This Weekend of January 6th at the Independent


You've worked hard, and we're impressed.  But, after four excruciating days of adhering to your New Year's resolutions in the solitary confinement of your home, it's time to return to your favorite neighborhood joint for food and drinks.  Don't worry -- we're not here to bust your diet -- we just want to hang out.  Here's how we can make that work without running afoul of your resolutions.

Have you tried either of our salads?  

I hadn't either -- my 2016 resolution of gaining 10 pounds* required a more steady diet of Kafta Burgers and Fried Chicken Sandwiches.  But, with a new year come new resolutions, and this year I'm resolving to LOSE weight.  So I sat down and tried our salads on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.  It turns out they're really good.

Our grilled romaine salad is a surprising burst of texture and flavor, driven by olive tapenade, pickled onion, aged parmesan, and pita crisps.  You can dress it with any of three house-made dressings:  balsamic, creamy garlic, and honey lemon. On its own, it's perfect, but if you're craving some protein, you can add a confit chicken thigh, lamb kafta, falafel, or white anchovy for a little extra.

Our French Lentil Salad is spicy and peppery with radicchio, arugula, peruvian peppers, tomato, and bulgur wheat, all brought together with tahini lemon dressing.  It's vegan as is, but you can add feta or grilled eggplant to add a bit of Mediterranean influence.

Passing on craft beer for a few weeks?  How about some wine?

We work really hard to be a good craft beer bar, but, until recently, we were really phoning it in on wine.  That has changed.  If you like wine, why should you have to leave your neighborhood to have a good wine experience?  To that end, in addition to our five wines-by the-glass, we've added an additional seven wines-by-the bottle on a separate menu.  All seven of these wines are wines that are only available by special order in Pennsylvania; all seven of them are reasonably priced between 35 and 45 per bottle, and all seven of them represent the result of thoughtful consideration by Hidden Harbor's Head Bartender, Max Stein, who just so happens to be prepping for the introductory sommelier exam in March.  This is a bottle list for wine drinkers by a wine drinker -- not a list prepared by a beer and whiskey drinker** with no idea about what wine drinkers find interesting.  Our staff is embracing our new wine program as well, meeting regularly with Max on their own time to taste through wines (both on our menu and off of it) and learn about them.  

Sunday Funday Release of Our Annual Collaboration Beer with Hitchhiker

This Sunday, we're releasing our annual collaboration beer, "Broadside in a Cloud of Smoke," a bold and brazen smoked porter we brew with Hitchhiker in honor of Hunter S. Thompson.  We'll tap it on Sunday when we open at 5 p.m.  It will be available in pints for $6 and available to go for $10 in special, limited-edition crowler cans (with a label of which the good doctor of journalism would approve).

Thanks for reading folks.  See you at the Independent.


Current Tap List

*  I'm an overachiever, so I gained 15 for good measure.

**  oh, hey, that's me.

Thanksgiving Week Hours

Hi folks:  

Here's our Thanksgiving week schedule:

Tuesday 11/24; 5p-11pm

Business as usual

Wednesday 11/25; 3p-12a;  3p-5p Day Drinking Appreciation Happy Hour; 5p-12a Tiki night!

Lest we lose a Tiki night due to a Holiday closure, we're moving Tiki Thursday to Wednesday for this week only.  Additionally, for those of you who want to start your Holiday a little early, we'll open at 3 p.m. with $2 off all beers from 3-5 p.m.  You left work early to start drinking.  You're a hero, and you should be treated as such.  #DayDrinkersAretheRealHeroes.

Thursday 11/26:  Closed

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday 11/27:  Tall Dudes with 'Tudes (Wes Shonk joins Max behind the bar)

On Friday, Wes Shonk of Wigle Whiskey joins Max behind the bar for a night of eggnog, Wigle cocktails, and general height-maximization.  Other guest appearances will include Yao Ming and Ralph Sampson, who will be available for autographs*.  Full menu and details to come later in the week.

In the words of Robbie Robertson at the Last Waltz, "Happy Thanksgiving!"

Pete K.


*  Not true

This Weekend at the Independent

Well folks, it's the beginning of November, and that can only mean one thing:  breweries around the country are JUST NOW releasing their long-awaited, seasonally-appropriate, locally-sourced pumpkin beers!  [pauses; presses finger to ear piece; blushes; cuts to commercial (for beer distributor pushing last of its pumpkin beer)]

We've got a nice, low-key weekend on tap for you.  After last weekend's Halloween festivities we, like Warren G. Harding* and post-WWI America, return to normalcy.  Business as usual here tonight:  only local craft beers, only well-balanced cocktails using the best ingredients, ony thoughtful, well-executed food by Chef Monique, and only the best music recorded on the most aesthetically and acoustically virtuous medium known to man.  Then, tomorrow, we'll tap a Four Seasons Brewing Company Firkin. at 8 p.m. (after you're done with Beers of the 'Burgh's Winter Warmer).  $5 pints of Kickin' It Kölsch conditioned with raspberries (or "Himbeere", for our Kölsch-swilling friends from Köln).

In general, you should know, things are busy (but good) here at the IBC, as we work hard to open our next-door, bar named _____.  We anticipate that space being open for business on _____. **

See you at the Independent.

Pete K.

*  You know -- the west-coast rapper.

**  We're happy to say that we'll (finally) be filling in these blanks very soon.   Thank you all for your support and patience.  We hope that we will bring you something that will be worth the wait.



Yes. We're televising the Pirates Playoff Game(s)


As we did last year, we are going to bring in our top-secret televisions to broadcast the Pirates game tonight, and the Good-Lord-willing*, any subsequent playoff games in which they play.

As I wrote in a blog post before last year's Pirates playoff game, we consider Pirates playoffs to be the "moon-landing" exception to our otherwise strict no-television rule.  These games don't come around often (see: 21-year playoff draught prior to 2013) and we have an obligation to our neighborhood, our staff, and our patrons to play them when they do.  

As with last year -- have no fears -- the televisions leave as soon as the game is over and we will return to normalcy at the Independent.

So, if you're looking for a place to watch the Pirates in Squirrel Hill and have a few pints of good beer while you do it, we're your huckleberry.

