Pittsburgh’s Holy Hops and Blessed Barley





Before I left on my trip to Pittsburgh, I asked Furthermore Beer brewer Aran Madden (Spring Green, WI) where I should find a good microbrew. (He is a former… Pittsburghian? Pittsburgher?) He gave me a fine shortlist of what he considers the best. Arguably the one with the most fascinating setting is Church Brew Works. As the name suggests, it is housed in an old church.

John Law, an old friend and former student (gees, how old am I??) and Pittsburgh resident accompanied me on a pilsgrimage to this most sacred brewhouse. (Gene, the bartender, was slighted that Aran had merely passed a hello to the brewmaster. Don’t shoot the messenger.)

It’s a church, all right. Pews, apse, stained glass windows and… brew tanks?? Blasphemy? No way. Let’s just remember the wine at the Last Supper, shall we? And anyway, the beer here is heavenly. I am a big fan of stouts, and brewmaster Brant Dubovick always has one on tap; the bonus is he changes the style each time: Irish, milk stout, Imperial stout, etc. Today it was coconut stout. I honestly didn’t get the coconut but it was blessedly good. Pipe Organ Pale Ale, Pious Monk Dunkel, Celestial Gold, rounded off the regular offerings, and Hefe Weizen, Maibock and Oktoberfest were the rotating brews.

The Church Brew Works offers some excellent food including wood-fired pizzas and my choice for the evening — a Pittsburgh classic — pierogis. (Polish equivalent of a big ravioli but stuffed with cheese and potatoes and served fried a bit with a bit of buttery-fried onions and a dollop of sour cream.) And of course with a beer on the side it’s even better. The rest of the menu is even better and one can see this is not just pub fare. Like America, it is a blend of wide variety of food traditions, and if you can’t find something you like on this menu, you have an eating disorder.

Bring a growler if you’re passing by. But it’s Pittsburgh, right? Who would visit Pittsburgh??? Well, tune in to my next couple blogs and let me show you why this former steel town deserves a second look and how it earns its 2007 Most Livable American City accolade from Places Rated Almanac.

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