Scott Smith, Longuevue Drive, founded East End Brewing in 2004. He has been a fixture at many local events, including the Mt. Lebanon Public Library’s two annual beer-themed fund-raisers, Brews For a Chili Night in January, and August’s Beer Garden Bash. Because of COVID, the bash was virtual this year, with Smith hosting an online tasting with a specially selected case of beer patrons could purchase for the event, which brought in just over $1,100 for the library.
How did you get started brewing, and what made you realize it was time to quit your day job and do this full time?
Actually, I quit my engineering job before opening East End Brewing—not exactly a sequence I’d recommend to someone looking to get started in the beer biz.
But to answer the question … I was ready for a change, and just so happen to be married to the most patient, supportive woman on the planet. She was the one who ultimately gave me the shove and said “JUST GO DO IT! Your old corporate life will always be there if you need to go back to it, right?”
Just about every industry is coping with changes forced on them by the pandemic. Tell us about the Pennsylvania Loophole Project.
Yeah as we all know, it’s a difficult time all around for everyone right now. Over these last 10 years, the local beer scene has really grown into something that’s pretty fantastic and special. And because of COVID, there’s a good chance the smallest of our brewing brethren won’t survive, because they simply don’t have the resources to sell beer that the larger players have. Their smaller economy of scale is built more around a taproom model, and less on the ability to sell packaged beer to go.
After some discussion and a bit of legal exploration, we found a way to help these smaller players bring in some revenue from takeout can sales by essentially canning a collaboration beer for them.
We’ve seen a great response to it so far, and are hoping it can evolve into a series of beer with the same purpose.
Your “You Are Here” series of beers is featuring one for each Pittsburgh neighborhood. Going beyond the borders, what would be the beer that best represents Lebo?
Ha! Well… I guess we’re still open to suggestions on that front. We’ve only released 29 of the 90 unique beers we will brew for Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, so we still have a ways to go before we launch the Pittsburgh adjacent neighborhood beer series. Maybe give us another week or two, OK?