Destination Drinking: Pittsburgh

Written by on October 22, 2013 in Beer, Destination Drinking - 3 Comments

Since I grew up an hour outside of Pittsburgh, and currently live less than three hours from Pittsburgh, it’s kind of weird that I have never really spent time in Pittsburgh. So when the folks from Visit Pittsburgh invited me to, well, visit Pittsburgh, I was delighted for the opportunity.

Here are some of the boozy highlights:

Church Brew Works

church brew worksChurch Brew Works is one of the coolest breweries you can visit because it is housed in a church, which makes it deliciously blasphemous! The massive venue sits in a restored Roman Catholic church, formerly St. John the Baptist Church. We weren’t quite as impressed with their beers as we were with their space – the Thunder Hop IPA and Hoptoberfest get a solid “OK.” Still, a place worth visiting just to see the space.

Meat and Potatoes

meat and potatoesHoly hell I loved this place. The 45 minute wait for brunch was worth every second – but for the future, note that reservations are pretty much required, even in the morning. They have an impressive bloody mary bar any drunk bruncher will drool over, with more ingredients than I could identify and several house-infused vodkas to choose from like bacon and black pepper. I ate an amazing chicken and waffle dish, with a cheddar jalapeno waffle topped with bourbon bacon syrup and practically a whole damn chicken on top.

Rivertowne Brewing

rivertowneThere are four Rivertowne restaurants located around the Pittsburgh area, serving brew from Rivertowne’s brewery. We visited the North Shore location so we could relax on the patio overlooking the river and gaze at the giant Rubber Duck (did you know there was a giant rubber duck in Pittsburgh?) and enjoy a pint. Rivertowne has six of their own brews on tap with a handful of other craft drafts.

Sharp Edge

sharp edgeIf you’re into Belgian beer, Sharp Edge is a must visit, and there are five of them located around PA. We visited the Bistro on Penn, conveniently located across the street from our hotel (Courtyard by Marriott Pittsburgh Downtown). The bar staff was extremely knowledgeable about their Belgian brews, and made it way too easy to spend way too much money on way too much beer way to quickly, including their delicious house Belgian IPA, Over The Edge. I was impressed that every single beer had its own special glassware.

Piper’s Pub

pipers pubA 100% authentic pub, I definitely recommend Piper’s for brunch. They have traditional fare like a boxty, a giant crispy potato pancake stuffed with all kinds of goodies. They also serve cask ale which is pretty hard to find and extra delicious to drink, so I enjoyed a delicious pint of the locally-brewed East End Big Hop Harvest Ale. In true pub fashion, they show football (read: soccer) on the telly. I bet they say telly. As a bonus, Piper’s is right across the street from our final stop on the trip…

Fat Heads Brewery

fat headsWe may have a Fat Heads in Northeast Ohio, but Pittsburgh’s South Side is home to the original Fat Heads, (which is now in the process of launching a third location in Portland.) If you haven’t had Head Hunter, one of the top rated IPAs in the country, or any of Fat Heads other brews (many of which are award-winning), you are missing out. We enjoyed a pint of their seasonal Wet Hopped Pale Ale on the cozy enclosed patio before heading back to Columbus. Next trip I will leave more time for more Fat Heads, because yum.

More to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done

What, you don’t quote The Lion King in YOUR articles? These are a few of the places we didn’t get a chance to visit:

  • Full Pint Brewing: This brewery is a little bit outside of the city, but during the welcome reception put on by Visit Pittsburgh I got to try several of their brews, including my favorite, Chinookie IPA.
  • Penn Brewery: Pittsburgh’s oldest and largest brewery, I neither got to visit not try any of their stuff on this trip, but I hear you should.
  • East End Brewing: We tried to visit East End Saturday evening, but they apparently close at 5pm. After trying their cask IPA at Piper’s, I really wish I had got to try more.

Of course, while we were in Pittsburgh we did more than drink (weird, I know.) I highly recommend a visit to the connected Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Art, where you’ll explore dinosaurs and gemstones and classical and modern art alike. The Mattress Factory and the Andy Warhol museum are also on our list for next trip. And there will be a next trip.

Here are some more trips you can take from Columbus on one tank of gas. Unless you drive a Hummer.

Full disclosure: my travel accommodations and meals were paid for by Visit Pittsburgh.

About the Author

Cheryl Harrison. Editor of Drink Up Columbus. Co-Founder of the Columbus Ale Trail.

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