Top Beer Bars in Philadelphia
Best places to grab a fancy cold one
Recently named one of the 14 best beer cities on the globe by Frommer’s, Philadelphia is home to over a dozen craft breweries and hundreds of establishments raising the bar for beer.
Take a look at a few of the best places to grab a beer in the city and discover why Philadelphia is a major destination for beer lovers.
Belgian Beer Bars
European-style food, a monastic-looking logo and a façade that resembles an Old Country storefront make it clear that the Northern Liberties tavern models itself after its counterparts in Western Europe, and that’s before one even starts talking about the 11 taps and 20 bottles of mostly Belgian beer. At no time are there fewer than three to four hard-to-find Belgians on tap, with recent examples being Urthel Saisonniere and the ever-popular Ommegang Dubbel, whose parent company is Duvel.
Details: 637 N. 3rd Street, (215) 627-6711
The Belgian Café
Owned by Philly beer icons Tom Peters (of Monk’s fame) and Fergus Carey, this Belgian restaubar is home to a dozen mostly Belgian rarities on tap (St. Bernardus 12 and Fantome Bris BonBon among them) and another 250 in the bottle.
Details: 601 N. 21st Street, (215) 235-3500, thebelgiancafe.com
Beneluxx Tasting Room
Owners of nearby Eulogy opened this underground Belgian tasting room that claims one of Philadelphia’s largest draught selections with 36 rotating taps. Aficionados can down a whole glass of Grotten Cave-Aged Brown Ale or Gouden Carolos Ambrio or sample them in a tasting size, paired with morsels of cheese, wine or chocolate. Beneluxx also boasts some of the world’s only glass rinsers built into every table.
Details: 33 S. 3rd Street, (267) 318-7269, beneluxx.com
Eulogy Belgian Tavern
Claiming Philadelphia’s largest beer selection, the European beer and food laboratory owned by a first-generation Belgian-American pours more than 300 international bottles and 25 draughts. Ranked as the fifth best beer restaurant in the U.S. by ratebeer.com and one of the five best by Nightclub & Bar magazine, the two-story emporium’s menu includes “Eulogy’s Busty Blonde” brewed exclusively for Eulogy by La Binchoise Brewery in Belgium.
Details: 136 Chestnut Street, (215) 413-1918, eulogybar.com
The bar that brought Belgian ales to America, Monk’s has won every conceivable award for its Belgian beer and food menu that reads like a novel. The tavern has been named “One of the Top Five Places in the World to Have a Beer Before You Die” by All About Beer magazine. And owner Tom Peters has been knighted as a Chevalier du Fourquette des Brasseurs, the 500-year-old Belgian brewers guild, and is one of four Ambassadeurs Orval in the U.S., which means Trappist monks have acknowledged his ability to properly serve their beer.
Details: 264 S. 16th Street, (215) 545-7005, monkscafe.com
Theresa’s Next Door Bar
Identifying itself as an upscale yet comfortable Belgian restaubar, Theresa’s offers a great deal more, with 24 taps and 200 bottles from Belgium, international craft breweries and regional producers.
Details: 124-26 N. Wayne Avenue, Wayne, (610) 640-0119
St. Stephen’s Green
The polished Irish sports bar is the result of a partnership between the owners of well-loved stalwarts Bishop’s Collar, Black Sheep Pub and Dark Horse Pub. It’s this bar, however, that really places its beer menu front-and-center, making sure that no one leaves without sampling a La Chouffe Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale or an Ithaca Flower Power pulled from one of 12 taps or poured from one of 50 bottles that contain exclusively microbrews and imports.
Details: 1701 Green Street, (215) 769-5000, saintstephensgreen.com
With his self-described “big, Irish personality,” Fergus Carey, also known as “Fergie,” creates a party atmosphere at his eponymous pub that specializes in locals like Troegs HopBack Amber and Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale and hard-to-find locals like Nodding Head Grog. Almost unheard of craft bottles like Taras Bolba and Conniston’s Blubird Bitter complement Belgian styles.
Details: 1214 Sansom Street, (215) 928-8118, fergies.com
The Irish Pol
Despite its decidedly “regular-folk” vibe, this Irish joint draws from the most avid beer connoisseurs in the city. 40 taps serve microbrews exclusively, and they change weekly to serve up some of the rarest beers available. The assortment ranges from locals to obscure finds such as Dales Pale Ale and Dark Horse Crooked-Tree IPA. The menu provides detailed descriptions, and bartenders provide samples.
Details: 45 S. 3rd Street, (267) 761-9532, theirishpol.com
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
The longest-running bar in the city keeps it modern with a large selection of regional craft beers on tap. Three house specialties, McGillin’s 1860 IPA, McGillin’s Real Ale and McGillin’s Genuine Lager, are brewed in Adamstown by Stoudt’s. Bartenders also place a strong emphasis on seasonal beers and never overlook the best the world’s brewers have to offer, including O’Hara’s Irish Stout, the city’s only stout brewed exclusively in Ireland.
Details: 1310 Drury Street, (215) 735-5562, mcgillins.com
Setting the standard for the local gastropub movement and anchoring the birth of Northern Liberties as a suds-centric neighborhood, Standard Tap sells only local brews on tap. Every Wednesday, bartenders tap a local firkin at 6:00 p.m. as a complement to their beer-inspired food.
Details: 901 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0630, standardtap.com
Hawthornes Beer Boutique & Gourmet Eatery
Although it’s not a bar and it’s not a take-out market, this family-friendly café combines some of the best elements of both. Diners can grab one of 900 different bottles out of the row of coolers and savor it over freshly cooked meals served by the fireplace or fill up a growler from a system invented by the owner that will keep beer fresh for up to nine months.
