Draai Laag Brewing Preps to Open Outdoor Biergarten

Published On July 8, 2015 | By Hannah Gloeckl | Food & Drink

Photo Creds: Draai Laag Brewing

With a motto like “Wild by Design,” it’s no surprise that Draai Laag Brewing Company is taking its operation outdoors; this weekend, the brewery will officially open their new Biergarten in Millvale.

Biergartens, or beer gardens, are traditionally defined as an open-air space where brews are served, and the new Draai Laag Biergarten will expand upon that concept even further. The owners also hope to encourage and increase greener methods and activities in their Millvale community.

Inspired by the small and hidden village breweries found across Europe (especially in Belgium), Draai Laag strives to employ old world methods in order to produce creative brews. Currently, they hand-bottle and serve 13 year-round beers at the brewery’s local taproom in Millvale, the Saints and Turncoats Public House.

Though Saints and Turncoats exclusively serves beverages, they also promote local eateries in Millvale–catering is provided by Black Shepherd Farms every Friday during the summer, and various food trucks post up onsite on Thursdays and Saturdays.

The Biergarten will join Saints and Turncoats during the weekend by exclusively serving beverages and promoting local food in Millvale. Customers are encouraged to bring their own food from local eateries and restaurants, or grab a bite from the variety of vendors invited by Draai Laag.

We got the chance to speak to the minds behind Draai Laag about the installation of the new Biergarten; check out our conversation with founder Dennis Hock below:

NakYouOut: With the Saints and Turncoats Public House already acting as the brewery’s taproom, what motivated the choice to build the Biergarten?

Dennis: First, we’re a Belgian- and French-inspired brewery. When I went overseas during the war, I spent time in Europe away from tours to get inspired. The biergartens in Europe are often indiginous, garden pulling, outside spaces that allow people to gather as a collective community. They’re a great place to relax in fresh air and have a conversation. I grew up in Millvale, and when I returned, I realized that there really aren’t any outside spaces like this. So I thought [a biergarten] would be the perfect way to invite a European feel into our atmosphere, and further our current endeavor, which is to create a green space outside of the concrete area. Millvale’s got a great local vibe, and small shops are coming back with a vengeance. We’re striving to provide a communal, green space in a more urban area, and we hope we’ll inspire others to do the same.

NYO: As Draai Laag prepares to open the Biergarten, are you looking towards more future expansions?

DH: Currently, our manufacturing facility is being finished up. We decided to move our basis to another location because wild and sour beer is our specialty, and we utilize sdraai5pontaneous fermentation to brew our beer. Currently, Draai Laag is one of only eight brews in the country that employs the spontaneous fermentation method. The process requires a lot of barrel storage to brew – lids are left off the tanks and wild, indiginous, airborne strains of yeast must land in the beer to start the [fermentation] process. There’s much prep work involved with the process, too, which also requires quite a bit of space. We must build up the environmental conditions, prep the environment for genetic mutations to take place, etc. In regards to our interior, we eventually want to remodel and give the space a more artistic feel – intimate, quaint, and small. We applied for a grant to update interiors in the taproom this fall, and hope to transform it into more of a green space. As community members, we also took the initiative to outsource our own possible grants and funding to assist in making Millvale a greener space overall.

NYO: Can you tell us a little more about the spontaneous fermentation process? How do your brews and their characteristics typically differ from, say, a typical approach to beer making? 

DH: Genetic mutation is a complex process – it takes over a year for the first mutation to occur. Currently, we’ve discovered three different strains of yeast unknown to science and brews everywhere. Our Wild Angel strain was our first strain ever collected, and it’s been incorporated into three beers already. With yeast harvesting, biogeography assessments, and a strong agricultural area, brewers have a good chance of discovering something new and furthering science. All of our brews have an alcohol content of 7% and above, with multiple strains of yeast, and constituent parts of honey cider and beer. The concentrated smells inside of the beverage (fruit, citrus, etc.) are the by-products of the yeast.

draai4NYO: Are there any new brews customers can expect to celebrate at the opening of the Biergarten?
DH: For now, we’ll just have our current seasonal beers available – we’d like to introduce what we do to new guests who may be unfamiliar with our process and product. However, Draai Laag has up to seven beers in final stages, and they’ll be launching in succession from the end of 2015 to early 2016.

Celebrate the grand opening weekend of the Draai Laag Biergarten July 9-11 with various vendors scheduled to cater each night, including the Pittsburgh Smokehouse on July 9 from 5-10:30PM; The Burgh Bites Cart and Black Shepherd Farms on July 10 from 5-10:30PM; and Berlin Street Food and Butcher on Butler July 11 from 3-10:30 PM.

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