Monday, November 29, 2010

School Zones

Ok, I was driving past a school on my way the local market and remembered how is was when I was a kid going to that school. Back then we had a bar on one corner and things were fine. That bar is long gone and under current LCB law you can't have a new bar within a given radius of a school. I ask why? Will the little tykes get a buss on if they smell the beer. Will they try and come in when they hear the baseball game on the TV? How are they being protected from evil bar if they can walk past hundreds of them when they are out of school? I wish I knew. But, if bars can't be near schools should kids be allowed to be near bars? What would dad's do? How can you take little Eddie to the playground if you can't stop off for one first? These are serious questions of the day.

This is similar to universities. One local U does not allow adverts in the school rag from beer distributors. The students are probably their biggest customer base. Yet for the ban on the ads they permit beer and wine appreciation classes. So how do they advertise the class? Clearly I have nothing to do today but at least you guys have something to talk about!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Smoking Bars

As some of you may already know, I publish a directory of bars for Pittsburgh’s South Side. I do it for fun but I try and do it right. What I try and avoid is listing information about a bar that could change often or that you can get from them via their website. One tidbit of information that I list is whether or not the bar allows smoking. Actually, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania allows this now. You can find all the bars in Pa. that are exempt from the smoking ban on this website.

A lot of other websites put out similar information and typically do a review. They often list details about a bar such as hours, cover charge for bands, etc. But I can’t say that I have ever read a review or story about a bar allowing smoking or not. A recent story in a local paper was about perogis in many Pittsburgh bar. One was in particular was noted for this but reading the comments from readers caused me to think about the ban. The bar in question allows smoking but serves food. This is allowed. In order to be exempt from the smoking ban a bar must not have more that 20% of sales in food. That means they CAN serve food but would you want to take a date there? A lot of people will not go to a bar that allows smoking and they may wish to know this ahead of time. So, this is not one of my ordinary rants but just a comment for you writers that get paid for this. Please note the smoking allowance when you do your review. To my readers, am I blowing smoke or is this an issue? (Hey, you had to see that line coming)

I do know of some bars that do a great deal in food but permits smoking. I an others are not sure how they pull this off. If anyone knows the deal on this let me know.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rock Bottom

On November 15, 2010, Rock Bottom Brewery merged with Gordon Biersch Brewery to form Craft Works. The principal of the combined business is Centerbridge, a private equity firm with about 12 billion dollars in capital. Included in this new venture is Old Chicago restaurants.

Rock Bottom was founded 20 years ago and has 35 restaurants in 16 states. Gordon Biersch has 29 restaurants in 18 states and in the nation’s capitol. Old Chicago has 101 restaurants giving Craftworks a presence just about everywhere. Craftworks is maintaining offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Louisville, Colorado. Craftworks is headed by Rock Bottom foundr Frank Day, who will be chairman and Allen Corey, an original investor of Gordon Biersch.

What does this mean for Pittsburgh? Craft beer will continue in Homestead with Rock Bottom. Mr. Day and Mr. Corey plan to continue to offer promotions, tours and tapping parties. In addition to the three named companies above, other companies in the Cragtworks family include: Big River Grill Brewery Works, Ragtime Tavern, Seven Bridges, A1A Ale Works, Bluewater Grille, Chop House & Brewery, Walnut Brewery, Sing Sing and Rhythm & Brews. Hey, lift goes on. I am glad we have two lads (yes, they are young looking) helping to make it go better with beer.

Penn Brewery

This is going to be short and to the point. Tom Pastorius is no longer with the Penn Brewery. Apparently he and the other three partners has a difference of opinion as to the direction the operations and Tom lost. Please remember one thing all you boys and girls who have an MBA; when you sell your business you no longer have a business. Everything that could be said about the opening and closing and then the new opening has been said. I can’t add too much more. What I would like to say is: Thank you Tom.

At some time in our history we would have gotten a brewpub in Pittsburgh. But we did when we did because of Tom. Tom will go down in history as being the driving force is opening the first brewpub in Pittsburgh as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Tank you Tom for doing this. Thank you Tom for giving me the pleasure of drinking some of the finest beers in the world: Kaiser Pils. Thank you Tom for bringing together in one place many people that have become dear friends of mine. Thank you Tom for being so kind to me.

The Penn will always be Tom’s. I have never met the other owners nor do I think they care to meet me. They are in business to be in business. Tom was in business too, but he was foremost a beer man. He wanted to see his customers enjoy what he worked so hard to make. He came out and drank with us. He was not just the owner, he was one of us. The Penn Brewery has given me an untold trove of memories. Have I ever said thank you, Tom?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


For those who do not frequent Piper’s Pub on the South Side, you are missing an interesting drink and it is not a beer. Irn-bru is an orange flavored, non-alcoholic soft drink made in Scotland. First I have to say that I never tasted this as it has way too much sugar for me and would cost me another co-pay to my doctor. But for those healthy lads and lassies I want to make it known to you.

It has carbonated water, sugar, caffeine and quinine. It also has a trace of ammonium ferric citrate and who doesn’t go for that? But rest assured that this is not one of those dreaded energy drinks people are getting their kilt twisted over. Despite the fact that I am unable to drink this I enjoy their website and especially their ads. They think out of the can and run some funny ones. Unfortunately some of them are not suitable for public broadcast (they are not illicit, sorry to say). These are my favorite and can be found on their Ads that Never Ran section of the site. So pop on down to Piper’s and pop one open. Enjoy the ads on your smart phone and then call your friends. Once they find out you are not drinking beer they will not come down the you can drink in peace and enjoy the match.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Duquesne Pilsener Beer

The other day I went to the Pittsburgh Bottle Shop to meet my mates. Mark Davis, former brewer at Pittsburgh Brewing is the owner. They sport a lot of drafts and a huge take out selection. The beers are always good and the bottles are really round. Pittsburgh Brewing, the makers of Iron City Beer is (was) in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A competing brewery was located on the South Side; the Duquesne Brewery, home f the really big clock face. It went out of business in 1972 after a labor strike. But thanks to Mr. Mark Dudash, Duquesne beer is back. This year saw the resurgence of Duquesne Pilsener and the bottle shop had it in stock. They had it on draft, my preference but this time only in bottles. So I ordered one from one of the nice round bartenders. My reaction?

I liked it. The beer was very nice, too. Now remember that this is not Sierra Nevada or Dodfish Head. But all in all I liked it. It was clean and clear. It did have a nice head once poured, albeit not in a pilsner glass. The taste was refreshing and mild bodied but I picked up a nice but faint malt aftertaste. I had a second. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is an almost local beer made in the former Rolling Rock Brewery in Latrobe. Now called City Brewing it is making beer in and for western Pennsylvania. I think we should give the beer and brewery a go. Duke will never (maybe?) take on the national brands but it’s a hometown boy. Let’s give him our support. The brew is distributed by another South Side lad; the Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale Co.