These days, even Pittsburgh’s diviest dive bars have craft beers on the menu. So what sets apart a true “beer bar” in these parts? These spots hit the mark with a large number of fresh drafts in a variety of different styles, all served by knowledgeable staff, likely in stemware that you’re pretty sure makes the beer taste better. Note: we’re talking about beer bars, not breweries (of which there are plenty in Pittsburgh) located within the city limits.
The beer list at The Beer Market is gigantic -- we’re talking several hundred options -- though you can narrow it down in advance by visiting the bar’s website and entering your preferences in the beer search filter. Search by brand, style, country, or region. Selections range from dunkelweizens to IPAs, and ciders to stouts. Pro tip: The Beer Market allows “order-in delivery service,” meaning you can order a pizza (or tacos or sushi) straight to the bar.
You know what goes well with beer? Pizza. And Caliente Pizza & Draft House does both so, so well. More than 20 beers are on tap, and the draft list comes equipped with a helpful description of each one, describing each beer’s aromas, flavors, and hoppiness. For something extra special, try the Kegs in the Cellar Series, featuring beers that have been aged for maturation, such as imperial stouts and Belgian strong ales. Even more rare, the bar unveils a fresh firkin -- a barrel to serve cask-conditioned beer, usually something experimental -- once every month.
European beers steal the show at Biergarten, the rooftop bar perched atop Hotel Monaco Downtown. The entire beer list is a delight for fans of imported brews, and a few special ones include: Bière Du Boucanier, Lindemans Kriek, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, and Leffe Brune. Oversized party games like Jenga and Connect Four are available on the patio.
The regularly updated draft list at Carson Street Deli & Craft Beer Bar seamlessly blends a variety of local, regional, national, and international options. Weekly beer samplings offer a chance to try and talk about new brews. In warm weather, spend an evening in the outdoor beer garden with some brews and a deli sandwich.
With 73 rotating drafts and more than 150 bottles, Hough’s takes beer very seriously. The neighborhood bar focuses on domestic microbrews and features a different brewery each month, turning over many of the taps to that brewery’s beer. Recent featured breweries with tap takeovers have been Southern Tier, Great Lakes, and Brooklyn Brewery.
Giant coolers of bottled beer run the length of the long bar at Smokin' Joe’s Saloon. More than 350 bottled beers are available, and the bar focuses on bringing to Pittsburgh the work of new breweries from around the world. Sixty beers are on tap, making the four-beer sampler a good way to try several beers in an evening. The saloon has a sports bar vibe, with seven TVs, darts, and a pool table.
At Il Tetto, the long line of taps spans nearly the entire rooftop bar. On draft are 32 beers offering a good mix of lighter & darker beers, domestics & imports, and a variety of flavors. The rooftop beer garden maintains a lively party atmosphere among the skyscrapers weekend after weekend.
All beers at Independent Brewing Company are brewed by Western Pennsylvania brewers. Despite its name, the venue itself is not a brewery. Instead, its name is an homage to a pre-Prohibition group of Pittsburgh brewers who banded together to promote local brews and compete against national companies. Today’s Independent Brewing Company serves a rotating draft list, featuring brewers such as Draai Laag Brewing, Brew Gentlemen Beer Company, and Hitchhiker Brewing Company.
Inside the drafthouse, which maintains an industrial aesthetic, 40 craft beers are on tap, such as Founders All Day IPA, Terrapin Hopzilla, and Bell's Two Hearted Ale. The tap list changes regularly, and seasonal options are also updated often.
Piper’s Pub is the closest you can get to being in the British Isles without ever leaving Pittsburgh. Fresh pints are filled to the brim with Irish stouts and Scottish ales; domestic brews are also on the menu. Bartenders are meticulous about the taps, and they’re well-versed about the ever-changing beer list, easily tailoring suggestions based upon customers’ preferences. Stop by on Saturdays for a football (soccer, but don’t call it that there) match.
Downtown, East Liberty
With two locations in the city, Sharp Edge gives you double the places to get your fill of Belgian and craft drafts. The long draft list is heavy on strong Belgian ales, such as Gulden Draak and Grimbergen. For the adventurous beer drinker, Sharp Edge offers a rotating mystery brew.
The Park House building dates back to the 1890s, and the bar dates back to the end of Prohibition, making it one of Pittsburgh’s first licensed drinking establishments. These days, it still has a stamped tin ceiling and ornate woodwork, and has evolved into a popular spot for live music. The beer list contains 50 craft beers, with about 15-20 on tap, such as Lagunitas, Deschutes, and Ommegang. Fresh popcorn and peanuts are free at the bar.
