Post-Gazette Blogs

Tag Archives: restaurants

Five years, dozens of beers — that’s Beer Week

pcbw pipers chalk board

When you reach a five-year milestone, it feels right to take a moment and reflect on the path that got you there. And if you think back to the first Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week — especially if you do so right after completing the fifth — you’ll understand just how far the industry has come in that time.

Were there a dozen Pittsburgh-area craft breweries back then? And will there be three or four times that many by the end of 2016?

As we learned last week, it’s not just the number that should leave an impression. It’s the quality of the beer as well. Just look at this year’s collaboration beers: breweries that haven’t yet opened or got started in the last six months contributed to five of the seven official collaborations, and all were excellent.

Summarizing my beer week is always a tough task. But let’s give it a try.

Favorite events: I made a point to try to get to some new stuff (to me, anyway), and I liked everything I got to. A standout was Oysterfest, the annual party under the Homestead Grays Bridge put on by Blue Dust — and I’m not even a fan of oysters, although the festival’s namesakes drew huge lines all afternoon. The beer choices were unique — don’t pass up a chance to try stuff from Shawnee Craft Brewing as it shows up around here, boys and girls — and there were plenty of food trucks for those who didn’t want oysters. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Summer Craft Brewhaha, a summer seasonal preview held at Altar Bar; the selection was far from predictable and the space worked out better than I expected. I hit some staples as well: the annual Wednesday beer breakfast at Piper’s Pub featured an extra delicious menu this year, perhaps in celebration of its spot on the calendar (April 20, ahem); the Helltown Brewing cask takeover at Piper’s, this year with beef braised in the brewery’s Mischievous Brown Ale as the dinner special; and if I can help it, I will never miss an edition of the Brewers’ Olympics, the event at Grist House that puts a perfect cap on the week.

Favorite beers: Here’s a great sign — the collaboration beers are more consistently good every year. With one slightly embarrassing caveat — that this North Side resident never got a taste of the Mash Paddle vs. Hipster India Red Lager collab from Penn, Spring Hill, War Streets and Allegheny City — I’ll say that the standout among the collaborations was Greenfield Bridge is Falling Down, the deliciously juicy Vermont-style IPA from Spoonwood, Helltown and two newcomers: Helicon and Dancing Gnome. I loved all of the other collaborations, but I have to give specific mention to one more, mostly because I made such a big deal about it in my beer week previews: white stouts — like Prospero, from Rock Bottom, Hitchhiker, Bloom Brew and and Eleventh Hour — work wonderfully, even if one’s brain can’t figure out in advance how a white stout might work. A few others: I really liked 5 Point Black IPA, the collaboration between Carson Street Deli and Rock Bottom; Big Boots Gose, a margarita-esque effort from the women of Pittsburgh’s Pink Boots Society; and as it starts to get warmer, be on the lookout for Grapefruit Chinookee IPA from Full Pint — it was a standout at the summer festival.

Big choices at Smallman Galley

will shaker

One thing is certain: you won’t suffer for a lack of choices at Smallman Galley.

And that was part of the challenge for Will Groves, a veteran of a number of Pittsburgh restaurants, as he set out to set up a drinks program at the Strip District dining space — how does one bar cover enough ground to serve four distinct restaurants?

Smallman Galley, a two-month-old space at 2016 Smallman St., has four kitchens, four chefs and four menus, ranging from the meat-centric Provision PGH to the mostly vegetarian Carota Cafe; that could mean tough choices for Mr. Groves. But 20 taps that focus on selections that he calls “local-ish” — plus short menus of classically styled cocktails and broadly friendly wines.

With those 20 taps, assembling a rotating beer list to serve Smallman Galley was the easiest chore for Groves, because there is plenty of room for flexibility. It also helps, he said, that local breweries make great versions of straightforward styles; those beers are easier to pair with a variety of foods than are overly specific one-offs.

So whether you’re looking for a beer to go with braised sauerkraut and sausage from Aubergine Bistro or spiced mussels served on toasted ciabatta from Josephine’s Toast, Groves said you’ll be able to find something — among the taps or on the cocktail or wine lists — that will make you happy.

Post-Gazette coverage of Smallman Galley:

Category: Pittsburgh | Tags: ,