Quick note: I'm working Drake's First Friday today (Fri 7/6), so if you're around, come say hi (and dress warm; it gets windy). It's behind/between the Walmart & Sports Authority in San Leandro. If I remember correctly, $15 gets you three drink tokens and a glass you can take home. I imagine I'll be the only guy wearing a Giants hat. This is also the reason I'm posting this so early.
Pittsburgh gets a lot of flak, like Cleveland or Detroit do. I haven't been to either of the latter, but I did go visit friends in Pittsburgh in 2009 and I really had a blast. It's beat-up and lived-in, but dammit, I refuse to act like those are bad qualities. Oh, and like I said when we were all discussing the ballpark poll, their stadium is absolutely phenomenal, and while I prefer AT&T, reasonable people could argue that PNC is the best yard in MLB.
2009 was also the first year I really turned a new corner as a beer nerd. I had always glanced at BeerAdvocate before a trip. but 2009 was when I smartphoned my way to the closest well-rated place on RateBeer every chance I got, other activities be damned. And Pittsburgh is a damn fine place to do so.
"The Pittsburgh beer" is Iron City Light. It is one of the worst beers I've ever had. Worse than the macros. Just awful. I got it at a Pirates game and upon my first sip, I thought the whole of western Pennsylvania had just decided to play a huge joke on the rest of the country. Thankfully, even the ballpark has stuff like Dogfish Head, so while there's not a plethora of good beer made in & around Pittsburgh, it's still readily available, despite the state's asinine alcohol laws.
One of the best options is Sharp Edge Beer Emporium. They didn't have Consecration when I was there (which is what I was trying to find there) but they had an otherwise impressive selection, and a knowledgable staff. Beyond that, it has a pretty generic pub feel to it, as well as a few pinball & arcade machines. Everything's available for on-site drinkin' or for take-out, which is the case at most bars in PA, due to the aforementioned blue laws.
Another place is D's Six Pax n Dogz, which I'm mostly writing about to make clear that the place is WAY less stupid than that stupid name would have you believe (their seasoned peanuts are named "D's Nutz"). The tap & bottle list is legit, and the food is pretty good, but the real gem is their "beer cave" which a lot like what it sounds like. Behind the bar rooms, there's an air-conditioned back room with several aisles of bottles, which you can buy for there or to take out.
Finally, there're two brewpubs worth mentioning, though it's more for their location than their beer. The first is Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh, which is right on the southern shore of the Monongahela River. I was there on a pretty dreary day and still loved it; it's gotta be amazing in the summer. The menu is pretty much what you'd expect- sausage, mustard, pickled things, and light lagers. The second noteworthy place is Church Brew Works in lower Lawrenceville. It's a church. No, really. Even when someone told me that, I figured the church woulda been gutted and barely recognizable aside from a restored stained glass window or something, but no. It's still absolutely a church. The fermenters are on the altar, half the pews are still there, and IIRC, the choir loft is table seating now. As someone who survived 13 years of Catholic school, I was tickled at the chance to have more than a sip of wine in church. The beer there is nothing special, but I'd say it's worth the trip just to see the place.
And hey, speaking of which: Church vs. Beer. Yes, San Francisco gets name-checked.