There are two breweries within walking distance of my house, and a half-dozen more just a short drive away. With great beer so accessible, it's easy to forget the more far-flung options. Recent taproom openings, however, keep two of the region's best breweries' names in the mix.
In January, Meadville's Voodoo Brewery opened the doors to its Homestead pub, located in the town's former municipal building. The design of the building, which owner Jake Voelker called "one of Homestead's most historic and monolithic structures," smartly weaves the vibrant Voodoo brand into the space's history, leaving intact bits of decay and nods to its fire-station past.
On tap are Voodoo's six year-rounds and six rotating brews, including H2P, a West Coast-style IPA exclusive to this location. There is plenty more in the works for the enormous pub, including Voodoo's very own food truck. "We're just excited to bring our beer to a market that's always been so good to us, and in turn help revive Homestead," says Voelker.
Less monolithic but no less impressive, the Wild Side Pub is Full Pint's addition to Butler Street's beer scene. Adjacent to Wild Purveyors, in Upper Lawrenceville, the taproom features the North Versailles brewery's flagships as well as a number of its more experimental beers, such as a milk stout aged on wormwood and a variety of sours. Food can be ordered from next door, and the menu suggests beer pairings for snacks like Wild Purveyors' homemade pickles and local cheese plates.
Like many of the brewery's beers, the décor is funky. Shoe stretchers, antique electric fans and little pieces of nature adorn the rough-hewn wooden walls, and the space strikes the perfect balance between Lawrenceville hip and inviting coziness.
Both spots are unique. Not quite brewpubs but certainly not typical bars, Voodoo and Full Pint are bringing their beers to a whole new audience.