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Authors: Joyce Tremel

To Brew or Not to Brew

BOOK: To Brew or Not to Brew
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Praise for

To Brew or Not to Brew

“Joyce Tremel's debut novel is cleverly developed, infused with fascinating details of craft brewing plus the very real flavor of Pittsburgh, and distilled into a unique and charming mystery. A delicious blend of strong characters and smooth delivery,
To Brew or Not to Brew
is sure to appeal to mystery readers and beer aficionados alike.”

—Jennie Bentley,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Do-It-Yourself Mysteries

“A heartwarming blend of suds and suspense, featuring a determined heroine and her big Irish family. Tremel knows and loves her Pittsburgh setting, making the mystery all the more real and enjoyable.”

—Cleo Coyle,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014


A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2015 by Joyce Tremel.

Excerpt from
Tangled Up in a Brew
by Joyce Tremel copyright © 2015 by Joyce Tremel.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME design are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

For more information, visit

eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-18174-8


Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / December 2015

Cover illustration by Bruce Emmett.

Cover design by Jason Gill.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.


To my wonderful husband, Jerry.
I couldn't have done this without you. I love you forever!


This book would never have been written without the help and input from so many people. I am forever grateful!

First, I want to thank my wonderful agent, Myrsini Stephanides, at the Carol Mann Literary Agency. I'm forever grateful she doesn't seem to mind my sometimes dumb questions. I'd also like to thank her predecessor, Eliza Dreier, who took me on in the first place. Thanks also to my editor, Kristine Swartz, and former editor Andie Avila for taking a chance that someone might like some beer with their cozy.

Speaking of beer, there are two local brewers whose help has been invaluable: Scott Smith at East End Brewing and Shawn Setzenfand at Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh. Back when I was writing the proposal for this book, Scott showed me all the good places to kill someone in a brewery. He is also quick to answer when I have brewing questions. His beer is really tasty, too. Shawn is the head brewer at the Hofbrauhaus and he gave my husband and me a tour of the brewing operation there and answered a lot of questions. Their monthly keg tapping ceremony is a must if you're ever in the area. It would take me years to learn all there is to know about brewing beer. Any mistakes I've made in the book are entirely my fault. Don't blame the brewers!

Great big hugs to my pals in the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime and my former critique group, The Mysterywrights. I would list you all by name, but I'm sure I'd inadvertently miss someone. Just know that I truly appreciate your support and I don't know where I'd be without you. Yinz guys are the best.

Last, but definitely not least, thank you to my husband, Jerry, and our sons, Andrew (and his beautiful wife Anna) and Josh. I love you guys! Prost!


Anyone familiar with Pittsburgh will recognize some of the neighborhoods in this book. While Lawrenceville and Butler Street are real locations, the block where Max's brewpub is located is purely a figment of my imagination. You won't find the Allegheny Brew House, Cupcakes N'at, Jump Jive & Java, or any of the other businesses along the real Butler Street. I tried to pick everything that is wonderful about Lawrenceville and squeeze it all into Max's neighborhood. I hope I succeeded.

The Steel City Brewery mentioned in the book is also fictional. The name does bear a resemblance to the Iron City Brewing Company, but that's where the similarity mostly ends. I borrowed a tiny bit of their history, but they never smuggled and sold bootleg beer during Prohibition. But they did make ice cream. The rest I made up.

Thanks for reading!


f looks could kill, the plumbing inspector giving me the bad news would have been in big trouble. “What do you mean there's a crack in the water line?” I said. “That's just not possible.”

“Right here.” He pointed. “You're going to have to replace this whole piece.”

Sure enough, there was a one-inch gash in the line running to the brand-new stainless steel brew kettle, which we'd just installed a few days ago. I was hoping to brew a batch of pale ale tomorrow, but that was now out of the question.

The inspector brought me back down to earth. “You'll have to schedule another inspection after you get this taken care of.”

This should have been the final plumbing inspection. The brew kettle we'd been using had been a hand-me-down from
a local brewery that had upgraded their equipment. I hadn't planned on a new brewing tank for another year, but this one had come up at a price I couldn't pass up. Everything else, from the kitchen to the restrooms to the tanks we'd installed previously, had all passed weeks ago. I couldn't afford a delay right now. The opening of my brewpub—the Allegheny Brew House—was only a month away.

“When I call to schedule it, how long will I have to wait until you come out?”

He shrugged. “I'll try to get out the same day, but it really depends on how busy I am.”

That eased my mind a little bit—provided I could get the plumber in tomorrow to fix it.

The inspector passed a clipboard to me. “I need your signature that you acknowledge that you didn't pass.”

I signed where he indicated.

He studied my John Hancock. “You don't look like a Max.”