See you at the Independent!

Pete K.

*  Now that we're returned to sports-television, we're also embracing a new-found yinzer-sporting-team religiosity.

This Weekend of October 2nd at the Independent

It's getting chilly out there, folks.  Let us keep you warm at the Independent this weekend.  


It's the first Friday of the month, which means that it's time to tap another Four Seasons' firkin.  Tonight at 8 p.m., we'll tap a pin firkin of Four Seasons' Get Down Brown Ale that has been conditioning with coffee beans for the last several weeks.  Pints will be $5 each until there are no more pints to sell. I know, I know -- you love the nature of this event, but you're just not sure that it will contain enough "get down" for you?  Fair, which is why we'll honor the hardest working man in show business* with James Brown on the record player for the duration of the firkin.  Take it to the bridge!

Hey dad,  I can't see real good -- is that Tommy Cruise behind the bar?  No, that's our new bartender Max Stein, and he's bringing you a new cocktail list starting this Saturday.

Max joins us from Butcher and the Rye where he has worked and studied with some of the best bartenders in town, and where he has enjoyed his own fast climb up Pittsburgh's bartender ladder, earning such accolades as Rising Star Rookie Bartender from Hal B. Klein in last year's Pittsburgh Magazine.  Max is behind our bar five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, and has worked with Adam to develop his own cocktail list for the Independent, which he will premiere this Saturday, and which will then be available Tuesday through Saturday, that will supplement our current day-to-day cocktail menu.  The menu is, as Guy Fieri would say, "banging" -- but don't let Guy Fieri's limited vocabulary fool you -- this is a strong list that is going to add a lot of depth to our everyday offerings.  Take for instance the "Long." With Bluecoat gin, yellow chartreuse, lemon, blackberries, mint, apricot-raspberry marmalade, lemongrass, and seltzer, this fancy little number may be called "Long" for any number of reasons -- the list of ingredients, what it says about the size of the bartender's ... feet ..., or the fact that Max hasn't named it yet, so I'm just drawing from Adam's crib notes at 2:00 p.m. the day before we have to print the menu.  Either way, it's a delightful drink, and I know, because I've had one.**

Sunday Food Truck Series

This Sunday, we're open at 5 p.m. and joined once again by our friends at Berlin Street Food, who are back in Squirrel Hill to feed you the Sunday dinner you don't feel like making.   And, of course, we'll be serving beers, crowlers, and cocktails to wet your whistle.  Mo', Adam and I are going to be at Churchview Farms, where Mo is honored to close our their season of Farm Dinners with an amazing menu showcasing Churchview's amazing harvest.  Adam's doing a few cocktails and I'm pairing a few beers with the food in what should be a great night out at the farm.  

Have a loved-one, friend or mortal enemy that you'd like to add to the Independent's email list?  Just email me, or forward them to this link.

While I'm don't understand it, I get a number of requests each week for me to add someone to my spam ... er ... "email" list.  You can always email me, and I'll try to remember to add your friend.  Or, alternatively, your friend can fill out this nifty email-getter form on our interwebs:    Please feel secure in knowing that we will sell your information to the highest bidder (probably the Chinese) at our own benefit and, in the meantime, we will also sign you up to receive Trump campaign emails.***  

Additionally, if you don't want to get these emails anymore because you hate me or you hate me, then please let me know, and I will take it very personally before removing you from our list.****

That's all folks.  See you at the Independent!

Pete K.

*  I like to think that James Brown is still the hardest working man in show business.  I also like to think that James Brown still moves like this.

** One of my my most difficult duties as co-owner, general manager, baseball manager, steward, rear admiral, and resident drunk at the Independent Brewing Company is the onerous and oppressive obligation of my having to sample every single item that our customers could potentially order at the Independent as part of our rigid and highly-formal quality control process.  

***  We won't sell your email address or give it to Donald Trump or anyone else.

**** I get it, dude.  I won't take it personally.

This Labor Day Weekend at the Independent


We're closed on Monday, to celebrate our nation's labor movement, but we've got an action-packed weekend at the Independent that includes outdoor parties, Taco Truck, firkins, smoke beers and more.  Details below.

Saturday Afternoon (3-7 p.m.) -- Beer, 
Bands, Punch, and Lawn Games on the River: Now Free Admission!

Our Millvale Riverfront Park event with Grist House and Wigle this Saturday is now FREE ADMISSION.  If you were one of the zero people who bought a ticket for the event, don't worry, we'll be refunding your money.  Folks -- this is going to be a fun outdoor event to celebrate the end of summer sun, and, like the summer sun itself, it is now free.  Bring your family; bring your dog; bring your thirst and your appetite.  It's a freakin' river party and there will be good beer, booze, and food.  Moreover, unlike your last river party, your creepy Uncle Donny won't be there getting drunk, gawking at young women, questioning the birth certificate of our 44th President, and setting off M80s in tree stumps.  

Saturday Evening (9 p.m.)  -- First Saturday, Four Seasons Firkin Tapping

You may remember this event as the highly alliterative "First FRIDAY Four Seasons Firking Festival."  Why the change of days, you ask?  Routine scheduling problems, dude.  This Saturday, our Four Seasons Firkin is an Oatmeal Stout conditioned with habanero peppers and cocoa nibs.  That's a dark beer drinking, spice braving, chocolate loving woman or man's dream, guaranteed to put so much hair on your chest that you'll look like wookie by the end of a pint. 

Sunday (6p-10p) -- Taco Truck Comes to Squirrel Hill

Squirrel Hill is a neighborhood for great food, but many kitchens (like ours) are closed on Sunday evenings.  The Independent wants to help bridge our neighborhood's Sunday gap, and we're going to do that by bringing you food trucks every Sunday evening.  Squirrel Hill Sundays just got better: we'll bring you beer and cocktails and the trucks will bring you Sunday dinner.  We'll all be home to watch Walking Dead spin-offs, commercial free on our DVRs at 11 p.m.  Go team!

This Sunday, we're really proud to work with our first truck (a truck I hope you'll be seeing quite a bit of), which is Pittsburgh's (now legendary)Taco Truck.  The bar will open at 5 p.m.  Taco Truck will be ready to roll at 6 p.m.  Your Sunday evening happiness will arrive shortly thereafter.  

