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.”