Four Points Brewing has rolled out the barrels

Rick Shrum
Observer Reporter

Dave Barbe was hoping to have his brewery/taproom hopping a year ago. Then he encountered this little snag.

The company from which he was purchasing equipment went bankrupt. “That stuck a lot of breweries,” he said.

Barbe finally got what he needed late last fall, had the equipment installed, and worked at completing the building renovation and 1,005 other things a microbrewery owner needs to do. Finally, his rough drafts led to the pouring of drafts.

Four Points Brewing opened July 12 in Charleroi, next door to his Fourth Street Barbeque restaurant. The businesses complement one another, with beer transported for consumption at the restaurant and food carried over to the taproom.

For a man who had never built something like this, it was the end of an ordeal rife with unanticipated challenges.

“It was rough, but we made it,” Barbe said, smiling.

The microbrewy movement has resounded in Western Pennsylvania for several years, but until 21 months ago, it was lagging woefully in Washington County. There weren’t any.

Four Points has made it four breweries spread across the county – all separated by at least 10 miles.

Coal Tipple Brewery launched first, a little before Thanksgiving 2016 in Hanover Township. That microbrewery is part of Raccoon Creek Winery at Kramer’s Greenhouse, all owned by spouses Chris and Dawn Kramer.

Rusty Gold followed the following June, on West Pike Street, Canonsburg. E.J. Kleckner is the owner.

Three months later, Washington Brewing Co. opened on East Maiden Street in downtown Washington. Two couples, John and Angela Burgess and John and Michele DeFede, are co-owners.

Another craft brewer, Whitehorse Brewing, has a presence in the county. But it is a taproom in North Strabane Township, which opened this spring at the Street at the Meadows project off Racetrack Road. That brew firm, based in Berlin, Somerset County, is owned by George Walker and his son, Miles, the latter a Canonsburg resident.

Barbe, a Ringgold graduate and Carroll Township native, is pleased to be part of that trend. The brewery is operating out of what had been a four-story apartment building, slightly uphill from Barbe’s barbecue bistro.

His father, Dave Sr., president of Fourth Street Packing Inc., a Speers food production company, owns both structures. Transforming the apartments into a brewery promised to be a formidable endeavor.

“It was in pretty bad shape,” said Dave Jr., 34.

A five-barrel brewing system is in the former basement, with room for more barrels. That area is visible from the first-floor taproom above, which features 13 taps that dispense brews with creative names such as Donora Smog, Lock 4 and Irish Ink. Some beers come from outside brewers, and a cider and a mead, made locally, are among the selections.

A party room sits on the floor above that, and a deck is under construction.

The taproom is stylish, with wooden and brick accents. The front of the bar is adorned with a lineup of squares, one inside another. Barbe’s girlfriend, Brigitte Nguyen, oversaw the design, including the logo: 4P inside a diamond, in white, with a black background. She owns two women’s designer clothing stores, Ragged Row, in Sewickley and East Liberty’s Bakery Square.

Adam Boura did the woodwork adorning the front of the bar. He knows that craft, and his crafts, for he is the brewmaster. Boura is a longtime home brewer whose beers have been served to Fourth Street’s customers in recent years. He works closely with Zack Colton, a consultant and fellow brewer.

“There has been a craft beer explosion. We have to respond,” said Boura, who commutes from Cheswick in the Allegheny Valley.

Barbe, who lives on the North Side of Pittsburgh, has owned Fourth Street Barbeque for six years and plans “a makeover” there. That name will remain, he said, but the two businesses eventually will fall under the Four Points name.

Taproom sales have gone well over the first four weeks, the owner said. The brewery/taproom is open Tuesday through Sunday, the restaurant Tuesday through Saturday.

The journey, indeed, may have been rough, but Four Points has made it.

“We knew what we wanted to do two or three years ago,” Barbe said. “We just weren’t able to do it when we wanted. Now we’re up and going.”