Archive: Jim's Beer in Pittsburgh
While Jim Mann created and maintained this site for years, he decided to keep it on the Web as an archive site only. When we first created the site, it was hard to find good beer in Pittsburgh. It no longer is.
However, this site still gets hundreds of visitors every month, so when there's good beer news to share, I (Laurie Mann) told Jim I'm going to do an occasional update to this site. And Jim now is also making occasional updates.
Pennsylvania state stores have gone from horrible to bad over the last 40 years. Small improvement. I think the whole PLCB should be thrown out. If there's one thing that should be privatized, but taxed, is the liquor industry in Pennsylvania. What a mess. Bad selection and so-so prices. The state shouldn't be in the booze business—it should be in the public service business.
This is the only issue with which I agree with the Corbett administration.
1/13: However, given the way that Corbett handled the sale of the lottery, I do not trust him to handle liquor privitization in a fair manner.
2011: It's been interesting that the number of good beer bars in the Pittsburgh area continues to grow even after restaurant smoking ban (yay!-remember the people who said that would ruin the industry?), the drink tax (boo, but ditto) and during a major recession (double boo). Kudos to the Sharp Edge for opening the best beer bar in downtown Pittsburgh (on Penn, near the pretty decent August Henry's). We've also made a few trips into the Southside to visit places like the DoubleWide Grill, Piper's Pub, and Fathead's. We have made one trip out to Rivertowne, in Monroeville, but haven't gotten to the ones closer to Pittsburgh yet. We thought the beer selection at Jerome Bettis' Grille 36 was much better than we would have expected.
When you travel Pennsylvania in search of interesting beer, be sure to bring along Lew Bryson's newly-revised Pennsylvania Breweries, an engaging look at the places in Pennsylvania that are brewing their own beer.
East End continues to supply craft beer locally.
Probably the most welcome addition to the beer scene has been the Steel City Big Pour, a huge beer and food festival held in early September to benefit Construction Junction. Absolutely worth trying to get tickets for it, but it sells out very rapidly. They've shown they understand how to put a beer festival together and make money at it at the same time.
The main failure over the last few years has been of the Penn Brewery. It closed for a while, and re-opened with a so-so menu, so-so beer, and the single worst beer festival we've ever been to. They continue to have problems, which is sad. Penn Brewery is a shell of its former self.
2007: Beer-loving non-smokers finally had a place to go for a drink! While the County Council ditherered over the smoking restaurant/bar smoking ban for years, a bar in North Fayette Township called Bocktown Beer opened. It's completely non-smoking, has a great beer selection and very good food. OK, so it's not quite the Sunset Grill and Tap in Boston, but given Pittsburgh's proclivity to be a little slow to follow national trends (like no smoking in restaurants by law), it's better a great step forward. Every Wednesday evening they have a beer tasting (at which you'll sometimes find Laurie and Jim).
Some of the other beer bars in Pittsburgh have had the good sense to go smoke-free in 2007. These include Piper's Pub and Fat Head's.
Now that Allegheny County has joined most of the rest of America and banned smoking in public restaurants and bars, you can learn about the history of the smokefree movement, or report a bar where people think it's OK to light up, at the Smokefree Dining site.
We also try to go to the Selinsgrove Brewing in Selinsgrove once a year (take Route 15 off of Route 80; it's about four hours east of Pittsburgh). Excellent beer and a select menu of organic appetizers and sandwiches.
In about 1995, when I started the beer in Pittsburgh page, Pittsburgh had one brewpub and few bars that had more than 20 beers or so. Today, we have many more of both. Good beer is easy to find. Moreover, I find that I don't explore looking for beer as much as I used to. I have found a half dozen or so bars I really like, and when I want to go to a bar I generally go to one of them. As a result, the page gets way out of date.
Thus, I'm trimming down the beer in Pittsburgh site. It will no longer try to list all the places that have good beer. Instead, it will just list my favorites, both old and new.
Jim also plans to add periodic tasting notes (though someday he should turn it into a blog, since he wants to hear feedback from others).
Where to Go for ...
- Breathable air and an excellent beer selection: Bocktown Beer
- Beer by the case, sold by people who know beer: Mellinger's Beer Distributors
- Cask conditioned ale: The Sharp Edge, Fat Heads
- A large selection of Belgian beer: The Sharp Edge
- A large selection of US microbrews: Fat Heads, Mad Mex, Kaya
- A large import list: The Sharp Edge, The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern
- Wings and a microbrew: Fat Heads
- Perogies and an import: The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern
- A close-to-English-style pub: Piper's Pub
- Wood oven pizza and a beer: Fuel and Fuddle
- A burger and a beer: Fat Heads, Bocktown Beer
- Yards of Ale: Mario's
- Other good beer distributors: Vecenie's Distributing
- Pub crawls: Pittsburgh Pub Crawl International
- Amusing/informative beer-related Web sites: Beertown, Association of Brewers and Sam Adams' World Beer Styles and Family Tree.
- Post Gazette Beer News
- Iron City
- The Church Brew Works
- Penn Brewery [on life support]
- The Foundry [Deceased]
- Valhalla [Deceased]
- Three Rivers Brewing [Deceased]
- John Harvard's Brew House [Deceased]
Great Lakes Brewing, creators of such award winning beers as Burning River Pale Ale and Edmund Fitzgeral Porter, is finally coming to the Pittsburgh area. The beers are brewed in Cleveland and are some of the best beers in the US. They are available at Mellinger's and a few other fine distributors. Bocktown Beer recently had a Great Lakes beer tasting, including their wonderful Blackout Stout (a very good imperial stout).