Eat: Massive sandwiches at Full Pint Wild Side Pub

When Wild Purveyors closed their Lawrenceville storefront last year, Full Pint was left with a very beautiful, very large and very empty space next to their Butler Street outpost. So they did what any of us would have done: they took it over and filled it with meaty sandwiches.

Early last year, Full Pint Brewing opened a second location at 5310 Butler Street. The new Wild Side Pub gave craft beer enthusiasts an opportunity to sample more than a dozen of Full Pint’s brews without hauling out to North Versailles. With the new expansion, drinkers can choose to belly up to the cozy little bar or spread out with a group on the spacious restaurant side.

The restaurant is run by Executive Chef Brandon Gerthoffer, who creates the menu based on one simple question: “What would I want to eat if I was just hanging out and drinking?” The food at the Wild Side Pub is big and hearty, perfect for soaking up a few pints. So far, the number one seller is the “Cueben,” a mash-up of a Cuban sandwich and a classic Reuben.

Gerthoffer gets some of the meat (including a variety of wild game) from nearby Butcher on Butler, and all of the bread comes from Enrico Biscotti. Gerthoffer also takes every opportunity to incorporate beer into the menu, from hop-infused aioli to All-In Amber caramelized onions and banana peppers pickled with Gus IPA. And though he describes the menu as “meat-centric,” it does feature a few vegetarian options, including a Mediterranean sandwich with hummus and roasted red peppers.

Whether you choose to dine at the bar or at one of the long wooden tables, the beer will be flowing. The brewery is shaking up their lineup, axing a few year-round staples to make room for new brews. The Tri-PA Imperial IPA is going away, as is the Hobnobber Session IPA. Plenty of new beer is on tap or in the works, including Social (a session IPA brewed with grapefruit) and Ale Satan, a Berliner Weisse flavored with cherry and scorpion chilis.

Full Pint Wild Side Pub is open Monday through Saturday, with food available during normal dinner hours and at lunchtime on Saturdays. Check out their Facebook page for more info.

Drink: A slew of new offerings at Wigle Whiskey

Though whiskey is in their name, Wigle Whiskey doesn’t let that limit them. Fully embracing the spirit of experimentation, Wigle has produced everything from grappa to absinthe to mole bitters. As they approach their fourth summer in business, the family-owned distillery is rolling out some of their most exciting spirits yet.

This week, Wigle will release a smoked bourbon. Their third bourbon to date, this version uses just 55% corn, which is barely over the legal minimum to be defined as bourbon. The mash bill is filled out by malted barley that was smoked over cherry wood, lending it light notes of fruit and barbecue. Though the smoke flavor is subtle, this bourbon will likely appeal to fans of Scotch and mezcal.

At a recent tasting of upcoming spirits, the lineup was dominated by a variety of gins. Two were barrel-aged versions of their flagship Ginever. The one that had spent time in tequila barrels was bright and citrusy, while the apple brandy barreled version was warm and smooth. We also sampled their version of Old Tom gin, a classic (and mostly forgotten) style of gin that falls somewhere between Dutch genever and London Dry. Wigle’s Old Tom bursts with baking spices and, though no sugar was added, tastes a bit like dessert in a glass. All of those spirits will be released throughout the year.

Those four products only scratch the surface. Wigle is working on a liqueur made with paw paws (a tropical-like fruit native to Western Pennsylvania) and a distinctly Wigle version of vodka. The distillery recently installed a second still, allowing them to more than double production and get more whiskey into barrels for aging. And the Wigle crew is also hard at work on Threadbare Cider, a new cider house and meadery coming to the Northside this fall.

Wigle will no doubt be throwing tons of parties all summer long to celebrate the releases. Keep an eye on their website for all the details. Check out this weekend’s opening and release festivities at Wigle’s Barrelhouse & Garden in NEXT’s 11 Pittsburgh events not to miss in May.

Do: Watch the third installment in the Food Systems series

Last summer, we wrote about the first part of David Bernabo’s ambitious Food Systems series, an ongoing project documenting Western Pennsylvania’s food system from a variety of angles. Bernabo, an artist, musician and co-founder of The Glassblock, has already released two Food Systems films: the first installment traced Pittsburgh’s restaurant history, and the second was a short film about farm dinners.

The third film, called Food Systems, Chapter 3: The Ecosystem, focuses on the farmers. “[The film] documents the challenges of farming in and around Western PA, from climate change to fracking to skyrocketing land prices to monocultures and the impact on diet and food pricing,” writes Bernabo in a press release. Like the previous films, Chapter 3 is assembled primarily from interviews with a variety of players in the local food scene, including farmers, chefs and educators. The film also includes footage of pieces of our local food system in action, such as the fascinating methods behind farming fish at Laurel Hill Trout Farm.

The film is both inspiring and alarming. It celebrates the many people working to make Pittsburgh’s food healthy, available and sustainable while shining a light on the many challenges faced by today’s farmers and producers. Food Systems, Chapter 3: The Ecosystem forces viewers to acknowledge a reality that is all too easy to ignore: if we don’t start valuing the people growing our food and the land they grow it on, the future looks very bleak indeed.

Screenings of all three films are scheduled for May. Head to the Food Systems website for all of the dates as well as a link to buy a Blu-ray of the first two films.

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.