The 'Burgh Beer Bible

Your guide to the city's best bars, microbreweries, beer caves, cocktails and more.



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Admittedly, Pennsylvania’s liquor laws are obnoxiously old-fashioned. On any given Sunday, it’s almost as hard to find a six-pack as it is to make a bank deposit. On the other hand, though, challenge is the mother of invention, making for some memorable spots that specialize in takeaway beer.

The most famous little den in town is Regent Square’s D’s Six-Pax & Dogz, whose “beer cave” is renowned throughout the region. Logistically, there’s not much difference between a beer cave and a distributor’s freezer — but the selection of international bottles here is astonishing, and the joint’s beer-friendly ambiance is everything. Customers waltz into the cave, grab a Victory Hop Devil, and a waiter swings by with an opener. Now that’s service.

In South Side, Fat Head’s Saloon boasts an entire second story dedicated to its six pack shop. Limitless craft beers and a similarly playful menu make Fat Head’s a bacchanalian’s delight.

Fox Chapel’s answer to the beer-cave phenomenon is Beer Nutz Bottle Shoppe & Grille, with a wide variety, fun food (lobster rolls, anyone?), “beer club” customer rewards and inventive spelling.

Or there’s Packs & Dogs on Mt. Washington, which stocks both obscure labels (“21st Amendment Bitter American,” for example), and hot dogs named after canines (like the German Shepherd or the Chihuahua).

Over in Brookline-Overbrook, McNeilly’s Beer, 6 Packs & More looks more like a regular store, but the inventory is no less impressive; you’ll find such curiosities as Italy’s Birra Pironi and Brazil’s Palma Louca — plus, there are Nathan’s Famous hot dogs to pair with your brew.

Finally, nothing beats filling up an old fashioned growler. The half-gallon glass jugs are perfect for a craft-beer gathering on your back porch — and if you’ve got a hard cider lover in the house, plan a trip to the unconventional Arsenal Cider House. Walk down a Lawrenceville alley, find the open door and go inside. This little vestibule has all the taps you need.
 


 


The latest product from Pittsburgh Brewing Co. is a brand-new beer with a very old name.

Olde Frothingslosh was a novelty brand in the 1950s, based on characters from a KDKA Radio comedy. A sense of humor was integral to the brand then, and that’s still the case; the can is covered in wry slogans like “Certified to fit any shape of glass!” In a nod to dedicated fans who used to collect the once-bygone brand’s whimsical bottles, several can and case varieties have been prepared. Stack two cans atop one another just right, and they form an image of brand mascot Sir Reginald.

And it’s more than just a clever package and nice story — Olde Frothingslosh is pretty tasty, too.

“The brewery is experiencing a renaissance, much as the city is,” says Eddie Lozano, company president. Locals know that the Lawrenceville brewery where Iron City and the other Pittsburgh Brewing brands were made for decades is no longer brewing; production relocated to Latrobe to take over the former Rolling Rock facility. (The rest of the company still calls that facility home; meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing as to the space’s future.)

What many may not have noticed is the improvement in consistency and taste that went along with the move. While the old brewery was iconic, it was also outdated; modern equipment at the Latrobe site means a more reliable product, Lozano says. And the success of new brands — like South Side hit I.C. Light Mango and Iron City Amber — has brought young ’Burghers into the fold.

If you spot an Iron City ad this fall, you’ll notice a new slogan: “Taste it again, for the first time.” With PBC’s recent shifts in process and attitude, the company is confident that one taste is all that it’ll take to bring back skeptics.

“Our mission is to give Pittsburgh a leading, iconic brewery,” says David Sykes, director of sales and marketing. “Pittsburghers will be proud of their brewery again.” 

 

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