Pittsburgh is colloquially known as the Steel City and the City of Bridges, thanks to its overabundance of, well, steel and bridges. But there are also dozens of craft breweries that serve as a mouthwatering reminder of the city’s deep, diverse culture and appreciation of hard work, artistry and the power of a gathering stocked with a handful of growlers.
These six Pittsburgh breweries represent a sampling of the stalwarts, outliers and most popular spots for kicking back with a brew and discussing wah yinz gonna done this weekend.
As of 2000, there were more people in Pittsburgh claiming German heritage than those who associated with any other. It’s no surprise then to find that the city’s oldest brewery has a distinctly German look, feel and taste.
Penn Brewery is housed in the old Eberhart & Ober Brewery building, which dates back a couple centuries. After a serious remodeling project in the 1980s, the new owners launched a craft brewery that produces award-winning German-inspired beers as well as other popular styles like IPAs and flavored brews (pumpkin ale, anyone?). The menu is similarly Germanic, with everything from wurst to pierogi making an appearance, and the cobblestone biergarten is an absolute gem.
Strange Roots Experimental Ales Brewery
Strange Roots is, well, strange… but in a very delicious way. The SR team focuses on wild beer that takes advantage of a combination of yeast, wild yeast and bacteria to create beverages that are both tart and refreshing. The heart of each recipe is the locally foraged ingredients, so each beer’s flavor profile reflects a sense of terroir. Some bottles are even a blend of vintages, similar to how wine is produced and marketed.
Expand your horizons with a glass of Foraged Dandelion or Goedenacht, the latter of which draws on the brewing traditions of mead and cider as well as beer, or enjoy their Seltzer Variety pack is you twiddle your feet in the kiddie pool.
One look at their website or social media feeds and it’s easy to see that Voodoo Brewery does business with a serious wink. The brand says they’ve “taken our brewing experiences and quirky personalities and wrapped it up into a line of beers oriented around what we feel are fun, flavorful, and thought-provoking.” With beers boasting names like Good Vibes, Killapilz, Big Secret Pizza Party, Names are Hard and Empty Calories, they’ve obviously succeeded.
With a menu that includes everything from café con leche ales to imperial IPAs to sour-style Berliner weisse, there’s something at Voodoo for literally anyone of legal age and decent taste buds. Also, who wouldn’t want to try a PB&J American strong ale called 30 Bagged Lunches at least once?
While breweries like Voodoo get their thrills by offering a huge variety of brews, Dancing Gnome’s proprietors like one thing and one thing only: “unapologetically brew hop pronounced styles.” From the 8.5& double IPA called Spy Dolphin to the woods-meets-citrus surprise that is Osage Orange, there are so many interpretations of American ales it’s enough to make your head spin (or maybe that’s due to those impressively high ABVs?).
Dancing Gnome doesn’t have its own kitchen, but it does have a strong relationship with local food trucks that typically park outside from Wednesday to Sunday. Grab a brew and sip on site or get some cans to go and indulge your love of IPAs at home.
East End Brewing
Mainstays of the Pittsburgh craft brew scene, Easy End Brewing is as much a part of the fabric of the city as a slaw-topped sammie at Primanti’s. They brew some 50-60 different beers each year, selling them on site, for takeout in formats ranging from cans to kegs and locally at Pittsburgh’s top bars, restaurants and even some retail outlets.
The menu’s foundation is a slate of year-round brews like the robust balanced Big Hop American Ale and the beautifully round, delightfully malted deep brown ale called Fat Gary. Stout fans will adore Black Strap’s irresistible swirl of molasses, brown sugar, dark chocolate and black coffee, which is available seasonally as are tasty nuggets like Caution Slippy Ne Dipa, a funny nod to Pittsburgh’s less than predictable weather, and the intriguing Saison La Seconde which is fermented using farmhouse yeast and then aged in red wine barrels.