Monthly Archives: August 2018

Southwestern Pintsylvania: The Lipkes from Leaning Cask

Leaning Cask brewer Joshua Lipke and his co-owner and wife, Stefanie Lipke

Leaning Cask brewer Joshua Lipke and his co-owner and wife, Stefanie Lipke

This month, I sat down with Leaning Cask brewer Joshua Lipke and his co-owner and wife, Stefanie Lipke, in Springdale, PA. The brewery has been open for a little over a year, but Joshua has been brewing a lot longer than that. He, like many others, started with a homebrewing hobby and expanded. The turning point for the Lipkes to take the step from homebrewing to opening their own brewpub was a trip to England in the mid-2000s. While there, they tried cask ales, which are a bit different than what you normally get in the U.S. in terms of brewing and serving style.

The brewery has three authentic English hand pumps, one of which is portable. Leaning Cask is also one of the only places in the Pittsburgh area that has a beer engine, which assists in pumping the beer from casks stored in the basement. Joshua says that while they do keep their beer warmer than most, it isn’t quite to the 50°F to 55°F that it would be served at overseas. Their beer is stored in the basement but not quite at those true “cellar” temperatures you would see in England. The casks are closer to traditional temperatures at 45°F to 50°F because they are stored in the farthest corner of the cold storage.

When it comes to the beer itself, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only English-style beers that are brewed and stored in casks. Stefanie says they put any type into casks, and they often use it as a way to try out a new beer or style of beer since the initial release is on a smaller scale. Cask beers aren’t the only types they have, either. The brewery has 12 taps, which allows a wide variation—a little bit of everything.. On most visits to Leaning Cask, you will see three to four different IPAs on tap, their own cider, a stout or porter, a wheat, English ale, and some type of Belgian. Depending on when you visit, various seasonal beers will come into play, too. Another tradition you might notice is all the brews are named with a dog theme. The Lipkes love dogs and appreciated how dog-friendly English pubs are. They wanted to bring a little of that home with them, so they not only have dog-themed beer names, but they are also very welcoming to dogs, as long as they are well-behaved. They go even a step further than allowing dogs inside the bar—they have an actual indoor bathroom for dogs only. While it is becoming more common for breweries to allow dogs, this may be the only indoor dog restroom!

Joshua, the sole brewer, brews as close to traditional English style as his equipment allows. He has a thirteen-barrel setup in the basement of the pub, as well as room to expand upstairs. He says this setup is relatively large for a new brewery; less than ten barrels are more common for somewhere that has only been open for a little over a year. I asked if he had any advice for homebrewers who may be considering expansion into commercial brewing, and Joshua said, “Be prepared for the business adventure. It’s a lot more than just making beer. That’s the simple way to put it. Do your research, know what you are getting into and, really, if you don’t have a business background, get some help or some education on it because the bottom line is you are running a business. Brewing is my downtime. That’s when I don’t have to think about the other things. Even if you are making stellar beer, you’ll be able to make good beer at the commercial stage, but it’s everything else that goes into a business.”

At this point, Leaning Cask is Joshua’s full-time job, but Stefanie still works as an elementary school counselor full time. It was refreshing to meet a woman in the industry because the craft beer and brewery field is dominated by men. Stefanie says she doesn’t feel she’s been pushed aside or ignored and feels like she gets the same amount of respect as Joshua when she introduces herself as an owner. She is a member of the Pink Boots Society, an organization for women in the beer industry and, despite the support she’s experienced, says, “I definitely think there could be more recognition, awareness, and more females involved.”

With so many breweries in Southwestern Pennsylvania, The Leaning Cask offers a British twist that helps it stand out in a booming industry and provides a style of beer that was under-represented in the area until now. They distribute to approximately 20 locations in the area but, since Springdale is not far outside the city limits, why not go to the source to try their beer?

Leaning Cask is located at 850 Pittsburgh St, Springdale, PA 15144. They are open Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. New casks are released every Thursday.

