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Latrobe brewery focuses on quality, community, family

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 11:34 p.m.
Rebecca Ridinger | for the Ligonier Echo
Four Seasons Brewing Co. owners Christian Simmons and Mark Pavlik chat with Greensburg-based One Eleven Restaurant owner Richard Kurtz. One Eleven provided the food pairings at the brewery's grand opening celebration Nov. 9 and recently played host to a prix-fixe dinner at the restaurant complemented by Four Season brews.

It can be the dream of many, the achievement of few. But for Ligonier Valley High School graduate Christian Simmons and Mark Pavlik of Derry, these two local ale-pals know how to bring fermentation to fruition with the formation of Four Seasons Brewing Co., located at 745 Lloyd Avenue in Latrobe.

The ideology behind the business is simply to focus on quality over quantity while providing the local area with home-crafted beers.

“We don't want to get too crazy,” Simmons said. “We want to educate through our beer and thus far we've been very fortunate that we've had success with every batch.”

Pavlik, who serves as brew master, and Simmons, who acts as sales and marketing head, are the company's sole employees. Both also work day jobs — Pavlik is a utility engineer and Simmons is employed at Kennametal.

“It's definitely a juggle,” said Pavlik, a father of a 2-year-old son. “But it's one of my dreams. It's very gratifying to do what I do, especially when we get such an overwhelming response.”

Currently on tap is the Almost East Coast Pale Ale, Sixty Degrees and Snowing Belgian Single, the High Hopes IPA and the Get Down Brown Ale, all of which have been well-received by patrons and critics.

A unique component of the brewery is the fact that re-usable half gallon growlers and two-pint rounders, as opposed to six-pack cans or bottles, are the containers available for purchase, a sustainable and environmentally favorable choice.

“The jugs are very versatile,” explained Simmons. “People come back in, we wash the growler, and we refill it — it's recycling, as well as a marketing tool.”

There is also more involved in a Four Seasons sip than a mere mug to the lips — that is family.

“It recently clicked what my mom instilled in me — as a single mom, how much time she put in,” said Simmons, whose son is 4. “I want my son to know that due diligence and honest business pays off, and Western Pennsylvania is a great family-oriented place.”

Though the official ribbon-cutting grand-opening celebration, which was complete with a disc jockey, hot-plated food pairings by Greensburg based restaurant One Eleven, sketch artists, photographers, a kid-friendly game section and merchandise available for purchase, took place Nov. 9, the brewery has already garnered a hefty local fan base and media attention.

As a testament to the community response, the celebratory opening was staffed by old friends and volunteers, all of whom are committed to the concept.

Ligonier native Corey Tobias was on hand at the event as a volunteer, pouring and explaining each beer.

“It was chaotic,” Tobias laughed about the turnout. “Everyone was enjoying themselves. Christian and I have been friends for years. I want to see him succeed.”

As for the future, the brewing company intends to have more community events multiple times throughout the year, as well as release parties when a new seasonal blend is introduced. The focus will remain on smaller beer offerings.

When Simmons considers advice he would give to someone striving for similar accomplishments, his thoughts fall on the Johnny Cash song, ‘Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound.'

“It's huge for me and my son. That vision of being somewhere is what drives me to put the time, strength and energy into this. I was given the opportunity to have a beautiful family, and I want to give back,” said Simmons.

Operating hours are currently 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. More information can be found at www.fsbrewing.com or by phoning 724-520-4111.

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