Best Pittsburgh beers to try in 2022, as chosen by brewers and influencers | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Best Pittsburgh beers to try in 2022, as chosen by brewers and influencers

click to enlarge Best Pittsburgh beers to try in 2022, as chosen by brewers and influencers (2)
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Natalie Isenberg and Connor Brem drink beers outside of East End Brewing Company.
There’s been nothing if not a surplus of great beer coming out of Pittsburgh these past few years, and 2021 was no different. As the industry continues to surge, and more places experiment, refine, and define what makes a great beer, just about everywhere you turned, a brewery was pouring something killer.

With that in mind, I wanted to work through the best of the best in Pittsburgh’s craft beer scene in 2021, but I’m not the be-all, end-all. So instead, along with one of my own picks, I asked Pittsburgh brewers, brewery owners, writers, and influencers to name their favorite local beer from last year (and in case you had any doubt, you should probably go to Old Thunder).

Owen Gabbey - Pittsburgh City Paper writer

Thin Places - Dancing Gnome Brewery
925 Main St. and 1025 Main St., Sharpsburg.
Pittsburgh beer in 2021 was in part defined by the phenomenal new spaces that entered the scene, differentiating themselves and proving that the industry will keep expanding and shining locally for years to come. Necromancer, Trace, Old Thunder, Two Frays, and others all established themselves immediately. However, sometimes you have to acknowledge the OGs, still doing things as well as they always have.

My Beer of the Year is Dancing Gnome’s Thin Places. Their first attempt at a Barleywine, it was aged 14 months in bourbon and apple brandy barrels. It pours a beautiful deep red, tastes rich, flavorful, and complex, and is an example of some of the best in their craft still pushing into new regions, many years in.

Bill A. - @canspgh on Twitter

Unnatural Forces - Old Thunder Brewing Company
340 Freeport Road, Blawnox.
Had you asked me any of the five or so previous years what my favorite beer of the year was, I'd have given the same answer each time, Wishbone by Dancing Gnome (Hazy Pale Ale, 5% hopped exclusively with Citra). The lightness and crispness of the pale ale, while containing the full blast of hops usually reserved for anything but something referred to as "pale," makes for a full-flavor, refreshing beer.

This year, however, one of the new brewers in town, Old Thunder Brewing Company, released a new beer with a similar description, American Pale Ale, 5.3% hopped exclusively with Citra, and so I had to try it. Good decision.

The best beer I had this year was Unnatural Forces by Old Thunder Brewing Company (American Pale Ale, 5.3% hopped exclusively with Citra). "... expect soft notes of tangerine and white peach" they state in the tasting notes. They are not incorrect. I will continue to expect these things, Old Thunder.

While I won't be giving Old Thunder the nod over my beloved Dancing Gnome's citra pale ale entry as my all-time favorite beer, it was a pleasant reminder to continue to try to travel outside of those safe and worn circles. You never know what you might bump into. (Not currently on draft, but expect this to rotate into Old Thunder throughout 2022).

Kenny Gould - Founder, Hop Culture/Creative Director, Untappd

False Kingdom - Old Thunder Brewing Company
340 Freeport Road, Blawnox.
When I first heard that Rob Dillman, Zach Gordon, and Josh Taylor were opening a brewery in Pittsburgh, I expected big things. The reality exceeded my expectations.

It’s fitting, then, that my 2021 Pittsburgh Beer of the Year was Old Thunder’s False Kingdom. From the color to the pillowy soft mouthfeel and bitter hop bite, False Kingdom is the quintessential hazy IPA. Like Dancing Gnome Lustra or Cinderlands Squish, it’s the perfect beer for anyone who has consumed every conceivable type of hoppy beer and wants a return to something that’s simple, well made, and easy-to-drink. (Available in cans at Old Thunder and in distributors across Pittsburgh)

Aadam Soorma - Head of Marketing & Guest Experience, Trace Brewing

Streetlight Stars - Old Thunder Brewing Company
340 Freeport Road, Blawnox.
Throughout basically all of 2021, I found myself drinking more lager and really digging (local) cream ales when they became available — especially during the warm weather months. One day, I was in Blawnox running some errands and [Josh Taylor] from Old Thunder saw me on the sidewalk. He ran outside holding a small pour of their cream ale and said, "Try this!"