FMI: leaningcaskbrewing.com

Author’s Note: I am working on setting up interviews with other Southwest PA breweries. Is there a brewery you’d like me to cover? Reach out to me via email – PABridges.Reanna@comcast.net

Story by Reanna Roberts for Pennsylvania Bridges

Community Center provides summer employment…and fun

35819517_2187269384621481_5Summer employment is a traditional and constructive way for high school students to earn spending money, begin saving for college, a car, or even to buy basic, everyday necessities.

However, landing that first job can be difficult without prior employment experience to attract gainful work. Fortunately, through the auspices of Southwest Training Services, Inc., four local high school students have found rewarding work, and fun experiences, at the Daisytown Community Center at 3 Main Street, Daisytown, PA.

Maddie Hite, Faith Keene, Dru Miller, and Savanna Owens round out the summer student staff at the center, which provides local youth a “safe and happy educational environment,” according to their mission statement.

With a 32.5 hour work week and generous hourly wage, the four are gaining valuable work experience while garnering several healthy paychecks through Southwest Training Services, Inc.

During the course of helping to prepare and serve food, clean tables, and interact with kids at the center, Hite, Keene, Miller, and Owens universally agree that their time at the center has honed both a sense of responsibility and the ability to work well with others – valuable traits which will benefit them during future employment.

While responsibilities are important to fulfill, they are not exclusive of edifying and fun experiences through the center. According to Sonya Miller, Executive Director of Daisytown Community Center, the students and center’s youth enjoy a back to school bash, an annual Christmas party, a trip to Lavender Farm, a fall bonfire, and an annual coat drive, along with Halloween parties and a Christmas play.

The Daisytown Community Center joins with the Lemoyne Center in Washington, PA in order to receive better rates and amenities during outings and field trips, said center board member, Tammy Hite.

In addition to providing employment opportunities to local high school students, the Daisytown Community Center provides a fun place for local youth to spend time, be mentored or tutored, receive a personal escort back home, and even have lunch.

Food is also provided for youth and the elderly alike, though demand has been on the rise. “It’s really blown up in the last two years. Because we have a lot of families who are food insecure, we are making sure they are eating. We’ve been teaming up with food banks and stores, and the kids will be able to take food home,” Hite said.

Helping hands

Support for the center is “is either through donation or grants,” Hite said, while crediting West Pike Run Township Supervisor Rick Molish, in particular, and the township in general, for “a tremendous job of donating money and time…The supervisors of West Pike Run Township have helped during bonfires, (with) maintenance of the building, and help provide activities which are safe for our children.”

Additional summer help is provided by Cindy Tyler and Joyce Ellis, who coordinate activities along with Darra Owens, Sherri Watkins, Juanita Tyler, and Earnest Tyler, to name “just a few of the folks” who generously help at the center.

Additional funds and volunteer time have also been kindly provided by the Lions Club, while the Daisytown Athletic Club “has been our largest donor throughout the year for our center to keep our doors open for operation” Miller said, adding special thanks to 91 year old twins, Arlene Miller and Florence Green, who work “all year round to help as well.”

36678943_2209202822428137_6Helping the community – a family affair

Willie Tyler, Sr., Miller’s father, also had a caring eye for Daisytown area youth and saw an opportunity for a new community center in the old water company building. Miller explains, “The center is our old water company building and my father purchased it for $1 from the owner as it was being donated. It was a struggle – he worked daily on the building with little help, along with a local family named the McFann family, that donated all the plumbing to help get us open.” Without their foresight and efforts in the beginning, Miller said “we would not be as far as we are now.”

Be sure to friend the Daisytown Community Center at facebook.com/DaisytownCommunityCenter/, check out the Lemoyne Community Center at lemoynecommunitycenter.org, and visit Southwest Training Services at swtraining.org to learn more about their helpful services.

Area high school students who seek summer employment should talk to their school’s guidance counselor for more information.

