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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Come in, grab a beer and go home with a growler

As many as 11 beers are featured on the taps at Full Pint Brewing near Pittsburgh. (Scott Beveridge photo)

By Scott Beveridge

NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa. – With Halloween approaching, fans of a Pittsburgh-area brewery are “getting stoked” about its label featuring a zombie whose skin is turning blue while clutching a brown bottle of beer.

Preorders were already huge in late August for Full Pint Brewing Co.’s Night of the Living Stout, a label inspired by the classic 1968 horror movie of a similar name filmed in and around Pittsburgh.

“It’s crunch time,” said Jake Kristophel, head brewer at the business along Route 30 in Westmoreland County near North Versailles Township.

The brew pub opened in 2009 as a collaborative effort of four men who worked in the beer business and decided to partner their skills at Full Pint, which has grown since its founding to produce nearly 8,000 barrels a year.

“We all worked in little brew pubs and decided to come together,” Kristophel said.

In a marketing move some are calling brilliant, the brewery launched a new label in August named “Pittsburgh Dad,” whose online sitcom featuring a blue-collar father with a heavy “yinzer” accent has made him a local celebrity.

“He actually came to us and asked,” Kristophel said, adding the actor otherwise known as Curt Wootton now has his photo on the label of a Full Pint Kolsch, a German-style golden stout.

“He wanted something on the lighter side,” Kristophel said.---- This business with a barroom and production house is tucked away off a short alley at 1963 Lincoln Highway.

On an afternoon in mid-August, Kristophel is “mashing out” the spent grain from a stainless-steel brew tank to separate the wort, which becomes beer during fermentation.

Three employees are nearby, bottling and casing brew for the market on the company’s one production line. It takes them an hour to fill a palate and three hours to cap 15 barrels, said Desiree Siroisi, who also handles the restaurant’s food preparation.

Small independent craft beer brewers are known for giving their beers offensive names, and that extends to the menu at Full Pint. For example, a ham and provolone panini is named the “Hot Dago,” a term some Italians consider derogatory.

Kristophel said he learned the art of making beer while working under a head brewer at a different pub.

“I brewed one batch of home brew and really enjoyed it, so I begged the head brewer to teach me, and that was it.”

Another popular beer brewed here is Chinookie, made from hops of the same name grown in the Pacific Northwest, which give the brew a hint of a grapefruit taste.

“It’s just the character of the hop,” Kristophel said.---- The Wet Hop variety of Chinookie sees an infusion of fresh hops after fermentation to bump up its rich, heavy flavor.

“I think people want something that tastes good. It’s hard to stay loyal to one thing because there are so many choices out there,” Kristophel said.

Full Pint can be purchased across Pennsylvania, in Ohio and Florida, a state with many Pittsburgh transplants and Steelers bars. The company hopes to expand and relocate to a larger building closer to Pittsburgh.

The pub, which offers as many as 11 different taps, is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon to 11 Saturday. The hours are subject to change if the bar is empty after 9 p.m.

“Come in, get a beer, some food and a tour and go home with a growler or six pack,” Kristophel said.

Jake Kristophel, head brewer at Full Pint Brewing Co. near Pittsburgh, mashes out a tank while visitors enjoys beer in the adjoining brewpub. (Scott Beveridge photo)

(This story first appeared in the Observer-Reporter's Living Washington County magazine)

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