312 Center Road, Monroeville
412-372-8199 or www.myrivertowne.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily (opens at 10 a.m. for brunch on Sundays)
Date visited: Jan. 7
Crowd: A mix of young and old, some groups of 20-something friends, some families with small children. But given the bar's extensive beer list, most of the patrons seemed the sort who are interested in how a beer tastes, not just how quickly it gets them drunk. Decor: This Rivertowne location -- one of four -- is the home of its brewery, and the tanks and machinery are in plain sight. (But, as a companion pointed out, that "brewery smell" is pleasantly absent.) Otherwise, a fishing theme -- from the freshwater mascot on the sign outside to angling equipment on the walls -- pervades. TV Situation: At least three in each separate dining area; it's enough to ensure you'll catch the game, but not so many as to be annoying if you don't want to. Food: Standard pub-type food. The beer cheese that came with pub pretzels was oddly chunky, but tasty. A veggie-heavy pizza (unfortunately named after the Monongahela -- sometimes a theme can be taken too far) was quite good for being from a bar, and not a pizzeria. Unfortunately, the fries (a bar litmus test if ever there was one) were a bit limp and soggy. While the menu doesn't offer anything unexpected, it is wide-ranging, allowing anyone from vegetarian to beef-freak to find their fix. And in keeping with the river theme, the seafood options are many. Noise: A healthy buzz so that the Internet-jukebox music is only faint in the dining area; it's louder at the bar. Smoke: None. Bring a date or find a date: Not much of a place to hook up. Bring a date if beer is his or her thing, but probably not a first date, unless beer is really his or her thing. More of a family vibe than a date-night atmosphere. Most Unusual Draft: Probably Pineapple Under the Sea, a pineapple-flavored brew that, contrary to what you might be thinking, is quite tasty: It really does taste like pineapple, but not in a gee-whiz, boy-is-that-sweet way. I've tasted plenty of fruity beers in my time, but this was one of the most unexpectedly rewarding I've had. The Last Word: If the food at Rivertowne is average, the house beer selection is far above; when I visited, 15 Rivertowne drafts were available, from White Lightning (a Belgian-style white not unlike a Hoegaarden) to B.A. Babockus, a dark ale (and one of two drafts on the list named for '80s TV shows). And the drafts are cheap, for a brewpub: All regular drafts are $4.75 per pint, and Rivertowne has a 10 p.m.-midnight happy hour during which they're a mere three dollars. The beer alone makes it well worth the quick jaunt to the suburbs, and the perilous walk across busy Center Road from the parking lot. (Note to whatever authority owns this road: Perhaps a crosswalk would be appropriate here).