Taste for better beer leads Etna man into business
By Bethany Hofstetter
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Steve Sloan has been across the country and around the world studying and brewing beer but found a home for his new brewery in Pittsburgh.
Sloan, 42, of Etna, has taken the culmination of 17 years of professional brewing knowledge gathered at more than a dozen or so breweries in six states and New Zealand and opened Roundabout Brewery with his wife, Dyana, on July 12 along Butler Street, in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.
Sloan got what he calls “the better beer bug” after spending summers visiting Germany's beer gardens. While living in Hawaii in the mid-1990s, he started to become interested in home brewing and met the master brewer of Kona Brewing Co., who offered him a job.
“From day one, I fell in love with it,” said Sloan, who has degrees in chemistry from Kalamazoo College in Michigan and the University of Florida.
“It's hands-on, which I like, and to see the process all the way through … You have a tangible something you produce at the end of the day that people seem to enjoy.”
Sloan, originally from a small town north of Detroit, followed openings at breweries in Florida, Hawaii, California, Colorado, Missouri, Pennsylvania and New Zealand. In 2011, Sloan moved back to Pittsburgh to take a job as brewery manager at Church Brew Works.
Sloan worked to improve the beer and processes involved in brewing the beer and managing the yeast, and his efforts helped earn the brewery the 2012 titles of Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, in Denver.
After the award-winning year for the Church Brew Works, Sloan decided to open a brewery of his own.
Sloan said he credits many of the other small craft brewers in the Pittsburgh area with helping him realize his dream.
Scott Smith, founder of Pittsburgh's East End Brewing, was preparing his brewery's move from Homewood to Larimer, near Bakery Square, while Sloan was working to open his brewery and offered him a walk-in cooler and refrigeration equipment, among other items, which he recognized on a recent visit to the brewery.
“We were happy to pass them along to him,” Smith said. “It's nice to see them go to a good home.”
Sloan said he is grateful for the help and support and even joked that at one point, he had borrowed all of Bill Larkin's tools to get the tasting room and brewery up and running. Larkin owns the neighboring Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar Inc. in Lawrenceville.
The camaraderie among Pittsburgh's craft brewers was one of the things that drew Sloan to the city.
“When you look at the small brewers, we're not competing against each other; we're carving out the teeniest piece of pie from the Goliaths,” Smith said. “At this scale, people aren't in it because they're going to become millionaires and billionaires; they're in it because they love beer on a really fundamental level, so we all share that common respect and common understanding. There's a kindred spirit there.”
Smith said the growth of small craft brewers also creates a local diversity, something Larkin hopes to capitalize on by establishing a libations trial along the Allegheny River, similar to the state's wine trails. Each brewer brings his or her own personal identity into the beer styles they brew and ingredients they use.
For Sloan, he drew much of his inspiration from his wife's homeland of New Zealand to give Roundabout Brewery a slight down-under theme by using New Zealand hops in beers that carry names such as Black Possum Beer.
Currently, Sloan brews three five-barrel batches of beer every two weeks between two fermentors.
“Overall our focus is doing things at the highest quality and as fresh as possible,” Sloan said of his goal for Roundabout.
“Is it hard to make beer? No. To make it clean, balanced and fresh, and do it consistently, yeah, I think it is difficult.”
While Roundabout Brewery offers beer sales in two sizes, a 64-ounce growler and 16-ounce round container, Sloan hopes to soon obtain a brewpub license to be able to sell pints and offer seating to his guests.
Eventually, he would like to incorporate a limited menu and tours of the facility into the offerings.
“As of right now, I want to try to keep it a mom-and-pop operation,” he said. “We really want it to (have) very local beer sales to keep it fresh and the quality as best you can.”
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- History of helping has Wolf ready to lead North Hills Community Outreach
- Photo Gallery: Cherry Blossom Festival at North Hills Art Center
- Residents of 4 communities may bear sewage treatment plant cost hike
- Purses top prizes at St. Catherine of Sweden event
- Ross first-graders learn the importance of protecting their heads
- A.W. Beattie gets ‘thumbs up’ in robotics
- Photo Gallery: St. Teresa of Avila School sixth-grade tableaus