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History Professor Helps Make Mexi Casa a Craft Beer Hotspot

Ali Wyrostek has worked to bring some new and unique brands into the Dormont restaurant that are tough to find elsewhere.

By day, she’s a history professor at Westmoreland County Community College. By night, Ali Wyrostek is crafting Dormont’s Mexi Casa into a hot spot for specialty beers, local brews and rare brands.

“I would have meetings with [representatives] from brewing companies and they would ask where the craft beer places are around Dormont and Mt. Lebanon,” Wyrostek said. “We thought, there really aren’t that many. We could make a name here.”

Wyrostek has enjoyed craft beer from the start. She earned both her bachelors and masters degrees from Slippery Rock University, and said she never settled for the cheap stuff in a college town that boasted microbreweries close to campus. 

She’s worked for Mexi Casa on-and-off for eight years, and took over ordering for the restaurant’s bar about a year ago. Since then, she’s worked to amp up the beer selection and get unique brands into the restaurant that aren’t available elsewhere in the South Hills.

“In the past six months we’ve been really hitting it hard with limited and craft beers,” she said. “We’re working with distributing company that carries only craft, so we have some limited release beers.”

Mexi Casa already boasts a collection of pilsners, porters and IPAs, as well as Mexican imports, but the list is always growing.

It recently featured Anderson Valley Amber & Stout, Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale, and Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Oatmeal Stout, as well as Dogfish Head varieties, which are available at other local restaurants. Special selections are often posted on the Mexi Casa Facebook page.

The restaurant also has paired with one company to sell Weyerbacher Last Chance IPA, and the proceeds of those sales benefit the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. Wyrostek said she’s always on the lookout for companies that offer similar fundraising options.

For those who aren’t so sure about trying something with a new label, Mexi Casa also has a full selection of basic barroom classics. And of course, there’s more on the way.

“We only have five taps right now, but we’re looking to add more. Four of those five are always craft brewed,” Wyrostek said. “We’re probably going to start to do a lot more beer pairings, where we work with the menu to show what beers work best.”

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Jenny January 29, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Mad mex carries all of those craft beers and more with more taps. Not impressed with mexi casa. And if you don't know where to get craft beer in this area... Then you're not looking very hard.
Jani January 29, 2013 at 05:24 PM
My comment ,not so negative.I do like MexiCasa,the food,beer selection,and most definitely,the margarita's.Nice to have a local business that can give us all that,and,you can walk to and from.I like to support local,nothing wrong with the chain restaurants,locals is just my preference. Cheers!
Jenny January 29, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Mad mex is local! Just because the big burrito corp is successful enough to open multiple locations and other restaurants doesn't make them a chain. The owners are all from and live in Pittsburgh. Mad mex is a local restaurants success story.
John Spoon January 29, 2013 at 07:00 PM
A "chain" restaurant is a business with 10 different locations so yes, Mad Mex is a chain.
John Spoon January 29, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Mad Mex has more taps but Mexi Casa has more bottles. Dormont has 2 places to buy good beer at, Cains and Mexi Casa. I give Ali credit for not sticking to the maco mexican beers people tend to ask for and went out to offer great beers with their foods. Plus I've found the prices at Mexi to be lower than most and you cant beat the special taps when they're on. Plus Mexi was one of the only places to find The Perfect Crime which was incredibly rare in Pgh. Ali keep up the great work!
ed January 29, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Myself and many other locals appreciate the effort that is being made. As a result of this story a few of my immediate neighbors are planning a get together there this Thursday to sample a few.
Caleb January 29, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Well since there is not a Mad Mex in the Dormont, Brookline or Beechview I am not even sure why that was bought up. I think it's great that they are trying to offer a bigger craft beer selection. I hope some other places follow.
T&B T January 29, 2013 at 09:12 PM
Any time my wife and I ate at Mexi Casa it was delicious!
Scott Jackson January 29, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Mad Mex may be local, but it's a chain and run like a corporate restaurant. Their menu hasn't changed much since I went to their original Oakland location many years ago and every location is basically exactly the same, doesn't matter what strip mall it's in. I choose local, private ownership over corporate restaurants every day. It's great for us, Jenny, to have two successful Mexican restaurants that serve good beer. I will choose Mexi-Casa every day of the week.
Ed M January 29, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Mad Mex might have their corporate office in Pittsburgh but the are a chain and not just in Pittsburgh. I've been there. Wasn't impressed. The food was so-so. The atmosphere was so-so. The only thing good was the beer list. Theo does a great job at Mexi-Casa. It's nice to hear they are expanding their beer selection. Mexi-Casa will continue to get my business.
Dr. V. Cain January 29, 2013 at 11:44 PM
I think this is a great article on Mexi-Casa. They have always had a decent beer selection, but it's been substantially enhanced by the craft brew additions. Keep up the good work Ali and Co. Now, howabout a beer club card that rewards drinking several types of craft beers???
DSA January 30, 2013 at 04:55 PM
mad mex stinks. too loud, dirty and most of the food tastes the same after they add their spices. its typical chain restaurant food that lacks any type of homemade taste. btw the tortilla soup at mexi casa is fantastic.
erika January 30, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Great to hear! Mad Mex, whether technically a "chain" or not, feels like a chain to me. Although I do think it is ok, I would love to try the local Mexi-Casa and will make sure to do so in the near future.

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