Get Buzzy with the Best Pittsburgh Breweries and Brewery Tours - Pittsburgh Article
Get Buzzy with the Best Pittsburgh Breweries and Brewery Tours
Pittsburgh’s got a lot of factors to thank for its ongoing rejuvenation: A growing tech sector, hip neighborhoods, world-class arts and sports. But don’t forget the more, er, liquid catalyst of... Beer.
by Justin Glanville
While residents still love their Iron City Beer, an easy-going lager that’s been brewed in greater Pittsburgh for 150 years, they now have dozens of other local choices as well. These days, visitors can sample beers brewed in a decommissioned Catholic church, a former metals-treatment factory and a one-time tea shop. Doesn’t get much more Pittsburgh than that!
Here’s what you’ll find as you search out suds among Pittsburgh’s famously steep hills and valleys.
Pittsburgh Brewery Tours / Breweries by (foo)T
For those who want to sample Pittsburgh’s brew scene without having to worry about driving, you’re in luck: You can easily stay downtown and visit three breweries via the city’s convenient metro train, known as the “T.” Start your afternoon by taking the Red Line train south to the Mt. Lebanon stop, where you can pop into Hitchhiker Brewing Company. Then head back north to the North Shore stop to visit Rivertowne North Shore, maybe visiting PNC Park or Heinz Field along the way. End by walking a mile and a half past the famous Pittsburgh Children’s Museum to Penn Brewery to enjoy dinner and more beer. Cab back to your hotel for a peaceful night’s sleep!
Or, check out PA Brew Tours, which runs a Pittsburgh Brewery Tour that hits Penn Brewery, Church Brew Works and East End Brewing Company.
Best Pittsburgh Breweries
Founded in 1986, Penn is the grandfather of Pittsburgh’s craft breweries. It sprawls across several restored 19th century brewery buildings built by the Germans who originally settled the city. In honor of that heritage, Penn specializes in German-style brews, including its flagship Penn Pilsner. When the weather’s warm, head out to the cobblestone biergarten to sample the brewery’s “Euro-Pittsburgh” menu (think pierogi, wurst and goulash).
This hot spot in the South Side Works development near bustling Carson Street perches right on the bank of the Monongahela River. When the weather’s fine, you can sit on a large outdoor patio offering views of the river and downtown. When it’s not, hang out in the cozy, family-friendly restaurant, where you’ll
find live accordion music and German-inspired entrees and beer brewed on premises.
Founded just a decade ago, East End has quickly established itself as a Pittsburgh juggernaut. It makes 28 varieties of beer, a rotating cast of which are available by the pint or growler (no food, so eat first!) out of its gigantic warehouse brewing facility. Try its flagship brew, Big Hop IPA, as you hang out at the reclaimed wood bar. The company cultivates an active, environmentally conscious ethos, sponsoring yoga events and bike rides for local charities. Check their website to see if you happen to be in town for an event.
A relative newcomer to the local brewing scene, Roundabout is another beer-only facility, selling pints and growlers out of its tasting room Wednesday through Sunday. Its two cofounders are from Michigan and New Zealand, so the beers range from the German-style schwarz Black Possum to the New Zealand-inspired Ginga Wheat, made with wheat, honey and ginger. The building’s had a history that mirrors that of Pittsburgh itself, hosting a metals-treatment factory, an ironwork studio and a granite-and-marble countertops maker before becoming a brewery.
Just down Butler Street from Roundabout, this new brewery (opened 2013) emphasizes just what its name implies: beer made with fresh hops that its husband-and-wife founders grow at their home farm. When you stop in for a pint or growler of Kulak, a Russian imperial stout, or the flagship Hop Farm IPA, be sure also to admire the cherry-and-locust bar that the owners made themselves. A small kitchen serves up locally-made sausage sandwiches.
Pronounced “Huffs,” this brewpub in the Greenfield neighborhood is truly a family operation, founded in 2008 by Barb and Johnny Hough and their three children. The bar features 61 rotating taps, of which a few are from the next-door brew-on-premises shop Copper Kettle Brewing Company. Since you’ll likely be feeling overwhelmed by choice, take advantage of the bar’s five-ounce pours as you snack on offerings from the full pub menu.
This is the downtown Pittsburgh outpost of Rivertowne Brewing Company, which produces 18 craft beers at its brewery just outside the city. It’s located smack in between Heinz Field (home of the Steelers) and PNC Park (home of the Pirates), making it the perfect stop before or after a game. Try a draft of the Old Wylie IPA or the wildly popular Hala-Kahiki Pineapple Beer.
Tucked into a former tea shop in the bohemian streetcar suburb of Mt. Lebanon, Hithchhiker is perhaps the city’s most unassuming brewery, with a vibe that’s more coffee-shop than brewpub. But that doesn’t
mean its beers are lightweight: Its flagship Cobblestone German kolsch is a stunner, and the Roadie IPA packs a pleasing tang.
Church Brew Works
Stepping in to Church Brew Works, you could be forgiven for feeling a bit naughty. All around you are reminders that you’re in a repurposed Catholic Church: Stained glass windows featuring Madonna and child, booths made out of old pews. But take one sip of the delicious Pious Monk Dunkel and all is forgiven. Brew Works’ fresh, locally sourced food is no slouch either, including a delicious tomato salad with housemade ricotta.