Saturday, January 20, 2007

Beer Scene: Indiana, PA

UPDATE - for a more recent review of what's in town, go here.

For any potential visitors, incoming grad students, or anyone interested in what's going on here as far as beer ... here's my two cents.

As we're in western PA with all of our ridiculous alcohol laws, realize that finding good beer at a reasonable price is an exercise in futility. Additionally, Indiana is a college town in a still economically disadvantaged county, with Indiana being the 'wealthiest' town. Mainly agriculture and blue collar, most bars serve up the standard array of the same type of beer with different labels (i.e., Bud, Miller, Coors, and their lights/lites). Every bar in town offers these, most at a deep discount during happy hour and to attract the college crowd.

As we're in western PA, throw in some Rolling Rock and Yuengling - maybe the occasional Straubs.

The list below includes the bars/pubs in town where such beer can be found. I'll highlight the exceptions.

Sgro's Bar: on Philly Street. Small, local, smoky. I need to revisit since the last time I was there was in 1991.
Bruno's Restaurant: Italian fare. Some beers to go in six packs.
H.B. Culpepper's: Young professionals and college crowd. Highlights include Guinness, Bass, Blue Moon.
Boomerangs: In summer, the biker bar; otherwise college crowd. Nothing exotic as far as I know.
Al Patti's: Local and college hangout. Guinness.
Brown Hotel: Smoky local. Nothing exotic as far as I know.
Wolfendale's: College crowd. Nothing exotic as far as I know.
The Coney: Early = family; late = college crowd. Largest tap selection in town so far. Seasonal Penn Brewery beer; a couple of Sam Adams. Blue Moon, Guinness. Labatt. Moosehead. Recently started a microbrew bottle rotation (2-3 new each month).
Ironwood Grill: Until recently, Blue Moon & Guinness. Added Troegs last year and now has a Victory on tap. Word has it that expansion will incur, including a few microbrew taps. Also might start monthly beer tastings. Keep those fingers crossed.
The Coventry Inn: Closed until further notice.

I think that's everyone. Not much to look at, as you can see. As for buying beer to drink at home in a Styrofoam cup ;), we have a decent beer distributor in Duquesne. Much better case selection than there used to be; they also supply the two places I buy six packs and single bottles ... Uncle Sudsy's and Ironwood Grill.

Both Ironwood and Uncle Sudsy's have a decent selection of import and microbrews (along with a lot of college swill, of course). Ironwood has the benefit of taking credit/debit, but has few single bottles with the exception of some 1/2 liter imports (Baltika) and some Stone bombers. Uncle Sudsy's keeps a full cooler of singles, which changes frequently, but it's cash only.

In short - this town has a long way to go before I no longer have to drive to Pittsburgh for the good stuff or an hour in any direction to get to a brewpub. Some day, I hope we'll get a brewpub. In the meantime - road trips and homebrewing keep me in really good beer.


Adam said... just blew my mind. I feel like I was visited by the Ghost of Indiana Past ;-)

I see what you mean about the selection. Back in the day I wasn't nearly as interested in craft (er micros back then). I was happy to go to a cheap keg party on a Thursday, get the point.

Beer tastings might be something you could push for. They seem to be getting popular these days. Heck you could probably be the host. You probably know enough about beer! :-)

Adam said...

Oh yeah....15 years hasn't changed much ;-)

Nate said...

Yeah, things move slowly here. Are you from here originally or go to IUP? Sounds like we were here around the same time I was an undergrad.

Eli said...

Nate, glad you joined the blogging world. Looking forward to getting together soon!

Eli said...

The Ironwood news is fantastic.

I stopped off to say 'thanks' Friday afternoon and the guy at the counter didn't really seem to know how to take it...

I was at Brown Hotel this fall. They had bottles of Penn Oktoberfest but thats about it. We left before buying anything, the smoke in that place, combined with the low ceilings doesn't suit me well at all.

Eli said...

I've always thought the Coventry Inn would make for a fine beer bar or brewpub...

Adam said...

Grew up near Indiana and attended college there. Graduated in '92.

Nate said...

Adam: So you started probably the year before I did. You've probably seen we're now the "Crimson Hawks".

Eli: Yep, Coventry or Brown would make good places for a brewpub. If I win the lotto....

Veronica said...

The Coventry Inn has reopened. It is open only a few days a week. they try and get most of their ingredents locally and have a good beer selection. they have a website: