Pittsburgh's brewery scene is pretty astounding. In the past ten years we've gone from having just a handful of breweries to having well over three dozen in an hour radius with another couple dozen set to open in the next few years.
As such, tackling them all can be quite tricky unless you're able to go out for a beer every single weekend.
To help get you out to more breweries in one go, City Brew Tours launched a Pittsburgh beer tour to help introduce beer fans into Pittsburgh's growing and thriving craft beer scene.
We were invited out by City Brew Tours to check out their After Hours Brew Tour which was just the evening out we were looking for.
Four Breweries, Sixteen Samples
A typical itinerary for City Brew Tours visits four breweries and includes three to five samples at each spot, behind-the-scenes tours, and dinner at one select brewery along the way.
Our tour's brewery list featured Auroch's Brewery, a gluten free brewery in Emsworth; Allegheny City Brewery, a small brewery in an old rowhouse in Deutschtown; Penn Brewery, Pittsburgh's oldest craft brewery in Troy Hill (also our stop for dinner); and Strange Roots (formerly known as Draai Laag), an experimental brewery that has a strong focus on sour/wild fermentation in Millvale.
We met our guide and fellow attendees in Market Square and were driven to our first brewery, Auroch's, in a matter of minutes to start the night of drinking, production tours, and learning about all things beer with our new friends.
The Guide Was Critical to the Tour's Success
Between the stops our knowledgeable guide, Eric, walked us through the 10,000 year history of beer, and used the breweries as means to highlight the evolution of beer as you go- including the first use of grains, the implementation of the Germany purity law, the cultivation of hops, and modern takes on the wild fermentation process.
This knowledge became especially apparent when he hand-selected the beers we sampled as to highlight the differences in grains, hops, and other characteristics in the various beer styles.
We found this especially useful to understand why we like or dislike particular kinds of beer. Oddly enough, this is something you realize you never take time to think about when you're out having a pint. (It turns out Angie likes American hops used in IPAs for the citrus flavors, while I find the European style hops more palatable for their earthiness- something I never knew despite my years of beer drinking and published IPA aversion.)
Although Eric curated the draft selections for the group based on our preferences, which were quite varied overall, he also gave us a few opportunities to pick samples ourselves so that we could all try a beer we had our eye on that he did not select.
Penn Brewery Spoils This Tour
Our dinner stop on the tour was Penn Brewery, what is considered to be Pittsburgh's oldest craft brewery, and one we're also fairly critical of as well. (We're not particularly fans of their year round brews, but the seasonal and one-off creations are quite good.)
Penn Brewery treats this tour like kings, and provides a platter at dinner which on our tour included bratwurst, a half of a Reuben, several sides, a piergoi, and a house made cookie to top it all off- a perfect cross-section of their menu if there ever was one.
But they go even further in providing your samples not in tiny shots, as is standard for most breweries, but in full pitchers such that we ended up having five pitchers for six guests, plus an extra taster on the side for good measure.
All-in-all, it is tours like these that help give you a new appreciation to breweries you had strong opinions of, and we definitely view Penn Brewery in a new light after our stop on this tour.
Overall, the City Brew Tour of Pittsburgh is set up as a great introduction into Pittsburgh's craft beer scene. If you've ever wanted to try an assortment of breweries in the city, or simply want to get behind-the-scene's access or even learn about the history of beer making, this tour will have what you seek.
City Brew Tours operates several brew tours in Pittsburgh which visits a selection of roughly ten breweries.
We'd like to thank City Brew Tours for inviting us out for a tour. As always, all opinions are our own. Please take public transportation or Uber/Lyft to this one- the samples add up quick!
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