After two years in development, Dancing Gnome Brewery opened on Oct. 1, in Sharpsburg. “Main Street has kept a lot of its cool main-street appeal. I think there’s so much potential,” says owner and brewer Andrew Witchey. Until recently, Witchey was the sole brewer, but as Dancing Gnome moved steadily toward opening day, he brought on Zach Colton, formerly of Trillium Brewing Company, in Boston, to help. “He came out and brewed with me for a week, and we mutually thought it was a great fit,” says Witchey.
Witchey began as a home brewer and enjoyed the science of it. “I feel like anyone who’s into beer, it’s one of those things in the back of your head, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to open a brewery?’” he says. When Brew Gentleman, in Braddock, opened, he volunteered and loved it. So much so that he went to Vermont to attend the American Brewers Guild to become certified in commercial brewing. When he returned, he decided to open Dancing Gnome. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I wanted to open a business someday. It made sense to do it,” he says.
Dancing Gnome’s taproom is warm, with lots of gold accents and white subway tile. A glass wall provides a look into the 10-barrel brew house. A canning line is already in place and he hopes to use it in a few months, once the brewery gets rolling.
All of Witchey’s beers (like the brewery itself) have whimsical names. “The dancing gnome is how I envision passion and hard work in an entity. Working the gardens and tending the gardens when the human isn’t there to do it, but then being mischievous and having a great time, despite working hard,” he says.
The four beers that Witchey feels showcase his brewing style best all have Latin names: Lustra, Aevum, Agricolis, Caligo. It’s an homage to his five years as a Latin student and to a favorite teacher. “He was a fantastic guy that was really supportive of me,” says Witchey.
Witchey describes his beers as hop-forward and ranging from 2.5 percent to 10 percent ABV. “I don’t love stouts but I definitely enjoy brewing them,” he says. “There will always be a dark option on tap.” Wonka, a dry stout, is a beauty of a dark beer with a hazelnut nose and strong chocolate and coffee notes. The chocolate notes are its namesake, reminding Witchey of Willy Wonka’s chocolate river. (RIP Gene Wilder.) Expect a smoked coffee stout on tap soon, as well. For lighter offerings, try Lustra, a grassy American pale ale, with hints of citrus. When asked what he hopes for as the brewery opens, Witchey simply says, “I hope people come down to the tap room, drink beers and hang out.”
The Dancing Gnome taproom is open 4-10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
925 Main St., Sharpsburg. 412-408-2083 or www.dancinggnomebeer.com