How to make a brewpub in four easy-steps: 1. Start brewing award-winning craft beer. 2. Drop a kitchen into the middle of your brewery. 3. ???? 4. Profit!
With apologies to the old "South Park" meme, it’s not quite that easy. But the folks at Full Pint Brewing have completed steps one and two in the creation of their new brewpub, which opened for business Thursday inside their four-year old North Versailles brewery.
In fact, calling it a full-fledged brewpub might even be a bit of a stretch. This is a barebones kitchen in a warehouse, but its space enough for Chef Desiree Sirois to prepare a modest menu of excellent paninis and a few gourmet appetizers.
Consider that from street food to food trucks to pop-up restaurants, going guerilla is all the rage, so why not try the same approach with a brewpub?
Five styles of paninis are available, each for $8, served on butcher paper. On one visit I tried “The Waddle” -- turkey, gruyere, roasted tomato, and caramelized onion – with a supper-hoppy Tri-PA; on another, “The Frenchie” – ham, brie, pear, red onion and Dijon mustard -- with a smooth and refreshing King Kolsch (this beer will be redubbed the Pittsburgh Dad 3-2-1-Win! beer next week). Both combos hit the spot, especially following a long day in the sun at Steelers training camp.
Apps and snacks include an herbed goat-cheese log, housemade hummus with warm pita and a cheese board with or without charcuterie ($6 to $15).
Hundreds of colorful stickers from breweries and brewpubs around the region and the world line the massive silver refrigeration unit behind the four-seat wooden bar, where up to 11 different varieties of Full Pint can be on tap at any given time. Huge bags of German, Canadian and French malts sit atop the cooler, and Full Pint’s bronze medal from the Great American Beer Festival for it’s White Lightning witbier is on display.
On the first evening of “business,” Full Pint had a full house of about 30 people hanging out, watching the Pirates game, munching and sipping suds. Brewery co-founder Jake Kristophel said that was exactly the idea.
“We wanted to make it more of a destination, especially if you’re coming in from the city or from suburbs that are further away,” he said. I fall into this category. I used to routinely go to the growler hours at East End Brewing’s original location in Homewood. But as its beers became available nearly everywhere in Pittsburgh, and at the Pittsburgh Public Market where there’s food aplenty, the novelty and necessity of going directly to the source has worn off a bit. (Confession: I haven’t been to the new place in Larimer, thereby threatening my beer geek status)
Likewise, despite being a fan of Full Pint's beer from its introduction, I’d not been to its tap room. Spending a day driving to a not-particularly-scenic, semi-industrial area of Route 30 at the very far eastern edge of the county for beers I can easily acquire in a quick walk from my South Side house wasn’t exactly an appealing idea. But throw a good sandwich into the mix and I’m all in.
Suddenly it’s an outing.
The pub, at 1963 Lincoln Highway in North Versailles (15137), is open 5 to 9 p.m. Mon.-Weds., 5 to 11 p.m. Thur-Fri. and noon to 11 p.m. Sat. "subject to change if pub is empty after 9." Call 412-467-6414 or visit the website.
Dan Gigler photos