Story by Keren Lee Dreyer for Pennsylvania Bridges

Ada’s Blessings helps those battling congenital heart defects

Baby Ada

Baby Ada

According to the American Heart Association, congenital heart defects (CHD) – abnormal development of the heart and/or its vessels before birth – range from a repairable small hole in the heart through life-limiting, incomplete heart formation. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 25% of the 40,000 babies per year born with CHD require surgery, while citing CHD as “a leading cause of birth defect-associated infant illness and death.”

What facts and figures cannot show is the isolation parents experience from living in a hospital as their little one slowly succumbs to their heart defect, nor the despair at not being able to comfort that child because of ongoing medical procedures.

Compounding parental grief when their child passes is a pervasive feeling of being forgotten, with no apparent place to reach out for support or comfort with others of similar experience.

Fredericktown residents Roxanne Sweany and husband, Jordan, lived these experiences, and more, as they cared for their daughter, Ada, who was born with a CHD. Though Ada fought hard, was greatly loved, and received the best of care, she passed on in March of 2017 at the age of only nine months after a valiant seven month battle with her CHD.

During their time caring for Ada at Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh, the Sweanys were buoyed by the generosity of caring individuals and entities, as Roxanne explained “We lived seven months in the hospital. Other non-profits would come in and give gifts, and that helped a lot. You’re trapped in the hospital all the time and these strangers come and give you gifts, sometimes for children, others for parents…My husband commuted every day, and the gas cards people gave really helped. We felt we wanted to give back, too.”

From these dispiritining times, Roxanne Sweany created Ada’s Blessings to honor Ada because “that’s where my heart is.” Ada’s Blessings, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, takes in donations of toys, money, and many other needed items to help support children, parents, and siblings in their battle with CHD.

The organization also provides education about CHD while offering welcoming resources to those who feel isolated in their struggle with the aftermath of a lost battle. “There is this whole community of CHD parents who have lost their babies, and we want to let them know they’re not forgotten,” Sweany said.

With fall and summer being slow times for charitable donations, Sweany “wanted to do something when the need was, not when everyone else was giving.” To counter the downturn in donations, Ada’s Blessings sponsors Ada’s Birthday Party at Childrens Hospital. “We get a list from the cardiac unit for each age group, and what the kids’ likes and needs are. We put that out on Facebook and people send money so I can go get those things, or people donate (toys and other items) as well.” Siblings are also able to pick out a toy of their own, or receive one picked by their parents, as “they may feel like they’re on the back burner, so we make it a point to feel like they’re involved because they get to pick a present as well.”

Roxanne, Jordan, & Ada Sweany

Roxanne, Jordan, & Ada Sweany

Another summer event, and its biggest fundraiser, is Ada’s Blessings Bike Run. The fundraiser kicks off Saturday, August 11 at 10 a.m. at Tradesmen’s Inn, 1769 E National Pike, Scenery Hill, PA. Registration is $20 per driver and $15 per passenger. At noon, Sweany said “kickstands are up. It’s about a 100 mile ride and stops at four or five bars and restaurants along the way. We’ll have a Chinese auction at the end, a D.J., and food catered by Tradesmen’s Inn.” Ada’s Blessings Bike Run also provides “blockers front and rear, and at certain intersections” to keep participants safe while riding for a good cause.

Ada’s Blessings not only helps others, but helps its founders cope in as positive way as possible. “It’s actually helped me get through my grief, and when I’m having a bad day I go to work on something for Ada’s Blessings,” Sweany said. Though there are days that hit her hard, Sweany notes that “it does feel good to get a whole cart of toys to give” and not worry about the expense. Funds and donations are welcomed by Ada’s Blessings all year long. Gift cards to be given to those in need, and checks made to Ada’s Blessings may be sent to Roxanne Sweany, 8 Crawford Road, Fredericktown, PA 15333. Tax receipts are available upon request.

Join the Ada’s Blessings Group on Facebook at: facebook.com/groups/222929584862157/about/

Editor’s Note: Baby Ada, pictured top left with her parents, is also pictured on our cover. Thanks so much to Roxanne and Jordan Sweany for sharing these special photos of beautiful Ada with us.

Story by Keren Lee Dreyer for Pennsylvania Bridges