ABV is our weekly series that highlights a different beer from a local Pittsburgh brewery every week. Check out our past picks here.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my own socially distanced interactions – both with people and with beer.
We’re not getting together at breweries. Lining up for a can release? Heck no.
We’re not wall-to-wall in a packed taproom. Next round’s on you? Hopefully before 2022.
But we ARE finding ways to responsibly reconnect with friends; usually outside and usually over some beers. We’re hangin at the park, along the river or on a stoop. We’re giving ourselves a little extra space and watching mom improve her FaceTime technique.
The next time you’re considering a small rendezvous, below are some quick pro tips on pairing up those carryout cans with a (nearby) local bite to eat. Run the goodies home or grab a shaded spot in a nearby park – whatever you do, do it responsibly.
ABV, Volume LXXIX
Food Truck Disclosure: I highly recommend supporting Pittsburgh food trucks. In the event that you’re scooping some cans from a brewery and a food truck is slinging their menu, maybe take that into consideration over everything I’ve written below. It’s good etiquette and – during these unforeseen times – they could use the love too.
Brew Gentlemen x Brassero Grill
What to Get: I’d recommend grabbing something handheld from Brassero. Their quesadillas are insanely cheesy and very, very good. General Braddock’s IPA (slim can) from Brew Gentlemen pairs nicely with just about everything.
Proximity to One Another: Brassero is on the same street as Brew Gentlemen, literally just a few storefronts away. You’re looking at about a 1-minute walk up Braddock Ave.
An optimal spot nearby: Catch Braddock Ave back toward the city and pop a squat in Frick Park. Ample space and a solid selection of park benches.
Food Truck situation: Brew Gentlemen works with some fantastic local trucks – including Blue Sparrow (most Thursdays), Blowfish BBQ (most Fridays) and Gyros N’at (most Saturdays). Give them some love too.
Larimer – East Liberty
Couch Brewery x Choolaah
What to Get: Couch has been diversifying their offerings lately to include a rad pilsner, a couple of new IPAs and even a fruited sour. I most recently had their F1 (Hazy IPA) and Thicc Ric (New England IPA); both were solid. As far as Choolaah goes – their paneer wrap is authentic, filling and the perfect portion size to keep you from overdoing it. On my most recent visit, I was a bit more hungry. Seen above is the paneer mixed into Choolaah’s ‘Pro Bowl’ – which comes with a double serving of roasted veggies. I topped it off with their house mint yogurt sauce for a cooling sensation with each bite.
Proximity to One Another: Couch is located on Washington Boulevard (in Larimer). They’re hard to miss if you’re passing the large U-Haul facility under the Brilliant Viaduct. Once you grab some cans, simply head straight up Negley Run Blvd – you can be at Choolaah (East Liberty) in five minutes. Easy to navigate and easy to hit both in one swoop via car.
An optimal spot nearby: Highland Park is without a doubt the nearest outdoor, public park if you’re in the Larimer-East Liberty area. Grab a spot near the reservoir and enjoy the perch – there are some lovely views from up there.
Food Truck situation: Couch doesn’t have a regular food truck rotation, but they have been known to book some stellar mobile food options on special occasions and during the busier months.
Not in the mood for Indian food? You can pair up Couch with takeout from Showcase Barbeque – a black-owned business in Homewood – and grab even MORE beer from East End Brewing, which is roughly a 6-minute walk along Frankstown Ave.
Grist House x Iron Born Pizza
What to Get: Grist House rotates their can selections every week – which makes it hard to recommend something – however, every style these guys brew is excellent. I recently scooped up a 4-pack of Krisp (Kolsch) and Grist House has been known to bring back Hazedelic Juice Grenade (NEIPA) on regular intervals as well. Either is perfect for a hot summer day. Pair your beer with the Two Sauce Pie from Iron Born – the big ole square boi comes with both their red sauce and white sauce. It’s super sharable and a massive portion, so go hungry.
Proximity to One Another: Iron Born is just around the corner from Grist House. Make your way from Sherman Street over to Grant Street and head west – away from the Allegheny River. You’ll reach Iron Born in ~3 blocks.
