Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Beer in Pittsburgh

Back in about 1994 (or maybe it was 1995), my husband Jim started to note where to get decent beer in Pittsburgh in a site called Jim's Beer in Pittsburgh. Believe me, if you didn't like to drink crap national brands in a restaurant, you didn't have many choices in those days, beyond one variety of Sam Adams, or maybe Yuengling. Luckily, friends introduced us to the Sharp Edge and Fat Heads so we felt like we had some selection. Jim and I maintained the site for a long time, but as good beer got easier to find, we didn't update it so much. But, it's been up, and despite its lack of updates, it gets about 700 visitors a month.

To be honest, I hadn't really looked at the site in a couple of years.

So, today, I got a note from a person at a bar I'd been to and liked in the last year. I went back and made some site updates. I'll share them with you here, but I liked to go back to the mostly archival Beer in Pittsburgh site and see a little bit about the way things were.

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 updated 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 in 2010. They continue to have problems, which is sad. Penn Brewery is a shell of its former self.

Oh, and while I know this is a religious argument to some, I tried and hated-hated-hated Harris Bar's bacon night. Sorry. Bad bacon, bad atmosphere, what's the point?

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