Here are a dozen places to visit in Downtown/Strip District, East End, South Side and South Hills for the best tacos in Pittsburgh.
It's become my tradition to write about the tradition of the East End Brewing Co. to release, as a thanks to its supporters, a barleywine in hand-labeled bottles called Gratitude. The sixth version, once again with a beautiful bird label by Mary Tremonte, will be for sale at noon Saturday ($18 each, or a case of 12 for $200), along with packs of bottles from previous years, at the Homewood brewery.
The release has become a bigger than ever event, with a special presentation the night before for fans who come into town to buy the stuff and a post-release (4 p.m.) event, at OTB (Over The Bar) Bicycle Cafe on the South Side, where friends can trade brews. East End's Scott Smith, who's been laid up with a sprained ankle, says, "I hope to get there after we're done cleaning up at the brewery, if I'm still on my feet." For all the details, check out eastendbrewing.com/node/898.
Chocolate beer? Andrew Rich and Nick Rosich at Penn Brewery on the North Side this week brewed one to come out on nitrogenated draft and in some 22-ounce bottles in time for Valentine's Day. In it, 300 pounds of dark chocolate from local Betsy Ann Chocolate. More on this later.
From the beer-for-the-good-of-mankind file: At 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Young Professional Board holds its first Pour for a Cure at the Hall of Fame Club in PNC Park. Taste more than a dozen international beers (from Frank B. Fuhrer's specialty division) and cheese while enjoying music and an auction. For the beer list and to buy tickets -- $40 ($50 at the door) or $75 for the 5:30 p.m. VIP tasting and $20 for designated drivers -- call 412-395-2868 or visit lls.org/wpapourforacure.
The next night, Friday, Jan. 28, Reed's Relief, which supports parents of infants in neonatal intensive care units, aims to raise funds and awareness with a beer tasting from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Level 20 Lounge in Bethel Park.
"Salut! To a Blanket of Comfort" features beer from Penn and Great Lakes breweries and from several home brewers, along with finger foods, music, a silent auction and raffles. Admission is $40.
Reed's Relief and founders Tony and Heather Feliciano, recently moved here from Indianapolis, attempt to fill the gap that exists in services for those families with children in intensive care by providing blankets, toys, meal vouchers and support (reedsrelief.org).
For advance tickets (recommended), call 412-719-3466 or e-mail 4ActivEvents@gmail.com; tickets will also be available at the door for $45.
And one more: From 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, the North Side's Penn Brewery hosts a beer and food fundraiser. A Taste of the Neighborhood aims to help rebuild Providence Connections' playground on the North Side that was destroyed by fire last fall ($20, or $25 at the door; 412-766-3860).
Tasting Tuesdays at the Pines Tavern in Pine are now Thirsty Thursdays, starting from 6 to 8 tonight when they'll be pouring porters and stouts: Flag Porter, Arcadia London Porter, Founders Porter, Victory Storm King Stout, New Holland Poet Oatmeal Stout and Duck Rabbit Milk Stout.
Cost is $10 plus tax and tip, and you can reserve but you don't have to (724-625-3252).
Need to make watching football and drinking beer less complicated and physically taxing? You might want to get The Clicker, a universal remote control with a bottle opener built right in, for $24 from myclicker.com.
Bob Batz Jr.: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1930.