a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A beer garden where I could dance a jig

Sharp Edge in Pittsburgh has enough varieties of beer to choose from to make your head spin.

McMURRAY, Pa. – A stranger to Sharp Edge Brasserie shouldn’t expect its décor to be about anything other than beer.

Hundreds of expensive bottles of brew line a wall in a jail-like cell at the entrance to the business at the end of a dying strip mall in the otherwise-wealthy Peters Township section of Washington County, Pa.

Further ahead, behind the bar, are more than 50 different draft beers to choose from, as well as 350 other varieties, selections that spin my head well before any alcohol reaches my belly.

“How do you keep track of that much beer?” I ask the young female bartender.

“It can be a challenge,” she responds, before recommending a cold glass of Bavik, a Belgian Pilsner of the lighter variety.

This bar is among four in the Pittsburgh region of the same name and owned by Jeff Walewski, whose flagship location can be found in the city’s Bloomfield section.

The mood is welcoming and calm tonight inside the Peters pub off Route 19. A distinguished man is talking to a complete stranger about the history classes he teaches at a public school. Two nearby rows of high-backed, oak booths are filled with customers quietly drinking dark beers in fancy glasses. The air is pleasantly free of cigarette smoke. The location is exempt from the unwelcoming, costly and controversial drink tax in neighboring Allegheny County.

The bartender announces that Comcast TV will be filming a show here as part of a story about places with good beer and grub, beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Buffalo chicken bites and personal pan pizzas are half price tonight, as are the Belgian drafts. That’s good news because the Bavik normally sells for $6.10 a glass. It has nothing on the Chimay, which will set you back $11.10 per goblet after happy hour expires.

Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” album is streaming from the speakers when my cheese pizza with a bit too much garlic arrives on my plate. The crust is so wafer thin that it could double as a tortilla, but the pizza is not bad washed down with two lagers that were brewed for only the finickiest of Pils connoisseurs.

The meal ends when the British progressive rock band’s mellow tune, “Goodbye Blue Sky,” fades to the Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed,” a song about death and rock 'n' roll in hillbilly country. It’s time to leave.

I never cared much for Jerry Garcia.

But, there is reason to smile. The tab comes in at just under $10, a bargain during happy hour that is enough to make me think for a passing second about putting on my clogging shoes. Heck, that price can’t be beat by the string of grimy, smoke-filled joints in southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.


Alison said...

I grew up in McMurray. Which strip mall is it? (Never mind. I can Google it!)

Scott Beveridge said...

I didn't notice a name of the strip mall. It has a closed specialty grocery store. 130 Gallery Drive.

Mike Jones said...

It's where The Food Gallery grocery store used to be, right?

Amanda Gillooly said...

MMMM....50 draft beers....oh, sorry! I just totally slobbered all over my keyboard.

Anonymous said...

You need to go to Bocktown Beer in Robinson. Great American Beer...Better food.
I love Amanda

Amanda Gillooly said...

Awe shucks. I'm blushing.