Philadelphia’s Local Breweries and Craft Beers
Regional breweries putting out award-winning beers
Philadelphia has a long, storied love affair with beer dating back over 100 years. A century ago, Philadelphia was known as the greatest brewing city in the Western Hemisphere, or the “Cradle of American Libation,” according to food critic Craig LaBan of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
In fact, it was in Philadelphia taverns that the American Revolution took hold. Today, area craft breweries have reclaimed the region’s reputation by brewing some of the world’s best beer and earning the recognition as Maxim’s “favorite beer burg” and one of the “The 5 Best Beer Cities in America” according to GQ, among other notable designations assigned by the national press.
Visitors can tour the facilities, sample the beer and pair with food at most of these spots. With more than 400 craft-beer restaubars, it’s hard to find a local pub that doesn’t devote a sizeable portion of its taps and refrigerator space to regionally made brews.
Philly Beer Week, the largest festival of its kind in the United States, honors the libation livelihood with 10-days of beer tastings, special events and plenty of cold local brews.
In addition, Greater Philadelphia—already home to many craft breweries that regularly bring home medals from international beer festivals and competitions—is bubbling over with new locations where beer lovers can sample local brews.
Here are a few of the area breweries making waves in the beer world:
Yards Brewing Company
When Yards opened in 1988, it resuscitated the city’s brewing legacy by ending a decades-long period without any operational breweries. Yards ESA helped ignite a craft beer revolution in Philadelphia, and it remains a sentimental favorite among many beer drinkers. The current Yards location is capable of producing 24,000 barrels of beer per year and includes a tasting room where fans can enjoy a pint and some nibbles while watching the brewery in action—or while shooting pool and testing out the shuffleboard table.
Details: 901 N. Delaware Avenue | (215) 634-2600 | yardsbrewing.com
Philadelphia Brewing Company
PBC operates in a facility that was originally constructed as the Weisbrod & Hess Brewing Company. Among its styles are the flagship Kenzinger, a crisp and hoppy pilsner that pays homage to the German heritage of the original brewers; Pennsylvania Pale Ale, for those who seek a more full-bodied and hoppier experience; and Walt Wit, an unfiltered Belgian white ale. Keep an eye out for limited run and seasonal brews like the Shackamaxium or Joe Coffee Porter. Free tours and tastings are available every Saturday.
Details: 2439 Amber Street | (215) 427-BREW | philadelphiabrewing.com
Dock Street Brewing Co.
The eclectic, counter-culture neighborhood that houses Dock Street reflects its philosophies. Alongside the traditional unfiltered ales and lagers are alternative and experimental styles such as Nino’s Prickly Pears, Spanglish Fly brewed with wormwood and yarrow and special wine barrel-aged releases. The restaurant also offers Pennsylvania wines and a wide selection of wood-fired pizzas and locally grown foods.
Details: 701 S. 50th Street | (215) 726-2337 | dockstreetbeer.com
Earth Bread + Brewery
From utilizing reclaimed furniture to composting, the husband-and-wife owners—who once owned New Jersey’s renowned Heavyweight Brewing Co.—are as committed to reducing their footprint as they are with creating wood-fired flatbreads and pouring a niche selection of beers and a local wine on draft. Regulars know not to get attached to any particular beer style, as almost no recipe is repeated. The community-oriented restaurant now serves lunch on weekends.
Details: 7136 Germantown Avenue | (215) 242-6666 | earthbreadbrewery.com
Flying Fish Brewery
Take a short trip across the Delaware River to discover Flying Fish Brewery, home to some of the region’s top beers since 1994. A microbrew, internet pioneer, Flying Fish boasts a number of award-winning brews including the Belgian Abbey Dubbel, a silver medal winner at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival and the much-sought after Exit Series.
Details: 1940 Olney Avenue, Cherry Hill, NJ | (856) 489-0061 | flyingfish.com
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
Since opening in Newark, Delaware in 1996, Iron Hill Brewery has grown into an award-winning restaurant/brewery with eight regional locations and a ninth set to open in Chestnut Hill in late 2011.
Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant
This canal-side destination constantly updates its beer selections, which guests can sample from its eight taps. Patrons wash down entrees like stone oven-fired pizzas and sushi with beers that range from fruity mainstay Schuylkill Punch, a Belgian ale brewed with 600 pounds of real red raspberries, to Yunkin’ Punkin’, a seasonal ale brewed with six varieties of locally grown pumpkins.
Details: 4120 Main Street | (215) 482-8220 | manayunkbrewery.com
Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant
In the heart of Center City, this cozy upstairs hideaway has won more national beer competition awards than it can hang on its walls. Beers here are brewed seasonally and in view of the loyal patrons. The brunch crowd can get all this with a side order of jazz on Sundays.
Details: 1516 Sansom Street, 2nd floor | (215) 569-9525 | noddinghead.com
Triumph Brewing Company
The two Pennsylvania outposts of Princeton, New Jersey-based Triumph boast great food and spacious layouts, and the Old City location includes a game room behind its second of two bars, both of which pour 10 Old World-style brews. In New Hope, beers make their home on seven taps, and live bands provide the soundtrack several nights a week.
Details: 117 Chestnut Street | (215) 625-0855
400 Union Square, New Hope | (215) 862-8300 | triumphbrewing.com
Victory Brewing Company
Founded by childhood friends who met on a school bus in 1973, the brewery formally began operations in February 1996. Victory now sells beer in 29 states, and it keeps getting bigger, with a brewery and full-service restaurant in Downingtown, Chester County; a beer hall at the Xfinity Live! entertainment complex in South Philadelphia; and a second, eco-friendly brewhouse scheduled for 2013 in Parkesburg, Chester County.
Details: 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown | (610) 873-0881 | victorybeer.com
Sly Fox Brewing Company
Since launching in 1995, the family-owned Sly Fox Brewing Company has expanded and moved several times, and it now consists of a brewhouse and eatery in Phoenixville and a brewery in Pottstown. Sly Fox, which launched the Mid-Atlantic’s first canning line several years ago, opens the production brewery for tours and tastings. Renowned for its diverse styles, Sly Fox brewers have garnered numerous medals at The Great American Beer Festival
Details: 520 Kimberton Road (Route 113), Phoenixville | (610) 935-4540
312 N. Lewis Road, Royersford | (610) 948-8088 | slyfoxbeer.com
Appalachian Brewing Company
ABC in Collegeville brews one exclusive specialty beer per month and trucks in the company’s flagship beers from headquarters in Harrisburg. Adding to the house beers are the Belgian and specialty import bottles, as well as house-made root beer, white birch beer and ginger beer. The vast selection of gourmet pub fare includes enough vegetarian and vegan dishes to keep herbivores happy.
Details: Collegeville Station, 50 W. 3rd Avenue, 2nd floor, Collegeville, Montgomery County | (484) 973-6064 | abcbrew.com
Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery
After sitting barren for two years, the historic General Lafayette Inn house a new brewpub in summer 2013 thanks to the couple behind Philadelphia’s Devil’s Den and Old Eagle Tavern. Six of 30 draft lines will pour house-made brews (three accessible beers and three more adventurous ones), while guest offerings will flow from the others. The Devil’s Den executive chef will craft an elevated gastropub menu intended for beer-pairing, and Devil’s Den will actually feature Barren Hill creations at its bar. Take note: The inn that lodged Generals Washington and Lafayette is also said to be home to its share of ghosts.
Details: 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, Montgomery County | facebook.com/BarrenHillBeer
Boxcar Brewing Company
Two husband-and-wife teams launched Boxcar Brewing in 2009 after home brewing and adjusting recipes for two years. The community-focused owners have settled temporarily into a glorified garage, where they brew session beers, and they opened a tasting room where they sell growlers, six-packs, cases and kegs. Interested beer lovers can call for an appointment to tour and sample, or they’re welcome to volunteer for community bottling days. Boxcar is sold all over eastern Pennsylvania, plus in New Jersey and Delaware.
