I wasn’t busy for a weekend, and before I knew it, I ended up on Pittsburgh.
No, really…Pittsburgh!

While the Confluence may bring to mind images of the Rust Belt or Steeler football, Pittsburgh is actually a beautiful city in Renaissance. While vestiges of the industrial past remain, the city has reinvented itself with it’s universities, medical campuses and sports teams…not to mention it’s entertainment districts. It’s actually a heckuva lotta fun and it somehow ends up a destination of mine every year or so.

Church Head Brewer Steve Sloan and his beautiful bride enjoy a few pints at the end of the day.

The ‘Burgh is also home to one of America’s most beautiful craft breweries: Church Brew Works (be sure to check out the photo gallery). Located in a renovated church, just north of the University and east of downtown, CBW is mainly a brewpub, with some local distribution to be had. The pews serve as seating, the chancelry serves as the brewhouse and the pulpit offers the best seat in the house, surrounded by the light from stained glass windows.

They also have a new brewer in town. Steve Sloan is an industry veteran who has brewed in numerous locations including multiple California stops, New Zealand, Hawaii, Florida, St. Louis, Florida, Michigan and a handful of Pennsylvania brewers. He’s just putting his touches on the Church’s lineup, as this visit noted improvements in all their beers, which had sometimes suffered from off flavors in the past.

With an ever improving lineup and a setting that’s truly “divine,” Church alone makes the city worth a stop for craft beer fans.

(As a side note, there are numerous other “Beer Churches” out there, including resource sites, such as http://www.beerchurch.com/, blogs http://www.beerchurch.org/, and the goofy http://thechurchofbeer.com/. The one in PA actually makes beer…which makes it better.)

In addition, Pittsburgh is home to some fantastic watering holes. If you’re in the neighborhood, you must stop by D’s Six Pack & Dogz, The Big O (just for the fries…I challenge anyone to down an XL), Penn Brewery, Hofbrauhaus (the food sucks, but the beer is authentic & very good), Jack’s Bar, Kopy’s, Fat Head’s (or almost any place along the mile or so of pubs on the Southside) and my favorite HOT – as in “spicy” – sandwich shop, Southside Steaks (the “Satan” or “Inferno” are amazing), which beats the pants off the more famous Primanti Brothers in my humble opinion.