Pennsylvania Libations Expands with New Wine Shop and Helltown Brewing Taproom
Pennsylvania Libations’ has combined retail and an on-premise location—1700 Penn—into a first-of-its-kind offering in Pennsylvania.
Inside the space—named for its address at 1700 Penn Ave in Pittsburgh’s Strip District—customers can experience a boutique wine bottle shop, a tap house featuring dozens of selections from local Helltown Brewing and a full-service bar offering pours and cocktails featuring Pennsylvania’s finest Craft Spirits.
Pennsylvania Libations Founder Christian Simmons is dedicated to preserving and promoting Pennsylvania beer, wine, spirits and specialty beverages.
The 6,000-square-foot building is located conveniently across the street from Wholey’s Fish Market. It contains a 2,000-square-foot Pennsylvania Libations Wine Store and a 2,000-square-foot Helltown Brewing taproom. Mirroring the spirit store, every product at 1700 Penn is Pennsylvania-made.
The partnership with Helltown—the Mount Pleasant-based brewery—just “made sense” to Simmons, who comes from a brewery background.
“They make great beer [and] have very high production. And, they’re close to home,” Simmons said. “Helltown can do pretty much whatever they want, but this opportunity in the Strip District provides an opportunity that not many places could.”
The bottle shop’s dedicated staff, which includes sommeliers and experts trained directly by the wine producers, allows customers to ‘try before you buy,’ walking through guided tastings that pair perfectly with each person’s palate. Across the building in the tasting room and bar, customers can enjoy a multi-tap system filled with Helltown and other local brews, take home growlers and canned selections from the cooler, enjoy custom cocktails and pours of Pennsylvania’s best local spirits and enjoy fresh made food from the kitchen staff.
Alcohol may be the center of Simmons’ two shops, but the Latrobe-native believes his businesses can be an opportunity for education. He’d rather call his bartenders “educators” and all staff members are expected to know the ins and outs of every spirit, wine, and beer sold at either store or in the taproom. It’s what Simmons calls the “Walt Disney effect” where every employee should be able to work any position.
“When someone comes in and they get a cocktail or a beer at Helltown’s taproom, they’ll be able to ask questions about what they’re drinking—learn about the distillery, about the winery—and that’s the whole factor: educating people so they take something home with them,” Simmons said.
The outdoor space features a beer garden, which locals have come to enjoy as the popularity of outdoor dining has blossomed in recent years. The PA Libations team turned an underutilized parking lot into an outdoor, tailgate-style ‘biergarten,’ with Helltown beer and wine available for takeaway and on-site consumption.