I'd heard that so many times, I'd lost count. I couldn't help it that I was born the only girl in my family. I had five older brothers and my parents assumed they'd have another boy when I surprised them twenty-nine years ago. My brothers all had normal first names—Sean, Patrick, Joseph, James, and Michael. I had no idea why they decided Maximilian would be a good name for a baby. It wasn't even Irish. Anyway, I ended up Maxine, but I preferred plain old Max.

“I'd get that fixed first thing tomorrow if I were you, Miss O'Hara.”

As I watched him leave, I fought the urge to beat my head against the steel tank. All I could see were more dollar signs before my eyes. Although my plumber happened to be my
brother Michael, he still needed to be paid. I got the family discount, but it was still money I hadn't planned on. Now I was second-guessing my decision to buy this tank.

“Another problem?”

I started at the sound of my assistant's voice behind me. Truth be told, Kurt Schmidt was more than an assistant. I didn't know where I'd have been without him. The son of one of my instructors in Munich, he knew just about all there was to know about brewing beer. He was also an accomplished chef who made the best apple strudel I'd ever tasted. He was easy on the eyes, too—tall, blond, and blue-eyed. There was no romance between us. He was more like my sixth brother, and he was completely devoted to his fiancée back in Germany. “I'd say so,” I answered. “There's a crack in the water line.” I showed it to him.

“That's very strange. It wasn't there yesterday,” he said. “It should not have split like that. It is not a high-pressure line.” He removed his wire-rimmed glasses and examined it closely. “Someone cut this.”

“Impossible. No one's been near these tanks except the two of us. It was probably just defective.”

“Do you really think Mike would have used a defective pipe?”

“Maybe he didn't see it.” At this point, I was just relieved it wasn't a line that was turned on all the time. It might have flooded the whole pub.

“You don't think that any more than I do.”

“There's no other explanation. Like I said, we're the only ones who have been near it.”

Kurt put his glasses back on. “I suppose you still don't believe the loose electric breaker, the broken mirror, the
scratched bar top, and the half dozen other little things aren't connected. I'm telling you, someone is trying to keep us from opening.”

This wasn't the first time I'd heard this line of reasoning. Sure there'd been some minor annoyances, but they'd been bound to happen. Even during construction, things hadn't always gone according to plan. It went with the territory. There were always surprises. “You're right,” I said. “I don't believe it.” I turned and went down the metal stairs of the elevated platform that served to reach the higher sections of the tanks. I'd considered installing all the equipment out of sight, but decided half the fun of going to a brewpub was seeing how what you were drinking was made. I wanted a wall of glass, but because of the cost, I'd opted for a large window instead. Eventually, I planned to give brewery tours, but that was a long way off.

I went through the swinging wooden door of the brewery area, crossed the pine-plank floor, and sat down at the oak bar. I couldn't let myself believe we were being sabotaged. If I did, I'd be giving in to all those who said I'd never succeed in this endeavor. The first time I set eyes on the former Steel City Brewery, I knew it was what I'd been waiting for. When I returned to Pittsburgh from Germany after earning my brewmaster certification, I spent months searching for the perfect spot to open my brewpub. It had taken even longer to get financing, even though I had a nice inheritance from my grandmother for a down payment. No one wanted to take a chance on a five-foot-two female brewmaster. I finally found a lender that specialized in financing women entrepreneurs, and the rest, as they say, is history. At least I hoped so.

Seconds later, Kurt took the stool beside me. “It is not a coincidence.”

“You don't know that,” I said.

“Explain it, then.”

“I can't any more than you can. Don't you think if someone was sabotaging us, they'd come up with something a little more elaborate? It's been annoying, but it's all fixable. And how are they getting in? None of the doors have been tampered with.”

“That doesn't mean anything. Maybe whoever it is has a second career picking locks. At least the alarm company is finishing up soon. Then, when the alarm is set off, you'll see that I'm right.” Kurt stood. “It's almost five o'clock. Why don't you go home? I'll lock up tonight. I want to work on that

“But it's delicious already.” My mouth watered just thinking about it.

Kurt shook his head. “Not quite. It tastes like every other chocolate cherry cake. It's missing something. I want it to be perfect.”

If it turned out half as good as the apple strudel, he could do whatever he wanted with it. The kitchen was his domain. I'd stick with the beer.

I took Kurt's advice for a change and left a short time later—after I called Mike, who promised to be there bright and early in the morning. Once outside, I turned to admire the building, like I did at least once daily. Sometimes I had to pinch myself to realize that all this really was mine. It was hard to believe that, not long ago, this had been an empty, forlorn shell. The former Steel City Brewery had been bought out by a large conglomerate, and the first thing
the big boys did was shut down the Pittsburgh operation. All the equipment was auctioned off, and the buildings had sat empty for several years before the brewing plant itself had burned to the ground.

