After being bought by a private equity firm, the original owners of Pennsylvania Brewing Company bought the company back and have had a second round of success.
The Pennsylvania Brewing Company almost died in 2008.
Founder Tom Pastorius sold the Pittsburgh brewery to a private equity firm. Instead of keeping the small brewery and brewpub open, they fired the whole brewing team and closed the brewery and restaurant and paid another brewery to brew the beer at a much lower quality and price.
But Pastorius and three new partners bought the business back in 2009 and reopened in 2010. Now the Pennsylvania Brewing Company, which is also known as the Penn. Brewery, is now distributing its beers.
"When Tom retired, they kind of ran us into the ground," said brewer Andy Rich. "It's been an uphill battle, and we're gaining ground. There have been some growing pains, but we're getting there."
That's good news for lager lovers because the Penn. Brewery specializes in German-style lagers.
"We've always done German-style lagers," said Rich. "(Pastorius) worked over in Germany, loved the beer, and really couldn't find something of that quality over here."
So instead of trying to find imported beers, Pastorius started brewing his own beers in 1986. They were the first-brewery in the Pittsburgh area. They are still one of the few U.S. breweries that brews mostly lagers.
"We're definitely a unique part of the craft segment," said Rich. "People are doing more ales. That's kind of unique. It's a more expensive way of doing beer because you have to pay for all of the cooling costs. There aren't a lot of people doing that kind of thing."
Penn. Pilsner is the brewery's flagship beer. It's a 4 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) Vienna-style lager (the same style of beer as Samuel Adams Boston Lager).
The low percentage of alcohol makes it a perfect beer for parties and get-togethers because people can have several if they want without getting sloppy. It's slightly sweet, but has a nice hop kick.
But Rich's favorite beer is the Kaiser Pilsner, a traditional German-style pilsner.
"Kaiser should have been our flagship beer," said Rich. "It's one of the better beers we do."
The Kaiser Pilsner is an excellent, easy-drinking beer. You get a lot of bready, doughy malt flavors, but it's not too sweet, with just enough hops to balance it out. It's a crisp beer.
The Penn. Dark is a personal favorite for me. A good black lager is excellent, and this one fits the bill perfectly. Flavors of caramel and slight roastiness blend together to form a fantastic beer.
The Penn. Gold is a lighter beer, with grassy flavors from the hops used in this lager.
The Penn. Marzen is toasty with caramel flavors from the malts and very little hop flavors, if any, in the beer.
The Octoberfest is spot on for the style -- caramel flavors combine with spicy hops to create a wonderful fall seasonal.
The Penn. Brewery has also expanded some of the beers its making at the brewpub (which is an excellent place to stop if you happen to be in Pittsburgh), brewing American-style beers for the first time. Rich said they've brewed the Allegheny Pale Ale and the Rye IPA.
"We're just showing what we can do," he said.
Norman Miller is a MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email email@example.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.