Share This Page

Crescent Beer returns as part of Irwin's anniversary celebration

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | for the Norwin Star
Gary Santimyer of the Colonial Grill talks with Peggy Powers-Hamilton and Rebecca Bell at The Norwin Public Library's reception to the unveil samples of Crescent Beer on Monday, July 7. The beer was brewed in Irwin from 1903 to 1919, until Prohibition closed it. It never reopened. The IBPA and the Irwin 150th Committee worked with Full Pint Brewing of North Huntingdon and The Taproom of Irwin to recreate the Crescent label. It will be available in limited quanities as a six-pack of bottles at the colonial Grill's Taproom.
Lillian DeDomenic | for the Norwin Star
Peggy Powers-Hamilton talks with Gary Ed at The Norwin Public Library's reception to the unveil samples of Crescent Beer on July 7.
Lillian DeDomenic | for the Norwin Star
A historical slide presentation, 'The Strange and Interesting History of Irwin Part Deux' at The Norwin Public Library on Monday, July 7 followed a reception to the unveil samples of Crescent Beer . The beer was brewed in Irwin from 1903 to 1919, until Prohibition closed it. It never reopened. The IBPA and the Irwin 150th Committee worked with Full Pint Brewing of North Huntingdon and The Taproom of Irwin to recreate the Crescent label. It will be available in limited quanities as a six-pack of bottles at the colonial Grill's Taproom.

Mike Pochan has a thing for Western Pennsylvania history and always is on the hunt for items to add to his small collection of regional artifacts.

The Irwin businessman was intrigued the first time he spotted an empty Crescent Beer bottle among the memorabilia adorning the walls of the Colonial Grille and Tap Room on Main Street some 10 years ago.

“I didn't even know that Irwin had a brewery at one time,” said Pochan, who is helping coordinate events to celebrate the borough's 150th anniversary. “So I started looking on eBay and eventually picked up a Crescent Beer bottle that was pretty unique because it still had a paper label on it.”

The Crescent Brewing Co. of Irwin operated from 1903 until 1919, when the National Prohibition Act outlawed the production of alcohol, according to historical records. The brewery never resumed operations after Prohibition ended 1933.

After obtaining the Crescent bottle, Pochan scanned the label onto a computer and painstakingly restored the tattered image with plans to produce some T-shirts.

“I never got around to doing the shirts, but when we started planning two years ago for the 150th anniversary, we put the word out that we were looking for historic photographs,” Pochan said.

Irwin will mark its sesquicentennial with a slate of activities between Aug. 2 and 9.

After organizers received some photos of the old brewery located at Pennsylvania Avenue and Main Street, talk turned to the prospects of resurrecting the home-town brew, Pochan said.

Gary Santimyer, who owns the Colonial Grille, was approached to set the process up because he already was selling craft beers produced by Full Pint Brewing in North Versailles.

“I had already been kicking around the idea of doing something with the Crescent beer name, but really never pursued it,” Santimyer said. “So when some of the (150th-anniversary) committee members asked me to contact Full Pint, I was glad to help out.”

Barrett Goddard, a brewer at Full Pint, said there is no way to know what the original beer tasted like. “Assuming we had a (unopened) bottle of the beer, which we don't, it would have degraded after all these years, so it would be unpalatable,” he said. “We could mimic the color, but it would be difficult to determine how it's supposed to taste.”

The new Crescent Beer created by Full Pint — an amber ale — made its debut at a July 7 “birthday party” for the borough at the Norwin Public Library that included a program titled “The Strange and Interesting History of Irwin.”

The beer is available at the Full Pint brewery, 1963 Lincoln Highway, and at the Colonial Grille and Tap Room in Irwin.

To add a little flash to the beer's rollout, anniversary organizers solicited the help of North Huntingdon native and professional model Billie Jo Powers.

“One of the committee members came up with the idea of having a model for the marketing material like they use for St. Pauli Girl beer,” Pochan said.

Photographer Carl Stillitano captured shots in mid-June while Powers was home visiting family.

“The idea of resurrecting Crescent Beer for the 150th anniversary started out as something we thought might be fun to try, but we really didn't know whether we could pull it off,” Pochan said. “So it's pretty exciting that with the help of some professionals, we've been able to achieve what we set out to do.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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.