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For those who were at the Big Pour and were wondering… No, we did not participate this year. This wasn’t out of some esoteric ideas about beer fests, protest, or that we are not doing well enough to be a part of this past weekend. We’ve loved Big Pour the past two years. In fact, we’ve enjoyed every beer fest we’ve ever done. Meeting people face to face and getting their feedback and input is invaluable and we try to incorporate every piece of information we get at these events. However, if you know us very well, we have our limitations. Some of these are self-imposed (trying to really nail a style before doing creative versions of it) and some are the fruits of our own success versus size (supply and demand).
Those who know us, know that we operate out of a two car garage sized, officially licensed brewery. We operate on a glorified home brew set up, 10 gallons at a time into 42 gallon fermenters with individual temperature control. We hand keg, hand clean, and hand deliver every drop of fermented beverage brew. We were founded on a simple passion and with individual investments of personal money from each of the brewers, zero debt. There is no board, no corporate control, and no approval process in our brewing. We do it the same way we did it when we opened 3 years ago, from the heart, by us, for us, while trying to keep it fun. We strive to continue these principals while balancing the need for growth.
We recognize the garage can only take us so far, and three years into this venture we are probably close to these limits. Three years ago we were able to keep beer on at two or three tap rooms around the city. Now we have far more demands than we can fill and are humbled by the stature of some of the restaurants and bars seeking us out. So let’s put this to rest right now… we are trying to grow and expand to where we can have a tap room and invite people into our brewery.
This brings us back to the Big Pour and beer fests in general. Typically an event like this requires at least 2 full weekends of brewing. Yes we can still only brew on Saturdays as we all maintain full time jobs outside of the brewery. That amounts to 12 sixtels. That’s half a month’s production and takes that beer away from loyal customers. These beer fests also expose us to a broader and passionate new audience. On the plus side, we get to share our craft with this audience and get even more feedback. Conversely, these folks most likely will never be able to find our brew again due to our limited size. From personal experience, there is nothing more frustrating than trying a great new brew and then never being able to find it. It’s a double edged sword.
So what’s our point? Good question…. There are two.
Firstly, please excuse our absence from every beer fest to take place in Pittsburgh. We’d love to be there, but if we did all of them, we’d probably be out of business next year. Please do search us out at a local tap room in Pittsburgh… there are about 20 now. We do our best to let you know what brew is on where when we can via social media. This has a ripple effect. First, you get to try our brews in an environment created to enjoy beer (clean tap lines, seated with friends, and a properly poured beer in the proper glass). Secondly, you support us financially and help us grow to the next step (It’s true, unfortunately we do not get paid for the beer served at most fests. This money supports other great causes around the city which we certainly support). We will attend the fests when we have the supply.
Secondly, we always said we would avoid the marketing circus that is crowd funding and we will never give up ownership of our passion just to expand. We want to remain brewer owned and operated. The crowd source marketing circus functions the same as the beer fests. We could have a lot of people turned on to the brewery, but then never find us. We want people to be a part of the CoStar growth for more than a t-shirt or free beer. Over the next few months, we may introduce a few ways in which you can support us and get your fair money’s worth. Keep an eye out on our website for an online store. Or just go to one of the local bars who are our partners and buy a beer. We hope it is enjoyable enough for you to buy two.
So in the end, beer fests. High-five, awesome, and we love to attend the right ones as consumers when we can. As for CoStar Brewing, we are a small nano-brewery who struggles to fill orders at the moment. We aspire to grow to a size where we can attend and grow from these events… but… We’re just not there. You can help us by supporting the larger local food and beverage industry. Go out, order a beer, and grab a bite. Tell your friends. The End.
Here are some links to some recent press in 2015 about us!
Last weekend we opened our doors and welcomed the team from TheJeepGirls.com BLOG. Check out their entry here! http://blog.chryslergroupllc.com/2015/06/23/the-jeep-girls-kick-off-the-75th-anniversary-of-jeep/
We are honored and flattered by the Mayor’s comments today in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Thanks!
Two questions that we are constantly getting is, “Where can I get your beer?” and “Do you bottle/sell kegs for personal consumption?” This is a question I actually take pride in answering.
