By Ian Thomas
For the Pittsburgh Current
Greg Kamerdze, brewer and founder of Spring Hill Brewing, dreams small.
After spending years in jobs he describes as “soul-crushing,” being able to focus on his brewery full-time is a revelation. In partnership with Michael Seamans, known best as the founder of Mind Cure Records, Spring Hill Brewing’s new North Side taproom is slated to open July 13. Kamerdze sees it as a culmination of his efforts and not necessarily a stop along the way to something else.
“I always envisioned this working with a taproom, itself. I didn’t intend to start doing just production and distribution to bars and restaurants.” he says. “Seeing a lot of different breweries with their taprooms, it’s something that I always really enjoyed.”
Kamerdze has spent the last ten years learning the craft of brewing, scouting beer scenes throughout the country, and producing smallish batches of about two barrels with the help of some friends.
“I took a lot of road trips at one point to explore what the West Coast was offering and the East Coast, specifically New England. I took a tour of a lot of breweries up there, running the gamut of a lot of different sizes, from small to big,” Kamerdze says. “The more I started looking at the smaller ones, it acted like a brainworm and it got into my brain that I could start at a pretty small scale and possibly sustain myself, running it as a business.”
With the pending opening of his tap room, Kamerdze is ready to see Spring Hill Brewing grow. He has launched an Indiegogo campaign to hire staff for his operation. He hopes the campaign will jumpstart the business and allow Spring Hill Brewing’s physical location to open on stable footing. That will allow him to increase production and focus on the pressing issues of running a business. The campaign to raise $15,000 is 14% funded, with 121 days to go.
“I’m at a point now where I just need to hire on help,” he says. “I can only get so much done in a day. I can stay here for 12 or 15 hours, which I do, but that’s not a sustainable thing. I can’t keep that up forever.”
Spring Hill Brewing joins a large and already diverse beer scene in Pittsburgh. Kamerdze hopes to further that diversity and make his mark on the scene by delivering otherwise underserved beer types that he’s passionate about.
“It’s very niche, but I figure since my system is small, I might as well focus on niche products. My favorite kinds of beer to drink are session ales. More and more I go out to drink in places, I see less of those,” he says. “So, I’m trying to produce session farmhouse ales that have a really unique, complex flavor profile. That’s kind of where I’m trying to make my mark, beers that you could generally drink two of them. I have eight taps on the menu and I think I have one beer that’s over 5% ABV.”
His brews’ low alcohol content, coupled with his capacity limitations, means that he will be operating outside of his comfort-zone from the jump.
“The main challenge, I think, is just keeping up production. My production is small, so I’m focusing on these beers that I would like to have people be able to enjoy a lot of. That’s going to put a crunch on how much beer I might be able to produce every week and thus be able to make available to the public,” Kamerdze says. “That’s why, right now, our hours are going to be somewhat limited.”