Pittsburgh homebrewers are now a mouse-click away from next-day delivery of malt, hops, yeast and a wide array of specialty brewing items. That's because the Concord, Calif.-based MoreBeer! has just opened a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Ambridge.
Distribution manager Ryan Barto, who moved here to oversee the new operation, says Pittsburgh was chosen over Baltimore and Memphis for the company's first expansion because the city's location is convenient to markets in both the Northeast and Midwest.
"We want to grow our business in these regions. Now we'll be able to get them our products in days rather than a week," he says.
A self-described "former big-competition homebrewer," Barto says he's already connected with members of TRASH and TRUB, Pittsburgh's two major homebrew clubs. "Those guys are all terrific. We're hoping to get them to have some of their meetings in our warehouse."
While distribution centers in other companies may be run by robots, MoreBeer! operations are decidedly analogue. "Robots don't like homebrew," assistant distribution manager Tim Yothers jokes. By contrast, all eight of the warehouse employees are either already avid homebrewers, or are learning how to brew their own beer.
"We want everyone to be passionate about what we're doing here," Barto says.
Barto notes that local nanobreweries will also benefit from the warehouse's quick turnaround on wholesale orders. He says that while Pittsburgh isn't unique in its burgeoning small-batch scene, the quality of the brew produced here is premium. Barto has a particular passion for Helltown's Insidious IPA. "Man, that stuff can rival West Coast double-IPAs. It's ridiculous," he says.
Regarding the region's established homebrew supply stores, Barto is careful not to seem like the big bully moving in their market. "We still want people to go to their local stores," he says. "People have relationships with them."
Then again, he says, "We'll have fresher ingredients than most local stores because of our volume. Many of the homebrew stores buy from us already, so you're getting it straight from us now."