From Deli to Beer School

For Mike Murphy, owner of the Carson Street Deli, beer is not something just to drink when watching a Steelers game. To him, it’s an “art form.”



The Carson Street Deli, located in the South Side.

Photo courtesy of Liz Murphy

Not many people can tell the mass of a beer just by tasting it, unless, of course, you’re Michael Murphy, who owns Carson Street Deli in the South Side.

To Murphy, of Sewickley, beer is not something just to drink when watching a Steelers game. To him, it’s an “art form.”

Murphy—a beer connoisseur for 35 years and the brewer of his own beer—is finally getting the chance to incorporate that beer expertise into his deli business.

“I really wanted to do something with beer. So I thought that a deli would be a perfect marriage,” he says.

When he bought the restaurant in May, he did not want to make many changes because of the deli’s long-term reputation of high-quality, locally sourced ingredients.

“I don’t want to fix what ain’t broke,” he says, noting the recognition the deli received by Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2010 Readers Poll.

He did, however, want to enhance the deli with a large selection of beers. By the end of the month, Murphy plans to carry 200 varieties of beer and wants to continue adding new beers—specifically limited-edition beers—to the collection. For example, on Monday, the deli received a shipment of 2008, Dogfish Head Fort, 18 percent ABV raspberry ale—only 36 cases were distributed in western Pennsylvania—within four days, the deli sold out.

“I’d like to be known as the source for the really esoteric, the really unusual collective-grade beers.”

To share his love and knowledge of beer, Murphy started what he calls a “beer school,” or free beer tastings at the deli, in mid-June.

“I enjoy talking about beer, and it makes this business a lot of fun,” he says.

(1507 E. Carson St., South Side. Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Beer tastings: Wednesdays, 6-8 p.m. Free. Info: 412/381-5335, carsonstreetdeli.com)

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