Double Feature Throwback Thursday

Roundabout Brewery Opens Its Doors

By Brian Reed

When Craft Pittsburgh readers last met local brewmaster Steve Sloan, he had just been named GABF ‘Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year’ for 2012. We got the opportunity to visit Steve and his former crew at The Church Brew Works and talk a bit about the direction that Steve was taking the brewpub and improved production efforts.

A lot has changed for Steve and his wife Dyana since we last checked in. Soon after our interview Steve departed from CBW and embarked on a journey which he had long desired to take. Although Steve (a well-known journeyman and veteran of the brewing industry) had worked in a number of celebrated breweries all over the world, he had never gotten the opportunity to run his own brewery. Upon his departure from CBW, the Sloan’s decided to finally take a leap of faith.

Roundabout Brewery officially opened its doors at the corner of 49th and Butler in Lawrenceville on July 12th of this year and was immediately swamped with patrons eager to discover what Steve would create when left to his own devises. A line snaked through the tasting room, out the door, down the ramp, and on to the sidewalk from nearly open to close on day one.

“It was a bit hectic,” Steve replied with a smile when asked about their grand opening. Roundabout is a currently a two person operation. Steve and Dyana manage every aspect of the business; a labor of love that allows for little free-time.

Dyana hails originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, so it’s not hard to see why Steve gathers some of his inspiration for ingredients and styles from his wife’s homeland (Steve also briefly lived and brewed in NZ).

Despite high demand and a relatively small capacity system, Roundabout has managed to maintain between four and six interesting and extremely well crafted beers available in the tasting room. A diverse lineup—ranging from boisterous American IPAs, to a German Pils with Polish hops, to a Cherry Oatmeal Brown Ale—has been a huge draw (keep up-to-date on what is pouring in the tasting room at roundaboutbeer.com).

Currently Roundabout beer can be purchased for takeout consumption in 64 oz. standard growlers and in unique 32 oz. smaller vessels referred to ‘The Round’; holding approximately two pints, ideal for BYO dining or when a growler is just too much for one person.

Dyana and Steve are happy to pour samples in the tasting room to help you decide what to take home. Although they are currently only serving takeout beer, look for the addition of pub service in the near future.

The Opening of a Zelionople Brewpub

by Slouch Sixpack

Zelionople’s first brewery is opening in lessthan three days, and Zachary Shumaker has his hands full. The owner, brewmaster, bartender, and proprietor of Shubrew Handcrafted Ales and Food is winding down a 14-hour brewday with a fourth batch of Jungleboot IPA, making sure the stainless conical fermenters in the pub basement are full and ready to replace whatever the initial onslaught of craft beer fans consume opening weekend: “People around here love their IPA’s. It’s easily my best seller at tastings we’ve done. And the locals love the fact that the beer is made in Zelionople. There’s a ton of pride in this town, and they love the idea that there’s a brewery here. People come up and tell me ‘This is our brewery’ and that’s exactly what I want.”

Shubrew’s story began six years ago in San Diego, where Shumaker was stationed with the Marine Corps. Due to a clerical error, he was overpaid during the term of his enlistment and learned he owed the government about $5,000. It was time to get a second job. “Every weekend I was hanging out at Stone Brewing, taking friends to try this crazy beer, getting growlers filled. Stone World Bistro and Gardens was just opening, so I put in an application.”

Soon Shumaker was washing dishes and cutting carrots at an epicenter of the craft beer revolution: “It doesn’t matter if you’re the janitor at Stone. They make sure everyone understands what brewing is and how beer is made. I got extremely intrigued by the whole process and the culture of craft beer.”

After his service, Shumaker returned to the Pittsburgh area, not sure what to do next. One night at Church Brew Works, his father suggested that if he loved beer so much, he should open a brewery. That evening Shumaker bought his first homebrewing equipment from a Pitt student on Craigslist. He spent the next few years teaching himself how to brew, refining recipes and techniques.

Zachary credits his wife Erika with pushing him to achieve his goal: “A year into our relationship, she said ‘You’re always talking about opening a brewery. Why don’t you quit talking about it and do it?’” Fueled by the challenge, the couple started a 60-day $25,000 crowd-funding campaign online. “It came down to the final minutes. I was blown away by the generosity of local beer fans we didn’t even know. Suddenly, we had the starting funds for the brewery.”

The couple found a location on Main Street in Zelienople with a full kitchen ready for rent. While so many breweries open in out-of-the way locations like industrial parks due to affordable real estate, the Shumakers wanted their brewpub right in the heart of the community. After more than a year of refurbishing the site, Shubrew is ready and open for business.

Shumaker plans to always have a pale ale, IPA, and brown ale on tap, with the remainder a rotation of styles depending on the season and customer demand. Opening weekend featured an Irish red, saison, and a pumpkin porter, and as we go to press the new Shubrew website advertises higher gravity offerings like a strong Scotch Ale and Imperial Stout: “You have to stop caring about just what you want to drink as a brewer. If it were up to me, I’d be running a full sour brewery. But this is a business and I’m on the main street in Zelionople. A nice thing about the size (or lack of size) of our brewing system means I can try a one-off and worst case scenario, I’m stuck with a barrel of slow seller. It gives me flexibility.”

Erika took charge of developing the pub’s food menu and the couple is proud of the range of sandwiches, pizzas, salads, and soups designed to complement Zachary’s beers. Everything is made in-house with no processed ingredients. Local ingredients are used whenever possible.

Due to the small batch sizes and the pub’s popularity, the only place to currently get Shubrew beer is making the 30 minute drive north from Pittsburgh. Expect to find fresh beer, food, and friendly folks in an idyllic small town setting. Slippery Rock’s North Country Brewing recently purchased the Harmony Inn, just a mile away from Shubrew– yet another reason for area drinkers to make the trek as Zelionople and Harmony evolve into a craft beer travel destination.

Like any business person, Shumaker thinks about the future and expansion, perhaps a larger production brewery. For the time-being though, he is busy keeping up with demand for his beers at the pub.

So stop in to Shubrew and experience the area’s newest brewery for yourself.

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