Alley Brewing's Chris Leber, left, and Josh Hays.
Going back to August 2011, I've been trying to keep an eye on another of the region's many start-up and would-be-start-up breweries, Alley Brewing. The three 20-something homebrewers who aspire to be pros have since poured tastes at quite a few places, and recently did their first big event -- Rivertowne Brewing's Pro-Am Rendezvous during Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week (above).
Now the Alley Brewing guys have me smiling at a promotion they're calling "McKeesport's First Ever American Craft Beer Week Events."
I wrote about a few other local ACBW event's in this morning's Beer column, but didn't find out until after that went to the presses yesterday about these:
• From 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, at McKeesport's Cal's Cantina, there will be free samples of Alley Trolley 68 Belgian Tripel, ASL Blonde Ale and Brick Alley IPA, served with food specials.
• From 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, also at Cal's, is to be the "first ever American Craft Beer Week Tasting in McKeesport’s history," Alley Brewing announces on its Tumblr page. "Our goal is to gather up to 10 local breweries to come to Cal’s Cantina and pour their beer for this special event. The tasting will be $5 for your sampling glass and you can sample local brewery offerings and enjoy pizza and wing specials from the kitchen. Our focus is to feature established local craft breweries as well as up and coming breweries from the area."
As Alley Brewing explains, "Hand-crafted artisan beer used to be a staple of the Mon Valley in the early 1900s, but has yet to prosper since the old Tube City Brewery closed many years ago. We wanted to bring local craft beer back to the community ..."
They're also doing that with their highly localized names and labels. "Brick Alley," for instance, is McKeesport's legendary red-light district, and was originally the operation's name, until the brewers learned that a Connecticut tavern owns and protects it.
I had a great chat with one of Alley Brewing's principals, Chris Leber, last night. Chris, whose day job is at a chemical and environmental marketing firm, said they still haven't even started the state and federal licensing process, but they are brewing regularly at his home in Cranberry. He and his two partners, Eric Bedont and Josh Hays, grew up together out in the Mon Valley town of Port Vue, and they started brewing together after they graduated from college in 2009. A brewpub is their ultimate goal.
A Kickstarter.com campaign could be in the nearer future, along with the requisite Bob Batz Jr. story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
But American Craft Beer Week 2013 seems like as good time as any for a bigger coming out. As of last night, they had a commitment for a keg from Jeff Guidos at All Saints Brewing near Greensburg, and the good guys at Butler Brew Works are in. Hopefully, some other local brewers, would-be and established, will come out, as well as enough craft-beer customers to show Cal's and McKeesport what this craft-beer thing is all about. People in McKeesport want craft beer, too (I mean you, Steve "Conan the PG Librarian" Karlinchak).
Chelsea Leber photo, top; Alley Brewing image, below