Get beer at grocery stores

The Waterworks Giant Eagle is now a Market District store, which among other things means lots and lots of beer. The store carries an impressive selection of local and craft bottles, many of them available cold, and 18 (!) taps for draft beers and ciders. The prices at Giant Eagle are generally quite reasonable and some stores (including the Waterworks) offer a happy hour discount on pints and growler fills, meaning that you can often grab a growler of craft beer for less than ten bucks. The Whole Foods Market in Wexford also sells beer, as do many Wegmans (though you’ll have to haul up to Erie to find one in Western Pennsylvania). You’ll still get a better price per bottle if you buy a full case from a distributor, but sometimes you just aren’t ready for that kind of commitment.

Build your own six-pack at D's beer cave. Dan Certo photo.

Build your own six-pack at D’s SixPax & Dogz’ beer cave. Dan Certo photo.

Build a six-pack

And if you’re especially uncertain about a beer, it’s easier than ever to just try one out as part of a mixed six-pack. Not surprisingly, Giant Eagle offers one of the best deals in town. At $13 no matter what brews you choose, that price can really work in your favor. I recently assembled a six-pack with two bottles each of Founder’s Dark Penance, Ballast Point Sculpin and Weyerbacher Quad, three darn good beers with high ABVs and (normally) high price tags to match. You can also build six-packs at a number of bars and bottle shops. Though the prices are sometimes a bit steeper, these spots boast a wider selection and more knowledgeable employees. Atlas Bottle Works in Lawrenceville, House of 1000 Beers in New Kensington (where you can build a six-pack for just $10.95), D’s Six Pax & Dogz in Regent Square and Caliente Pizza & Draft House, which has locations in Bloomfield and Allison Park, are all good bets for interesting, hard-to-find beers.

Get your beer delivered

Well, not quite yet. But soon you will be able to get a six-pack brought to your doorstep along with that pizza. In December, the PLCB officially ruled that restaurants possessing the proper license could deliver up to two six-packs of beer. According to the Post-Gazette, 22 establishments across the state have applied for the license so far, and more are sure to follow. Though it won’t be the cheapest way to get your brews, it will certainly be the most convenient.

Wigle Whiskey's stylish design. Photo by Brian Cohen.

Wigle Whiskey’s stylish design. Photo by Brian Cohen.

Buy directly from the source

When purchasing locally made beer, wines and spirits, it’s best to buy directly from the people who made them when possible. For one, it makes sure all of your money goes straight to the folks who deserve it. One distiller told me that although his product sells for almost exactly the same price in both places, he makes nearly twice as much on sales at the distillery as he does from sales in retail stores. Additionally, going right to the source usually means a chance to sample products and talk to people who know them inside and out. For instance, though Wigle Whiskey now sells their rye in a handful of state stores, you can taste many more spirits and see everything that goes into making them by visiting the distillery.

Pester the PLCB

Okay, don’t pester them. But do let them know what you want! “Consumer demand is one of the factors taken into account when evaluating new products,” explains Shawn Kelly, Deputy Director of External Affairs at the PLCB. If you ask for it, he added, “we will do everything within our ability to make the item available to purchase through one of our sales channels.” So if you can’t find what you want, get in touch with the PLCB and ask for it (politely, of course).

Got more tips for buying beer, wine and liquor in Pittsburgh? Let us know in the comments!