Pennsylvania Brewing Company

When I first decided to do 40/40, on a whim, I sent an email to the Pennsylvania Tourism office about the brewtrek. As a result, the Pa. Tourism office contacted media across the state.  A reporter by the name of Bob Batz from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette then emailed me and we made arrangements to convene while out here in Pittsburgh.

Yesterday, we got together at the Pennsylvania Brewery.

This was like going to see the guru on the top of the mountain to hear him dispense winsome advice about all things brew because Bob arranged for Tom Pastorius, the owner for Penn Brewery, to meet with us. There were also several others, elder-like in their knowledge of microbrewing, who joined us on the apex.  I felt like a brewing ant in the land of giants.

Although I am a literal giant myself, I bow in homage to him (being tall often causes me to suffer some form of photographic scalping or throws the whole photo into the freak show arena, like I am some circus attraction)

That is Tom Pastorius on the right and Head Brewer Andrew Rich on the left, a fellow rugger who also graduated from the same high school that I did in Berwyn, Pa. (Conestoga),  facts totally unknown to me before my arrival on the pilgrimage. That is me, the supplicating big goon, in the middle.

The guru on the mountain metaphor works for several reasons. First, because Pittsburgh is hilly, yo! But, primarily because Tom Pastorius is a legend. Anyone with the international nickname “Mr. Beer” qualifies for microbrewing swami-status. The man started Penn Brewery 25 years ago which practically is almost prehistoric for microbrewing. He was instrumental in having laws changed on the Pennsylvania state level, making it legal to microbrew and to have a restaurant at the same location. Pa. Hungry beer-lovers have him to thank for clearing this trail. Dumb law, stupid law. Not the first, not the last.

Pastorious had decided to sell Penn Brewery in 2003 and retire in 2008.  Then, after Penn Brewery closed, by December 2009, Pastorius and a new new group of investors bought back Penn Brewery and started again to make its beers in-house after it being shut down and ceasing production (brewing had been contracted out to The Lion Brewery under the previous owners). Literally, Penn Brewery was brought back from the dead.

The older warrior picking up his sword and returning to  the battle is the stuff of legend and lore. And, it is not all legend. There is some very interesting family history. As Pastorius notes, “My great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was Franz Daniel Pastorius, and he is referred to by historians as the Father of German Emigration to America,” Says Pastorius. “Franz Pastorius and William Penn were close personal friends who met when Penn sailed up Main River to Frankfurt searching for people who wanted to pursue religious freedom in the New World.” Pastorius and William Penn were close personal friends and drinking buddies!

Here is the preamble to the Penn Brewery Constitution:

We the brewers of Penn Brewery Beer, in Order to form a more perfect Union of Barley, Hops, Yeast and Water, establish a brewing standard, insure Domestic Drinkability, provide uncommon refreshment, promote the general great ­taste and establish the Fermentation of Penn to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the Pennsylvania Brewing Company.

Here is Founding Father Pastorius  in action explaining the intricacies of bottling and labeling beer. Believe me, this is a very complicated process that only appears simple to the unschooled.

The Articles of Confederation, the beers themselves:

I surprisingly enjoyed the Kaiser Pils the most. Hoppy but light at the same time. I am not typically either a hoppy or lighter beer fan. That I embraced this brew tells me that a master made it.

The beers are excellent legislative libations at the hand of the great liberator and lawgiver Tom Pastorius. He is truly a Pastor to the flock of microbrewers everywhere and it is our duty and sacred honor to see that his dream of great beer for the people does not perish upon the earth.

I will leave you with a parting quote uttered to me and the others at our convocation yesterday at Penn Brewery by one of the elders:

“Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.”

Actually, I will have to side with Milton on this one…but malt certainly can be theologically justified!

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