or contracting out was a pert of his plan.
Jack Isherwood, Chairman of Pennsylvania Brewing Co.

2008 November 28 (Friday): the brewery is scheduled to close and move to lesser quarters. Brewing is to cease and move to the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre where the beers are currently brewed and bottled. The brewery never moved but did reopen under new ownership in 2009.

2008 December: The fictitious name Pennsylvania Brewing Co. was filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State on the 5
th having the Lion Brewery, 700 N Pennsylvania Ave., Wilkes-Barre as the owners. This permitted the Lion Brewery to brew under contract for Penn.

In a reply to Lew Bryon’s beer blog, Darel Matthews of Lion said that they did not brew for Penn prior to 2008 but did a test batch in December.

2008 December: Last batch of beer brewed in early December. Fermentation and packaging continue until January 2, 2009.

2009 January 2 (Friday): Birchmere ceases on-site brewing operations and lays-off the brewing staff.

2009 February: The restaurant was scheduled to close but a new lease kept it open.

2009 February
The brewery’s lease expired in February 2009. The brewery negotiated with building owner E & O Partners to extend the lease for five years.

2009 March: The brewery brings in re-designed bottle labels from Smith Brothers Agency.

2009 August 18 (Tuesday): the restaurant closes after 20 years. Jack Isherwood confirmed to the Pittsburgh Post that the restaurant could close indefinitely.
(This date is the publication date on a Post article, by Bob Batz, in which Jack Isherwood confirmed that the restaurant "is closed indefinitely while future options are being evaluated". Wikipedia has this date as the 19th, which would have come from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. They published the 18th in another article.)

Opinion
Birchmere buys the brewery in 2003 and do improvements to the brewery and buildings. Five years later Tom retires and from that time on everything falls apart. One has to wonder how this happened when it did. Were their no signs of this when Tom was still a member? Was Birchmere unable to finance operations anymore? They blamed a rent increase that occurred after Tome departed. Was that true? We will never know. What we do know is that Birchmere took a thriving business and lost it.

Reacquired by Pastorius and Others


2009 November 23 (Monday) corrected on October 24, 2012
Tom returns with additional investors who included:
Sandy Cindrich, who served as Business Manager (now CEO as of July 2010)
Corey Little, Chief Technology Officer
Linda Nyman, Director of Marketing
Gary Cindrich and Stuart Nyman have never been partners in the Brewery

Note: I received a corrected list (above) from Linda Nyman on October 23, 2012.
The Pa. Department of State, accessed January 5, 2019 has Sandra Cindrich, President and Lynda Nyman, Secretary & Treasurer as owners of the brewery.
Vinial St LP is the building owner.

December 8, 2009 (Tuesday): brewing resumed at 10:20 AM. A first for the brewery they brew an American style pale ale. Up until now the beers have been traditional German beers. Lew Bryson in
Pennsylvania Breweries has December 3 being the date of the first brew,

2009 December 30 (Wednesday): at 4:00 PM, the first beer tasting.

2009 December 30 (Wednesday): preview opening of the restaurant opened for a "sneak peak" Hundreds of people showed up for the 4 PM sample give-a-way.

2010 February: new keg line is installed.

2010 February 17 (Wednesday): first kegs released to wholesalers.

2010 March: growler hours begin every Friday for walk-ins. According to
Lew Bryson, you could bring in your own 64oz growler or buy a Penn growler for $5. Growler Hour(s) was from 4:00PM to 6:00PM.

2010 May: A new bottling line was installed.

2010 May 5 (Wednesday): Restaurant reopens

2010 November 16 (Tuesday): It was first reported on
http://pghpubs.blogspot.com/2010/11/penn-brewery.html that Tom is no longer with the brewery. It is later reveled in local newspapers that Tom & Mary Beth filed a lawsuit against the other owners.

2011 April: The brewery announced in a press release and in their newsletter that it (the Penn) is celebrating 25 years (as a company). The business was incorporated in 1986, making it 25 years old and the brewing opened in 1989 making it 22 years old.

2012 April 16: Workers break through one of the sealed caves but do not find beer lagering from the 1800’s or after. This was during the cleaning and restoration work to the existing stonewalls in the yard and leading to the parking garage.

2012 September 6 (Thursday): Thomas Vaughn Pastorius passed away this day at the age of 67. It was 22 years, 11 months and 25 days since he opened the brewery.

2012 October 23 (Tuesday): The building opposite the loading dock area was raised to make way for the construction of a new refrigerated storage facility.

2014 May: Work complete of re-setting of stones in the yard and repairs begins on the building.

2014 May 22: A beehive measuring over 5 feet was relocated from the wall facing the parking garage. Stephen Repasky of Bee Control of Pittsburgh removed what he estimated to be 50,000 bees. The honey was saved and put into a batch of beer. The bees were believed to be in the wall for over 15 years and were discovered when the wall collapsed during renovation.

