After 12 years in business, East End Brewing Company finally opened its East End Taproom late in June. “We’ve been searching for a spot for a long time and we’re happy we’ve landed here. We’ve always focused on what’s in the glass and worked our way out,” says owner Scott Smith.
Located in the Strip District, the space offers a different atmosphere than the Brewery in Larimer (which will remain in operation). “Here we get foot traffic, which we never get at the brewery,” says Smith. The new space comes on the heels of Pittsburgh Public Market’s February 2016 closing. East End had a growler shop there, the ambiance of which Smith affectionately likened to “drinking in your high school hallway.” Even so, he says it helped show him there was a market in the Strip for a taproom.
The building is divided into several retail spaces. The Taproom occupies one while Olive Tap and John Moran Woodworking, their former neighbors at the Public Market, are in adjacent rooms. A few others are expected to join. The building was once a nightclub, but that vibe has been completely washed away. The Taproom has clean lines, lots of wood, exposed brick and charming lamps that look exactly like hop flowers hanging over the bar. Another 6,000 square feet of outdoor courtyard space is in the works for café seating that will be shared with the other vendors.
In order to assure excellent-tasting beer, Smith replaced the nightclub’s entire tap system. The taproom boasts a completely stainless-steel draft tower and an oxygen barrier to preserve the quality of the beer from tank to tap. “We’ve actually gotten complaints that the beer is too cold,” says Smith, laughing. Twelve taps including a nitro tap guarantee a wide variety of East End beers. For non-beer drinkers, there is also cider, homemade ginger beer and root beer on tap. Size options run the gamut, with taster flights, half growlers, growlers and “crowlers.” At 32 ounces, a crowler is a double-sized “pounder” that the bartender will fill and then seal to make one, giant portable can.
A few more things to love: The establishment is kid-friendly (and, for outdoor seating, dog-friendly). It’s also instituted a BYOF (“Bring Your Own Food”) program, seconding Smith’s assertion he’s dedicated to sticking to beer and “leaving the food to the experts.” “The Strip community has been really supportive,” he says. Nearby Thin Man Sandwich Shop, he says, has recommended on social media that customers check out the new taproom equipped with one of its sandwiches. In the near future, look forward to Sunday beer brunches, which will include two beverages and breakfast. Until East End settles into the space, the hours will be subject to change, but it currently serves Thursday through Sunday.
102 19th St., Strip District. www.eastendbrewing.com