September is Smoke Beer Awareness Month

There was a time not long ago in Pittsburgh, where finding a smoke beer in a bar was such a rare occasion that I would (figuratively) fall down to my knees and praise the good lord and then (literally) purchase the beer with a nod and a "thank you" to the publican for his or her good taste.  Smoke beers are not actually themselves "smoked," instead they are made with malts that have been smoked, and they come in many colors, tastes and smells, ranging from East End's rich and dark Heritage Smoke Stack Porter to Hitchhiker's light and clean Grodziskie, a smoked wheat beer.  Regardless, I'm a sucker for them, and as I do the purchasing for our extraordinary mediocre establishment, I'm going to force these beers down your gullets.  I still remember the meager years of smoked beers, and I'm still compensating.  So, yes, there is a chance (in fact a likelihood) that you will see multiple smoke beers on our board at once over the next month, coming from Grist House, Lavery, Spoonwood, Hitchhiker and anyone else who wants to sell us one.  But I will make no apologies for it.  it may be 90 degrees right now, but, as the Stark family will happily warn you, winter is coming.  A bit of smoke in your beer is just what you need. 

See you at the Independent,

Pete K.

Riverfront Party! Saturday, 9/5, 3-7 p.m.


This Saturday, motivational-speaker Matt Foley's van won't be the only thing down by the river.  The Independent will descend from its perch atop the Hill of Squirrels to join our good friends Grist House Brewing Company and Wigle Whiskey for a party at Millville's Riverfront Park from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.  The event is billed as a "Corn Hole Finals," but, don't let that pretense distract you from the true purpose of the afternoon: an outdoor, end-of-summer celebration of beer drinking, punch imbibing, live-band listening, and street food gorging.  In other words, let us offer you the perfect way to celebrate your Labor Day weekend --. by reaping the benefits of our labor.  

Admission is $20 and tickets can be purchased in advance here.  Tickets not only gain you admission to an afternoon of live music and lawn games, they also come with your first two drinks (a cocktail and a beer respectively).  

Now, while some of you will doubtlessly spend your hard-earned money with nothing more than my mere suggestion that you do so, others may be more skeptical.  Allow me to address your questions with an FAQ:

I like fun and sunshine, but why should I pay $20 for it?  

My friend, my friend -- we're bringing you far more than fun and sunshine; we're bringing you a scene ... man (dig?).  We've got food trucks, we've got live bands, we've got a pavilion, and we rented a freaking park by the river and obtained the necessary permits from the powers that be at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to provide you alcohol in said park by the river.  Speaking of providing you alcohol, we're also giving you your first beer and your first glass of punch with your admission.  

Fair point, but I'd feel bad leaving my dog at home while I go enjoy the aforementioned fun and sunshine.  Can I bring my pooch?

Yes.  You can bring your pooch.  Or your kitty, if you're into kitty leashes.  Or your parakeet (although, be forewarned that parakeets and kitties don't coexist particularly well, at least from a parakeet's perspective).  

I like street food!  What food trucks will be there?

Our buddies from Berlin Street Foods (mmmm....Bratwurst), the Steer and Wheel (mmmm...Burgers), and Leona's (mmmm....Ice Cream Sandwiches).  

Will I be judged or mocked if I get a brat, a burger, AND an Ice Cream Sandwich?

No.  In fact you'll be saluted as a hero and your service will be commemorated by future generations.  When historians write of that day, they'll begin with your efforts.  When revisionist historians re-write the history of that day, they'll still begin with your efforts, but will likely cast us as greedy profiteers.

What type of beer will there be?

Grist House is bringing warm-weathered favorites with their light-and-hoppy Horizon Shine and their easy-drinking Kolsch.  Your know, river-party beers, n'at. 

What type of cocktails will there be?

The Independent is serving a highly-drinkable and highly addictive punch, using Wigle-produced spirits, tea, citrus, and a number of other secret and proprietary ingredients.*

Hey man, I really like corn hole, but I missed the semifinals at Grist and Wigle.  Can I still play?

This isn't Russia, Danny.  (Is this Russia, Danny?)  Of course!  We're bringing corn hole and other drinking-friendly lawn games for the masses (not just the competitors).  

OK, you've sold me.  I really want to attend, but I distrust the internet and would prefer not to purchase tickets online.  Can I pay for them somewhere in person?

Yes!  We're selling them in all three of our tap rooms/pour houses at Grist House, Wigle, and the Independent.  And, yes, we accept unmarked, non-consecutive bills, and, no, we don't ask questions. We'll also sell tickets at the door, but we will be CASH ONLY at the event. 

One last thing:  I'm probably going to consume more than two drinks, will you sell me extra drinks so long as I'm not visibly intoxicated?

Yes.  You can purchase additional punch and beer after your complimentary beverages.  Just please keep in mind that due to our location, we are CASH ONLY for the event.  We apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

Wait, wait, seriously, one more thing:  what should I wear?

I mean, look:  you're not an animal and it's still pre-Labor Day, so wear whites, of course.  This isn't 'Nam; there are rules here.


Pete K.

* We'll level with you: it's mostly crack.  

Ain't Nothing Like a Zombie Party


This Saturday, August 29, from 5 to 10 p.m., join Maggie's Farm Rum and the Independent underneath the 31st Street Bridge for our Zombie Party spectacular.  Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door and include admission, as well as three drink tickets for any beer or cocktail.

Enjoy live music from DJ Zombo, the Turbosonics, and the Royal Shakes.  Drink Zombie cocktails featuring Maggie's Farm Rum made by some of Pittsburgh's best bartenders.  Eat great food from Taco Truck, PGH Po' Boy, Blowfish BBQ, and PGH Crepes.  Drink local, craft beer from Full Pint, East End, Hitchhiker, and Grist House.  

Do all of these things with your favorite undead friends in the perfect city-scape for the Zombie Apocalypse:  The no-man's land beneath the 31st Street Bridge, dramatically (and responsibly) lit for the occasion by our good friends at Zero Fossil Energy Outfitters, who bring you sound, and lighting with no carbon emissions.  

