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.
500 Spring Garden St. (Spring Garden)
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.
1700 N. Palethorp St. (Kensington)
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.”
990 Spring Garden St. (Spring Garden)
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.
1927 W. Passyunk Ave. (South Philly)
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.
1939 S. Bancroft St. (South Philly)
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.
1727 N. Front St. (Fishtown)
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)
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.