Details: 738 S. 11th Street, (215) 627-3012, hawthornecafe.com
Bruce Nichols, co-founder of Philly Beer Week, is partnering with Madame Saito, the city’s unofficial “Queen of Sushi,” to open a two-story bar/restaurant that concentrates on pairing the region’s and world’s finest beers with some of the world’s finest cuisine, whether it be Asian, African, South American or European.
Details: 122 Lombard Street, (215) 625-0122, headhousephilly.com
At this University City taphouse, 60 taps carry imports and crafts and a private tasting room enables guests to customize 10 taps. Led by a team that operates three popular city bars, the bar serves food that pairs well with beers and can be eaten inside or outside year-round. The beer steward comes from Bridgid’s, one of Philly’s best established beer bars.
Details: 3925 Walnut Street, citytaphouse.com
Another favorite Fairmount standby is Bridgid’s, the first restaurant still in operation in the city to specialize in Belgian beers. It also boasts fireside dining and a weekly changing beer list that encompasses the names one has come to expect from Belgium, Germany, England, Ireland, France, the United States and elsewhere.
Details: 726 N. 24th Street, (215) 232-3232, bridgids.com
The Grey Lodge Pub
Esquire magazine listed the Grey Lodge in its first “Best Bars in America” issue, and ratebeer.com called it “One of the Top Beer Bars in the World.” The old-school neighborhood tavern caught the eye of reporters from around the country thanks to its rotating selection of 11 draught beers, including one on a hand pump, 40 bottles of some of the most obscure beers available and the famed “Friday the Firkinteenth” party held every Friday the 13th.
Details: 6235 Frankford Avenue, (215) 825-5357, greylodge.com
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan, London Grill was a gastropub before there were gastropubs. Two decades ago, the Fairmount landmark was modernized with 14 taps, including one cask, and remains one of the city’s go-to destinations for local, craft and English-style beers. A house beer is brewed by Stoudt’s, and frequent beer dinners, tastings and events entice diners to broaden their perceptions of food and beer pairings.
Details: 2301 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 978-4545, londongrill.com
Hidden away in the neighborhoods of Kensington, Memphis Taproom is the go-to destination for great beer and innovative pub food. The rotating taps feature unique brews from all around the country and the menu includes a surprising number of tasty vegetarian dishes, including beer-battered fried pickles and a coconut club, featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. In spring 2011, Memphis Taproom unveiled their backyard beer garden complete with a hot dog truck.
Details: 2231 E. Cumberland Street | 215-425-4460 | memphistaproom.com
TJ’s Restaurant and Drinkery
TJ’s features more than 200 varieties of beer with 25 drafts, including two hand pumps. Every food item is paired with a beer suggestion, and every beer comes with an extensive description.
Details: 35 Paoli Plaza, Paoli, (610) 725-0100, tjseveryday.com
In the same location for 57 years (just down the street from Grey Lodge), Tony’s Place is best known for its delicious tomato pizza pies, which can be washed down with quality mass-produced beers like Anchor Steam, Hoegaarden, Peroni and Sam Adams, sold both on nine taps and in 75 bottles.
Details: 6300 Frankford Avenue, (215) 535-9851, tonystomatopies.com
Concentrating on the trifecta of fermented products, namely beer, wine and cheese, Tria quickly rose to prominence as one of the city’s most serious yet accessible gastronomic destinations. Grouping its beers into novice-friendly categories like “invigorating,” “profound” and “extreme,” this sophisticated café changes its beer menu daily.
Details: 18th & Sansom Streets, (215) 972-TRIA; 12th & Spruce Streets, (215) 629-9200, triacafe.com
Beer, Music and more Beer
Under the same ownership as Standard Tap, this two-story music hall, bar and restaurant sticks to just the locals. Built on a philosophy of supporting the local community, Johnny Brenda’s serves all-draft beer (including two hand-pumped kegs), as well as fresh, seasonal food, with many ingredients coming from local sources.
Details: 1201 N. Frankford Avenue, (215) 739-9684, johnnybrendas.com
World Cafe Live
Home to public radio station WXPN, a full restaurant, two music stages and two bars, World Cafe presents itself as a community space for sharing independent live music and kinship. While eight taps provide libations for fans hearing music and eating at Upstairs Live and six pour steadily during downstairs shows, it’s the bottle selection that really shines with offerings like Russian River Damnation, Two Brothers Cane & Abel and Breckinridge Vanilla Porter. In fact, some of its beers are such deep cuts, the menu lists cult highly respected imported beers like Samuel Smith and Duvel as “mainstream hits.”
Details: 3025 Walnut Street, (215) 222-1400, worldcafelive.com
Bella Vista Beer Distributors
Thanks to their 2,000 different cases (1,500 domestic craft brews and 175 Belgian imports), this 40,000-square-foot, family-owned distributor is considered to be the best in the city by beer aficionados.
Details: 755 S. 11th Street, (215) 627-6465
With “1,609 beers of 122 different beer types from 509 breweries located in 52 countries,” this suburban beer distributor earns its rave reviews as one of the best suburban beer purveyors in the region.
Details: 218 E. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, (610) 688-3431, beeryard.com
This convenience store/beer emporium packs its coolers with almost 900 different beer brands from around the world and right from its own backyard. Shoppers can browse for local favorites like Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale, Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot and Flying Fish Hopfish India Pale Ale, plus anything else owners like that can be bought in Pennsylvania.
Details: 324 S. 10th Street, (215) 928-1111; 837 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-6077, fooderybeer.com