Lolev Brewing Aims to Rise to the Top in Lawrenceville
It hopes to open by summer’s end in a 110-year-old building that was once a beer distributor.
More than a decade ago, Ted and Scott Slesinski started homebrewing in the lower level of their Philadelphia home. Now, the brothers are poised to serve beer on a rooftop in Pittsburgh.
As a nod to their basement beginnings, they’re calling the place Lolev Brewing. They hope to open before summer ends.
The 110-year-old, corner building at 5247 Butler St. in Lawrenceville is slowly morphing into one of the sleekiest taprooms in town. The Slesinskis, along with their friend and business partner Jeff Gonano, plan to apply for a variance that will allow sky-high imbibing. In the meantime, customers will have 7,500-square-feet of indoor space, including a loft area that overlooks the bar area.
The historical structure’s past includes everything from a car dealership to Elevate Fusion Fitness. Construction crews — which you can see in action on Lolev’s Instagram page — found antique bottles and Iron City pull-tab cans left behind from the building’s days as a beer distributor.
The alcoholic beverage is about to make a triumphant return to the spot.
Lolev’s 20-barrel, steam-powered brewing system will be helmed by Scott Slesinski, who worked at Braeloch Brewing in Kennett Square, Pa. They’re currently looking for front-of-the-house help and cellar positions.
Beer will flow directly from the brite tanks in the rear of the facility to the 10 taps out front. Ted Slesinski says they’ll probably open with three to four offerings available on draft and in cans. Folks were able to sample some of their creations, including an Imperial IPA, two saisons, a lager and a hard seltzer – at the Beers of the Burgh festival in June.
“Our goal is to make approachable and interesting beers,” Ted Slesinski says.
Lolev also will have an extensive barrel-aging program. There are six foeders that can hold up to four barrels of beer at a time to meet the demand for these complex libations. The inaugural Pittsburgh Mixed Culture festival, a celebration of saison, funky farmhouse ales and spontaneous fermentation beer, will be held on Saturday, July 30 at Freedom Farms in Valencia.
Although Lolev won’t be participating in the event — they’re currently making small test batches until their big brewhouse arrives — they can’t wait to get into the mix, which is led by Bloomfield’s Trace Brewing and Cinderlands Foederhouse in Lower Lawrenceville.
In addition to bar seating and cafe tables in the loft, there will be a small, first-floor lounge and a large dining room bathed in natural light from a garage door that opens up to Butler Street. While there is no on-site kitchen, Lolev will partner with local food trucks that can pull directly into the loading bay, giving patrons a chance to grab grub without braving the elements.
Since February, workers have been repairing the building from the ravages of time. Decades worth of plaster and paint have been removed to reveal beautiful brickwork and cathedral ceilings. The original tile floor in the main dining room also has been preserved. Black Cherry Design, a Garfield-based firm, is adding modern touches to the old property and artists from Wicked Pittsburgh will add murals throughout the 90-seat brewery.