Those hip to the local craft beer scene in Pittsburgh know full well we are living in abundant times. There are many new breweries staking their claims and putting out innovative, crazy good beers of all different styles and interpretations. Beer enthusiasts across our region can never say they lack options, that’s for certain, and undoubtedly there’s much more in store for us in the near future.
For the past five years, Full Pint Brewing in North Versailles has been at the forefront of Pittsburgh’s craft beer movement, producing solid beers that has led to Full Pint tap markers finding consistent rotation in bars all over the city and beyond. Their aggressive approach, years of brewing experience, and uncanny creativity has helped their lineup of options reach incredible heights, as well as land them smack dab in the middle of October’s Craft Beer Spotlight.
Full Pint was founded in 2009 by five brewers: Barrett Goddard, Andrew Maxwell, Sean Hallisey, Jake Kristophel, and Sean McIntyre. They secured a 5000 square-foot warehouse in North Versailles and began brewing using equipment purchased through the bankruptcy of the John Harvard Brew House in 2008. After overcoming some early hurdles, Full Pint’s beer hit the market in May of 2010.
In a short period of time, Full Pint experienced tremendous growth and widespread popularity as their beers have found permanent homes in the Pittsburgh market, as well as Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida.
“We are always looking to expand our presence in the market,” Tom Marshall, Full Pint’s Sales Manager, explained. “We’ve grown every year since we opened in regards to total output. In 2013, we expanded into Ohio, and this year into New Jersey and Delaware. Next year we are planning to increase our production and are considering expanding into the Maryland/DC/Virginia market, and hopefully New York after that.
One of the biggest elements to remaining relevant in today’s craft beer world is staying on the cutting edge of innovation. Staying the course and resisting the need to create new, enticing brews will leave you at the mercy of the competition. Full Pint is privy to this theory and has advanced their lineup, now offering 13 consistent offerings (seven year round beers and six rotating seasonal beers) while working in one-off options from their Nerd’s Reserve series, which allows Full Pint to demonstrate how unique they can be with their beers. They’re also in the early stages of launching a series of sour beers, a style that’s garnering tons of attention from the local craft beer brethren, that will be known as Wild Side.
“We really shook things up this year by changing our lineup and pushing out a lot of specialty beers,” Marshall said. “We are not your average brewery. When we opened, our current brewers had 30 years of brewing experience between them and it shows in the way our beers have evolved.”
A trip to Full Pint’s brewery and tasting room won’t just profit you just a great drinking experience, but you’ll also have the opportunity to sample some of their great eats as well. The crew put together a food menu to pair with any of the tap offerings, headlined by their unique gourmet pizzas. These pies are created with a special flair, using the spent malts and grains from the brewing process and Full Pint’s White Lightning Belgian ale, a beer than won a Bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012, instead of water to produce the dough.
Full Pint’s dedication to craft beer and tasty foods has led to the next step in their development: a soon-to-open brewpub in Lawrenceville that will be known as Wild Side. This establishment will feature a full smattering of Full Pint offerings, as well as an expansion of the tasting room’s food menu. They are anticipating an opening of late Fall 2014.
Month’s back, I put together a list of my Top 5 Pittsburgh-born craft beers. Not surprising, two of Full Pint’s brews made the list. I don’t think I’ve ever stood toe-to-toe with an Imperial IPA that didn’t hit me in the feels with reckless abandon, and the Full Pint Tri-PA is no exception. This Imperial features five varieties of hops and is hopped seven times, creating a tremendous punch at 10% ABV in an extremely drinkable beer. The other comes from Full Pint’s seasonal lineup, also carries the Imperial distinction, and goes by the name Rye Rebellion. It’s an Imperial Stout featuring 11% ABV, brewed with four different types of rye and aged in rye whiskey barrels. In a world of unique, flavor-packed Imperial Stouts, I would put Rye Rebellion up against any of them in terms of appearance, taste, and overall drinkability.
Full Pint Brewing boasts an extensive list of popular beers, including the aforementioned award-winning White Lightning Belgian White Ale, Chinookie IPA, All-In Amber Ale, Gus IPA, and Hobnobber, which is a low-ABV session ale. Combine these staples with the Nerd’s Reserve, seasonal offerings, and other specialties like 3-2-1 Win, a creation born from a partnership with the infamous Pittsburgh Dad, and you’ve got a winning lineup that will keep you coming back time and time again.
With craft beer continuing to boom in Pittsburgh, mainstays like Full Pint Brewing have helped create a solid foundation that’s opened the door for many new breweries to succeed.
“The Pittsburgh craft beer scene is really picking up,” Marshall pointed out. “Full Pint growth has definitely coincided with the shift in the Pittsburgh beer scene. So many bars and restaurants are ordering craft beer that wouldn’t have 2-3 years ago. Now you can find Full Pint as a mainstay in many of the bars and restaurants in the area.”
Our Pittsburgh craft beer scene is better because of breweries like Full Pint pushing the envelope, painstakingly mastering their craft, and delivering on the expectations we all have. As more people gravitate towards craft beer and leave the mass-produced fizzy beers behind, it’s comforting to know breweries are working tirelessly to satiate those newly-acquired tastes on a local level. If you haven’t consumed one of the great offerings from Full Pint Brewing, be sure to venture to the brewery and keep your eyes peeled for a tap marker at your favorite local pub.
Full Pint Brewing Company is located at 1963 Lincoln Highway in North Versailles. Their pub/tasting room is open from 5pm-9pm Tuesday thru Thursday, 5pm-midnight Friday, and 12pm-midnight on Saturday.