Aldredge ‘taps’ into historical building to create new brewery in Pittsburg

Just like the building he and his family now own, Byron Aldredge shares a particularly unique history with the town of Pittsburg.
His great grandfather five times removed, S.P. (Samuel Pierce) Aldredge, donated 200 acres of land, back in the mid 1850s, to Pittsburg pioneer W.H. “Major” Pitt and other settlers. Now, nearly two centuries later, Aldredge, along with his wife Kristin and children, recently returned to the same town to put a new spin on a place where the Pilgrims first made their mark.
Known for years in Pittsburg as the Farmer’s Feed and Seed Store, the building has now been transformed into the town’s newest pub, Anvil Brewery. While the locals will probably continue to call it by its former name, the new name has special meaning to the new owners.
“We named it Anvil Brewery because the anvil is the greatest tool every created by mankind,” Aldredge said. “The anvil, despite being beaten, withstands the opposition and comes out stronger than even before every time. That’s what I want this business to stand for and we take pride in the history of this building. ”
With parts of the building dating back to the late 1890s, the location was once owned by local businessman Walter Weems before he sold it for $3,500 to Aubrey Pilgrim and his business partner at the time, Pat Johns. The year was 1946 and the rest is, as they say, history.
Following the sudden death of his brother, Aubrey, in 1966, younger brother Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim took over the feed store business and later created Pilgrim’s Corporation. The building has basically remained vacant since the early 1960s once Pilgrim’s Pride really hit its stride and moved to another location.
“The Pilgrim family was a most gracious group of people to work with,” Aldredge explained. “They were happy to sell it to us because they knew that the building would get new life.”
The building definitely has new life. Almost a year in the making, Aldredge has done all of the renovations himself with some help from a few others. Quite expansive, the former feed store is some 6,000 square feet in size. Eventually, the family plans to convert a portion of the building into a dance and event center. With tons of possibilities, the Aldredges decided to simply start small.
“It just made sense to get it to the point where it is now and then work on the other parts later,” Aldredge said.
A self-described serial entrepreneur, Aldredge and his family, which also include five children, have owned businesses throughout East Texas for most of his life. Most recently, the couple owned an establishment in Jefferson. But less than two years ago, Aldredge pulled up his stakes and decided to head west, 50 miles to be exact, in search of new adventures.
“Pittsburg is ideal for creating something like this,” he said. “I knew what opportunities this town had,” he said. “For one, Pittsburg has some of the best water in this country. I just saw a need for this town to have its own brewery. It already has such a unique history.“
To help offset extensive renovation costs, the Aldredges received a financial “shot in the arm,” when last October, the City provided an economic development incentive worth $20,000 in its first ever Pittsburg Innovative Entrepreneur, or PIE, contest.
“The City Council has been great to work with,”Aldredge said. “We’ve had some setbacks along the way, but, hey, who said this was going to be easy? Nothing worth having is easy and nothing easy is really worth having.”
And easy it has not been. Originally planned as just a brewery, the Aldredges discovered well into the project that, because of a local ordinance, they would have to also add food items to the offerings. And imagine the condition of a building that’s basically been sitting vacant for decades.
“That really didn’t scare me,” explained Aldredge, a former Department of Public Safety state trooper. “Sure, I knew it would mean lots of work, but I was motivated by what I knew it could become.”
What it has become is a weekend spot to hang out after a long work week. Open Fridays and Saturdays from 3-11 p.m., the brewery features the handiwork of brewmaster Ryne Harrel. Anvil Brewery, located at 115 Compress Street just off the downtown square in Pittsburg, also makes its own sodas and offers live entertainment from time to time. The next Open Mic Night is scheduled for Aug. 26. The owners held a soft launch July 4 and have plans to make things official with a grand opening celebration during Pioneer Days festivities Sept. 13-16.
“For some time now, we’ve become a society that relies on whatever we can get on the store shelf,” he explained. “But that’s not how our ancestors, the pioneers of this community, approached things. Just as the gardener grew whatever his family ate, there was someone in the town who made the beer for the locals. We have the opportunity, with this brewery, to become less reliant on others to supply what we can supply ourselves.”
“We are carrying on the pioneering spirit of our ancestors . I think, well I hope, they would be proud.”
We’re pretty sure they would.