800 Vinial Street | Pittsburgh, PA 15212
There is one place we always go to when we visit Pittsburgh. Always. Penn Brewery offers authentic German beers and cuisine, something I often crave. The brewery and restaurant bring the feeling of a true Bavarian beer hall.
Penn Brewery, located in the Troy Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, was founded by Tom Pastorius in 1986 on the site of the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery, which was founded in 1848. Eberhardt and Ober opened three breweries on the site where Penn Brewery is today, and three of the original brewery buildings remain, including a labyrinth of stone caves and tunnels which was constructed to lager barrels of beer before the use of refrigeration.
Penn Brewery was originally a contract brewery, brewing their flagship beer, Penn Pilsner, at Pittsburgh Brewing Company then Jones Brewing Company until 1989. The beer was brewed in strict accordance to the German Purity Law – the Reinheitsgebot of 1516.
In 1989, Pastorius began restoring the Eberhardt and Ober Brewery, including construction of a 30,000 barrel brewing system imported from Germany. Pastorius himself actually lived in Germany for 12 years. Originally called the Allegheny Brewpub (renamed Penn Brewery in 1994), the restaurant opened in September 1989. It was the first “tied house” (restaurant tied to a brewery) in Pennsylvania since Prohibition.
During 2009, beer production was outsourced to Lion Brewery and Penn Brewery was closed, but a group of local investors purchased the brewery at the end of 2009 and reopened the restaurant in 2010. Thank goodness!
Below are the year round offerings from Penn Brewery including the descriptions from their website.
- Penn Pilsner – a 5.0% ABV pilsner. This is their flagship beer. An amber-colored Vienna-style lager beer. Soft, elegant, and complex, with just enough Noble hop presence to provide a balanced finish.
- Penn Dark – a 5.0% ABV European-style dark / Münchener Dunkel. A surprisingly light and smooth lager. A complex array of caramel and chocolate as well as slightly roasted malty notes.
- Allegheny Pale Ale – a 5.5% ABV pale ale. Their first American-style ale. An international pale ale using Europils and Caramel malts, balanced with three distinct hop varieties to create a unique amber ale.
- Penn Gold – a 4.5% ABV Munich Helles. A clean, light-colored lager with little to no hop presence. Five-time Great American Beer Festival® winner including four gold medals.
- Penn Weizen – a 5.25% ABV Bavarian-style wheat beer. A very refreshing and effervescent unfiltered ale. Pronounced banana and clove aromatics and flavors. This is one of my favorite beers anywhere. Always brings me back to the biergartens of Bavaria!
- Penn Kaiser Pils – 4.5% ABV Northern German Pils. A clean, crisp, light-bodied lager featuring a very healthy dose of Noble hops.
- Brick Biergarten IPA – a 7.0% ABV hopped-up American IPA. A very robust, hoppy beer made with a blend of seven different hops.
Penn Brewery also offers a selection of seasonal beers. During our visit the current seasonal was Penn Märzen, their spring Munich-style fest beer; a full-bodied amber lager is similar to their Oktoberfest beer, but darker and more complex. One of beer critic Michael Jackson’s “Top 24 Favorite American Beers.”
The current Brewers’ Choice Series selection was the Chocolate Meltdown, a dark, full-bodied chocolate milk stout with hints of roasted caramel malts and Betsy Ann chocolate.
I truly love Penn Brewery from the atmosphere to the food (Rich says the buffalo chicken pierogies and the schnitzel sandwich make up one of his favorite meals anywhere!), but especially love the authentic German beers. These delicious brews can be purchased to go in bottles or growlers. I took home a mixed six pack of their year rounds beers. I can’t wait to go back!
A random interesting fact: Pastorius’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Franz Daniel Pastorius, founded Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1683!
Check this out! Take a virtual tour of Penn Brewery.