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Pittsburghers Cashing In On Booming Craft Beer Business

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The craft beer business is growing in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board says currently there are over 220 breweries in the state, up from 154 in 2013.

In Allegheny County alone, there are 19 breweries and that number continues to grow.

CoStar Brewing is currently set up in a home garage in Highland Park. The owners spend most of the day every Saturday brewing, while maintaining their full time Monday through Friday jobs. They see the demand for craft beer and are hoping to expand.

"We hit our limit in growth in a two-car garage," said Dominic Cincotta, co-owner of CoStar. "We actually don't make a single dollar here. Everything we make goes right back into the brewery. So this really more of a work of passion."

But there is a profit to be made if you have the right space and big equipment, said Andrew Witchey who is in the process of opening Dancing Gnome Brewing in Sharpsburg.

"The more you make, the more you have to sell, the more you have to distribute, the more profitable you're going to be," said Witchey. He's so confident in the industry's success, that he quit his job to focus full time on the brewery.

KDKA's Heather Abraham asked Witchey, "Explain to me how you go from home brewing, to quitting your corporate job with benefits and 401K, to opening your own brewery."

Witchey said, "It's really scary but it's very fun."

Asa Foster, co-owner of Brew Gentlemen in Braddock, said they were in college when they decided to open a brewery. Despite being off the beaten path, business is doing great.

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"The rising tide has floated all boats," said Foster, who added that breweries have become a destination for people seeking something new, original and local. "Breweries right now are doing very well."

According to the Brewers Association, craft breweries in Pennsylvania generated over $4.4 billion in 2015 and ranks number one in output, with over four million barrels of craft beer produced last year.

Foster says the market isn't even close to reaching the saturation point.

"We definitely have much more room for growth. We're not anywhere near the breweries per capita we had before prohibition," he said.

With so much demand for craft beer, others are finding a way to capitalize on it as well.

Independent Brewing in Squirrel Hill is fully devoted to only serving local, craft beer.

"It was clear that the supply was there, that there were enough good craft breweries in Western Pennsylvania that we could do this and we could source beer," said Peter Kurzweg of Independent Brewing.

Kurzweg hopes to see more businesses selling local.

"We want to get to a place where every neighborhood has a brewery," Kurzweg said. "The enemy to me is not more craft breweries, it's not more craft beer bars. Its bad beer."

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