Craft Brew in the Steel City

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of taking a three day weekend trip out to Pittsburgh.  While there we visited with some old friends, ate some amazing food, and enjoyed some really good brews.  Having not really been around Pittsburgh too much, I didn’t realize just how much good beer was around the city.  However, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Pittsburgh not only has a good amount of craft beer brought in from other cities, but they also have quite a bit of craft beer that can be found brewed right there in the city.

The first night there our friends took us out to a place called Mad Mex.  First of all, the food here was great.  The burrito I had was the size of the plate and had some really great flavor to it.  The atmosphere there was rather hipster.  Although a bit loud, it was definitely different than your typical Mexican place.  Walking in, I was thinking I would have to resort to a margarita.  Most Mexican food places I have been too haven’t had the greatest selection in beer.  This place, however, was definitely different.  Having to wait a little for a table, I walked up and got an up close look at the beer selection.

They had an extremely wide selection of standard, seasonal, and even a few hard to find brews.  I was surprised to see that they had Dogfish Head Life and Limb on tap.  Sitting down, it actually was a challenge to figure out what my first brew would be.  I ultimately decided to go with the Avery Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest.  Having never had this one before, and hearing rave reviews, I really wanted to try this one anyway.  Having finished most of it before the food showed up, I decided to go with something I have waiting to be consumed at home: Blue Point – Toxic Sludge Black IPA.  This was a great brew too, although, I may have committed a slight flaw in trying to consume this with Mexican food.

On the way home, I requested that we stop at D’s SixPax and Dogz.  Having been to Pitt once before, I knew this place had create your own six packs that I could take back to my friends’ place and even take a few home for reviews.  Since I’m saving most of them for reviews, my selection will remain a mystery.  I did however consume one beer from there while in Pitt.  It was the Dark Horse Brewing Co. – Crooked Tree IPA.  A pretty good IPA if I do say so myself.  It was quite hoppy overall.  D’s is a great place to go though for food or a walk out six pack.  They have a beer cave where lots of bottles are kept cold, and they have a back room for stored warm stuff.  If you’re eating in, you can just head to the beer cave, grab a cold one, and drink it with your meal.

Sunday we managed to get into a random bar to watch some football.  Although I was expecting to be consuming a more standard beer here, they once again surprised me with some interesting selections.  The first one that jumped out at me was the Southern Tier – Pumking.  Although I wasn’t in the mood for this one, I was surprised to see it available in a random establishment.  Here I managed to have a few local beers I had never seen before.  First I had an East End – Big Hop.  It had some really bitter qualities that our one friend had trouble getting through.  I personally loved it.  After that I had a Full Pint – White Lightning as well.  This one was a Belgian in the vein of a Blue Moon.  Although having far more flavor than your typical Blue Moon, it still had a lot of lemon citrus qualities.  I didn’t have one of these types of beers all summer long, so it was slightly off-putting.  I still thought both were great local beer though.

Later that night, we went to a location I had really wanted to head to: The Church Brew Works.  I had been told about this place during my last visit, and I knew I really wanted to get here this time.  The Brew Works is actually a brewery that has taken over an old Catholic church building.  They have kept a lot of the look of the church, but there are tanks and other beer equipment all around.  I decided to get the sampler to get a full taste of the entire spectrum of what they have to offer.  The sampler came with 4 of their standard beers, and 4 of their specials or seasonal beers.  The 8 beers total were the Celestial Gold Pilsner, Pipe Organ Pale Ale, Pious Monk Dunkel, Oatmeal Stout, Alter Red Rye, Oktoberfest, Four Grains Harvest Ale, and Hoptoberfest.  Although I took notes on all of the beers, I’ll stick to my favorites.  The Oatmeal stout was a really good beer that had a lot of rich roasted flavor to it.  There was also a really smokey quality as well.  Secondly, I really liked the Hoptoberfest.  It is essentially the Oktoberfest with the addition of hops; however, it is a really nice fresh take on a seasonal brew that everyone seems to make.  Overall, I liked almost all of the beers.  I’m really not a pilsner fan, so I didn’t really like that one.  However, they even got my wife to like a beer, and that is hard to do.  She managed to finish most of my little Oktoberfest flute.

Overall, it was a great trip to Pitt for multiple reasons.  I had a great time with good friends, and I managed to have a lot of new and interesting brews.  If you’re in Pitt, take a hard look at what is available, and let me know of a good place to visit. I think you might be surprised how even a random establishment can have good beer.  Next time I hope to visit either East End or Full Pint brewery.



  1. The Church is pretty cool, eh?

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