Supplying local liquor, wine and beer is a great way to attract a crowd. Pittsburgh is fortunate to have so many quality, local breweries and distilleries to choose from, and taking advantage of what our region has to offer is a hit with Pittsburgh craft beer enthusiasts. Here’s a small sampling of great brews and spirits in the Pittsburgh area.
Strip District, @wiglewhiskey | https://www.wiglewhiskey.com
Named after Philip Wigle—the orchestrator of the famous Whiskey Rebellion—Wigle began distilling in 2011 and has become a popular Pittsburgh spirit since then. Local bartenders have widely featured cocktails with Wigle whiskey and gin, so it’s a name that doesn’t go unnoticed by Pittsburghers. Wigle was the most awarded craft whiskey US distillery in both 2015 & 2016 and distills with local and organic ingredients.
Co-Owned by Meredith Meyer Grelli and her husband Alex Grelli, Wigle is a lively addition to Pittsburgh’s drink scene. Wigle proudly produces their spirits in their “traditional styles”, made in small batches to maintain quality. Though Whiskey is their namesake, they’re constantly coming up with more quality and surprising spirits (like their Coffee Liquor, released on October 27th). Check out their website for some great cocktail ideas using their products!
Writer’s Favorite Brew: Organic Ginever
Mount Pleasant, @helltownbrewing | http://www.helltownbrewing.com
Founded in 2011 in an old mechanic’s garage, Helltown brews have become staple craft beers for many bars around the city. They currently produce five kinds of IPAs, which would please any hop lover. Their two year-round beers are a welcome sight for local craft beer lovers: the Rapture IPA, and the popular Mischievous Brown Ale.
They supply to bars from the Southwest, Eastern, and Central PA (as well as Youngtown, Ohio) so it’s not just a brew for Pittsburghers. Helltown buys their supplies from local businesses, donates their spent grains to local farmers, and donates to local charities, so it’s good news all around.
Writer’s Favorite Brew: Good Intentions (Porter)
Carnegie, @apismead | https://www.apismead.com
Mead may not be a drink you’re used to seeing on bar menus, but you’ll be seeing it more often. Apis Mead offers a variety of honeyed wines, from traditional meads to adventurous flavors like Pomegranate Rose and Mango Habanero.
All of Apis’s products are made with local Bedillion Honey in Southwest PA. And if you’re a fan of good bottling artwork, Apis owner and brewmaster Dave Cerminara creates all of his own watercolor-style labels and merchandise. Apis is making its way into many local favorite bars and restaurants, like the Harris Grill, Industry Public House, Pork N’ Beans, and Mindful Brewing. All of Apis’s mead is naturally gluten-free, which is great news for celiac patrons looking to enjoy a good draft, and makes this drink a great addition to any tap list.
Writer’s Favorite Brew: Lemon Bourbon (Bourbon Barrel-Aged)
Arsenal Cider House
Lawrenceville, @arsenalcider | http://www.arsenalciderhouse.com
Cider can be hard to find on tap rather than bottled, and a bar or restaurant that offers a quality cider like Arsenal will find there are some die-hard cider lovers in Pittsburgh. Arsenal has become a Lawrenceville staple, supplying a variety of ciders, meads, and fruit wines. Their ciders vary in sweetness, from the bone-dry Picket Cider to the semi-sweet Archibald, which is good news to some who find cider too sweet. All made small-batch, Arsenal is dedicated to making each glass or growler or cider a unique experience. They were the first cidery in Western PA, and they’re definitely a regional favorite thanks to their large fan base.
Hard cider is another great gluten-free choice for bars to supply, and ads some variety for patrons looking to try something new. Whether it’s a crisp glass of mead in Summer or a celebration of the harvest in Fall, Arsenal is a great year-round selection sure to please anyone looking for their apple fix.
Writer’s Favorite Brew: Picket Bone Dry
Millvale, @gristhouse | http://gristhouse.com
Grist started as a home brewery with just two dudes (Kyle and Brian, who still work the brewery today), and is now operating out of a roomier establishment in Millvale—an old slaughterhouse (just don’t think about it). They opened their doors back in 2014, and so far they’ve gathered a decent following in the Pittsburgh area.
They’ve got a wide range of rotating beers, with a good number of crowd-pleasing IPAs. Another great thing about Grist—their brewery is dog-friendly. What more could you ask for?
Writer’s Favorite Brew: Kolsch on the Run (Kolsch)
North Side, @pennbrewery | http://pennbrew.com/home.aspx
Penn is no stranger to the craft beer game—they’ve been around since 1986. Despite their closure in 2009, they were re-opened soon after and are still creating great beer. Voted Pittsburgh Magazine’s favorite beer in 2012, they brew German-style beer from real German hops. Their Holiday offerings, like Nut Roll and Chocolate Meltdown, are particular local favorites.
Something you may not know about Penn—their brewery is biker friendly! Adjacent to Route 28, they will provide bikers that come in with water bottles and access to tools for minor repairs. If you like bikes and good German-style brews, Penn’s got you covered.
Writer’s Favorite Brew: Pumpkin Roll Ale (Spiced Pumpkin Ale)
Export, @rivertownebrewing | https://www.myrivertowne.com
Rivertowne has been around since 2002, operating out of the Rivertowne Inn in Verona (the original sale of which was handled by Specialty Group!). In 2012 they started producing beer for distribution. Among their selection of brews, they offer Nitro seasonals, so bars with Nitro taps rejoice—Rivertowne is ready for you with two seasonal “Nitro Only” brews (Pumpkin Spice, and Peaches and Cream).
Recently, Rivertowne was the winner of a Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their JFP Robust Porter. Eye-catching can artwork (in sustainable packaging) is backed up by quality brews, and it’s a must for any craft beer bar.
Writer’s Favorite Brew: Grateful White (Belgian Wit)
Mount Lebanon, @hitchhikerbrewing | http://hitchhiker.beer
Hitchhiker’s original brewery (and current bar) is nestled in an unsuspecting little space in Mount Lebanon, not where you’d expect a craft brewery to be. Their main brewery has since moved to Sharpsburg, but they still serve up brews at their Mount Lebanon location.
Hyper-seasonal, Hitchhiker’s seems to be producing an exciting new beer all the time. From their deep, dark oatmeal stout (Shadow Walker) to their lighter American Blonde Ale (Conversion) Hitchhiker’s has a beer to please everyone (as well as some killer names). They have six “core” beers, as well as a rotating menu of seasonal beers and limited releases. Definitely a brewery for the adventurous.
Writer’s Favorite Brew: Woke (Breakfast Stout, Seasonal)