Philly Beer

Spring brewery crawl: A visitor’s guide to what’s new in Philly beer

If you’ve got friends coming to town or are just looking to catch up, here’s a quick primer on where to go.

Bottles at Roy-Pitz Barrel House

Bottles at Roy-Pitz Barrel House

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn
danya

If you’re into beer and haven’t checked out Philly’s brewing scene in the past couple years, what’s the best way to spend a day or two in town?

Answering that question recently for a friend — whose beer salesman brother was planning a trip here — led to a short list that also makes a great itinerary for locals looking to kick off spring with a beer immersion weekend.

This isn’t comprehensive, and it doesn’t touch on bars, just places that brew. But if you’ve got friends coming to town or are just looking to catch up, here’s a quick and handy guide for where to go.

Yards Brewing Co.

500 Spring Garden St. (Spring Garden)

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Bar at the new Yards

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

The new taproom doesn’t have as much charm as the old one, but it’s huge, and offers lots of great beer — including varieties you won’t find elsewhere — plus thoughtful, upscale stoner food. The brand new canning line just started up, so you’ll be able to snag some of the freshest Yards cans around.

Fermentery Form

1700 N. Palethorp St. (Kensington)

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Pouring at Fermentery Form

Danya Henninger

If you’re a sour beer fan, the unique combos this fermentation specialist is mixing up are unlike anything anywhere in the world, and the hidden back-alley taproom — open Saturdays only — is “like an urban farmhouse brewery in Brussels.”

Roy-Pitz Barrel House

990 Spring Garden St. (Spring Garden)

Taps will pour mostly house beer

Taps will pour mostly house beer

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

This year-old outpost of a mid-state brewery is worth a visit for the visual art throughout the dining room, but also for the liquid coming out of the dedicated barrel-aging room. Bonus: The chance to try some early releases from soon-to-open neighbor, Love City Brewing.

Brewery ARS

1927 W. Passyunk Ave. (South Philly)

Cans paying homage to the brewery brothers' father

Cans paying homage to the brewery brothers' father

Facebook / Brewery ARS

There’s no kitchen at this yearling tasting room run by twin brothers, just a place to get solid pours of an ever-changing lineup brewed — and cool-lagered, even the ales — a few feet away at the back of the former garage.

Second District Brewing

1939 S. Bancroft St. (South Philly)

Metalwork at Second District Brewing

Metalwork at Second District Brewing

Danya Henninger

When the former owner of Nodding Head teams up with a former Dogfish Head brewer, you get some really fantastic beer. Most of it is in classic, non-crazy styles, but with slight variations that make them interesting — this is a brewpub, so all batches are small.

Evil Genius Beer Lab

1727 N. Front St. (Fishtown)

Evil Genius in blue

Evil Genius in blue

Danya Henninger

These longtime contract brewers finally got a physical home to call their own, and the beer coming out of the small system on Front Street under the El is much better than their big label brands. Retro ’80s arcade games at the tasting room are an extra perk.

To Tired Hands or not to Tired Hands?

30 Cricket Terrace and 16 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore (Main Line)

Beer at the Tired Hands Fermenteria

Beer at the Tired Hands Fermenteria

Facebook / Tired Hands

It’s not that new anymore, but there’s always the question of this renowned, unorthodox suburban operation. Should you spend the time and effort to include it in the circuit? As the person planning a trip here wrote, “It appears to be a hour away via train. Is it worth it for 2 hours of travel?”

The answer is…yes.

Both the Brew Cafe and the Fermenteria are right by the Regional Rail stop, totally walkable. This writer has never been to either, but just about everyone who has been says they’re both intriguing, enjoyable places. Plus the beer is undoubtedly good, with interesting ingredients and flavor profiles. If you can squeeze an extra half-day into your trip, Tired Hands is a good add-on.