An optimal spot nearby: I recently discovered Friday Road – a scenic, connector street that takes folks between Etna-Sharpsburg and Millvale WITHOUT having to hop on Rt 28. The Friday Street Park (on Friday Road, between Millvale and Etna) is a quiet, cozy greenspace for a little picnic.
Food Truck situation: Prior to the global pandemic, Grist House consistently nailed the food truck game with regular bookings that rotated through several types of food. Although it’s been a tricky summer with COVID-related restrictions, you can check their social for the latest updates and whether or not you can expect a truck in Millvale.
Allegheny City Brewing x Nicky’s Thai Kitchen
What to Get: ACB has been cranking out hella good cans this year. I’m a huge fan of Oceanic (IPA), but you can peep their latest releases on Facebook, which they update basically daily. From Nicky’s Thai, there’s one dish I am absolutely in love with. You’ll find it on their dinner menu and it’s called Kao Soy (noodle curry). My mom makes a Burmese Kao Soy variant at home; Nicky’s version stands up to the most authentic of southeast Asian cuisines I’ve ever tried. Be sure to get a spoon with your chopsticks; this one’s soupy.
Proximity to One Another: ACB and Nicky’s are exactly one mile apart from one another on the Northside. If you’re grabbing beers at ACB, then it’s a straight shot west (past the Aviary) to Nicky’s Thai.
An optimal spot nearby: Allegheny Commons – established in 1867, making it Pittsburgh’s oldest park – is a beautiful, shade-filled space situated squarely between ACB and Nicky’s Thai. Huge fan of outdoor sits here and highly recommend it. Expect to see dog walkers, families with kiddos and Gus & Yia Yia’s.
Food Truck situation: ACB’s food truck game is super strong. They rotate through several local favorites and the most up-to-date food truck info is always live on their Facebook page.
Inner Groove Brewing x Off The Rails Barbeque
What to Get: Inner Groove’s mainstay My Verona (Golden Ale) is light, crisp and ready to whet your appetite for whatever comes next. Off The Rails is actually the storefront manifestation of Oakmont Barbecue (food truck). If you’ve seen those guys out and about, expect to see a more complete menu offering barbecue from their recently opened restaurant space in Verona.
Proximity to One Another: If you’re heading out from Inner Groove, then simply jump back onto Allegheny River Boulevard. Off The Rails is about 1-minute away, near the intersection with Wildwood Ave.
An optimal spot nearby: Riverbank Park is located a short drive down Allegheny River Boulevard. Great little riverside parklet with some seating and space for outdoor sitting.
Food Truck situation: Best bet is to check with Inner Groove via Facebook for updated food truck availability. Additionally, their newsletter – “For the Record” – provides a full rundown of what to expect from IGB’s beer and food each week.
Hitchhiker Brewing x 2 Sisters 2 Sons
What to Get: While the summer of 2020 will be remembered (forgotten?) for lacking good news, one highlight has most definitely been the opening of 2 Sisters 2 Sons Caribbean in Sharpsburg. Check out our walkthrough – which includes a peek at a few menu items – and their process for ordering takeout. Hitchhiker is currently offering cans for takeout from both of their locations on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Hitchhiker’s Myrcene (Double IPA) returns later this week; if you miss that, I’m comfortable recommending any of their Double IPAs. These aromatic, flavor-packed beers are so smooth, they’ll have you second guessing their boozyness.
Proximity to One Another: Hitchhiker and 2 Sisters 2 Sons are about 3.5 blocks apart in Sharpsburg. It makes for a pleasant walk along Main Street; or you can easily drive between the two. Just make damn sure you do NOT park in the parking lot marked ‘Fort Pitt Brewing’ at 16th Street and Canal Street (behind Hitchhiker). That lot is operated by a completely different tenant and they are known to tow violators of the no parking policy.
An optimal spot nearby: Head to the James Sharp Landing, located riverside on 13th Street. Plenty of spots to sit outside by the river and watch the boats go by while you enjoy your food. There are even a couple of small gazebos for a more intimate outdoor experience.
Food Truck situation: Hitchhiker has a robust and regular food truck schedule in Sharpsburg. They update all their bookings weekly and you can find the latest info on their website here.
Side note: Hitchhiker has been known to semi-regularly work with one of my personal favorites – Steer & Wheel – a food truck specializing in hand-crafted burgers and waffle fries.