ABV is our weekly series that highlights a different beer from a local Pittsburgh brewery every week. Check out our past picks here.
This week in beer, we’re spotlighting a brewery a bit north of Pittsburgh. Admittedly, it’s a new-to-us brewery that has yet to be featured here on Very Local.
Located in Mars — with a name that’s inspired by trips “out into the sticks” — Stick City Brewing has been building a robust portfolio of locally-brewed pale ales, IPAs and lagers from their Butler County digs.
Led by Nick Salkeld, Stick City opened in April 2018 and — aside from their obvious focus on beer — the brewery also maintains a commitment to the environment by donating 1 percent of sales proceeds to nonprofits working to protect wildlands.
Read on to get to know Stick City Brewing.
ABV, Volume XCVIII
Q&A with Nick Salkeld of Stick City Brewing
Aadam Soorma: Where is Stick City brewery located?
Stick City: Stick City is located in the small town of Mars, just north of Pittsburgh.
AS: When did the brewery open?
SC: The brewery opened in April of 2018.
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AS: How did the brewery get its start?
SC: The brewery unknowingly found its beginning back in the early 1990s with my dad finding an interest in homebrewing. He returned from a work trip to Germany and England and quickly realized that the beer he had been drinking was nothing like the flavorful lagers and ales he experienced abroad. Once my brother and I got a little older (around 2009/2010 timeframe), we broke out Dad’s homebrewing equipment and we all started to brew together. We had always discussed opening a small brewery, but it was not until 2016 that the discussions, planning, and funding all started to come together.
AS: Why the name Stick City?
SC: Stick City started out as a term that the family would use to describe the place where my parents grew up, the more rural part of Butler County. We used to travel out there on the weekends after we moved into the city of Butler. We would visit family and simply just hang out in the “sticks.” Dad would often say, “we are going to Stick City!” before we would head out. The term’s meaning has grown to be much larger than just our little spot in the countryside. It is any wild and natural place, big or small, where one goes to recharge away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
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AS: What’s something you would tell a first-time guest at Stick City?
SC: I am going to answer this question assuming COVID-19 is gone and we are back to operating with an indoor and outdoor taproom experience. I think the first aspect to note is that Stick City is different, from the way we operate to the beers that are offered. We do not have a kitchen (though we do have food trucks). Our taproom is integrated closely with the brewing area, it is unique. There is a large, live edge Black Walnut bar and many live-edge, wooden tables, made from locally fallen timber. Our focus is on process and how it relates to specific beers – this will be apparent from the list and how the beer is served. We aim to highlight ingredient terroir, both globally and locally sourced. You will not find fashion trend beers or a multitude of adjuncts. You will find soft beers with dynamic flavors, aromas, and balance.
It is beer for drinking, not just tasting.
AS: Are there particular beer styles that Stick City specializes in? Do you rotate in seasonals or stick to a core group of recipes?
SC: We work to specialize in bringing out the intricacies of the many varieties of hops in our Pale Ales and IPAs. We also like to take our time and dig deep into pale lager brewing. Every so often we will work on simple, non-adjunct-driven darker beers, like stouts and browns. We do not really have a set brew schedule or a core group of brands. Our beer offering list is a constant rotational exploration and experience — following more of a guideline approach in terms of styles or brands. Overall, our beers land in the more traditional area when it comes to technique and final product; albeit, we do have some interesting methods to bring big flavor and aroma while maintaining overall balance to the beer. For the future, we are investigating and planning to bring out more off-traditional beers following this mindset.
— Chad Tyson (@chadtyson) November 23, 2019
AS: Has Stick City partnered with any other local businesses or breweries?
SC: We have only done a couple collaboration beers. Most recently, we did a Triple IPA (10.5% alc/vol) with a great local craft beer bar/restaurant from Greensburg — Marino’s American Eatery. That was a fun challenge for us, and the beer was great.
Outside of that, we have been focusing on working with a few environmental non-profits who benefit from our 1% for the Planet commitment. Back in October, we worked with PA Parks & Forest Foundation, Pennsylvania DCNR, and Cook Forest Conservancy to fund and plant trees around Clear Creek State Park. As we move into 2021, we will be hedging more of our collaborative efforts in these areas. We want to find more ways for people to connect to and protect our wild places.
AS: As far as the taproom goes right now, it’s obviously a challenge with COVID. What are the best ways for folks to get your beer?
SC: The best way to get Stick City beer is to stop out during open hours. All ordering is done outside and can be as contact free as you need. You can buy the beer completely to-go or you can enjoy a beer outside, on-premises (dress accordingly) following all COVID-19 guidelines. There are hardwood burning fire pits for additional warmth, a foot operated, hand sanitizer station, filtered water tap, and restrooms all with easy access from outside. Considering the circumstances, it is still a fun experience, we have certainly been enjoying it.
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AS: What are some local beers you think more people should know about?
SC: Any and all local pale lager. Drink them, appreciate them, rate them to style (if you rate beer). We are blessed to have all our local breweries – buy local beer, always!
Know Before You Go: Stick City Brewing
Location: 109 Irvine St. Mars, PA 16046
Hours of Operation: Thu + Fri (4pm to 9pm), Sat (12pm to 9pm), Sun (2pm to 7pm)
Follow Stick City Brewing on Social Media
Web: Stick City Brewing website
Facebook: Stick City Brewing Facebook page
Instagram: Stick City Brewing Instagram
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Header Photo courtesy of Stick City Brewing