Pittsburgh Beer: 21 Things We’re Looking Forward to in 2021

It’s a new year! Pittsburgh beer drinkers have lots to be excited about – including these 21 things coming down the pipeline in 2021.

by Aadam Soorma | January 13, 2021

ABV is our weekly series that highlights a different beer from a local Pittsburgh brewery every week. Check out our past picks here.

Well, dear readers. Beer or no beer, it goes without saying that a speedy return to safe gatherings would undeniably be the number one thing I’m looking forward to in 2021.

But alas – it’s a new year and there are many things to get excited about, with respect to our local beer industry. We rounded up our hype into a list of 21 things to expect in 2021.

As I depart from my full-time role here at Very Local Pittsburgh (today is my last day), I’m looking forward to drinking a beer in a crowded taproom with literally all of you at the end of this pandemic. Until then, cheers and thank you for reading our words.

Photo: Davis Kinville, Rocketfuel Studios

Pittsburgh Beer: 21 Things We’re Looking Forward to in 2021

ABV, Volume CII

1) Fresh Fest Moves to Southside

The annual beer festival has announced a new location. Need a Fresh Fest refresher? Check out our interview with festival co-founder Day Bracey.

More Info: Story, via Good Food Pittsburgh

Follow: Fresh Fest on Instagram


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A post shared by Fresh Fest Digi Fest (@freshfestdigi)

2) Brew: Museum of Beer is Starting an Online Exhibit

In 2016, we met Debbie Stueber alongside her team of local beer enthusiasts who have been working on opening a museum dedicated to telling the 10,000 year old history of beer. Although COVID-19 has delayed the physical plans, the museum’s planned site will eventually be somewhere here in Pittsburgh.

Additionally, they are kicking off 2021 with virtual exhibits (with a focus on Western Pennsylvania). You can learn more about the web-based events here.

For more local beer history, check out our interview with Ed Vidunas, a Pittsburgh-based beer historian.

More Info: Story, via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Follow: Brew: Museum of Beer on Facebook

3) More local beer delivery

In 2020, we stayed home and the beer came to us. Several local breweries now offer home delivery and we expect this trend to continue, both during and – hopefully – after COVID-related restrictions can safely be eased.

More Info: Our (updated) story, from Dec 2020

Follow: Pittsburgh Brewers Guild on Instagram

4) Breweries (Continuing) to Open Creative Outdoor Spaces

Safely gathering outdoors and being mindful of our social distance became key parts of our day-to-day in 2020. We loved the pop-up beer garden at 10.7 Marina in Verona; the Stick City Brewing outdoor setup in Mars, PA was a new-to-us spot as well. We’re looking forward to more outdoor gatherings in the year ahead.

More Info: Story, via Breweries in PA

Follow: Breweries in PA on Instagram


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A post shared by Dancing Gnome Beer (@dancinggnome)

5) Necromancer Brewing is opening in the North Hills

There’s lots of excitement brewing around the upcoming Necromancer Brewing in the North Hills. As Allegheny County’s first woman-led brewing production (Lauren Hughes, formerly of Penn Brewery is head brewer), the team has already released two collaboration beers into the Pittsburgh market and is dedicated to resurrecting old beer styles less commonly found at local craft breweries. We sat down for a Q&A with Lauren Hughes to learn more.

More Info: Our story, from Oct 2020

Follow: Necromancer Brewing on Instagram

6) The Taproom at Old Thunder Brewing in Blawnox

Quietly opening at the end of 2020 for carryout was Old Thunder Brewing. The team is packaging new brands in cans every week and – it goes without saying – we are very excited to have a beer inside their taproom once it’s safe to gather again.

Old Thunder is located inside the former Blawnox post office building; their renovations and upgrades to the building will make for a grand taproom experience. You can take a sneak peak inside at our story from this past fall.

More Info: Our story, from Oct 2020

Follow: Old Thunder Brewing on Instagram

7) The Coolship Program at Trace Brewing in Bloomfield

Launching in December 2020, Trace Brewing is now open for carryout can sales (no dine-in service yet). Additionally, they are the second brewery in Allegheny County with a koelschip program for spontaneously fermented wild ales and sour beers. They join Strange Roots as the only other (local) brewery with the capability to brew using equipment that results in a truly unique, effervescent sour beer experience.