Additional drink tickets good for any beer or cocktail can be purchased for $6 each at the event.  Every effort will be made to accept credit cards, but based on the nature of outdoor events, bring cash to be safe.   Tickets will be available for $30 at the door until the event sells out. This event is 21+ with no exceptions.

See you at the Zombie Party,

Pete K.

This Weekend at the Independent: Hold Onto Summer

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." 

Legendary drunk and all-around "really happy guy,"  Dylan Thomas, wrote that line about the end of summer, most unqualified scholars agree.  And friends, Dylan's right:  don't let summer go gentle into that good night.  Instead, resolve right now to squeeze every last drop of juice out of that sucker, like a cost-conscious bartender squeezing the last drop out of each one of his 79 cent limes.   At the Independent, we've got great opportunities the next three weekends for you to suck the marrow out of the summer of 2015.  

This Weekend: Summer Beers, BBQ Ribs, Summer Cocktails:

Tonight, drink wheat one way or the other with a "Smoked Wheat Everyday," a smoked wheat beer from our (clearly anti-marijuana) friends at Hitchhiker, or a "Wheat Hop," a hoppy wheat beer from our (I'm sure equally anti-marijuana) friends at East End.  Both are wheat beers with fresh, clean flavors (smokey and hoppy respectively) that are perfect for a summer evening.  Similarly, Mo's BBQ Baby Back Ribs do summer BBQ justice with local ribs, a house-made BBQ sauce, and a refreshing black bean salad.  Tomorrow, drink Greek with Carrie Clayton (returning after last week's Saturday success) who is again previewing and honing her drink list for Poros, a great new Greek restaurant slated to open downtown soon.  Think you hate Ouzo?  Think again.

Next Saturday, August 29th:  Zombie Party with Maggie's Farm Rum and House of the Dead, 5-10 p.m. (Underneath the 31st Street Bridge)

At the Independent, we're always thinking ahead, and a good deal of that forward thinking revolves around our plans to keep you drunk and happy during a prospective zombie apocalypse.  Now you may think that we'd have better things to do (or more probable contingencies for which to plan), but I assure you that when you're on a lounge chair enjoying a high-gravity West Coast Stout ("Night of the Living Stout") from Full Pint Brewing Company while carnage of the undead ensues around you, you'll get it.  Next Saturday, from 5 to 10 p.m. we join similarly forward-thinking  distillery, Maggie's Farm, in throwing a Zombie party to put our plans into action.     Maggie's has secured a safe zone on 31st Street, underneath the 31st Street Bridge.  We're bringing beer and making cocktails (you guessed it, Zombies) with some of our good friends around town, to celebrate the release of Maggie's Double-Barrel Queen Share Rum.  Don't miss this outdoor party, which is a perfect way to get weird before the end of summer.  DJ Zombo (DJ Zombie?) will be there with two bands to keep you moving among the rush of the undead.  Tickets are $25 and include three (3) drink tickets.  They are available for purchase here.  Buy your tickets now, as this event is sure to sell out.

Saturday:  September 5, 2015:  Corn Hole Tournament with Wigle Whiskey and Grist House 3-7 p.m. (Millvale Waterfront Park).

The following Saturday, we join more of our distilling and brewing friends to keep your summer going, when we play the Gentlemen/womenly spectators to a corn hole tournament between Wigle and Grist's best contestants.  Now look, if you're the type of competitor who wants a crack at playing in that type of high-level, grueling battle, there's still time for you to try your hand.  The Wigle round has been played, but the Grist House battle will take place on the 27th at Grist House (tickets and more info here) .  But, if you're the type of person (like us) who prefers to get your outdoor day drinking on without having to sully your shoes in the mud of "exertion" or "effort" (to the extent that Corn Hole can ever be accused of being either of those two things), you won't be alone.  The Independent proudly introduces its role as the Day-Drinking Spectators.  We're not here to compete; we're here to make bold assertions and claims regarding how well we COULD compete, without having the arduous requirement of actually having to back those claims up.  Sun, cocktails, and cold beer are our pursuit, all while hanging out in Millvale's riverside park in the sunshine.  What type of shoes does one wear to a cornhole tournament?  We cares?  We only own boat shoes anyway.   Come join us for this ultimate labor-day weekend hang out.  Tickets are $20, and include a drink ticket for one cocktail and one beer.  

See you at the Independent!

Pete K.


This Weekend at the Independent (8/14/2015)

It's restaurant week in Pittsburgh.  And, in my opinion, that's cause for reflection and celebration.   When I moved back to Pittsburgh in 2005, Pittsburgh's food culture was barely on the map nationally.  And, to the extent that it was, its largest landmarks were huge-helpings of fries and coleslaw atop sandwiches and pierogies stuffed with cheese, potatoes and sauerkraut.  Those things aren't bad (in fact they're great), but the landscape has evolved so much in the last ten years; and its evolution has put Pittsburgh firmly on the map nationally for good food (and not just for hearty helpings of Eastern European food that are best enjoyed before, after AND during a Steelers game*).  Over the last 10 years, we've watched our food culture become larger, more diverse, and more integrated.  Our city has produced talented young chefs and has helped developed star chefs and restauranteurs, sure.  But more importantly, our city has produced the foundation of any good food scene:  farmers and artisans that range from local cheese makers to great local bakers to (of course) local brewers and distillers.   This integration has not just spurred the growth a mature food and drink culture, it also has laid the foundation for great things to come.  And, you need only glimpse at Melissa McCart's Post-Gazette food blog to know that the pace of growth is accelerating rapidly.  New restaurants are opening every month, bringing us more and more diverse offerings and adding to the richness of our city.  

Take some time this weekend to celebrate what has happened (and what's about to happen) to food in Pittsburgh.  Enjoy restaurant week.  

Our PGH Restaurant Week Special (available Friday and Saturday):

Middle-Eastern Spiced Skirt Steak
Served with farm-pepper salsa and lemon & goat cheese risotto.
Pair with a 7 ounce pour of any beer for $20.15

Chef Monique does right by her Egyptian heritage with big and bold Middle-Eastern flavors complimenting a perfectly grilled steak.    Pro Tip:  I highly recommend pairing (if you like big hops and big malts) with the Big Hairy Monster from Hop Farm or (if you are feeling just malty) the Black Lager (Schwarzbier!) from Lavery.