We have been quietly brewing, kegging, and delivering 30 gallons at a time every Saturday to local establishments such as Kelly’s Bar and Lounge, Highland and Harvard, Bocktown, Harris Grill, Mad Mex, among others. We do not currently bottle or can our beer, and that is done on purpose. During our founding, we recognized the opportunity of community and commodity before us. By only delivering kegs to bars and restaurants that support local beer, patrons seeking a taste will have to go out to a local establishment. We hope that while consumers will buy one or two of our brews as well as some local food benefiting the local economy they will also engage our brewing peers and brethren. This only benefits us economically on a local level, but also provides opportunity for conversation, collaboration, and constructive debate.
A week ago, we put out a few ideas about saturation in the Pittsburgh beer market. This post was well received and we were overwhelmed with the traction it got. I believe that this is only representation that there is room and the lack of saturation is what allows a small 1 bbl brewery such as ourselves to go straight to distribution. While some have commented that we did it the “hard way,” for us it was the “only way.” And it’s the only way for a number of reasons…
- Community support- Without supporting the local economy and community, we can’t expect you to support us. We want to give back as much, if not more than we are gifted by the community
- Test and trial with real feedback- By being in distribution we are able to try our product with people who do not know us personally. This allows honest and straight forward critique allowing us to grow and develop our beers in an honest and un-jaded way. (Mom and Brother are never going to tell you that your product is crap)
In that vein, we admit it’s a bit hard to find our brews sometimes. We have a very limited supply and some weeks demand is super high. Other weeks demand is lower. We take pride in dumping bad beer, and only delivering product that we personally enjoy. The one constant in our mission is that we are always willing to try new venues and brews in distribution.
So!!!! If you have a bar or restaurant that wants to try CoStar Brewing, just let us know. While we try to measure the audience that will try our brews to what we are aiming at accomplishing, we will try to accommodate everyone and anyone who fits. You can Tweet us, Facebook message us, email us, or send carrier pigeon. We’ll be sure to get you what you need ASAP!
Three years ago CoStar was just a glimmer and a dream… however, after some consideration, work, and sphincter clenching we were incorporated and became a little bit more than a dream. While we haven’t expanded beyond the garage, to mass media acclaim, or even wide distribution, we are quite proud of what we have accomplished. In 2013, there was a small announcement made to the Highland Park community council with a vision, and we are comfortable and proud in saying we’ve stayed true and have delivered on our small promises.
Edited from the Highland Park Announcement:
“CoStar was licensed by the federal and state boards, and began sales in February, 2013. Launched in a converted garage with a 10 gallon brew system and a 40 gallon fermenter, CoStar worked through the year to sell their brews and reinvest every dollar to expand production. As of December 2013, we rotate 3 temperature controlled 40 Gallon fermenters in individual temperature controlled units. Brewing at least once a week and running our system 3 times a day leads to 12 hour work days. This may seem like a hectic schedule but it is allowing us to have a supply of their Pale Ale at all times, while rotating a seasonal.
We do not describe themselves as extreme brewers or having the next big trend in beer in waiting in the wings. What we do pride ourselves on is delivering a high quality product that is approachable. We embrace the concept that you can’t push the limits of what is new without excelling at understanding and delivering the basics.”
All in all, we wouldn’t have been able to make it 3 years without support, encouragement, and positive feedback from you, our consumers. We read all of your feedback religiously and figure it into every brew. Please keep it coming. We hope to be here for the next three years and beyond (hopefully in some expanded way!)… Here’s to a great next 3 years and Thanks for your support!
One thing we are always amazed by, humbled by, and grateful for when we go out and meet people drinking CoStar Brews is their first question: “Where are you guys? Do you have a tap room? What are your hours?” All are fair questions and really pose a challenge to answer without getting into a long and drawn out explanation which will inevitably end up in boredom and regret for asking. Soooooo, I’m going to take a page or two right now to explain. So put your listening ears on and sit back and relax.
We are a ½ barrel three tier setup. We brew about 4 barrels a month. Our brewery is located in Highland Park. This is a small residential community. The actual brewery consumes two bays of the garage of one of the brewers. The garage was legally separated from the residency and licensed in November of 2011 (Happy 3rd Birthday to US!). It is in no way glamorous or refined, but it is home and where we are making our start. The tour would be us putting you in the middle spinning you around once and hoping you didn’t get dizzy.
As I mentioned, we are in an alley and a two car garage. This certainly presented some issues with the local community. Luckily we had the support of the Highland Park Community Council and came to an agreement. The council allowed us to operate as a production brewery in this area of the community under a few conditions.