More Info: Our story, from July 2020

Follow: Trace Brewing on Instagram

8) More New Breweries Planning to Open their Doors in 2021

I’m probably missing a few (seems like we’re birthing a new brewery every couple of weeks in Pittsburgh), but it’s exciting to see residents of Garfield and Dormont claim their own neighborhood breweries that plan to open later this year.

Coming Soon: Two Frays Brewing in Garfield // More Info: Story, via Breweries in PA

Coming Soon: Bonafide Beer Co in the Strip District // More Info: Story, via Fueled By Hops

Coming Soon: Back Alley Brewing in Dormont // More Info: Story, via Next Pittsburgh

9) Breweries with Expansion Plans in 2021

To quench Pittsburgh’s thirst for more beer, some breweries have expansions planned for this year. Increasing brewing capacity leads to both more beer and a higher likelihood of entering local (or regional) distribution.

Dancing Gnome’s Expansion (Sharpsburg): Video, via Breweries in PA

Abjuration Brewing’s Expansion (McKees Rocks): Details, via Honeycomb Credit

Grist House Expansion (Millvale and Collier): Story, via Trib Live

 10) Breweries Opening New Locations

Cinderlands and Sly Fox both plan to expand their physical footprint by opening entirely new locations soon.

Cinderlands Opening in Wexford: Story, via Breweries in PA

Sly Fox Opening in the Highline Complex (Southside): 2019 Story, via Next Pittsburgh

11) Sustainability initiatives from Pittsburgh Breweries

We love seeing what our local breweries are doing in the realm of sustainability. Among many examples of upcycling and finding new ways to use by-products of the beer brewing process, Zero Waste Wrangler has been distributing spent grain to farmers for livestock feed.

More Info: Story, via Next Pittsburgh

Follow: Zero Waste Wrangler, on Instagram

12) Pink Boots Pittsburgh Continues Elevating Women in Beer

Pittsburgh’s Pink Boots chapter – comprised of women beer professionals – brews annual collaboration beers that support the Pink Boots mission focused on education and opportunities for women in beer.

The Pink Boots beers are concepted, sourced and brewed entirely by a collaborative team of women representing Pittsburgh-area breweries. The 2019 ‘Pink Boots Collab Brew Day’ was hosted by Hop Farm in Lawrenceville. In 2020 – right before the onset of the pandemic – Pink Boots gathered at Penn Brewery in the Northside to brew a hoppy, flavorful India Pale Lager (IPL) beer. Although it’s likely that we will continue social-distancing through a good chunk of 2021, we’re very excited to see what the local Pink Boots chapter comes up with for this year’s collaboration.

Follow: Pink Boots Society Pittsburgh on Instagram

13) More Options for Local Barrel-Aged Beers

Fluctuations in beer production, coupled with high demand for specialty beers, makes for an interesting look ahead into 2021. We expect to see more Pittsburgh breweries dip into the barrel aging game with beers that sit inside exhausted whiskey and bourbon barrels over time to bring about complex flavors and aromas that are hard to replicate. Cinderlands recently unveiled their ‘Douse’ series and Trace is gearing up to rest beer in barrels for future releases as well.

Right now, you can check out Mochanut Goon, a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, at Spoonwood Brewing in Castle Shannon and we’d advise folks to be on the lookout for barrel aged beers rolling out this year from Eleventh Hour Brewing in Lawrenceville.

More Info: Discover the Burgh’s recap of the Good Wood Barrel-Aged Beer Festival has a nice explainer on barrel aged beers

Follow: Discover the Burgh on Instagram

 14) A Return to Classical, Forgotten Beer Styles

More Info: Among many craft breweries leaning into the forgotten styles, Necromancer Brewing, Dancing Gnome and Old Thunder Brewing have all committed to brewing and resurrecting older beer styles that are less commonly found in the microbrewery / craft beer scene.

