Last weekend I was full of excitement. I had two tickets to the 2011 NHL Winter Classic – Capitals v. Penguins, being played outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh! Not only was I going to the NHL’s mid-season showcase to see my beloved Caps, I was also going to a new city to explore the local brew!
We left Kensington, MD at about 7:30 a.m. on Friday, December 31 for the drive to Pittsburgh. I figured it would take us about four hours to get there, just in time for lunch at a local brewpub. Just outside of Pittsburgh, in Monroeville, we pulled into the Rivertowne Pour House right on schedule.
There were a lot of house-made beers on tap (the beer menu on the Rivertowne web site says they carry 14-18 different beers at a time). I was a bit overwhelmed by the beer menu, and since I wanted to try a variety of their beers, I selected one of the set-menu sampler trays, which came with:
- Shepherd’s Crook Scottish Ale
- Jeff’s Voodoo Lager
- Rudolph’s Red (Winter Warmer)
- Last Chance Vienna Lager
- K.A. Kölsch
- 2 Year Reserve Bourbon Barrel High Gravity Selection
- Old Wylie’s IPA
- Üterbräu (German Red)
- White Lightning (Belgian White)
All of the beers were solid and drinkable, particularly the Lagers. The most interesting brew was the 2 Year Reserve Bourbon Barrel High Gravity Selection, which was aged in a bourbon barrel for over 2 years and clocked in at about 9.5% ABV. It had a strong bourbon smell, which over-powered the beer a bit at the outset, but it yielded to a smooth ending. I also enjoyed the IPA, Belgian White, and Winter Ale.
Aside from the beer, we loved the expansive food menu and friendly service. I had a “Pittsburgh Sandwich,” which was made famous by Primanti Brothers and chronicled on Man Vs. Food. The sandwich comes with grilled meat (I had steak), cole slaw, sliced tomato, and french fries between two thick slices of Italian bread. The sandwich was good, but I was hoping that later in the trip I could eat an original from Primanti Brothers itself!
Although we were the first to be seated for lunch, a crowd of regulars followed, and there was a nice buzz about the place as the servers set up for the New Year’s Eve bash to come later. Too bad we couldn’t stay, as I would have loved to try Pineapple Under the Sea, a beer aged on pineapple in honor of Sponge Bob, and Cherry Cordial, a beer “blasted with 42 lbs. of cherries.”
But we were anxious to head into Pittsburgh and get settled in for the Winter Classic. Next stop, the famous Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, to kill a few hours before check-in at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel.
To come: our German-style New Year’s Eve.