The goal was simple. Hit eleven breweries within a 20 mile radius and live to tell the tale. The map was created. The locations were set. The timeline adjusted to ensure we had ample libations to food ratio throughout the day…All that was left to do was raise a glass.
- Starting at Voodoo Brewery in Homestead, the garage doors were open, the beer was flowing with a vast draft list ranging from Belgian tripels and quads to milk stouts, IPAs, and even a Polish Lager. It was tough to not stay there the entire afternoon, but we had a schedule to keep. The tap list here is well-balanced with year round pours and seasonals, they have a decent food menu that changes as well, There are a collection of board games to kill time, pinball in the back and a jail cell, since the brewery resides in a former police/fire station, they have kept it aesthetically as close to the former décor as possible.
- Brew Gentlemen – I imagine this spot to have been designed around a bottle of aged bourbon and plates of meat… I mean this in a good way. The layout is rustic but modern. Large tables cover the rooms as you enter, and high tables and the bar in the back. The bartenders are as cool as they are educated on the product they are serving. The whole place is simply cool. General Braddock has made a few lists for best IPAs and rightfully so. They also have a few guest taps currently flowing with Arsenal Cider.
- East End Brewing Co. – Some would say Church Brew Works got the craft scene started in PGH but I think the driving force was truly EEBC. They have a great set up, some tables outside to soak the sun in, one of my favorite local beers Fat Gary and Big Hop. East End keeps reinventing their space, now with a Pub in the Strip District as well, I still prefer the location in Homewood, and of course it made more sense on this journey.
Dancing Gnome – Quite rapidly becoming the place I am most curious about when a new beer is released. Very IPA driven, but none too overpowering. When you can hand an IPA to someone who “hates IPAs because they’re all so bitter” and have their eyes light up to the surprise flavor…that is a big win, and Dancing Gnome was able to do that with Lustra and Pounce (both often available during can releases held at the brewery). As for the décor, the subway tile and big windows peering behind the scenes of the brewery and a food truck often parked right out front, make this spot a great one to check out on an already impressive tour.
- Grist House – SO MANY PUPPIES! What goes better with beer than puppies running around! Nothing is better than grabbing a spot either standing around a large barrel table or one of the large picnic tables outside of Grist House. This is one spot I shoot for a flight, they always have a selection of distinct styles and solid year round picks to fill out the 5 four-ounce pours. You can’t go wrong with Camp Slap Red or Black in the USSR.
- Draai Laag – EASILY the surprise for the day for me. I have had their beer, but for whatever reason never went to the brewery. The bartenders were all friendly and helpful in choosing the right beers, not that you could go wrong! All very creative and very SCIENTIFIC, the brewers here take a very different approach to crafting their product and it shines through amazing and unique flavor profiles, like no other place on the path we had taken. The Red Briar and Atomic Pomme were both awesome pours. A flight is a little more expensive here at $12.50 for three pours. But you can taste and see why it is worth it.
- Arsenal Cider House – SLUSHIES people…they have an ice cream maker filled with an infused slushie with cider aged in chardonnay barrels…That coupled with an atmosphere similar to hanging out at your friend’s house with some people you have not met, make it a nice stop and a small change of pace from some of the more filling beers you may have tried up to this point, but be careful, because these refreshing ciders will sneak up on you.
Roundabout – Overall the best menu, almost at all times. Flight of any 5 of their beers is simply going to wow you. Of course if the choices are too overwhelming, there is not a person in Pittsburgh that does not love Ginga Wheat. There simply is not a more refreshing beer made in this city.
- Full Pint – This brewery has never been my cup of tea. The Rye Rebellion and the White Lightening are both worth the cost of a pint. The pub was pretty packed and there is a full bar with cocktails which is a nice break away from beer drinking if needed.
- Hop Farm – Another spot I had not been into yet. Cool vibe, decent selection of beers, I chose the Fresh Pot of Bourbon (because Obviously) and I was not disappointed. The Hippy Heffer was ok though not memorable.
- Rivertowne – Since I live in Plum, it seemed silly not to make this a stop. I was pleasantly surprised with a few of their beers recently released. The Karlton and Hippoats are both beers I have not had, even though somewhat of a regular due to proximity and I enjoyed them both. The food menu could use a little of an update in my opinion, as it has not changed in the 7 years I have lived by it. That being said, they have decent pizza, and burgers and it always hits the spot.
All in all it was a great trip, we omitted the North Shore this go around, but plan to do a trip soon to hit N. Shore, Butler, and South Hills…and anywhere I can come up with in between, though we did manage to get to Southern Tier for lunch on Friday and all I can say about Southern Tier is go…close your eyes…point to five beers, and enjoy…YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. This is an excellent addition to our North Shore. Great food, amazing source for beers, and they distill their own spirits as well. The Smoked Bourbon was an excellent finish to our late lunch. Sadly you cannot purchase the spirits yet in Pittsburgh, however the New York Brewery is worth the 5 hour drive, and I can tell you there are breweries for that adventure as well.
44 beers tasted in total.
Just under 40 miles traveled.
And a handful of pretty great memories
Note: At the time of this tour, Couch on Washington Blvd. had not opened yet, but as it stands now, you can get your dozen breweries without going off course. I can say that I have since been to Couch, and along with plenty of seating (it is called Couch for a reason!) there are great beers, cocktails, and usually a great food truck parked out front.