- No retail sales out of the brewery
- No official tours of the brewery
- No official open hours of the brewery
Being in a two car garage and an alley, you can see how these points could quickly become issues. There is limited space in a two car garage, cramming 25 to 50 people in here to sample beer would be a challenge, not to say uncomfortable. And if 25 to 50 people showed up at once, where would we put all of those cars, bikes, unicycles, go karts, golf carts, pogo sticks, etc.? Needless to say, we not only want to be a part of the local community, but respect it. Therefore we agreed that these were all acceptable conditions.
Occasionally someone will seek us out and be successful, get lucky, and the doors will be open and we’ll be brewing. But we recognize the need for more. At this point, I can point out the fact that we definitely have plans to expand, grow, and welcome all of the craft beer community into our home… just not this one. We are currently in the process of polishing what was a turd of a business plan (yes, you can polish a turd), looking at spaces, and lining up investors. It will happen.
So to answer the questions…
- We are in Highland Park and intend to stay in the East End of Pittsburgh
- We do not have a tap room. You need good beers before you have a tap room, right? That has been our focus.
- We don’t have hours. But if you want to hang out, shoot the sh#t, try beers, or challenge Dominic to a game of darts, just drop us a tweet, email, or facebook message. We make every effort to meet people who tolerate us and our beer so far.
CoStar was founded on the principal that the simple things in life can be the best. You don’t have to break all of the rules to be new, fresh, and inspiring. You just have to do it well. This is what we strive to do. Deliver a product that allows the brewery to be true to itself and our tastes. We realize that our wares will not be for everyone, but we also recognize that you don’t have to like something to appreciate where it comes from and what it stands for. CoStar stands for the beer along with a humble sense of carrying on a great tradition with roots as far back as mankind. We hope this comes through in our beer and that you can find one in a local watering hole near you soon… Until we open our taproom and production brewery that is…Cheers
We’ve been brewing full steam for a few weeks now at CoStar Brewing. This has left all three of our 42 Gallon fermenters full with nothing absolutely ready to go into barrels. BACK TO BASICS! Yep, we got back to using our old carboys and doing 2 ten gallon batches. One of a Barleywine for Hell With the Lid Off and a final version of our Belgian IPA. Now we just sit back and let those saccharomyces do their jobs on all of the brews in the building.
The Doppelbock is still churning away and has a few more weeks until aged to perfection. The Doppelbock is an interesting beer brewed at the end of the harvest season and rested until the next planting season. With today’s ingredients and year round availability, we didn’t have to wait until November for brewing. Having brewed this beer in late September/early October, we’ll be ready to serve it sometime in December. Our version of this brew is coming in at 7.7% ABV with a very balanced sweetness as a great bock should have. It comes across crisp and full and perfect for the cooler coming months.
The Maple Stout was tasted but still needed a day or two to crash. The taste is amazing. You really could put it on your pancakes at this point. A few more days and some carbonation and it should balance out nicely and be a beautiful breakfast beer. We plan on delivering these kegs over the weekend into early next week. Keep your eyes on our Facebook and Twitter.
There is also a fermenter of Hopland Park Pale Ale chugging away which was just brewed last weekend, so this has another week or so to go with the dry hop and crashing still on deck. We also delivered every keg of our Cascade Single Hop brew this weekend. This was a brew based on the Hopland grain bill but only used the beloved Cascade hops throughout the brewing process. Reactions have been stellar and we continue to be humbled by your opinions. One note though, in order to get a taste of this brew, you’ll have to visit The Independent Brewing Company in Squirrel Hill, as they took every keg we had on Saturday night.
After brewing and delivering said kegs, we had the opportunity to sit and chat with a number of people at The Independent Brewing Company. A luxury we do not always get. We had the pleasure of running into a couple who were new to Pittsburgh and were just becoming acquainted with the craft brew scene and what was available here in the ‘Burgh. It’s always great to get an outsiders perspective on beer, especially someone new to beer in general. And, as always, it’s amazing to see success in what we are trying to do in bringing new consumers into the craft fold by doing the core things well.
We also had a lively discussion with a group of women who were home brewers. And I have to admit, they tested our knowledge and surely have a better home brew and drinking set up than any of us had coming up. We’re anxious for them to visit us and to try their wares! This group of ladies and brewers capped off a great night of great beer, conversation, and connecting on the love of the fermentation sciences.