Speaking of new restaurants, our Saturday night guest bartender is Carrie Clayton, who is soon to head up the bar program at Poros, a greek-inspired restaurant opening soon in PPG 2 (on the corner of Market Square).  Join Carrie Saturday night as she mixes a sure-to-be-delicious menu of Mediterranean flavors and spins on classic cocktails.  

Thank you folks and see you at the Independent (and if I don't, it better be because you're trying the Restaurant Week vegan versus meat menus from our good friends at Root 174...)

Pete K.

*  I apologize for nothing

This Weekend at the Independent (August 7th)


If you, like me, find yourself in need of a stiff drink or five in the wake of the first Republican debate, we're here to help.  We've got a big weekend ahead:

Four Season's First Friday Funky Firkin

Tonight (and every subsequent First Friday of the month), at 9 p.m., we're tapping a pin firkin from our friends at Four Seasons in Latrobe.  Tonight we've got a special firkin of their Local APA, which Mark has finished and cask conditioned with Citra and Amarillo hops.  If you like fresh, citrus-forward, hoppy beers, well, my friend, this beer's for you.  Supplies are limited and will go fast.  On the player, we'll transition to all funk records until the firkin kicks.  Why funk?  Because much like Four Seasons, Firkin and Friday, it beings with "F" and we like alliteration.  

Also, if you don't have early plans, consider pre-gaming the Four Seasons firkin by stopping in at Wigle Whiskey's barrel house, where Adam will join Sean Enright (1947 Tavern) and Greta Dunn (Meat & Potatoes) behind the bar for a "Cocktail Cup, Round 4." The three cocktologists will compete for "best cocktail" using Wigle's Landlocked Spiced, a honey-based, rum-like spirit.  If you recognize Sean and Greta, it might be because all three of these fine contestants are part of the IBC family, with Sean and Greta both having done Saturday guest bartending stints at the IBC.  With this spectacular field, the competition is sure to be fierce and probably very, very friendly and hospitable.  There's only one sure bet for the winner:  you, the drinker.  Entry is only $15, and includes one cocktail from each competitor.  More information is here:

Saturday Cocktails

Hopefully riding high off a victory tonight, Adam reclaims his position behind the bar on Saturday, with a five-drink list that includes the "Jose and Rose," a cocktail name that, in an ideal world, would contain accents above both "e's."  Yes, the Rose (again, pretend there's an accent there) refers to the wine, and yes, the Jose (ditto) refers to Tequila.  And yes, the drink is pink.  His menu also includes the Dr. Funkenstein (or is that Funken-STEEN, Herr Doctor?) which features Haitian, Jamaican, and Demerara rums -- a grown up drink, at least for the type of grown ups who like P-Funk and Mel Brooks references under one drink umbrella.


We're closed, as Team IBC is taking a much-needed staff retreat to the Pirates game.  But that ESPN-broadcast game starts at 8:08 p.m., you say?  Tailgating, dude.  It's, like, a thing -- especially when the people doing it serve you animals drinks for a living and when your executive chef just picked enough (locally-sourced and made) hot sausage to feed a small army of actual pirates. 

See you at the Indie!

Pete K.   



This Weekend at the Independent (7/31/2015)

If you managed to survive the rain of the last month and the heat wave of the past week, it appears that you'll finally be rewarded with sunshine, reasonable temperatures, and cloudless skies this weekend and early next week.  That's what I like to call "prime sidewalk sitting weather," and not just because I'm financially motivated to encourage you to sit on our sidewalk.  We've got a great weekend coming up for you, but first, a word about food, farms, and our Chef Monique

Monique's Churchview Farm Dinner

We could probably do a much better job trumpeting the fact that we source (especially in the summer) a great deal of our ingredients from local providers.  One of our favorite of those providers is Churchview Farm, an organic, small "farmette" just outside of the city limits in Baldwin.  Churchview and its owner, Tara, are just wonderful.  Every Pittsburgher who care about where their food comes from needs to take a trip there to see them.  The farm is an idyllic, rural-feeling oasis only a short trip away from the city.  And Tara's fruits, vegetables, and hen eggs are featured in our dishes all growing-season long.

You do have a chance to make it out to the farm this fall when our beloved and talented chef, Monique Ruvolo, is honored to join the ranks (as she has the last several years) of many of Pittsburgh's other top chefs to cook at the summer/fall farm-dinner series.  Monique's dinner is the last on the schedule this year, and falls on the evening of Sunday, October 4.  It's an ideal time to work with Churchview's harvest, and, as she did last year, Mo' will hit it out of the park with a multi-course meal using the farm's bounty.  Beyond just the food, the dinners at Churchview are phenomenal -- Tara sets a beautiful dinner right in the middle of the farm.  And the ingredients are, of course, as fresh as it gets.  Support hyper-local farming.  Support Monique.  Tickets and more information are available here

This Weekend's Food Specials:

Speaking of Monique, farms, and food, here are this weekend's specials:

Stuffed baby eggplant:  black lentils, feta, auburn rice & spinach, finished over a cauliflower puree.

Curry-chicken phyllo:  curry bechamel, beer-braised chicken, onion & kale.

Middle-Eastern grill:  skirt steak with farm tabouli

Saturday Cocktails:

Will Groves is back behind the bar on Saturday with a neat and clean set of his take on four classic cocktails, Tommy's Margarita, the Clover Club, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (a gussied-up daiquiri), and the vieux carre.  

Super Punch!

Shots are for animals.  Shots of Jannamico Super Punch (a sweet and bitter amaro) are for intelligent (and generally Italian-speaking) animals.   But shots of chilled and carbonated Super Punch, served on a draft, out of a faucet adorned with a bronzed boxing glove are for really, really good-looking animals who are fluent in five languages, shop only in Paris, can solve a partial differential equation without a computer (or even paper) and who bed a different partner of equivalent intellectual and linguistic aptitude, style-sense, and natural beauty every night.   Are you that animal?  We've got your drink on tap.

See you at the Independent!*

Pete K.

* Obligatory footnote.


