Post-Gazette Blogs

Tag Archives: beer bar

Doing deli — sort of — on Carson Street


shadow cap

It can be a little tough to pin down Michael Murphy on the “deli” part of his business.

The “craft beer” part, however, is as straightforward as they come.

Mr. Murphy, the owner of Carson Street Deli and Craft Beer Bar, will quibble about whether the food he serves qualifies as delicatessen fare, and that’s understandable. Just look at the unconventional Carson Street Reuben; in spite of the familiar name, this deli’s version comes with tart slaw instead of sauerkraut and it’s not grilled, to better emphasize the Breadworks marbled rye.

But Mr. Murphy isn’t bashful about discussion the relationships he’s built with the region’s brewers; they’re a big reason why its not unusual to find beers at the deli that aren’t available anywhere else. And many of those custom-brewed beers find their way to the deli on Wednesday nights, when Mr. Murphy has held regular tasting sessions, pretty much since he took ownership of the deli five years ago.

Each Wednesday night might focus on a specific brewery — the week I visited it was Brooklyn Brewery — or on several examples of a common style. Whichever the case, Murphy — and his enthusiastic curiosity about all things craft beer — will be just as excited to get a taste as any of his regulars.

And if you get an unconventional deli sandwich to go alongside, all the better.

Category: Allegheny County | Tags:

Piper’s Pub: It’s where the firkins live

hart tapping

It has a rough, cobbled-together look that seems appropriate for a Carson Street basement.

But don’t overlook the cask ale system that feeds the four hand pumps behind the bar at Piper’s Pub. It’s responsible for what is often the best-tasting beer in the city.

The original iteration of the system was installed in 2008, as owner Drew Topping sought more authenticity for his South Side Scottish pub. It’s grown to be able to handle as many as four casks now, and those lines are almost always spoken for, as the cask program, run by cellarman Hart Johnson, continues to flourish.

So what is cask ale? That’s a broad term to describe beer that’s been conditioned in the same vessel from which it’s served. That gives the beer a different kind of carbonation; instead of the fizzy mouthfeel we’re accustomed to, we get a creamy, velvety texture in its place. The most common container is a firkin, a keg that holds just shy of 11 gallons.

Also, cask ale is traditionally stored and served at cellar temperatures, somewhere between 45 and 50 degrees, so the taste of the beer isn’t masked by freezing cold. Are the beer’s malts sweet or bready? Do you taste citrus from the hops or do they lean toward a resinous, pine profile? It’s all right there, pretty much as close to the brewer’s intention as we can get.

Piper’s, at 1828 E. Carson St., doesn’t serve the only cask beer in town, but I don’t know of any place that does it with such care. And for that reputation, they often get casks that no one else can get their hands on. It’s a different beer experience, sure, but it’s worth a trip to Piper’s to give it a try.

Post-Gazette coverage of Piper’s Pub:

Category: Allegheny County | Tags: ,