Good news, South Hills beer-lovers: There's now a Pittsburgh brewpub on your side of the Mon.
"The neighborhood has really embraced us," says Hitchhiker Brewing Co. head brewer Andy Kwiatkowski. Still, a few Mount Lebanon customers haven't quite caught on to the "brew" part of the brewpub concept yet: "Some people that come here don't know we're a brewery," says Kwiatkowski, who's fielded several requests for a Yuengling, among other things.
"I have to tell them that we make all of our own beers here."
And fortunately for craft-beer lovers, Hitchhiker owner Gary Olden made a savvy move hiring Kwiatkowski.
After nearly five years of homebrewing and hitting the festival circuits, Kwiatkowski is a well-known face in the Pittsburgh brew community. He worked at East End Brewing for about eight months before returning to a desk job and honing his craft in his spare time. "I was brewing a lot more beer than I probably should have been," he says.
Kwiatkowski describes his approach as constantly curious, even tilting toward obsession: "It's just about impossible for me to sit down and enjoy a beer. I'll taste and evaluate them, but that's it."
Expect the beers at Hitchhiker to reflect his restlessness. The brewhouse selections will rotate often, with previous recipes either tweaked a bit or thrown completely on their heads. "We're going to be doing a lot of experimentation here," Kwiatkowski says.
For example, the beautiful saison, resonant with undertones of pear peel and apricot, is soon to be swapped out for one enhanced with orange peel and juniper, and likely two other iterations of the summertime style.
Kwiatkowski promises something for drinkers requesting Yuengling, too. He's brewing a Dusseldorf altbier which, while remaining a craft beer, will have many of the same notes as the Pennsylvania commercial label. "I get to satisfy my inner beer nerd," Kwiatkowski says of such experiments, "but give something to the customers that they are asking for."