When I first moved to Pittsburgh in September of 2003, I planted my flag in the North Hills and knew very little, if anything, about “big city living.” I remember someone telling me if I got cut off at any point, “don’t flip them off…they may have a gun.” OK.
At that point in my life, I knew even less about craft beer. I was perfectly content to stay close to home at my humble little crib in McCandless Township and drink the usual mass-produced beer I had consumed throughout my upbringing in tiny little Bradford, PA. I didn’t have a lot of exposure to it, so craft beer wasn’t even a blip on the radar.
Fast forward 11.5 years and A LOT has changed. I’m now gladly willing to risk getting cut off in the name of discovering all this city I’m proud to call my new home has to offer and I find myself fully ensconced in craft beer, with the watered-down beers of my drinking infancy a distant memory. I just finished my second tour living in the North Hills, and I was fortunate enough to discover a new craft beer destination just minutes from the house…one that will keep me coming back regardless of zip code.
I was introduced to Hal’s Bar & Grill almost immediately and quickly got hooked. It has one of those vibes that screams “friendly, neighborhood bar” while, at the same time, going the distance to put quality craft beer options in front of you. In addition, Hal’s Bottle Shop, located right next door, has one of the most extensive selections of beers to-go on the north side of the city. Hal’s commitment to giving the North Hills a solid craft beer establishment has found them front and center in this month’s Craft Beer Spotlight.
Hal’s opened seven years ago in 2007 and is located on Babcock Boulevard. It’s a destination that brings craft beer to the forefront while keeping a fun, laid-back atmosphere in place at the same time. There are several locations stamping their footprint in the craft beer landscape north of Pittsburgh, and Hal’s is spearheading that charge, offering a full food menu and a bevy of craft options for consumption at the bar. In addition, Hal’s Bottle Shop’s lineup of beer choices give you endless possibilities for mix-and-match six packs, bombers, and growlers to go!
The first thing I felt when I pulled up a stool at Hal’s is I hit the jackpot for enjoying a drink while taking in a ballgame. I tested this theory with hockey, football, baseball, basketball, and golf and, of course, I was right. Plenty of big screens surround the bar and dining area, making it easy to catch your favorite team while unwinding after a long day.
If you’re looking for a good selection of craft beer, Hal’s has you covered. Their tap rotation typically features 10 craft options and is constantly rotating, but they also have a lineup of bottled craft beers to keep you busy for several sessions. No matter what beer style wets your whistle, odds are there’s something you’ve had something you haven’t on the menu.
Hal’s also offers a full menu and features daily specials. The wings are top-notch and seats are typically full all night long on Wednesday’s $.40 wing night, so get there early! They also have $1 Taco Night on Tuesday and $1 Slider Night on Thursday. If that doesn’t get your belly grumbling, check out the rest of your food options here!
This past summer, Hal’s completed the installation of an outdoor patio, fully equipped with a fire pit, sofas, and tables for outdoor dining. Few things are more enjoyable than a cool summer night’s breeze and an IPA (at least for this guy), so a night stationed on Hal’s patio is just what the doctor ordered.
When you’re experimenting with new beer styles and discovering what’s in your wheelhouse, buying a full case can be a gamble. What if you don’t like it? So starting off with a six pack or, better yet, a mixed six-pack, gives you the opportunity to sample different styles from different breweries without stocking the fridge completely. Once you find your favorite, then you can go for the gold and grab the full 24.
One of the big contributors to the growth of craft beer is a bottle shop that truly understands the transition a beer drinker goes through when delving into craft beers for the first time. Many folks enter these shops wide-eyed and wondering what’s for them. A bottle shop that takes the time to learn what their customer likes, then recommends options based on those likes is one that is guaranteed to see repeat business as John and Jane Q. Beerdrinker continue to evolve their palate.
This level of care is a staple to Hal’s Bottle Shop operation.
Bottle Shop Manager Danny Castriota is widely-versed in beer knowledge and ensures every customer leaves with a gathering of beers that will resonate with their taste buds. He takes the time to show visitors what’s new and what parallels the beers they’re accustomed to drinking.
“Some people know what they’re looking for and others are unsure,” Danny explained. “It’s good to learn what they like so I can make good suggestions for them. It keeps them coming back and trying new beers they’ve never had before.”
Another great feature at Hal’s Bottle Shop are the consistent free samplings they hold Thursday nights. Again, if you’re just breaking into craft beer or would like to try something new from a brewery you’re not too familiar with, these samplings provide the perfect platform for that to happen. Each event typically has 3-5 beers from a specific brewery and is poured by someone with knowledge of the product, thus increasing your education and potentially adding new options to your portfolio. Plus, most samplings allow you to leave with some swag should you purchase the featured beers.
Hal’s has cemented themselves into Pittsburgh’s craft beer landscape and their continued dedication to providing a wide variety of beers accompanied by education that allows the consumer to discover new beer should lead to further success. No matter which point of the city you live, it’s worth it to take a trip to Hal’s and see for yourself all the great things that are going down.
Hal’s Bar & Grill & Hal’s Bottle Shop are located at 3225 Babcock Boulevard, Pittsburgh PA 15237. You can reach them by phone at 412-364-3230, on Twitter @HalsBar and @HalsBottleShop, and both the Bar and Bottle Shop are on Facebook.