Follow: Necromancer Brewing on Instagram // Dancing Gnome on Instagram // Old Thunder Brewing on Instagram

15) Pittsburgh gaining national recognition

Pittsburgh breweries have been recognized in Hop Culture, Thrillist and October magazine. In the year ahead, keep an eye out for others to take notice of the beer scene here in Pittsburgh.

More Info: Story, via Hop Culture magazine

Follow: Hop Culture on Instagram

 16) More Local Collaboration Beers

2020 saw some incredible collaboration happen within and amongst the Pittsburgh beer scene. The iconic Dancing Gnome x Pittsburgh Brewing Company collab brought about the return of a 1970s cream ale and Cinderlands revisited their collaboration with Bindley Hardware Company.

Speaking of Dancing Gnome, they recently announced their 2021 year-long collaboration that partners the brewery with a local company or organization unrelated to beer. Dancing Gnome’s 2021 Local Collaboration Series will be ‘Western PA Watershed’

More Info: Podcast Episode, via Good, But Not the Best

Follow: Good, But Not The Best – a Dancing Gnome podcast on Spotify

 17) More Breweries Opening Restaurants with a Full Kitchen

We’re excited to hear that Cellar Works Brewing plans to open a full restaurant x brewery combo soon, just a little ways up the road from their current location in Sarver, PA. Additionally, East End Brewing is now offering creative takes on pizza out of the brew pub in Larimer.

Several other breweries offer thoughtful, complete restaurant experiences, including Lincoln Ave Brewery in Bellevue (which recently got some love from Fueled By Hops), Cinderlands Beer, Four Points Brewing, Hop Farm Brewing and Burgh’ers Brewing.

Cellar Works: Our story, from July 2020

More Info: Lincoln Avenue Brewery full restaurant review, via Fueled by Hops

Even More Info: 2019 Story, via Next Pittsburgh

 18) 412 Brewing is Changing Hands, New Ownership Taking Over in Spring 2021

More Info: A group of five Pittsburgh-area beer veterans are poised to takeover 412 Brewing in the Northside. We’re excited to keep an eye on this as they roll out more details, including a possible rebrand and changes to the menu offerings and operations.

Follow: 412 Brewing on Instagram

 19) Pittsburgh Brewery Diversity Council, forming in 2021

More Info: A group of underrepresented communities from within the local beer industry have joined forces to create an entity focused on elevating cultural understanding and celebrating the accomplishments of minorities. The Pittsburgh Brewery Diversity Council (PBDC) includes people of color, women and folks identifying with the LGBTQIA+ community who work in the craft beer industry. The council plans to share more details including events, collaboration beers and a mission statement this spring.

Follow: Pittsburgh Brewery Diversity Council on Facebook

 20) More Breweries Offering PA Statewide Shipping

Although Strange Roots and Cinderlands were at the forefront of this movement (locally), expect to see other Pittsburgh-area breweries get into the beer shipping game.

Earlier today, Grist House announced their statewide beer shipping program. We don’t think this will be the last of these announcements.

More Info: Grist House PA Statewide Shipping

 21) East End Continues Plowing through the Neighborhood Beers

Beginning in 2019, East End Brewing kicked off a series known as ‘You Are Here: Neighborhood’ – an ambitious project that would result in a years-long effort to brew 90 different beers; one to celebrate every Pittsburgh neighborhood (90 beers for 90 neighborhoods). The series continues to plow forward in 2021 – beer #40, the Bloomfield, is the next one due up for release on Saturday, Jan 16 at the Bloomfield Winter Market.

A pre-pandemic side benefit of the neighborhood series was the release parties. Speaking for myself, East End created a super cool way to visit Pittsburgh neighborhoods I don’t normally frequent. Can’t wait for in-person events (like these) to return in the future.

Header Photo by Davis Kinville, Rocketfuel Studios

Aadam Soorma

Aadam Soorma

In 2012, Aadam moved to Pittsburgh. He's currently parked (sans chair) in Lawrenceville and plans to stay a while. On the weekends, you'll find him driving a small green bus (Porter Tours) as he leads tours at local breweries.

Got a fun story idea? DMs are open: @asoorma.

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