It was honestly perfect. Refreshing, clean, and very crisp with a pleasant mouthfeel. He said it was Streetlight Stars — a new cream ale they were working on and, admittedly, he'd pulled me a sample in a plastic cup, directly from the tanks. It was such a kind gesture; truly above and beyond hospitality (he knew I loved cream ales). It's been a joy to return to Old Thunder and see Streetlight Stars in service and watch other guests enjoy it, too. It's a beer that pairs exceptionally well with food — and Old Thunder books some top-notch food trucks who park outside their brewery most days they're open. Highly recommend this one. (Available in cans and on draft at Old Thunder)

Brigitte Barbe - Head of Design, Four Points Brewing

Pacific Ring - Roundabout Brewery
4901 Butler St., Lawrenceville.
With 2021 still being a pandemic year, I traveled less and spent any free moment outside. The Roundabout Pop Up on Pittsburgh's North Shore became a go-to spot on summer weekends, serving as a midway spot on my 12-mile bike loop around the city. Even though Roundabout always had a great offering at their pop-up, I always found myself craving Pacific Ring. This well-balanced IPA is hazy, tropical, and refreshing — making this my perfect summer of 2021 beer. (Note: Be sure to try Pacific Ring before the Roundabout space gets taken over by the new Coven Brewing.)

Nick Foust - Brewer/Packaging Manager, Cinderlands Beer Co.

Pale Ale - Golden Age Beer Company
337 E. 8th Ave., Homestead.
I chose Golden Age Pale because it’s a great example of a clear pale ale in an industry that’s currently supersaturated with hazy beer. It’s a citra pale that gives you the perfect citrusy and piney aroma/taste that you’re looking for and I think Aaron at Golden Age does it very well. (Find it at their location in Homestead, or at their sister restaurants The Independent or Lorelei)

Day Bracey – Founder, Barrel and Flow Fest/Co-Host, Drinking Partners Podcast

Caribbean Amphibian - East End Brewing Company x Black Frog
147 Julius St., Larimer.
I'm a big fan of Black people, Black beers, and lactose, and this beer had it all. A bottom-fermented beer (lager, if you're fancy), this Caribbean-inspired imperial milk stout was malty, roast-y, creamy, and just a tad sweet. It was brewed with Black Frog of Columbus, Ohio for our Barrel & Flow Fest, featured original artwork by Janel Young of Pittsburgh, and shipped to 25 states via Tavour. By far the collab I drank most from the fest. I hope they keep this in rotation. (Get it in cans from East End)

Andy Kwiatkowski - Director of Brewing Operations, Hitchhiker Brewing Company

'Gregg' Bière de Coupage - Cinderlands
3705 Butler St., Lawrenceville.
During the pandemic, I lost touch with beers like 'Gregg' because they're best shared in the company of friends and family. Drinking this beer immediately generated a synapse into why I fell in love with mixed culture/blended beers so many years ago. Funky, tart, dry, just beautiful beer all around. Literally minutes after enjoying this beer with Paul Schneider from Cinderlands, and members of the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild and Asheville Brewers Alliance, we got wind it won Gold at the Great American Beer Festival. It was incredible to share that moment with them and justified the fuzzy feeling it gave me. (Not currently available, but keep an eye out through the year for its return)

Matt Yurkovich - Founder/Head Brewer, Allegheny City Brewing

Daisy - Eleventh Hour Brewing
3711 Charlotte St., Lawrenceville.
Daisy, Eleventh Hour's Italian Style Pilsner, was the one that got me most excited about brewing more lagers, and probably the one that stands out from most, recently. (On draft and available on-site at Eleventh Hour)

Inside Eat'n Park's test kitchen
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Inside Eat'n Park's test kitchen

By Mars Johnson