This Week at the Independent (July 20th)

Fair readers:

It's been a while since you last heard from me, but now that I'm on the other side of a beery and boozy family vacation*to Asheville, NC and Louisville, KY, I'm back and fatter than ever.

My friends, I have been to the mountaintop of Craft Beer, I'm pleased to report that, regardless of the hype, Pittsburgh lays as much claim to it as Asheville does.  

As many of you know, in the last several years, there has been a considerable amount of (well-deserved) press, hype, and accolades heaped upon Asheville's beer scene.  Asheville boasts more breweries per capita than any other city, and by a considerable margin.   As of the date of our visit, the city limits contain 15 Breweries -- some of those breweries have multiple production locations, so the actual, physical brewery count is, in fairness, actually closer to 18 breweries.   Asheville is a small city, with a population of roughly 80,000 people living within 45.3 square miles.  To give you a sense of perspective, there are more than 300,000 people living within 58.3 square miles in Pittsburgh, and there are (within the city limits) 6 breweries making beer:  Costar, Church Brew Works, East End, Hop Farm, Penn Brewery, and Roundabout.  Of course, Pittsburgh relies quite a bit on its suburbs and countryside to add a lot of volume and diversity to its brewing scene, but so does Asheville.  Western North Carolina has dozens more breweries, including two huge production facilities (with tap rooms) for Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues, which are contributing a lot of jobs and volume to the Asheville area.

Yes, the shear magnitude of the craft beer scene in Asheville is impressive.  And, yes, it's also envy inducing.  At one point, we unwittingly passed** three other breweries in our walk from our car to the our first brewery destination of the day.  But, after getting over my initial puppy love, I started to recognize that with all that beer, we didn't get a significantly better product.  I had just as many mediocre beers as I had great beers.  I saw a lot of very similar tap lists and tasted a lot of very similar beers.    At the end of the day, I didn't see anything*** that we don't have here in Pittsburgh, readily available and made with the same high-level of brewing acumen, right here in Pittsburgh.  

That's not a knock on Asheville --  I tasted some very good beers of a wide-range of styles there, in some beautiful, hip, and laid-back spaces.  No, instead, that's a credit to Pittsburgh, and, specifically, that's a credit to what has happened in Pittsburgh recently.  We have caught up, folks, and it's time to acknowledge that fact.  In the last four years, we've closed the gap with a lot of new brewery upstarts.  We've watched a lot of existing breweries expand their facilities (and with those expansions, expand their range).  We've added beer festivals and other ways to engage not only our community with our brewers, but also to engage brewers with each other on a more frequent basis.  In short, if Asheville, as a city, marks the height of a beer scene's maturity, we're there.  Could we add some volume?  Probably.  Will we need to as more and more people change their tastes from macro beer to craft beer?  Of course.  But, right now, do we have a mature enough brewing scene that us nerds can wake up one morning, crave a particular and esoteric style (within reason), and find a well-brewed one on tap somewhere within a reasonable driving distance?  Yes.  That's a wonderful feeling, and we have our local brewers to thank for that.  

Thank your Pittsburgh brewers the best way you know how.  Go to their breweries. Buy their beer.  Take your friends.  Order their products when they're on tap at your local bars.

This Week:

Wednesday 9p-12a:  Live at the Independent:  Our very own (and very talented) Victoria puts down her server book and picks up her guitar for a solo, acoustic performance.  Come support live and local music as you support local beer.

Thursday 5p - 12a:  Lucky's Last Tiki Night:  Fear not, tikiphiles, Tiki Thursdays will continue with friend-of-the-bar Will Groves, but Lucky is moving on to a full-time gig at Acacia and we couldn't be happier for him.  You'll recognize him as Lucky's "intern," i.e. the guy who has joined him every Thursday for the past several months.  Previous to being Lucky's intern, Will was the bar manager at Butterjoint.  We'll miss our painproof man, but he'll always be part of the Independent family, regardless of what side of the bar he's on.  Come enjoy a few more Tiki drinks made by the man who has an exotica vinyl collection that Rhode Island would struggle to contain.

Saturday 5p-12a:  International Rum Cocktails with Adam :  Adam is back behind the stick again on Saturday and will be making International rum cocktails.  Have the feeling that we're using a lot of rum lately?   Seeing a lot of internationally inspired drinks?  Wondering what all this Tiki stuff is about?  Think that might be a sign of things to come next door?  You're probably right.

Thanks folks, and see you at the Independent!

Pete K.

*  Vacationing with a 20 month old is more akin to combat than vacation.  Anytime you enter an establishment, you must have an exit strategy.  Your failure to do so will result in scorn and extended casualties.  

**  Why didn't we stop, you ask?  They were closed as it was 11 a.m., which is the exact time that it is socially acceptable to start drinking with your toddler who woke you up at 4 a.m. that very morning ("Happy Birthday, daddy!")

***  One exception (and something I'd like to see happen here in Pittsburgh):  Wicked Weed's "Funakatorium," a separate brew facility and barrel house devoted to Wicked Weed's sour program.  The volume, diversity, and quality of the sour beers produced there is unlike anything I have seen in Pittsburgh or any other city.  That, my friends, is cause for you to go to Asheville, even if the rest of the city were dry. 

This Weekend at the Independent

At the Independent, we're filling the long summer days as we always do with good beer, good food, and good cocktails.  No corners cut in our operation.  We make things from scratch, in-house (well, except the beer, which we, you know, buy), and we showcase the finest local ingredients Pittsburgh has to offer.  What's more, we've got some great events in store for you this weekend, including a really interesting event with the Carnegie Museum of Art, with which I shall lead.


Sunday:  "Outside Art" with the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Skibo Society 5 p.m. until 9 pmish; tickets are $5.

On Sunday, we're very honored to host "Outside Art" in conjunction with the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, and the Skibo Society, a group of young folks working to engage a new generation of art lovers with the museum.  This event will (predictably, in light of our involvement) be booze-centric, and will feature works of art from the the CMOA's art lending collection that will temporarily adorn our walls (each work of art will be booze related).  The official event will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will include (short) presentations (two minutes or less) from a number of various artists, curators, and other community members (including a comedian) regarding a specific piece of art.  Tickets are available here.  One dollar from every alcoholic beverage sold that evening will be donated to the Carnegie Museum of Art.


