Situated in the Troy Hill neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s north side, Penn Brewery is a unique look into the cultural origins of the founders of the city. The microbrewery sits on the site of the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery and is on the National Registrar of Historic Places. These buildings have served as beer breweries since 1848, and they served a historically German neighborhood with the most authentic experience you will find in the area. The microbrews are only part of the attraction; everything about Penn Brewery is authentically German.
The relatively small dinner menu offers a variety of very German dishes and foods; Bratwurst, Kielbasa, and Frankfurter sausages adorn such favorites as sauerkraut, pierogi, and hot potato salad. I gave a try to the Wurst platter, fresh Bratwurst, smoked Bratwurst and Frankfurter served with Dusseldorf mustard, hot German potato salad and sauerkraut. One of the dinner dishes, I was immediately struck by the very distinctive flavor of each of the three sausages. the sweet Frankfurter, savory Bratwurst and vinegary sauerkraut had pungent and distinct flavors and textures, each complimenting one another well.
Though only an appetizer, the Beer Cheese was easily one of the best items on the menu. The generous bowl of cheese was outstanding over various crackers, and even a sample of the sausage itself. There were so many things to sample I had a hard time figuring out exactly where I wanted to begin. The best dish I ate were the pierogi. The outside of each was pan-seared to an inviting brown while the potato contents were seasoned strongly. They’re seasoned so well and in a style that is uniquely Pittsburgh.
The microbrewery’s most prominent feature, its microbrews, were great, but I was disappointed in their presentation. I sampled four of them; the rich Penn Pilsner, amber Marzen, smoky Allegheny Pale Ale and Penn Gold Lager were each strikingly unique; rich and smooth. Many menu items have a suggested beer with them, but I went into Penn Brewery cold; I didn’t know anything about the brews. I was expecting a waitperson to be able to describe them to me or get to hear about them, but instead I was given a list with only the names on it. The only way to learn more was to buy. I would expect someone would be willing to talk about the beers a little more.
Service was good, though the servers did not seem knowledgeable in the beers the brewery was making. Upon request I was able to get a few samples, but it would be nicer to have someone who could talk at length about what the product is before buying. Without a doubt, though, Penn Brewery is a place you shouldn’t miss.
- Come here only for the most authentic German experience; few items are “Americanized.”
- Be prepared to try a few beers. The variety of microbrews should not be ignored.
- There’s a lot to enjoy here; food, beer an entertainment. For best experience, plan to stay awhile.