"This has been a rather amazing seven-day odyssey," says Mike Murphy as he looks at the 20 taps that were just installed at his newly remodeled Carson Street Deli.
Murphy purchased the sandwich shop — and a license to sell beer — three years ago. Now, with more than 300 beers in the cooler, the bottle-shop portion of the store has grown to become one of Pittsburgh's largest. Aficionados have taken note.
"I'm a big fan of Carson Street Deli," says Pittsburgh Beer Meetup Group organizer Mike Beattie. Murphy's addition of the new taps, Beattie says, demonstrates how "passionate he is about bringing another great source of craft beer to the South Side."
Murphy says that he's "in the relationship business." Indeed, his close relationship with local breweries is evident from the taps: They're nearly all flowing with Pittsburgh-area beer.
To Murphy, maintaining such ties with local brewers isn't just a nice thing to do; it makes for a more dynamic business. One example: Carson Street Deli was the first local retailer to have Meadville-based Voodoo Brewery's highly anticipated, extra-hoppy Pilzilla on tap.
Beers from East End, Helltown, All Saints, Full Pint, Church Brew Works, Fat Heads and Troegs rounds out the selection of regional and state breweries, along with hard cider from Arsenal and Jack's. The only non-local beers are specialty imports offering flavors that aren't brewed nearby. Most of the beer retails for $5; the imports (and Arsenal cider) sell for slightly more.
Murphy hosts weekly beer tastings, and he's happy to provide suggestions to novice and expert alike on choosing an unfamiliar beer from the tap or the cooler. "Let's stretch you, and change your palate a little bit. We'll do that and provide you with context," he says.
"We are not the only place with good beer, or the only place with good casual food," he says. "But the synergy we have here is unique."