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Best Brewery Tours in Western Pennsylvania

By Daniel Cooper

Pennsylvania is home to some of the oldest breweries in the nation. While many are stretched across the state, several can be found right here in PA West. Tours are offered in a majority of these facilities where the brewing process can be seen firsthand. If you are into micro brews, these are places that provide a proper education.

(Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

East End Brewery

6923 Susquehanna St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
(412) 537 – 2337
Hours: Tue to Thu - 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Fri - 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Sat - 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

I just visited the East End Brewery for the first time this past week. I honestly thought (foolishly) that the brewery was actually a small pub with a brewing process in back, ala Church Brew Works. Not even close. East End is on practically every tap in the city that carries microbrews. The two most commonly seen are the Big Hop IPA and Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale (that name just doesn't sound right). The brewery itself is located off the beaten path housed in an old abandoned warehouse. As you enter the door a narrow bar (taproom) appears with several spouts on display. It cannot go more than 2 people deep but allows itself enough room for patrons by its length. The tour itself is a short walk into the back with several barrels on display. The main cylinder is a gas fired 10 barrel that is efficient enough to save 20-50% on energy (hey, it's green) than other brewing systems due to its single fusion design. While at the tap room you are able to purchase a growler for $10-15 depending on the type of beer selected. There is also a smaller taproom in the Strip District. But what you can't find is this sold in bottle or cans at any beer distributors. Unique? Yes. Practical? Not really. The brew is definitely worth a visit for a growler.

(Photo by William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Pennsylvania Brewing Company

800 Vinial Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212 USA
(412) 237-9400

The Pennsylvania Brewing Company claims to be the first craft beer house in Pittsburgh. I am sure other breweries would contest this. Located in the historical North Side, the brewery and restaurant are housed in the Deutschtown neighborhood. Mirrored after famous German breweries in the motherland, beer has been created in the facility since 1848. The brewery follows a strict German philosophy utilizing solid copper, fermented tanks and modern filtration equipment. Operating with stainless steel pipes and valves each kettle can hold up to 12k gallons of liquid. Hops are imported directly from the Hallertau region of Germany. Within the tour you are able to see the bottle operation in full bloom. Cases of beer are produced and sent to local distributors for sale while kegs are created for local restaurants including their own. The fare includes sausage, kielbasa, pretzels, schnitzel and other German foods like you would find in any German beer house. To take a brewery tour, be sure to book in advance.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Straub Brewery

303 Sorg Street
St. Marys, PA 15857
(814) 834 – 2875

Straub Brewery is located 2 hours outside of Pittsburgh but is well worth the trip. Unbeknownst to many residents, Straub had its beginnings on the North Side of Pittsburgh off Route 28 and I-279. The brewery had its first start as a 'brew pub' before the company expanded into a proper distributor. They eventually relocated the business out to St Marys, PA. The brewery offers tours M-F between 9a-12p. Straub beer produces several products including a light, dark and seasonal. All of these are available while seeing the interior of the brewing process. For a nice pilsner, try the regular and you won't regret it.

Daniel Cooper has resided in Pittsburgh for over 10 years. He enjoys a wide variety of music and arts. On most weekends he can be found enjoying the public parks of the county.

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