So this week, it is back to the drawing/brewing board. We realized this week that we’ve failed to deliver an unadulterated version of our Stout or any dark beer as of late. We’ve done coffee, maple, smoke, and over-hopped versions, so we’ve decided to get back to the roots once more. This weekend will birth the first CoStar Porter. Next weekend will hail another batch of Hopland Park (as we’re hearing that IPAs are becoming harder to find in the sea of dark beer of fall). And right after Turkey Day, we’ll be going back to the limited batch of our Holiday Ale to be ready just in time for Ole Saint Nick’s arrival.
Next time, I’ll address the question of tap room and brewery visits for every one of our dedicated consumers.
One thing that I think every brewer in this city shares is a single questions. When will Pittsburgh reach saturation for Craft Brewing? How many breweries are too many? With all of you guys opening so close together, isn’t competition fierce? I have one answer for those questions, “NO.” No, I won’t think about Pittsburgh as saturated yet. No, there isn’t a cap to too many breweries in our city. And NO, competition is fun and friendly, almost a brotherhood. So no, saturation isn’t a concern… yet.
I have a single question back to those who pose the saturation question. Why are you so hurried to have Pittsburgh be saturated? We should be allowed to grow until we naturally reach saturation rather than rushing to be the first one to identify it. Hey, maybe we’ll even forget about the concept while drowning a sea of great beer.
To set the stage, here are some 2013 facts from the National Brewers Association:
As a comparison for scale, Portland is often used as a mirror for the potential of Pittsburgh. Portland is 26% more densely populated than Portland. People are 9% less likely to be married in Pittsburgh. The median age is 2.5 years younger in Pittsburgh. Portland currently has the most breweries of any city in the world. There are currently 56 breweries in Portland, 76 in the Portland metro area, 21 in Bend and 30 in Central Oregon and 12 in Eugene. Portland continues to lead the US for % of dollars spent on craft beer with a 36.6% share for Q-4 2013 and for Q-1 2014-the Portland market recorded a 38.69% share per IRi Worldwide. Craft Beer has been the largest category for dollars spent on beer in Grocery Stores continuously in the Portland market since October, 2010.
This is clearly a growing segment and industry which is apparent in the western Pennsylvania region. The craft beer industry in the Pittsburgh region is growing with new competition coming to the market very rapidly. There are at least 17 founded industry leaders with at least six new entries to the market over the past 12 months. This is up from just 14 in 2012 when I (Dominic) wrote my Doctoral dissertation on the communal brand identity of the western PA brewing industry. We are clearly growing at a rate faster than the industry as a whole. That means we have an INCREDIBLE space to fill to even be comparable to our sister city of Portland.
Pittsburgh is an awesome city with a ton of potential… as is evidenced by all of the recent TOP 10, 15, 100, whatever number lists. Some great videos:
We are a growing city with a lot of potential that still needs shape and guidance. Treasures have yet to be discovered… in brewing and beyond. There will always be a place for the Yinzers n’at. Iron City will always have it’s thumbprint on the city, but how many people know the other half of that story. The story of the Independent Brewing Company (the inspiration behind the Squirrel Hill business).
There’s just too much left to do and learn to spend time answering questions about when is it enough or how much is too much?
So next time you or someone you know wants to ask about saturation, hand them a beer. Tell them to slow down. This is a journey and there are A LOT of great things happening with beer in Pittsburgh. So relax, enjoy the ride… and the beers. When we get saturated we’ll figure it out, but we have a long way to go and a lot of brewing to do. Support it, don’t try and cap it.
In closing, when you think saturation, stop, check this list, and go visit one of our family and friends… we’re not done yet
- Grist House Brewing
- Roundabout Brewing
- East End Brewing
- Brew Gentlemen Brewing Company
- Hitchhiker Brewing
- Four Seasons Brewing
- All Saints Brewing
- Draai Laag Brewing
- VooDoo Brewing
- Helltown Brewing
- North Country Brewing
- Sprague Farm Brewing
- Beaver Brewing
- Lavery Brewing
- Auroch’s Brewing
- Milkman Brewing
- Full Pint Brewing
- Church Brew Works
- Rivertowne Brewing
- Erie Brewing
- Penn Brewing
In the meantime, if you need something to stress over… go here.
I’ll be sipping a great local craft beer pondering the next great idea… not the collapse.