The 40-tap bar at Industry regularly features local breweries, including Industry’s own Copper Ale and IPA. Look for the light-up tap handles to signal which taps are Industry’s own brews. Stay tuned to the TV screens around the bar, which scroll through the draft list, providing details about each beer and a measure of how much beer is left in each keg.
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1. The Beer Market110 Federal St, Pittsburgh
2. Biergarten620 William Penn Pl, Pittsburgh
3. Caliente Pizza & Draft House4624 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh
4. Carson Street Deli & Craft Beer Bar1507 E Carson St, Pittsburgh
5. Hough's Taproom & Brewpub563 Greenfield Ave, Pittsburgh
6. Smokin' Joe's Saloon2001 E Carson St, Pittsburgh
7. Il Tetto942 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh
8. The Independent Brewing Company1704 Shady Ave, Pittsburgh
9. The Urban Tap1209 E Carson St, Pittsburgh
10. Piper's Pub1828 E Carson St, Pittsburgh
11. The Park House403 E Ohio St, Pittsburgh
12. Industry Public House4305 Butler St, Pittsburgh
The beer list here is huge -- like several hundred options huge. Selections range from Dunkelweizens to IPAs, and ciders to stouts. Pro-tip: you are allowed to get delivery straight to the bar.
Biergarten at the Hotel Monaco features an exhaustive list of European beer, like bottled German favorites the Spaten Optimator doppelbock, the Weihenstephaner hefeweizen, and the Spaten marzen, and Belgian Trappist ales and sours. German-inspired bar bites range from house-made currywurst and sauerbraten to giant pretzels and a full array of pickles. And if you think the highlight of the evening will be trying to pronounce all of this German after a few drinks, try your hand at any of Biergarten’s pub games, like Jenga, garden chess, and super-sized Connect Four, and see how long you can last.
This place knows whats up. What goes better with beer than pizza? Nothing. With more than 20 beers on tap, and a menu detailing each one's aromas, flavors, and hoppiness, you will never be lead astray.
Carson Street Deli allows sandwich fans to create their own, but why bother? The menu is full of crazy concoctions like the Donnie Brasco (buffalo chicken and egg salad) and the Big Porker (pulled pork topped with cole slaw). The bar is stocked with local brews that pair well with your hefty sandwich.
This brewpub has 73 rotating drafts and more than 150 bottles, with a focus on domestic microbrews and featuring a different brewery every month. Recent features included Southern Tier, Great Lakes, and Brooklyn Brewery.
At Smokin Joe's the focus is bringing to Pittsburgh the work of new breweries from around the world. There are 60 beers on tap, PLUS 350 bottles of offer.
This space quickly established itself as downtown’s finest rooftop bar, offering 32 beers and cocktails on tap, plus a retractable roof and a view of the city’s tallest skyscrapers. There's a variety of wine options from California, Italy, Germany, Spain and Argentina. It's a great spot to hit if your friend group is split between brews and fine wine.
Despite it's name, this space is not a brewery, however all beers at Independent Brewing Company are brewed by western Pennsylvania brewers. The rotating draft list features brewers such as Draai Laag Brewing, Brew Gentlemen Beer Company, and Hitchhiker Brewing Company.
At The Urban Tap in Pittsburgh’s South Side, you'll find 40 beers on tap with plenty of great options from well-established breweries such as Founders and Dogfish. It also features a large, industrial interior and plenty of flat-screen TVs, making it a popular spot to watch the Steelers and Penguins on game nights. Whatever you do, though, don't leave before you try demolishing the Tap Burger, a thick, rare patty with roasted garlic aioli.
This bar is a top-notch pub experience, boasting dozens of Scotch choices, a draft list including Pennsylvania breweries, and beer on cask, plus eats like fish & chips and Guinness beef stew.
The Park House is one of Pittsburgh's first licensed drinking establishments, dating back to just after Prohibition. The beer list contains 50 craft beers, with about 15-20 on tap, such as Lagunitas, Deschutes, and Ommegang. Fresh popcorn and peanuts are free at the bar.
Located in Lawrenceville, this popular drinkery features American comfort food, delicious artisanal cocktails, and a great selection of craft beer in an industrial-inspired space. The prohibition-era architecture, open brick walls and metallic surfaces will draw you in, but the Entry Level Burgher (a stocky and thick square patty between two buns that are just crispy enough) and the full-service bar providing endless international drafts, cocktails and whiskeys will keep you there.