Details: 306 Westtown Road, Suite C, West Chester, Chester County | (484) 887-0538 | boxcarbrewingcompany.com
Crabby Larry’s Brewpub Steak & Crab House
Larry and Dani Jones fill the nine taps of their casual Caribbean-themed restaurant with beers they started making six years ago. The couple brews a 50-gallon batch every other week, and past recipes have included a whiskey vanilla smoked porter and a mango pepper ale brewed with jalapenos.
Details: Chalfont Village Shopping Center, 237 W. Butler Avenue, Chalfont, Bucks County | (215) 822-8788 | crabbylarrys.com
Doylestown Brewing Company
“The person who has a Coors Light every time—I have a beer for them,” says owner Joe Modestine. The nascent brewery contract brews its accessible beers in the former Rolling Rock factory in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Eventually, Modestine, the grandson of a man who opened a beer distributor in 1948, wants to open his own site in Doylestown to make small-batch seasonal brews and offer tours and tastings. For now, it can be tasted at pubs throughout Bucks County.
Evil Genius Beer Company
Contract brewed in upstate New York, the lineup of full-flavored yet easy-to-drink session ales groups itself into three hauntingly named series: Eyeclops, Supervillians and Demonic. Beers also carry on the theme with names like Pure Evil, an oatmeal stout conditioned with homemade chocolate syrup, and Trick or Treat, a chocolate pumpkin porter. These witches’ brews can be conjured up at bars in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The owners hope to construct a brewery in Chester County by early 2014.
Details: 284 W. Avandale Road, West Grove, Chester County | (484) 961-0247 | evilgeniusbeer.com
Forest & Main Brewing Company
Voted 2012’s best brewpub by Philadelphia magazine, the half-British, half-Belgian brewery and cafe serves a full dinner menu of ingredient-driven pork chops, seafood and curried popcorn out of a charming 19th-century mansion. Some beers are aged in wine barrels and others, true to British tradition, are poured at cellar temperature.
Details: 61 N. Main Street, Ambler, Montgomery County | (215) 542-1776 | forestandmain.com
Free Will Brewing Company
Intensely flavorful beers are the hallmark of this brewery, which makes seven to eight beers, such as a sour farmhouse ale, an intensely hoppy imperial IPA and a resurrection of a nearly forgotten pale stout recipe. “We’re not looking to make light lagers anytime soon,” says co-owner Dominic Capece. The year-old, 8,600-square-foot brewery bottles and distributes in 38 Pennsylvania counties and opens five days a week for tastings and retail sales.
Details: 410 E. Walnut Street, #10, Perkasie, Bucks County | (267) 354-0813 | freewillbrewing.com
G.G. Brewers Restaurant & Brewery
Master brewer/owner Gerry Martin returned from England, where he played semi-pro basketball, with a passion for ales. Eight years ago he opened this English-style pub, where he brews 163 different recipes, including current attractions like a mocha stout and Keswick light American ale. Before the end of 2013, Martin will move the pub across the street to a larger building, where he’ll begin distilling up to seven liquors under a new name—Sir Watson’s Pub, Home of G.G. Brewers Brewing Company—while continuing to serve casual food from America and around the world.
Details: 282 N. Keswick Avenue (new location is 277), Glenside, Montgomery County | (215) 887-0809 | ggbrewers.com
McKenzie Brew House
Eaters and drinkers in Philadelphia’s western suburbs have three McKenzie locations to choose from. The newest of the brewpubs in Berwyn expands McKenzie’s capacity to brew the beers that have earned it eight Great American Beer Festival medals and the top prize in a blind tasting of 28 local beers sponsored by Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan.
Details: 451 Wilmington-West Chester Pike, Glen Mills | (610) 361-9800
240 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern | (610) 296-2222, mckenziebrewhouse.com
The Naked Brewing Company
Up and running since January 2013, the nano-brewery that was started by two home-brewing friends churns out a half-dozen mostly session ales, with a focus on wheat beers that get flavored for the season. Several dozen bars in Philadelphia and its suburbs sell these rare black currant, ginger spice and pomegranate wheats, with retailers getting into the game in June, when the bottling line fires up. The tasting room opens on Fridays and Saturdays.
