Pittsburgh might be known for its beer, but it also garners accolades for its growing number of small-batch distilleries.
The Strip District should be the first destination for any distillery connoisseur. In the spirit of Pennsylvania's long-steeped whiskey-making tradition, take a tour of Wigle Whiskey (2401 Smallman St., 412-224-2827, wiglewhiskey.com), the first post-Prohibition whiskey distillery to open in Pittsburgh. Tours include tastings of their well-revered barrel-aged varieties alongside limited edition and experimental batches.
Keep crawling along the Strip to discover another Prohibition comeback, Maggie's Farm Rum (3212A Smallman St., 412-709-6480, maggiesfarmrum.com), the first commercially available craft rum in the state since the 1920s. Maggie's boasts its own copper-wrapped cocktail bar, but if a bottle to go is more your style, the vanilla-and-orange-infused spiced rum is worth bringing home.
Set in a Civil War-themed red brick storefront, Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar (300 39th St., 412-260-6968) sells only samples and 1-liter growlers playfully decorated with the title "Daily Rations." The newly added Cider Garden allows for outdoor sipping of ciders made from of a blend of up to 12 apple varieties. For something unique, try the Oliver's Oaked with bourbon and vanilla ($23), which — oddly — resembles a chardonnay.
Beer will always be a big part of Pittsburgh, and one of the best places to start is Penn Brewery (800 Vinial St., 412-237-9400, pennbrew.com), the state's first brewpub. This laid-back, Deutsch-themed joint is the perfect place to grab a craft pilsner and schnitzel sandwich. If you're more of a microbrew aficionado, East End Brewing Co. (147 Julius St., 412-537-2337, eastendbrewing.com) is known for its in-depth tours. And for ambiance, there is a reason locals recommend Church Brew Works (3525 Liberty Ave., 412-688-8200, churchbrew.com). The repurposed Roman Catholic sanctuary's high-vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows are a sight to behold. Not to mention the friendly staff and daily pierogi specials. Some things never get old.
Continue the tour of Pitt here with a guide on where to eat.