Saturday Cocktails: Classic Sours

Fans of citrus rejoice!  Adam is back behind the bar on Saturday, giving you his take on classic "sour" drinks.   What's a sour?  Allow Adam to explain:

The “sour” (or “sahr” in the local dialect) is a broad category of cocktails which rely upon a balance of sour citrus — typically lemon or lime — and sweetness. Fear not: “Sour” cocktails are not actually sour.

One of the drinks Adam will be offering is the tiki classic, the 1963 Zombie, which Adam warns if you do not agree that it is the best drink ever, he will fight you (or finish your Zombie).


Friday Food Specials

When you walk into the Independent, don't forget to take a look at the Chalk Board (or listen to your server) to check out our daily food specials.  Monique has been hitting them out of the park, and tonight is no exception.  Goat Meatballs (with gilled pineapple and green tomatoes) and Crawfish (with grits, of course -- we're not animals) highlight tonight.

Thanks folks, and see you at the Independent!

Pete K.



July 3rd is ... Independent's Day

On July 4th, the Independent will be closed so that we (and you) can enjoy backyard BBQs, create dangerous home fireworks displays, and observe the anniversary of the day when a group of wealthy, white men decided that they'd rather start a war than keep paying taxes.

But, on Friday, July 3rd, the Independent will host the box office event of the summer: "INDEPENDENT'S DAY:  THESE COLORS DON'T RUN ... OUT OF BEER."  

Join us for an all day affair (open at noon for lunch) that celebrates the best of America:  Barbecue, cold beer, booty-shaking funk and soul music, and George Washington's bender beverage of choice, the Fish House Punch.

A True story regarding Fish House Punch: Notorious booze hound, and first president of the United States,  George Washington once went on a three-day, Fish-House-Punch-induced bender at Philadelphia's legendary fishing club (and claimed inventors of the Fish House Punch), "the State of Schuykill." following the close of the Revolutionary War.   In fairness, when you've defeated the World's most powerful empire, you've earned the right to get hammered for a few days.  A note to the early-American barman:  Just don't try to cut the good General off.

See you on July 3!

Pete K


Tonight at the Independent: New Summer Food Menu and Around the World in Four Cocktails

Exciting things are happening these days at the Independent.  You may have noticed the dumpster out front and the building permit in the window next door; or perhaps it was the sounds of the hammer drill* that drew your attention.  Either way, construction has begun on our expansion, and we couldn't be more excited about what we're planning to bring you fine people once it's done.  But in the meantime, we're not letting the promise of great things to come distract us from working hard to do great things behind the bar and in the kitchen that we already have.  


As she does every few months, Chef Mo' has revisited our menu and added and subtracted items to be sure that we're bringing you the most seasonally-appropriate and locally-sourced deliciousness that we can offer.  Our food menu underwent some summer tweaks that debuted last night with great success.  Come in tonight to enjoy the Pickled Pepper Pork Pita, which delights the tongue as much as its name twists it.**  Slow roasted, pulled pork (locally sourced) wrapped in a pita with Mo's house-made whiskey barbecue sauce and pickled sweet and hot peppers, give this saucy little number the bite and balance it needs to earn a fifth "P" -- "Pamazing."  Acting a bit crabby on an empty stomach?  Fight crab with more crab and enjoy our new Crab Cakes.  Jalapeño peppers give these perfectly cooked beauties a bit of heat that is complimented by a lemon sage sauce and roasted peppers.   For a refined take at a classic, try our Chicken Milanese.  Mo' lightly fries local chicken breast, and brightens it with a Mediterranean salad of artichoke, kalamata olive, feta, and greens.  Finally, savory, meet sweet;  sweet, meet savory -- you guys will get along great along side some gin figs on our chocolate and cheese pairing board.  Our Cheese and Chocolate Pairing Board is the perfect dessert or the perfect snack, depending on the mood of you and your sweet and savory partner.  Our selections of chocolates and cheeses vary daily, depending on the whims of Chef Mo' and the offerings of our good friends at Wheel & Wedge and the Chocolate Moose.

Tonight:  Around the World in Four Cocktails

Lucky is your barman tonight, and in Lucky's usual style, he's pulling on a diverse array of ingredients and influences to take you on a journey that will turn your palate into a hot air balloon (and shorten your travel time by 79 days and 20 hours).  Lucky is using Portobello Road Gin, an old-style London gin with a well-honed blend of botanicals and spices, as the common base spirit in four different cocktails, each of which draws on a different set of flavors from a different place on earth.  Tonight, travel from Italy to Egypt, then to India, and finally to Korea, all without leaving your barstool, with Lucky's ambitious set of cocktails.

See you at the Independent!

Pete K.

*  Easily the most erotic of power tools.

** Boom!  Rhetorical hammer drill.

This Weekend of May 29th at the Independent

This weekend at the Independent:  Beer!  Agave!  Pork Chops!  Other Stuff!*


If you follow us on facebook, you may have seen a photo of the glorious beer that I was enjoying at Elk Creek Cafe + Ale House, in little Millheim, PA (about 20 minutes southeast of State College).   Of the breweries whose beer we carry, Elk Creek has the distinction of being the furthest away, but they're still west of the a line drawn down the center of this fine Commonwealth, and we think that makes them fair game to call "local."  Moreover, Tim, their brewer, makes some damn fine beer that you can't get anywhere else in town.  In short, don't worry, we brought you a taste.  Be sure to check out their easy-drinking Winkleblink Ale (an American wheat beer) and the Colyer's Kolsch, both of which are perfect on a hot day.


Monique makes a damn fine pork chop, and fortunately for you one such pork chop happens to be tonight's special:  Pork chop (locally raised) with sauteed greens, grilled peaches, and a sweet BBQ glaze.  $13.  Do it.


For "shock and awe" Saturday cocktails, Lucky loses the grass skirt and dons the Sombrero, as he bombs your palate into submission with tequila and mezcal coctkails.  In time, your taste buds will greet him as a liberator.   #MissionAccomplished.  

See you at the Independent!

Pete K.

*  There wasn't really any other stuff.

