I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but a number of our shows over the years have been about beer. Beer glorious beer. So I guess the secret is out, we like beer. And what we’ve found here in Pittsburgh is a rich environment for the frosty beverage, so let’s talk about some of the great stops that need to be on your Burgh Beer Map.
When you talk about Pittsburgh beer, whether you like it or not, you have to start at the Iron City Brewery. They been in and out of financial trouble over the years, and you should probably never provide them with water because they won’t pay you back, but Iron City beer is Pittsburgh. Of course, the most brilliant marketing ploy was putting our sports teams on their cans. When we were there, at the end of our shoot they left us alone in their Oberbrau house with free beer on tap – I’m surprised we ever left. I highly recommend their Augustiner beer. www.ironcitybrewingcompany.com
A few doors up Liberty Avenue from the brewery sits one of the best micro-brew places in the city, the Church Brew Works. Ok, for an old catholic-school kid like myself, drinking in a beautiful old church riddles me with guilt, but after one, you get over it. The inside is spacious and the beer is tasty, but unfortunately it is so nice that the crowds are getting a little too big. www.churchbrew.com
Another great micro-brew place is Penn Brewery on the North Side. You can always find 4 great beers on tap; Gold, Dark, Pilsner and Weizen. Dave H always gets the Dark, I always get the Pilsner. We’ve been quite fortunate to be celebrity bartenders at the brewery over the past few years for Animal Friends and it’s always one of the highlights of our summer. Here’s an idea; on a warm summer night, head down there and sit in the outside beer garden while sipping your Penn Dark or Penn Pilsner, and don’t forget to order some authentic German food. It’s the best. www.pennbrew.com
On a slightly smaller scale is the East End Brewing Company comprised of one – yes, one – employee named Scott Smith. Scott doesn’t run a brewpub, just a tiny little Point Breeze brewery that churns out delicious beer. But you can’t pop in there anytime you want, you have to time it for the few hours per week that he lets people come in to fill up their growlers. In case you were wondering, growlers are just really big jugs of beer. We like to call it the micro-ist brewery around. www.eastendbrewing.com
If you like Belgian beer, than you have to head to the Sharp Edge in Friendship. (They’ve opened a few other locations that might be nearer to you so check out their website.) You would be hard-pressed to find a bar that has more beers on tap than the Sharp Edge and my favorite thing about it, for each Belgian beer they have on tap, they have a special glass that it is served in. It makes you feel classy. Ok, the beer is a bit pricey so if you’re heading out with plans to drink in volume, you might not want to head here. But if you are adventurous in your beer drinking, make this a priority. www.sharpedgebeer.com
One of our favorite discoveries has been D’s Six Packs & Dogz in Regent Square. The main drew here besides the Chicago dog and the great root beer on tap, is the beer cellar in back. You can buy beer by the bottle, mix and match your own six packs, and they got over 900 different beers to try out. And since they’ve expanded into the building next door, getting a table is more do-able. Since we shot there a number of years ago, a bunch of similar places have sprung up across the region. Someday we hope to visit them all. http://www.regentsquare.net/ds6pax.html
And here is one more location for you to visit but it requires you to hop on I-79 North and driving to Slippery Rock. It’s called North Country Brewing and is run by Bob and Jodi McCafferty. They brew a bunch of their own beers and I would recommend you get the sampler which will give you a small glass of each to see which one is your favorite. I liked the Station 33 Firehouse Red. But their building is even better than the beer. It was constructed in the early 1800’s and the McCafferty’s renovated beginning in 1998. Take a walk around the building to see all the different wood carvings throughout the space. It’s amazing! Their outside beer garden is pretty nice as well. It’s well worth the hour drive north. www.northcountrybrewing.com
So there are a few recommendations for your next beer tour of Pittsburgh. Hopefully soon we’ll make it over to the new Hofbrau Haus at the Southside Works. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
No hops were harmed in any way during the writing of this blog.