Details: 51 Buck Road, Huntingdon Valley, Bucks County | nakedbrewingcompany.com
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company
A former River Horse Brewing Co. brewer and Seibel Institute graduate, Jeremy Myers, along with friends Steven Capelli and Rob Jahn, opened Bucks County’s first brewery, tasting room and gift shop in 2012. Neshaminy brews unfiltered and unpasteurized beers and has already received nominations for local awards for best brewer and best brewery. All beers, which can be tasted on-site five days a week, use Neshaminy Creek water.
Details: 909 Ray Avenue, Croydon, Bucks County | (215) 458-7081 | neshaminycreekbrewing.com
Prism Brewing Company
In less than four years, brewer/owner Rob DeMaria has gone from contract brewing in a small suburban brewpub to opening his own full-scale brewery with a bottling line and a tasting room that’s open every day and features everything from gourmet hot dogs to bar food, plus live jazz and games four nights a week. DeMaria adds twists to classic styles, meaning he brews his pale ale with whole-leaf tea and accents his IPA with fresh local honey.
Details: 810-B2 Dickerson Road, B2-Rear, North Wales, Montgomery County | (267) 613-8572 | prismbeer.com
Round Guys Brewing Company
Friends Scott Rudich and Rich DiLiberto, a biologist and an engineer, respectively, took on home brewing with the intent of opening a brewery—now Round Guys Brewing Company. In addition to distributing to bars, the brewery features a taproom and a kitchen serving sandwiches, bratwursts, nachos and chili. As for the beers, Rudich and DiLiberto serve four beers year-round and two seasonals at the brewery, and they sell on the market two-dozen more, including some barrel-aged and sour beers.
Details:324 W. Main Street, Lansdale, Montgomery County | (610) 715-1512 | roundguysbrewery.com
Ship Bottom Brewery
Sold in a few bars clustered around the nano-brewery, the products focus on subtle flavors that don’t overpower the beer. As co-owner Robert Zarko says, “We put in just enough to make you guess what’s in it.” Some of those correct guesses would decipher bacon and maple syrup in a stout and pumpkin in an imperial-style ale. The veteran home brewers hope to expand their line of 10 beers and move into a bigger facility.
Details: 209 Glendale Road, Wallingford, Delaware County | (610) 368-5660 | shipbottombrewery.com
St. Benjamin Brewing Company
The region’s youngest brewery is located in the 19th-century carriage house and stables of the defunct Theo Finkenauer Lager Beer Company. The three-barrel nano-brewery, which should be operational by late fall 2013, will offer tours, tastings and growler sales, plus sandwiches and small plates when the pub opens around the same time. The former software developer who owns the brewery produces malt-forward styles like cream ale and steam beer.
Details: 1710 N. 5th Street | stbenjaminbrewing.com
Tired Hands Brewing Company
In less than one year of existence, this Belgo-French cafe-brewery won some of the world’s most prestigious awards, including second place in ratebeer.com’s ranking of the best new breweries on earth. The married owners fill the menu with such culinary offerings as house-made bread fermented with ale yeast, house-brined and pickled snacks and locally sourced cheeses, charcuterie and produce. The beers comprise mostly farmhouse ales, with the inclusion of some hop-forward Americans for variety. Guests enjoy it all throughout Tired Hands’ two floors.
Details:16 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, Montgomery County | (484) 431-3656 | tiredhands.com
Vault Brewing Company
Opened in 2012 in a bank built in 1889, Vault’s allure comes as much from its quirky, speakeasy-esque design—including the original 125-year-old, 8,000-pound vault door that opens into the beer conditioning cellar—as its beer. The brewery and kitchen (with a wood-fired oven) are 100% visible from the dining room, where guests indulge in house-made and locally sourced tapas, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and desserts. Live jazz and funk accompany the unfiltered American, British and Belgian beers, some of which are poured on nitro or cask.
Details:10 S. Main Street, Yardley, Bucks County | (267) 573-4291 | vaultbrewing.com