This weekend of May 15, 2015 at the Independent

The Worst Kept Secret In Town

It's tough to keep a secret under wraps when you're excited about it.  It's even tougher when a licensing body requires you to post a 3'x2' neon-orange sign in the window to invite public comment on said secret.  And to the extent that you had any chance of sliding under the radar with the neon-orange placard hanging in your window, that chance evaporates when a CMU-Set-Design-Student-cum-IBC-Bartender paints your facade using chartreuse as the accent color. 

Accordingly, it seems that the time has finally come to address the expansion of the Independent Brewing Company in a highly official and absurdly ambiguous press release.



The Independent Brewing Company is happy to announce that it is expanding into the space next door at some point, probably in the fall, but you know how these things go.  Initially, the Independent had considered meeting the unserved needs of the Squirrel Hill community, first contemplating an Asian restaurant, then a bank or a coffee shop.  But, after a hasty and unscientific market study, the Independent decided it best to open just one more of what Squirrel Hill already has in spades:  another cocktail bar (groan).  

Details on the cocktail room, which hasn't been named yet, won't be released until the ownership and management know what they are, but you should expect the same neighborhood bar feel as the Independent currently offers, but with an emphasis on cocktails, comfy lounging, and snacking in the new space.  The current space will remain largely the same and will continue to emphasize (exclusively) local beer and refined, comfort food.  

In the meantime, if you've got the cocktail bug and are in the neighborhood, the Independent will continue to serve not only its everyday cocktail menu, but also a special menu of creative and tasty cocktails on Saturdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, including Adam's Non-Traditional Tiki Night, this Saturday from 5-11 p.m. and our two weekly cocktail nights with Lucky (Whiskey drinks on Wednesday; and Tiki drinks on Thursdays).

Beer.  Remember Beer?

Folks, I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our tap list family, Blue Canoe.  Blue Canoe is hardly "new," in fact they've been making great beer in Titusville (North West, PA) since 2008.  As a small brewery with great in-house sales, they don't distribute much.  But, in a tragic series of events, they were hit with a fire on March 18, 2015, which destroyed their tap room.  While they're in the process of rebuilding, we're honored to do what little we can to help, by buying and serving as much as their beer as we can.  You'll see quite a few Blue Canoe kegs on tap in the coming weeks and months, and were honored to serve as one of their tap rooms until they get back up on their feet.

This Sunday's Hours

This Sunday, we will open at 1 p.m. and close at 5 p.m., as we have a staff BBQ Sunday evening. As always, crowlers will be 25% off, and we'll sell dips, pints, and cocktails.  Our normal Sunday (3pm to 8pm) hours will resume next week.

See you at the Independent folks. 

Pete K.

Kentucky Derby Party this Saturday

"Then comes the zenith of man's pleasure.  Then comes the julep -- the mint julep.  Who has not tasted one has lived in vain."

We agree.  

Which is why on Saturday, we put aside our misgivings about the practical cruelty of horse racing and embrace the considerably more important components of the Kentucky Derby:  the Mint Julep, bourbon generally, absurdly large hats, the arrival of spring, and, of course, seersucker.

Join us Saturday for our now annual installment of, "The Kentucky Derby is decadent and Depraved," a party in which we attempt to strike the weird and delicate balance of both celebration and contempt for derby culture, all while swilling the greatest drink that man has ever concocted:  the mint julep.


Date/Time:  We open at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 2.  The party continues until 1 a.m.  Dinner service will run from 5 p.m to 10 p.m.  We will wheel in a television to televise the race.  Said television will be promptly wheeled out of the bar immediately after the race has ended.

Dress:  Derby attire is highly encouraged (nay, demanded).  Derby attire can include ironic derby attire (e.g. seersucker and big hats),  even more ironic derby attire (e.g. a t-shirt with an airbrushed horse and an American flag), and really, really ironic derby attire (e.g. a horse costume*).

Drinks:  Adam will be behind the bar making mint juleps (using bottled-in-bond bourbon, of course, you animals) and four other tasty bourbon cocktails.  We'll also have beer as well as mint-juleps without the ice, mint, and simple syrup, for the true Kentuckian.

Food:  Chef Mo' is running a derby menu that will contain bourbon shrimp n' grits, fried green tomatoes, a Kentucky hot brown (you should get that, probably), and bbbq** ribs (you should also get those, probably). In addition, we'll have some of our other menu stables*** and food for vegetarians and carnivores alike.  During the duration of the race, a defined "civil liberties area" will be created outside for those who wish to protest the race itself, but not protest it so much that they would give up Bourbon and seersucker for the day (e.g. me)  BYO Protest Sign****

See you at the Independent.

Pete K.

* please note the discounted price and rush delivery options for the horse costume.

**  What's the third "b" stand for?  It's a typo.

***  Menu "staples," really, but, there's a general horse theme here ... and horses live in stables ... so, you know ... and, you see, they sound similar... and are only one letter ... [sigh] ... get it?

[awkward silence] 

****  "What do we want?  No more Horse Racing!  When do we want it?  After this Julep!"


Hogo & Hops Dinner Cancelled (well, reinvented)


Unfortunately, we have to cancel our Hogo & Hops Tasting dinner.  For those of you who purchased tickets, we have already issued refunds through eventbrite, and we will follow up with each of you via email.

A crucial component of our dinner was going to be sourcing as many seasonal ingredients as practically possible through the early spring crops of local farms.  Those crops aren't ready in the volume that we needed.  We refuse to charge $100 for an event that is compromised from a sourcing perspective, so, as opposed to proceeding as planned, we are reinventing the night.

The event will be open to the public.  We will offer la carte pairings with Maggie's Farm and Four Season's beer, that will be available as specials that evening, in addition to our regular menu.  We will also sell a rum and beer pairing and, of course, you will still be able to order the Four Season's Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout that was aged in a Maggie's barrel.

Finally, we intend to offer a proper farm-to-table blowout with both Maggie's and Four Seasons later in the summer or early in the fall, when we can do things 100% locally.  

Thank you for your understanding.  We apologize for any inconvenience, and we will be in touch with those of you who purchased tickets on an individual basis to offer you the first crack at reservations that evening.


Pete K.