The Backyard at 8th and Penn features beer from Necromancer Brewing and Trace Brewing. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Stay Downtown and have a beer outside

Even though the Three Rivers Arts Festival has concluded for another year, there are still options for enjoying a drink during the summer Downtown.

Brew Gentlemen has set up its beer garden at Steel Plaza again this year, with support from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Hours are 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and “occasional” Saturdays. They’ll have beer and sangria on tap, with cans available to go. In addition, there’ll be live music on Wednesday and Thursday.

A short walk down Tito Way gets you to the Backyard at 8th and Penn, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Giant Eagle Foundation. Necromancer Brewing and Trace Brewing have their beers on tap; Pittsburgh Mobile Bars will be parked as well, and Franktuary will be serving up hot dogs, vegan and otherwise. 

There’s brightly-colored patio furniture and classic backyard games like corn hole and Connect Four. The Backyard hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 12 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Finally, as part of the Downtown Sound initiative, the Downtown Partnership also hosts happy hour concerts in Market Square. They’re Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. Pittsburgh Mobile Bars will be on hand. 

Allegheny City Brewing expanding

Allegheny City Brewing, a North Side mainstay since 2016, is expanding in the Deutschtown neighborhood with a new building and a connected beer garden.

“This will allow us to increase some of what we like to do as far as outdoor events and fundraisers,” says Al Grasso, who owns the brewery with siblings Matt and Amy Yurkovich. 

The current location on Foreland Street will become an expanded production facility, while the new taproom will front on East Ohio Street.

“There are a lot of exciting things happening on East Ohio, and we want to be a part of making it a more vibrant main street,” Grasso says.

Construction should begin this summer with the brewery staying open throughout.  Though Grasso hesitates to offer a completion date, it’s estimated to be an eight- or nine-month project. 

“We keep reminding ourselves to enjoy the process,” he says.

The Skee-Ball games are always there, but Velum Fermentation is adding more carnival games, barbecue, music (and beer) as part of the first Southside State Fair on July 8. Photo courtesy of Velum Fermentation.

Updated: Southside State Fair has been postponed

*Editor’s Note: On July 5, organizers decided to postpone the Southside State Fair. No new date has been announced. Refunds have been issued.

The South Side isn’t known as an epicenter of family fun, but Velum Fermentation is changing that – for one day, anyway – with the inaugural Southside State Fair. The fair starts at noon on July 8, and co-owners Jenna McLaughlin and her brother-in-law, Nate McLaughlin, are working hard to make it a success.

“We wanted to do something we could bring back every year,” says Nate. 

In their 35,000-square-foot space, Velum will feature acrobats from Iron City Circus Arts, which is located across the street in the Brew House Artist Lofts

Velum already has three vintage Skee-Ball tables, and they’ll be adding ring toss and other classic midway games for the event. 

Nate says he’s resigned to manning the dunk tank: “I’ve done it before, it’s actually kind of fun. You get to yell at people.”

In addition to everything else, there will be a release of a Czech lager called Beer Ye! Beer Ye!, vendors, artists and live performances brought in by Ambient Alchemists, including sets by Chalk Dinosaur and Jack Swing starting at 6 p.m. Wild Onyinz Catering will be serving a six-course barbecue buffet. DJ Afterthought and other DJs spin from 9 p.m. to midnight for the over-21 crowd. More activities are listed on the website

Admission includes food, one beer, entertainment and 10 game tickets. Prices start at $10 for kids and $50 for adults, with a portion of the proceeds from additional games benefitting local charities. Tickets.

Inner Groove recently celebrated its fourth anniversary with a party in Verona’s Railroad Park. Photo by Annette Bassett.

Happy birthday, Inner Groove

Inner Groove Brewing threw a party in Verona on June 17 to celebrate its fourth anniversary, complete with games, food trucks and (appropriately) a DJ spinning disco tunes. 

It’s been a good ride, says Jen Walzer, who co-owns Inner Groove with her husband Kevin, along with Tim and Kelly Melle. 

“One of our goals when opening a brewery was to create a community gathering space for our guests,” Jen says. “We didn’t realize how much of a community it would be for all of us as well,” she adds, citing the support they received through the pandemic and the successful launch of the Allentown location in 2022. “It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”

It’s a busy summer for Inner Groove: Fermata Brewing joins them at Verona’s Railroad Park on July 15 for Blues, Brews and BBQ, featuring live music and the release of an American IPA that’s an Inner Groove/Fermata beer collaboration. 

A second collaboration will debut at Fermata’s Jambridge music festival on Sept. 23. The Allentown location continues its series of Saturday twilight beer garden parties, featuring live music. 

Hop Farm hopping

A couple of fun events happening at Hop Farm Brewing in Lawrenceville: Trivia Night on the first and third Mondays of the month is hosted by Liz Quesnelle, a “Jeopardy” champion who writes her own questions. The next round comes up on July 3. 

Then on July 14, Hop Farm hosts Neon Moon, a ‘90s country celebration, complete with music from DJ Rodeo Starr and pop-ups by Megalons stained glass and Western Honey Vintage. Guest taps will include Eleventh Hour Brewing, Golden Age Beer, Fermata, and Inner Groove. Shania crop tops and achy-breaky hearts are welcome. 

Quantum Spirits’s Carnegie restaurant and bar are no more, but canned cocktails and bottled spirits are still available. Photo courtesy of Quantum Spirits.

Closing: Quantum Spirits in Carnegie

Quantum Spirits has closed its Carnegie restaurant and cocktail bar, but its popular gins, whiskeys and vodka, as well as canned and bottled cocktails, are still very much available. Find them at Pennsylvania LibationsWandering Spirits and select Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores. All three websites offer online ordering and delivery within Pennsylvania.

“It’s bittersweet to close, but it’s the right decision for us,” says Sarah Kanto, who co-owns Quantum with her husband Ryan. She attributes the decision to challenges familiar to many hospitality business owners, including staffing shortages, the increasing costs of labor and food, and fewer customers, due to personal budget constraints. 

“It’s not sustainable,” Sarah says.

Quantum Spirits continues to partner with Forsythe Miniature Golf for Thursday evening’s Sip ‘N Putt. 

Quantum cocktails also will be available at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, July 14-23,  and at Trace Brewing, Coop de Ville and Pittsburgh Riverhounds games at Highmark Stadium. They’ll also be scheduling some pop-ups, according to Sarah.

Annette Bassett is a freelance writer and grant writer living in Bloomfield. She likes visiting local breweries, going to concerts and walking the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh while listening to audiobooks. She prefers wired earbuds.