The single-story redbrick building, which was now the Allegheny Brew House, had been used as offices for the company. It was at the end of the row of buildings housing various shops and other businesses. It had taken quite a while to tear out everything down to the brick walls. I hoped my patrons would love the exposed brick inside as much as I did. A nice find had been pine-plank floors underneath the industrial linoleum. It had been much cheaper to have them restored than to install new boards.

Both the brewery and my loft apartment were in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. Since Children's Hospital had moved from near the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland to the Bloomfield-Lawrenceville border, the area was booming. It was no longer considered a “bad” neighborhood. Real estate values had skyrocketed, partly because of the medical professionals wanting to move close to work. Developers who bought up all the distressed properties and rehabbed them were likely making a killing on the resale. New shops and cafés opened constantly. It seemed like every time I walked up Butler Street to head home, I spotted something that hadn't been there the week before. On my block alone, there was a cupcake bakery, a flower shop, several boutiques, a deli, and a coffee shop.

I was tempted to stop for a treat when I passed the Cupcakes N'at bakery next door to the pub, but talked myself out of it. Out of towners always questioned the name of the bakery. The cupcake part they got, but inevitably someone
wanted to know what
meant. I actually looked it up once and found it was short for
and all that
. Many of the expressions known as “Pittsburghese” originated with either the Scots-Irish or the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The owner, baker extraordinaire Candy Sczypinski, had become a good friend and apparently thought she was helping when she brought her creations over for us to sample, but my waistline couldn't handle much more. Between the cupcakes and other goodies, and sampling the menu items Kurt was coming up with, I was going to have to start walking more than just to the brewery and back. I considered joining the new gym a few blocks away, but I didn't know when I'd actually have the time to go.

Instead of a cupcake, I grabbed a turkey sandwich from the deli across the street. The deli was owned by Ken Butterfield, who manned the counter most days, but since it was after five, he was gone for the day. As I climbed the two flights of stairs to my apartment with my low-calorie sandwich in hand, I felt downright virtuous. That feeling was replaced with guilt when I unlocked the door. I'd moved here three months ago, but the place was still littered with boxes that I hadn't had time to unpack. I kept telling myself I'd get to them tomorrow, but after putting in twelve-hour days at the pub, I was too exhausted to do much of anything else.

But at least I had furniture. Sort of. Grandma O'Hara's traditional wingback sofa and chairs didn't exactly go with the modern style of the apartment. The dark mahogany end tables didn't match the bleached-oak laminate flooring. Gram's antique dining room set didn't even fit—it was stored in my parents' basement. It would have looked ghastly with the white cabinets and stainless steel in the
kitchen anyway. She always said
Beggars can't be choosers
, and while I certainly wasn't a beggar, I was glad to have the hand-me-downs whether they matched or not. Besides, it was comforting to have a little part of her with me. I'd been in Germany when she passed two years ago, and I still regretted that I hadn't made it home for her funeral, although Gram herself would have been upset with me if I had. A waste of good money, she would have said. She'd never squandered so much as a dime. It was thanks to her that I'd had a nice down payment for the brewery.

When I finished eating my sandwich, I sat at the kitchen island and wondered what to do with myself. I wasn't used to this. I reached for the pen and pad beside the phone and made a list of things I had to do over the next week. The plumber was already taken care of. I had to schedule some waitstaff interviews. The alarm company needed to finish and activate the alarm. Kurt had already started training the kitchen staff, so I should probably touch base with how that was going. There were other miscellaneous deliveries that I needed to be present for. I hoped I wasn't forgetting anything.

The phone rang just then, and I picked it up.

“Wonder of wonders, my baby sister is at home.” It was my oldest brother, Sean. Father Sean to his parishioners. Some people thought he had gone into the priesthood because he was the oldest Irish Catholic son, but it was truly a calling for him. He'd broken more than a few hearts when he decided on the seminary. We'd both inherited Mom's black hair and blue eyes, and they gave him a debonair movie-star look, especially when he wore the collar. If Hollywood ever remade
The Bells of St. Mary's
, he'd be a shoo-in to play Father O'Malley. Twelve years my senior,
he was my favorite brother, although I'd never tell the others that. A little sister had been a novelty to him, and he became my protector from the day Mom and Dad brought me home from the hospital.

“You can always call my cell phone if I'm not at home, you know.”

“I missed you at Mass yesterday,” he said.

He obviously couldn't see me, but I felt my face flush anyway. I would have liked to tell him I went to another parish, but I couldn't very well lie to a priest, even if he was my brother. “Sorry about that. I got tied up at the brewery.”

“You're working too hard. We missed you at dinner, too.”

BOOK: To Brew or Not to Brew
7.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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