The pandemic forced beer lovers to do their imbibing at home, but local breweries kept them well supplied under quarantine, offering plenty of pickup and delivery options. Now that some restrictions have been lifted, patrons are returning to their favorite spots to sip a cold pint. You can even follow this handy brewery hopping trail (or plot your own course) throughout Pittsburgh.
Here’s an update on some ongoing projects and new places to check out around Pittsburgh.
Beer brings people together, but big gatherings are a no-no in the age of COVID-19. This year, Fresh Fest, the nation’s first Black beer festival, is going digital. On August 8 from noon to 9 p.m., organizers will live stream Digi Fest from Work Hard Pittsburgh’s studios and various venues in Allentown.
The event will feature live art, music, DJs, podcasts, tutorials on brewing and cooking and beer savvy speakers from around the globe. Participating brewers are busy collaborating with Black businesses and artists on projects ranging from label designs to food pairings. Ticket packages will be available starting June 19 and start at $10 for a Digi Pass that gets you access to 54 hours of entertainment and education.
Acclamation Brewing, 555 b Wildwood Ave., Verona
Here’s a reason to stand up and cheer: After years of planning, Acclamation Brewing is set to open in Verona in early July.
The Wildwood Ave. taproom can accommodate two dozen patrons, but, due to social distancing regulations, that number has been reduced to six. There’s a large outdoor beer garden, however, to handle the overflow.
Jason Yahnke, who co-owns the business with Jim and Carol Callender, Dave Angalich and Aaron and Lara Martin, says they have more than 40 recipes in their beer-making arsenal representing all styles. To start, the 3.5-barrel system will crank out six beers, mostly IPAs and wheats, all under six percent ABV. Customers can bring in food from neighboring restaurants and leave with a growler.
1700 Penn, 1700 Penn Ave., Strip District
This massive collaboration between Pennsylvania Libations and Helltown Brewing is moving into the final stages. The 6,000-square-foot building will open as a shared spot featuring a taproom serving Helltown and Rivertowne brews, a full-service bar and a Pennsylvania Libations retail store. Customers can stock up on bottles and cans from more than 25 of the state’s top wineries, cideries and meaderies, with the option to taste before you buy.
Can’t wait until the interior is complete? Every weekend, the 7,500-square-foot parking lot doubles as a market where you can get beer, specialty cocktails and food and listen to live music courtesy of Con Alma. Hours are Friday 3 to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Insurrection AleWorks, 1812 Penn Ave., Strip District
Just down the street from 1700 Penn, another taproom is opening. Heidelberg-based Insurrection AleWorks is expanding to 1812 Penn Ave. The location, which is under renovation, will serve beer and a selection of local wines and spirits. No food will be sold on-site, but folks are welcome to bring in bites from neighboring eateries.
Hop Farm Brewing Company, 5601 Butler St., Lawrenceville
About a year ago, Hop Farm Brewing Company teamed up with Provision PGH to offer American eats that complement the beer. The partnership is still going strong as they expand operations to the neighboring building, overhaul the current taproom, renovate the upstairs music venue and add a 6,000-square-foot garden and seating area on the roof.
Hop Farm owner Matt Gouwens says COVID-19 has slowed down the project, but construction will begin this summer. It will be completed by the spring of 2021.
In the meantime, you can visit the brewery and take a seat inside or at one of the picnic tables set up along Butler Street. While chef Mike Saffron heads up the kitchen at Hop Farm, executive chef Stephen Eldridge and his wife Susan Cope run Provision PGH’s Federal Galley location.
“Our current menus are very similar at both locations. Mike has his touch on a few things at the Farm,” Eldridge says. “When we open in the new space the menus will continue to carry our popular sandwiches and burgers. Our cauliflower and fries aren’t going anywhere either! Saffron and I are going to expand on the entrée side of things, as well as start to develop an in-house charcuterie program. You might even see some pizzas to go with Matt’s beers. I think we are going to have a lot of fun cooking together in the new space.”