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Brewers make case for pub in Butler County

| Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A startup craft brewing company wants to open a brew pub in downtown Butler and is looking for investors.

Reclamation Brewing Co. leased a location on South Main Street for a pub and restaurant with a brewing facility that would serve pints and sell growlers and cases of beer. It would distribute cases and kegs.

The storefront formerly housed Unicorn Cards and Gifts.

The brewing company is raising money and looking for investors, said Ben Smith of Beaver Falls, one of three owners. Last month, the company won the People's Choice Award at the Mt. Lebanon Brewfest.

Reclamation Brewing's other owners are Ben Duncan, a friend of Smith, and Smith's father, John Smith, a Reformed Baptist pastor. Duncan and the elder Smith live in Kittanning.

The company cannot sell beer until it gets a license, which Smith expects to happen in about six months. The inspiration for the pub came from a trip the three took to Ireland.

“The culture that goes with pubs there is great. It's a more friendly and family type of atmosphere,” Smith said.

The three learned to brew beer by studying — and by trial and error.

“We started by making wine, but that really took too long,” Smith said.

Theirs would be the second brew pub in Butler. The Butler Brew Works is on Main Street, too.

Craft brewing has boomed during the past 20 years.

“Beer is more sophisticated than people think. Craft brew is about the taste; it is not about getting hammered,” Smith said.

People have become more interested in what they eat and drink, said Asa Foster, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate who is starting Brew Gentleman Brew Co. in Braddock in an old electrical supply store.

“People want to drink what's local. The food scene is taking off in Pittsburgh. The beer scene is going right along with that,” Foster said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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