Living in Pittsburgh and being a tremendous fan of craft beer, one has to sit back and thank his or her lucky stars that we have tremendous beer options at seemingly every turn. Supply has truly risen to meet demand as we now see a plethora of locations focusing on craft beer and giving us, the consumer, more options to choose from.
The ‘9 Extraordinary Craft Beer Destinations in Pittsburgh’ series has provided a quick glance at some of the bars doing things right with craft beer. Today, the focus shifts to the folks who are making solid craft beer in our own backyard. Several microbreweries have aided in Pittsburgh’s rise to prominence and provide the perfect opportunity for you to invest in a local business while getting your craft beer fix at the same time.
With close to 40 breweries in our region with more on the way, narrowing this list down to nine was not an easy task. As always, if your favorite brewery didn’t make the list, fear not. A second list will be delivered in the future.
1) The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company | Braddock – Since arriving on the scene in May of 2014, Brew Gentlemen has firmly cemented themselves in the city’s craft beer landscape by holding tremendous events, producing solid beer, and fully committing to reviving the Braddock area in which their brewery rests. So far, Brew Gentlemen has put together a killer summer closeout Garden Party and a killer Halloween bash inside the infamous Carrie Furnace. Their taproom presents one of the most classy and relaxing atmospheres you’ll find at any local brewery, and the beer is, quite frankly, a spot-on hit regardless of the style you seek. The Brew Gentlemen was started by Asa Foster and Matt Katase as a senior project at Carnegie-Mellon and has snowballed into a brewery a few weeks away from being featured in the full-length documentary Blood, Sweat & Beer. Brew Gentlemen needs to jump up your priority list of destinations to visit today.
2) Grist House Brewing | Millvale – Brother-in-laws and childhood friends Brian Eaton and Kyle Mientkiewicz decided to take their home brewing talents to the next level and open a brewery. I think I can speak for everyone when I say: “Thanks, you guys.” Grist House Brewing is another Pittsburgh brewery that’s quickly risen to prominence and made themselves known as a major player in the game. You can find their beers on tap at over 25 bars and counting across the Pittsburgh region, but a trip to their taproom in Millvale is a must. They have a great deck (enclosed in the winter) for outdoor drinking and the bar sits above the actual tanks from which your delicious beer was born. Grist House’s motto is “Grinding Out Great Beers,” and these guys truly deliver on that mission.
3) Spoonwood Brewing | Bethel Park – They may be one of the newest breweries in town, but they’ve set themselves up for overwhelming success right out of the gates! Spoonwood Brewing is located in the old Duke’s Station building in Bethel Park and has all the makings of a world-class establishment. From a solid lineup of beers to an exquisite food menu to a beautiful and welcoming taproom to kick back and relax in, Spoonwood fits the mold of ‘craft beer destination’ perfectly. Head Brewer Steve Ilnicki brews beers that are approachable and drinkable, meshing perfectly with the ambiance of Spoonwood’s entire facility. Check these guys out today!
4) East End Brewing Company | Pittsburgh – A Pittsburgh craft beer staple since 2004, East End Brewing has been setting the example for solid beers across the city. From a personal standpoint, East End Brewing’s flagship Big Hop IPA has been at the top of my list for local beers, both from a taste perspective and sentimental perspective as well as it was the beer I was consuming when I came up with the idea for Breaking Brews. Big Hop Harvest is the beer I love to kick off Fall with as owner and brewmaster Scott Smith gets fresh-picked, undried, locally grown hops and tosses them into the kettle immediately, producing a unique spin on the Big Hop that’s truly fresh and remarkable. You can check out the full lineup of East End beers in the taproom on Julius Street or at the Growler Shop in the Strip District’s Pittsburgh Public Market.
5) Full Pint Brewing | North Versailles – Full Pint Brewing was built with the experience of seasoned brewers and continues to thrive on that expertise today. Full Pint was founded in 2009 in North Versailles and has been at the forefront of Pittsburgh’s craft beer movement, producing unique, high-quality beers that have led to steady rotation in bars all over the Steel City and beyond. Their aggressive approach, years of brewing experience, and uncanny creativity has helped them reach incredible heights. Your Full Pint experience should be headlined by a trip to the brewery in North Versailles for a couple beers and something off the menu, but don’t forget to check out Full Pint’s newly-opened taproom, Wild Side, on Butler Street in Upper Lawrenceville!
6) Four Seasons Brewing | Latrobe – Venturing outside the Pittsburgh city limits for a high-test craft beer is absolutely worth it when you know your destination contains an award-winning brew! Four Seasons Brewing is located in Latrobe and is continuing the long-standing brewing ties within the town by producing exceptional beers for all to consume. Their Oatmeal Stout, Darkside of the Pint, captured a Silver Medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival and that beer alone is worth the price of admission. The Four Seasons pub features Happy Hour Tuesday thru Friday, as well as several live music events. Come thirsty AND hungry as a bevy of food trucks will take care of that grumble in your belly while you kick back a pint or two.
7) Roundabout Brewery | Lawrenceville – When it comes to a world of brewing experience, there isn’t a resume much deeper than Roundabout Brewery’s owner and brewmaster Steve Sloan. He and his wife Dyana have lived all over the world, with Steve brewing up great beers in Florida, Hawaii, California, Missouri, New Zealand, and Pennsylvania. Now, they call Pittsburgh home and have set up a very quaint and welcoming taproom on Butler Street in Lawrenceville, the perfect spot to savor the flavors of the worldwide knowledge Steve puts into every beer he brews. Spring and Summer months bring out my personal Roundabout favorite, Ginga Wheat, an American wheat beer with fresh pressed ginger, honey, and lemon. It’s the perfect beer to consume on a warm summer’s evening lounging on the patio. But take my word for it…don’t wait until Spring to check out Roundabout Brewery! *NOTE: At the time of this writing, Roundabout is closed until February 25th, so, you know…check them out after the 25th. 🙂
8) Hitchhiker Brewing | Mt. Lebanon – Head Brewer Andy Kwiatkowski will be the first to tell you how incredible it feels to brew beer for a living. Andy’s passion for home brewing inevitably led to his dream job fulfillment as he and Gary Olden opened Hitchhiker Brewing in the Spring of 2014. Located in Mt. Lebanon, Hitchhiker’s taproom is laid back and puts Andy’s beer creations center stage. One of my favorite elements about this brewery is the deck out back, making it easy to take down a solid craft beer in an outdoor setting. Hitchhiker is also known for holding live music events and great parties to complement the beer and add to your overall experience. If you haven’t done so, it’s time to Pick Up a Hitchhiker today!
9) Penn Brewery | Pittsburgh – Penn Brewery was brewing craft beer before craft beer was cool. Since 1986, Penn has stood as one of the early pioneers not only in Pittsburgh’s craft beer movement, but craft beer as a whole. Their beer lineup has evolved from lagers and German-style beers to include IPAs, pumpkin and chocolate beers, and other popular styles. A visit to Penn Brewery is sure to give you a memorable experience as their tanks rest right next to the bar. Penn also have an extensive food menu which they define as “ethnic-Pittsburgh.” The lineup includes wurst, schnitzel, pierogi, and goulash, as well as Pittsburgh favorites like salads with french fries, flatbreads, and sandwiches. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit one of the first microbreweries in the city!