Pennsylvania’s stringent liquor laws have claimed a number of helpless victims throughout their enforcement, but perhaps none so vulnerable or poorly represented as the classic 6 pack. Until the recent addition of beer caves and coolers to select Giant Eagle Market Districts in the area, you had to either divvy up a case or break your budget at a bar to find yourself a good old sixer.
Now that the Market District in Shadyside has finally joined the ranks of its suburban brethren with the addition of a beer cave and coolers, we were curious to see what the price range between this veritable wholesaler and erstwhile East End purveyors actually boils down to be.
While we appreciate the opportunity to take a few brews home from a night at the bar, or to peruse the wide variety of cases at our local distributors, there’s been a huge void where affordable, experimental craft beer tasting should be. A few South Side bars, as it happens, have had the right idea for a while. You’ll get both a killer selection of reasonably priced craft bottles AND $12 off any mixed six at both Fat Heads and Carson Street Deli. The few East End bars that offer similar discounts (Harris Grill, Bites & Brews, Caliente), also feature smaller selection and bigger price tags. And Dee’s in Regent Square? The go-to for beer snobs and their 6 pack recommendations? Well, those beer snobs do know what they’re talking about.
So now that we’ve got a grocery store in addition to bars and distributors, there’s nothing left to do but crunch the numbers. We picked a few of our go-to craft brews to keep things brief, but the price difference between purveyors applies to the entire range of beers, from Bud to Troegs to Ommegang. We also picked the most available 6 pack shops to the Shadyside Market District and two of the most reasonably priced distributors in town.And the winners are…well, the winner is the Market District. But we’ll get to that. Price-wise, Fat Heads eeks out the win for best 6 pack special in a bar, but Dee’s is surprisingly close behind. And with both warm and cold beer caves full of awesome and exotic bottles, might be worth the trek eastward. For the closest comparable selection, we still love Carson Street Deli’s new coolers. While their prices may be a bit above the top 2, the bottle assortment is impressive, and the 20 draft list is superbly curated to keep you company while you pick your six.
Now if you know what you like and aren’t looking to try a few styles at once, you’re always going to be better off with a case. Financially, at least. Buddy’s and Pistella’s are two of the more (most?) reasonably priced distributors around but a more in depth comparison of case costs is something you can count on seeing here in the next few weeks. For the purposes of 6 pack preference, we’re definitely going with the Market District. Not only is the selection snob-worthy and well represented, the mix and match special is as yet unchallenged in the city. And luckily for you, there’s probably a MD within driving distance of wherever you are in the city. Market District Locations that currently purvey beer: