ABV is our weekly series that highlights a different beer from a local Pittsburgh brewery every week. Check out our past picks here.
As Pittsburgh continues to punch above its weight in the craft beer ranks, a thundering new brewery in Blawnox is nearly ready to rumble.
Rolling into 340 Freeport Road is Old Thunder Brewing – a spacious brewery that plans to open by the end of 2020. Currently under construction, Old Thunder will spark life into the former Blawnox Post Office building – which most recently housed an antique shop along with other small businesses in the basement.
ABV, Volume LXXXIX
What’s Brewing at Old Thunder?
Partners Zach Gordon, Rob Dillman and Josh Taylor arrived at the name ‘Old Thunder’ for its strength and simplicity.
“Although the name carries different (deeper) meanings to all three of us, it also describes us as people and what our brewery is all about.” Dillman explained.
Old Thunder plans to keep two core beers available year-round on tap and in cans: False Kingdom (IPA) and 340 Lager (Munich Helles Lager). Other styles they plan to rotate through include lagers, dark beers, English beers, pale ales, double IPAs, imperial stouts and barrel-aged beers.
“We eventually want to get foeders and do a saison program, complete with bottle conditioning as well,” Gordon added.
The crew plans to start brewing in November and – if all goes according to plan – open to the public before New Year’s 2021.
And although the menu will cater to beer lovers, folks who don’t drink beer can expect a beverage – for example a cider, or possibly a wine – that suits their needs as well.
Preserving a Historic Piece of Blawnox
Not only does Old Thunder bring a full production brewery and taproom facility to Blawnox, but the choice to breathe new life into the historic Blawnox Post Office building has resonated with locals in the neighborhood.
“We see lots of folks walking by and saying hi. We even had our local council people stop by to express gratitude,” Taylor explained. “That was really special.”
With a cornerstone marked ‘1939’ and a front facade that clearly showcases its former life, the Old Thunder team has stumbled upon remnants from the building’s past during construction.
A large postmaster’s safe, complete with marking symbols and rotating handle, is visible upon entry. Refinished wood floors in the taproom are complemented with sound absorbing tiles that pad the ceiling, cushioning both conversational chatter and clanging glassware into a gentle lull.
Tall windows facing the Allegheny River flood the taproom with natural light that shifts through the course of the day.
Connecting the Dots at Brew Gentlemen
Although thunder results from lightning, Old Thunder results from shared experiences in the Pittsburgh craft beer scene. Partners Zach Gordon and Rob Dillman – both natives of Dubois, PA – spent time working alongside the team at Brew Gentlemen in Braddock. Their third partner, Josh Taylor, met them when the pair were BG colleagues.
“Zach and I started talking to Josh and we suddenly realized that all three of us were neighbors,” Dillman explains. “Josh had moved back to Pittsburgh from southern Virginia and he actually began helping out at Brew Gentlemen as well.”
As the trio continued to gel in their neighborhood coterie, conversations revolved around spirits – particularly bourbon – and, inevitably, beer.
“We talked a lot about likes, dislikes and how we could work together on a project like this,” Gordon said.
A Space to Gather at Old Thunder Brewing
In addition to preserving a piece of Blawnox history, Old Thunder will offer seating options both inside the expansive taproom and outside on the front patio for guests and their families. A rotation of local food trucks will cycle through the brewery to keep folks fed – and satisfy the latest round of COVID-related requirements for on-site beverage consumption.
“We have space for about 100 people inside and around 25 people outside,” Taylor explained. “Our taproom features a semi-private event room on one side and guests will always be able to peek into our brewhouse, which is connected onto the same building.”
A family-style restroom with a changing table invites parents to bring the little ones as well.
Two free parking lots straddle the building on the rear and left-hand side along with free street parking directly in front.
Breweries along the Allegheny River
Folks heading to Old Thunder can visit a handful of Pittsburgh’s newer breweries, all located along Route 28.
Head down the Allegheny River (toward Pittsburgh) to check out Dancing Gnome Beer (Sharpsburg) and Hitchhiker Brewing (Sharpsburg). Grist House and Strange Roots, both in Millvale, are just a few minutes away as well.
Head up the Allegheny River (away from Pittsburgh) to visit Leaning Cask Brewing (Springdale) and Inner Groove Brewing (Verona). Both are a straight shot up the river from Blawnox.
Know Before You Go: Old Thunder Brewing
Location: 340 Freeport Road // Blawnox, PA 15238
Opening Date: Old Thunder is aiming to announce an opening date sometime before the end of 2020. Be on the lookout for grand opening specifics, including hours of operation and procedures related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Parking: Lots. Literally, Old Thunder will offer free parking in a pair of surface lots (to the side and rear of their building) along with street parking available out front along Freeport Rd.
Public Transit: For folks riding the bus, you’ll want to catch the 1 line servicing Blawnox. The 75 also services Blawnox (with a short walk to the brewery).
Follow Old Thunder Brewing on Social Media
Web: Old Thunder Brewing blog
Instagram: Old Thunder Brewing
Header Photo courtesy of Nicole Dunlap, Tranquil Fern Photography.