Craft-beer brewery owners find home in Millvale

Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 9:00 p.m. Updated 11 hours ago
There is a buzz brewing in Millvale over the grand opening of a new craft-beer brewery over Memorial Day weekend.
Grist House Brewing, the second brewery to open in the borough, is the realization of a dream by Fox Chapel brothers-in-law Brian Eaton, 30, and Kyle Mientkiewicz, 27.
“We’re hoping to turn Millvale into a craft-beer destination,” said Eaton, pointing to the success of Millvale’s Draai Laag Brewing Co. as influencing the location of their brewery.
The pair transformed a building at 10 Sherman St., which served as a slaughterhouse from the 1950s to 1970s and then was used as a warehouse, into their brewpub and brewing facility. The space features exposed beams and an old lift hook from former tenants and a new outdoor deck and a wooden bar in the brewpub area, which sits above the open brewery.
“You come in, and you walk into a working brewery,” Eaton said.
The brewery cofounders met as students in the Fort LeBoeuf School District in Erie County and then became close friends at Penn State University and bonded over a common interest in attending beer festivals and home-brewing.
While Eaton works in fundraising for a nonprofit organization based out of Arlington, Va., and Mientkiewicz is a software test engineer for an insurance company, they decided to take the leap and start the process to be brewmasters and open their own brewery three years ago.
Eaton and Mientkiewicz took advantage of local talent and had Colleen Vecellio, an art teacher and Mientkiewicz’s girlfriend, create the mural and paintings in the brewpub and brewery, as well as the brewery logo and beer labels.
They also made an effort to work with local companies as they established their own, such as Greater Pittsburgh Specialty Advertising of Millvale, which created the company’s T-shirts; and Red Star Ironworks of Millvale, which created the beer tap handles.
“We want to be a stepping stone to Millvale’s revitalization,” Mientkiewicz said. “There is a lot happening in Millvale. The people and community have been so great to us. We want to add to the community.”
The pair uses mainly American ingredients but also will craft their recipes to the ingredients. For their English porter, they’ll use English malt and hops; for a Belgian style beer, they’ll use ingredients from Belgium.
It’s not uncommon for Eaton and Mientkiewicz to sit around a table with grains and a glass of water and sample the ingredients to decide which will taste best in a new recipe.
“We take the process seriously,” Eaton said.
During its opening weekend and for the first few months, Grist House Brewing is offering four beers in its “scaled up” series, including a red session pale ale; English brown and American wheat infused with apricots and honey.
They’re starting with about 465 gallons of each batch of beer.
Once the brewery is running at capacity, Eaton and Mientkiewicz plan to offer three year-round beers, including the hoppy Camp Slap Red, which won best overall out of 60 entries in the 2013 Brewer’s Cup Home Brew Competition in Erie, as well as the Gristly Bear Brown and Gristful Thinking, an American-style brown and pale ale beer, respectively. The brewmasters also will have seven additional taps of rotating or seasonal beers.
Their goal is to eventually brew about 5,000 barrels annually and serve the beer at their Millvale location and distribute to select bars and restaurants in the area.
“One thing we both want is even if someone isn’t a beer drinker, we want to open their eyes to a better or good beer,” Mientkiewicz said. “We want all beer drinkers to come and be open-minded (to show them) that all beer is treated differently.”
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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