As the sun starts to hang around longer in the steel city we are eager for outdoor eats and drinks. Summer patio drinking is popular in Pittsburgh and here are some of the best beers to drink and patios to sit on in order to partake in such a lovely afternoon activity.
The oldest brewery in Pittsburgh is my top choice for a beautiful outdoor beer. In 2016 Penn Brewery released Tangerine Swirl in celebration of a newly designed Biergarten complete with a large outdoor bar and plenty of seats. Tangerine Swirl is a light cream ale that is fruit-forward with tangerine and vanilla. If fruity beers are not your taste then try the Cool River.
In 2017 The Biergarten was an addition to the caves meant for larger parties. The caves date back to when the brewery opened to hold the beer to keep it cold. The Biergarten still has the original cobblestone walkway through a great big iron gate.
Penn Brewery also has an extensive food menu with traditional and newer German style food. There is even a bit of Pittsburgh flair in the menu including The Deuschtown Burger which is a half pound burger topped with cheese, kielbasa, a pierogi and some cole slaw all on a bun.
The next stop is a spacious patio with a grassy area with outdoor games like cornhole and a life-size Jenga game. Killer Diller is my patio beer of choice for Spoonwood. It is light and floral and very refreshing on a hot summer day.
When Spoonwood opened in 2015 the patio was an afterthought and was not opened til the following warm season. There is also an outdoor stage on which local bands perform on Thursday nights. During Craft Beer Week Spoonwood houses a cornhole competition. Spoonwood also has some amazing, locally sourced food like flatbread pizzas and sandwiches.
I group these two together only because they are located within a half mile from each other and both have amazing patios. At Grist House Belgian and German beer styles combine for some interesting tastes and high ABV. Fire on the Hill, an American IPA, is one of the best to enjoy here. Fire on the Hill is a smooth beer with tons of peach and tangerine and just a hint of lavender to round it out. While there is no food served you can partake in some nearby and there is usually a food truck that stops by. Grist House also has dog friendly nights and live music for your entertainment.
Draai Laag is also located in Millvale and has a large outdoor area and hosts food trucks as well. Draai Laag does have a small menu with items like a Godzilla Dog: spicy andouille sausage, crumbled blue cheese, shredded carrots and cilantro on a baguette. Yum!
East End Brewery started brewing in 2004 and has since grown to two locations; one in East End and a taproom in the Strip District. The Larimer location has a spacious outdoor patio with picnic tables. If you come to East End Brewing, bring your appetite. On Fridays and Saturdays the brewery hosts food trucks with menus ranging from BBQ to tacos.
If you like a hoppy beer the Pedal Pale Ale is a great beer to enjoy on the patio. Created as a seasonal beer, the Pedal Pale Ale is kicked off with a charity keg ride that goes from the brewery to a secret location where they tap the keg. If you are a bike person you probably already know about it, and if you ride for charity the first beer is on them.
While North Country Brewing is not in the city of Pittsburgh it is a straight shot up the highway in Slippery Rock, Pa. The trip clocks in at under an hour's drive, and makes for a lovely day trip, as Slippery Rock is mostly known as a college town with rolling farmland. North Country Brewing is housed in a classic old home and barn that was built in 1805. The brewery opened its doors in 2005 and started a revitalization of Slippery Rock.
North Country has an outdoor area that has a fireplace and stage for music. The perfect beer for this setting is the Station 33 Firehouse Red. The Station 33 brew is rich and malty with a smooth aftertaste. A 5% donation is made to Slippery Rock Fire Department for every beer sold.
North Country Brewing Company also offers a full menu including sandwiches, burgers, seafood and a gluten cautious menu. If you find that you don't want to travel the whole way to Slippery Rock you can visit North Country Brewing Company's sister restaurant in Harmony PA.
The Harmony Inn was facing closure a few years back when North Country saw a great opportunity to expand. You can find all of the same beer and food with a different feel at this location, and only a 30 minute drive from downtown Pittsburgh. The Harmony Inn was a Bed and Breakfast so it has bedrooms to eat in and a very large outdoor seating area complete with a fountain. On some nights there are bands on the front porch, and the main bar area has plenty of seating and always something interesting to look at on the walls.
With breweries opening every month in Pittsburgh this list will get larger and you will find your own favorite patio to sip your craft beer. Cheers to summer!