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Your favorite Beer of the Month Club welcomes you back to Penn Brewery, where their craft beers and historic setting tell the story of Pittsburgh’s European immigrants. Today’s Penn Brewery began in 1986, but its roots lie in 1848, when the German Eberhart and Ober families settled in what is now Pittsburgh’s NorthSide.

They opened three breweries on the site where Penn exists today. Three of the original buildings remain, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many unique features remain, the most notable is a labyrinth of stone caves and tunnels constructed to chill (or “lager”) barrels of beer before refrigeration. They brewed at this location for decades, then merged with a number of other breweries. They became Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1899.

One of the oldest craft breweries in the U.S.A., today’s Penn brand was born in 1986 by the late Tom Pastorius, who used contract manufacturers. Penn opened its own brewery in 1989 in the historic building complex. The restaurant opened that year too, making Penn the first “tied house” (a restaurant tied to a brewery) in Pennsylvania since Prohibition. They are proud they’ve won a total of 19 Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup medals.

In 2008 a local private firm bought Penn, outsourced production and closed both the brewery and restaurant. Fortunately, a new group of local investors bought it back, resumed brewing at the end of 2009, and reopened the restaurant in 2010.

European-style Penn Dark Lager is surprisingly smooth, with sweet caramel malts, nut and toffee notes with a roasted nuance. Modestly hopped, it offers a crisp, clean lager beer finish. A northern German Pilsner, Penn Kaiser Pils is clean, crisp, light-bodied and finely carbonated with a great white foam head. It has a two-row barley malt backbone and a healthy dose of Noble hops.

DARK LAGER — Penn Brewery’s Dark Lager: This double dark lager is darker than the standard, a deep reddish-mahogany beautiful brew. Bottom fermented and aged at cool temps, it is a meal in itself, but can successfully be served with grilled steaks, oven beef tips, or pickled herring and crackers.

PILSNER — Penn Brewery’s Kaiser Pils: The most imitated beer style, Pilsner was the first commercially-made lager beer, known for its pale light golden color, clean taste, and full, round, malty flavor. This well-balanced bottom fermented beauty is a “meat and potatoes beer.” Serve with baked chicken, mild cheddar.

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Tracie Burket
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