2015 – 2016 Vinial Street Excavation
The hill along Vinial Street was excavated and a retaining wall built to extend the loading dock. The retaining wall was completed in early 2017. There was a delay in the construction due to permit issues. It has been long talked about that caves were present in the hillside along Vinial Street but none were found during this wall construction.

2016 Five-Barrel Brewery
Penn installed a small brewery in the former laboratory/office. This will allow the brewers to try new styles of beer without having to make a large investment and finding out it not what they or anyone else wanted.

2016 April Customer Parking
The Pennsylvania Brewing Company applied for a lease of right-of-way from the Department of Transportation for land along State Route 28. The 11,391 square foot vacant lot along Troy Hill Road at Vinial is used by the brewery for customer parking. The application was made public by the Commonwealth on April 2, 2016.

2016 June 4: Microbrewer’s Festival
This was the final Microbrewer’s Festival at Penn Brewery. It takes a lot to put on a festival and in as much as they get good will from this it is probably not cost effective and with little return. So the brewery decided to cease this event and move on to doing more events throughout the year.

2017 Caves
Previously, Penn Brewery officials have found four main caves, stretching as much as 150 feet back. They twist, they dip, they interconnect and they spider web further into the underground, so they say. The cave entrances that can be seen in the yard have been cleaned and will be used for functions.

2017 May: New Bar in Restaurant
The brewery dismantled the original bar that served customers since 1989 and built a new and larger horseshoe bar. It gave more room for the bartenders and much more seating at the bar. It did displace a number of tables but overall did not reduce the number of people who could be served. New bench seats were installed in the corner where the bands would perform. Due to these changes it looks like Penn has moved away from live entertainment.

2017: Tap House
It was announced on September 29 that Penn Brewery will open a tap house in the First Avenue Lofts at 432 First Avenue. This area of downtown Pittsburgh is known as the Firstside district. Project is having a delay.

2018 Pittsburgh International Airport
The company has opened a restaurant in Concourse A at the airport. Opening date was Fat Tuesday, February 13
th.

Fun Facts

Tom and Mary Beth became friends with British actress Wendy Richard whilst on holiday in Europe. Ms. Richards played on the television series Are You Being Served and East Enders.

Tom played the bagpipes for the Baldwin Highlanders band. He played the pipes whilst wearing a kilt on opening day of the brewery in 1989.

Unknown Dates

Penn receives a liquor license to sell wine and spirits. Although Pa.’s first brewpub they are not the first to get a liquor license for wines and spirits. That went to the Church Brew Works on December 6, 1996 per letter to me from Sean Casey.

The Brewers

Alex Demel, from Germany, was founding brewer in 1989.
After a few years he returned to Europe to start other breweries.

Ivan (1990-August 2001) but left in 1997 after Peter came on board. Sorry Ivan, but I don’t know if I ever knew your last name.

Peter Boettcher started in 1997 but was let go in late August 2001. He is a Bavarian State Certified Technical brewmaster who studied at the Weinhenstephan Institute and Doemens Technical College. Both are located in Munich. He has worked for several European breweries since his graduation in 1992. He is the Master Brewer.
Peter worked at the Winona Brewery (December 2008) along with Mark Zimmerman from Bub’s Brewery.

Dave Cerminara left in 2014 to open Apis Mead in Carnegie.

Steve Crist was a brewer in 2014.

Paul Shanta was the Brewer as of 1997. Departure date and status are unknown.

Matt Cole worked here before going to Great Lakes, Rocky River, and Fat Heads – Cleveland. He left Pittsburgh for Baltimore before going to Ohio. He only worked in sales at Penn. Matt also worked in England and I believe Dusseldorf.

Brewers at end of 2009 brewing operations:

Nick Rosich until December 2008 (Nick went to the Rust Belt Brewery, Youngstown). He returned on reopening

Andy Rich, November 1998 – 205/2016. Became the production manager for Arsenal Cider House in Penn Hills.

Sean Setzenfand until December 2008 (Sean went to the Hofbrauhaus, South Side)

Andy and Rick returned when the brewery reopened.

Additional

Rick Brown, Brewer and Bottling Manager since 1994.

Christopher Rudolph, Head brewer since June 2018, been with Peen since February 2008.

The Property & The Brewery


See the document, Historic Building Survey.

End

I have been coming to Penn Brewery since the day they opened and I met Tom before the opening. The above is a collection taken from my personal notes and my writings as editor of the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Home Brewers’ newsletter for over 11 years. Allow me to thank Tim Russell and Ralph Colaizzi for input into this document.
Updates and corrections will follow.