Aslin Beer adds massive taproom, impressive variety to Strip District | Pittsburgh City Paper

Aslin Beer adds massive taproom, impressive variety to Strip District

click to enlarge Wide shot of a brewery taproom awash in teal, pink, and yellow.
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
Aslin Beer in the Strip District
Aslin Beer Co. deserves the hype. Full stop.

Since the Virginia-based brewery announced, what feels like ages ago now, that they were opening a Pittsburgh location, expectations were sky-high. Opening a massive, 17,000-square-foot location in the middle of the Strip District Terminal building shows an ambitious goal to become a major player in an already crowded Pittsburgh beer scene.

But for Aslin, the move was a simple decision.

“From the start, we've had a strong base of support from fans in Pittsburgh,” says Aslin co-founder Andrew Kelley. “Even in our early years, there was a contingent that would drive down from Allegheny County for our releases. When we were looking at expanding, it was an easy choice. We want to be there for our Pittsburgh fans the way they've been here for us.”

The brewery officially opens today, over a year after Aslin first announced plans for a Pittsburgh location.

It’s hard to truly describe how large the Aslin taproom feels. The entire space, 10,000 square feet of which is dedicated to a production facility, with 7,000 operating as the taproom, maximizes every inch without sacrificing quality. There’s an upstairs loft area, an amount of seating that could only be described as comical, and a bright, candy-colored vibe. The many windows allow for brightness and provide a nice homage to the Terminal’s past.

“The Strip District has such a great vibe, and the Terminal was a perfect location in our minds”, says co-founder Kai Leszkowicz. “That really helped to determine what the taproom was going to become. Our Pittsburgh taproom will be our largest, and we'll be brewing some new beers here, including our first non-alcoholic beer. We're building on the already unique atmosphere of the city, and excited to see what it brings.”
click to enlarge The exterior of Aslin Beer in the Strip District
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
Aslin Beer in the Strip District
Oh yeah, about the beer. Aslin has a reputation as one of the more innovative, creative, and meticulous breweries in the country. They nail the simple beers, but part of their appeal for the Pittsburgh market will be how diverse their selection is; if there’s a style you might be interested in, chances are Aslin will have it.

I started with the Marzen, a clean 6% German-style beer. It was a great starting point, a crisp, malty beer that will please crowds across the spectrum.

I then moved on to some of their crazier concoctions; the Triple Orange Starfish, a charged-up version of their Staple IPA Orange Starfish, and the Corvette Steve, a 6% Sour brewed with blackberry, strawberry, banana, marshmallows, and vanilla. The Sour exemplified their fruitier beers with a thick and refreshing style that will appeal to those who favor less hoppy beers. Triple Orange Starfish was well executed, but a little heavy at 12%; luckily they have a whole roster of hoppy beers to choose from.

Finally, there was the Pittsburgh Barrel-Aged stout, part of Aslin's line named after towns and cities across the country. A 13% beer aged in bourbon barrels and conditioned on coconut and peanut butter, it’s pure decadence in a glass. Aslin’s entire stout program is beyond coveted, it’s legendary. They make these beers with years of care to go into small batches; it’s a treat for any beer lover.

And then there's the food. Developed by the brewery's chef, Taylor Gates, with some consultation from the Troy Hill-based restaurant Scratch & Co., Aslin's food program now has a limited menu but will expand as time goes on.

The overall experience is enjoyable and well-curated, a result of a brewery moving into the city that earnestly wants to make a top-flight experience and not just a quick buck. They’ve already talked about wanting to be an active part of the local beer scene and the community, emulating what spaces like Trace Brewing are doing.

Said Kelley, “We can't wait. We've always dug the Pittsburgh craft brewery scene and are looking forward to being a bigger part of it. It will be great to work with new and old friends up here to help build that community.”

Aslin Beer. 1801 Smallman St., Strip District. aslinbeer.com