The rumors you may have heard for months are true: Tom Pastorius is out at Penn Brewery. Check this local blogger. (Thanks to Brew Lounge's Bryan Kolesar for the link.)
There's not a lot I have to add at this point. I was just in Pittsburgh, and no one wanted to talk about this, except to ask questions: is it true? What happened? Was he forced out? Is it the old owners?
I'll tell you what I know, which is not much. Tom started this business, the first brewpub/craft brewery in Pittsburgh. After some hard work and great beer, he sold part of the business to try to raise capital for much-needed expansion. That didn't go well, and the business almost went under. Tom and some well-monied partners (with some public money as well) managed to get it back before it completely crashed. People were hired, the beer flowed, and the restaurant re-opened. At that point, things get very hazy, and pretty he-said-she-said, so I'm staying out of that. On the far side of that part, we find Tom out of the day-to-day operations of the brewery, not in evidence at all. There will probably be some public bad feelings about this, for obvious reasons.
And yet...the beer continues to flow, good beer. Brewer Andy Rich, two of the new owners, and sales/marketing head Eric Heinauer (who worked for years at Penn) were at my dinner at Bocktown Monday night, very much supporting the beer and promising new stuff. Like what? How about year-round Kaiser Pils, draft now and in 12 oz. bottles in February? How about a rye imperial stout (delish)? How about they bought the building -- something Tom tried to do for years but was never able to do -- and are making improvements already, like creating a new entrance, opening a 2nd floor hall with an awesome iron beam overhead (the Eisenhalle), or re-opening the lagering vaults for a planned barrel-aging program?
My advice -- as always -- is to wait and see before you judge the new owners, the new Penn Brewery. We do owe Tom Pastorius a debt of gratitude; he brought forth a great place, great beers, and some awesome festivals, working against inertia and a constant lack of capital. Great things. And now...it's the next chapter. Read on.