Beer in the ’Burgh
Carnival is coming, and what could be more relaxing than a cold one at a local bar? Below are some suggested locations for your drinking pleasure. (And, if you’re under 21, there should be soda fountains as well!)
Fuel and Fuddle
Long famous for its half-price food after 11 p.m., Fuel and Fuddle on Oakland Avenue is the closest place from campus to get a good brew. Fuel and Fuddle’s Beer Bible offers a list of beers (100 in total, excluding the rotating selection of drafts) that one must finish in order to get a little plaque. This marketing gimmick really isn’t worth the effort as a result of some less-than-desirable beers (read: Smirnoff Ice, not even a beer). Contracting out two house brews with Pennsylvania’s Troeg’s Brewery, Fuel and Fuddle offers a pale ale and brown ale at very low prices. Perhaps the gem that may not be available anywhere else is the Scottish Skullsplitter.
With one of the finest selections of beer anywhere in the ’Burgh, Sharp Edge has half-off Belgian drafts at happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4:30–6:30 p.m.). Along with walls of drafts and bottles, Sharp Edge serves up some tasty burgers and beer-enabled selections. Although the trip to Friendship isn’t exactly convenient, Sharp Edge is a must for any beer aficionado.
Bites and Brews
If you’re looking for some pizza and a beer, Bites and Brews is your destination. Connected to The Elbow Room on Ellsworth Avenue, Bites offers a largely American selection, with a rotating selection of microbrews on tap. Watch the game on the projection television or just relax; Bites and Brews has a laid-back atmosphere that does not cross over into cheap sports bar.
Church Brew Works
For the awe effect, Church Brew Works offers the best visual stimulant for drinking. The brewpub, a converted Catholic church, serves some good old Pittsburgh classics like pierogies. Unfortunately, the house brews are mediocre and the rest of the selection is dismal. However, it is worth at least a sampling.
Offering Tex-Mex food down in Oakland and an admirable selection of brews, Mad Mex is often packed. It does offer a $12 take-out six-pack on some of its selections, which is worth taking home for some further oral stimulation.
Squirrel Hill Café
Neighborhood corner bar with a street-level attack on the senses, this cafe offers a small but respectable selection of both microbrews and imports at a fairly decent price.
If you’re down at the Waterfront and need something refreshing to drink, then look no further than Rock Bottom. Although a chain, it offers some interesting concoctions brewed on-site. Its winter seasonal porter was quite tasty.
Another chain brewpub, John Harvard’s in Monroeville offers its own creations for the thirsty shopper.
Bockstown flashes its selection up front with a wall of refrigerators containing everything from Belgian imports to Pittsburgh-native East End microbrews. Offering one of the better selections outside the city, Bockstown is definitely worth a stop after some shopping at the Robinson mall.
Almost always packed, Fat Head’s is the place for beer in the South Side. The ’Burghers cannot be beaten and the selection is extensive, offering many microbrews on tap and always something new in the rotation. Fat Head’s, like Fuel and Fuddle, offers a contracted house brew, which comes with branded merchandise.
Although this South Side bar doesn’t compare with Fat Head’s in terms of selection and ambiance, Smokin’ Joes offers a sensible alternative if you need a beer but don’t want to sit through the hour-long wait at Fat Head’s.