Heralded as one of the best beer cities in America by Clever, Philadelphia has a history that dates back to the 17th century when William Penn, the city’s founder, left detailed instructions for the construction of a brewhouse at his estate in Pennsbury, Bucks County. Breweries and malt houses were popular in the colony and the city was rapidly growing a national reputation for their suds, with Philadelphia beer drawing favorable comparisons to the time-honored ales of England. In fact, those amber-colored ales helped fuel the American Revolution. By 1793, Philly was making more beer than any other city in the nation.
Today, Philadelphia’s craft beer scene continues to be robust. Each spring, the annual Philly Beer Week, the largest beer celebration of its kind in the United States, features hundreds of events including festivals, dinners, tours, pub crawls, tastings and meet-the-brewer nights.
Below is a sampling of the many Philadelphia breweries operating within city limits:
Started in a Manayunk garage by Tom Kehoe in 1994, “Philadelphia’s Brewery” moved into a shiny new 70,000-square-foot facility in 2017 at 500 Spring Garden Street in the bustling Northern Liberties neighborhood. Their beer-friendly menu pairs well with their approachable ales and lagers, especially their historically-accurate Ales of the Revolution – a series of beers made using original colonial recipes from our Founding Fathers. Yards features 11 signature ales on draft, plus a rotating selection of seasonal and limited releases like “Long Jawns,” their malty winter lager.
Taproom Experience: The space has a German beer hall feel, anchored by a funky main bar constructed from repurposed wooden bowling lanes. Towering steel brew tanks remind you this is Philly’s Brewery where communal tables and high-definition TVs make for the perfect Eagles game-day environment.
The husband-wife team of Kevin and Melissa Walter opened in 2018 with a simple premise: to brew good beer for good people. They nestled their dream in a former manufacturing plant that used to make tools and parts for their old Reading Railroad. Their signature beer, Love City Lager, is an easy sipper brewed for everybody – and Eraserhood IPA is a hazy juice bomb named after Philly’s Callowhill Industrial Historic District.
Taproom Experience: A frequent stop for thirsty bicyclists, restaurant workers, and neighborhood artists, Love City fosters inclusion and unity in a sleek-looking industrial-style brewhouse. The Citywide Special is a must: 12-ounce can of Love City Lager and a 1-ounce shot of well whiskey. There is no on-site kitchen, but look for the food truck du jour. Love City also now offers a beer garden that seats about 100 people in a relaxing outdoor space at 10th and Hamilton streets, across the street from the taproom.
Beer. People. Planet. That’s the triple bottom line. They became the first Pennsylvania brewery to become a Certified B Corporation in 2021, less than two years after opening their doors. That means they uphold the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. They also produce delicious beer like Good Attitude, a juicy pale ale.
Taproom Experience: First and foremost, every employee earns a living wage at Triple Bottom. Walk through the doors and get greeted with kindness in a coffee shop meets corner bar kind of neighborhood hangout. Pastel colors and cozy drapes allow visitors to sip the day away. Eats? The hearty Shepherd’s Pie from South Philly favorite Stargazy is the way to go.
The inspiration for this new Fishtown brewery began in Colts Neck, New Jersey, in a 125-year-old dairy barn. Their “farm-to-glass” ales and lagers trekked across the bridge into an abandoned taproom on Frankford Avenue, right next to the “Welcome to Fishtown” mural. They source ingredients from local farmers in sync with the local harvests.
Taproom Experience: Exposed brick and subway tiles provide the backdrop for a sprawling U-shaped bar featuring 32 taps. Urban farmhouse is the vibe, complete with a scratch kitchen: duck-fat fries, “grazing boards,” and a killer Frankford Fried Chicken sandwich are drool-worthy.
Since 2016, twin brothers Sean and Andy Arsenault have been making crushable hop-forward ales and Belgian-style saisons in a brick garage on West Passyunk Ave. Part of the brewery’s charm is the imaginative cartoon sketches that adorn their beer labels. They donate money toward Parkinson’s Disease through the sale of Wayne’s Pale Ale.
Taproom Experience: It’s the spot for people watching when those garage doors swing open and the smells of nearby Philip’s Steaks — underrated South Philadelphia gem — waft across West Passyunk Avenue. Inside, Brewery ARS has the feel of a place ready to inspire creativity. Or the next great punk rock band. They host yummy food trucks on the regular. Look for a second taproom to open soon along Frankford Avenue in Fishtown.
Opened in 2017 and located in an old saw-and-tool sharpening shop, this Newbold brewpub is named after the City Council district where the brewery sits. Their cross-pollination of humble and weird ingredients – think: Morello cherry puree, Matcha green tea, Mexican chocolate, Ethiopian coffee beans, fermented grape skins – has Philadelphia’s biggest beer geeks lining up.
Taproom Experience: Hipsters saddle up next to union laborers at the craft beer version of Cheers. Bancroft Beer – the “people’s beer” – headlines a creative tap list and pairs well with anything coming off their vegan-friendly grill. Try the Smash Burger or Vegan Smash Burger. Second District’s quirky array of antique mirrors is South Philly feng shui.
Named after a Fyodor Dostoevsky novel – and littered with tongue-in-cheek odes to Mother Russia – this seven-barrel operation put Brewerytown back on the beer map when it opened in 2015. Beer nerds flock here for hazy IPAs like their signature Space Race, but they also knock classic styles out of the universe.
Taproom Experience: The tiny brewhouse, located next to a revitalized church, only has 50 seats and people tend to linger while enjoying a First Friday art show or craft bazaar. Ownership remains committed to showcasing one of Philadelphia’s most diverse neighborhoods.
The catchy name has a meaning: human refers to classic-style beers, robot leaning toward experimental like Raspberry Sour Brains Splash. The brewery itself is rooted in a historic old carriage house and horse stable, one with rustic charm and plenty of hero’s tales including their own.
Taproom Experience: The brewery is a bit off the beaten path, located across the street from Philly’s Graffiti Mecca at North 5th Street. Grab an outside table and stare at modern-day Picassos while sipping a Czech Pale Lager and tearing into a hoagie from co-tenant Poe’s Sandwich Joint.
What started as a homebrewing project in an attic apartment (hence the name), has since evolved into a full craft brewing operation based in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. Serving as a hub for one of Philadelphia’s most historic, diverse and culturally-rich communities, portions of profits are donated to support neighborhood initiatives and organizations. Sustainable efforts include no plasticware and the use of re-purposed materials throughout the taproom, with spent grain donated to local gardens, farms and bakeries. An ever-changing tap list includes IPAs, brown, pale and Belgian ales, stouts and more.
Taproom Experience: The spacious, family-friendly taproom features a back bar that dates back to the 19th century and a front bar created using salvaged goods from old Philadelphia businesses and homes. Visitors can choose to sit indoors or outside as they enjoy the 14 varieties of beer and cider on tap, with food available at neighboring Deke’s BBQ or one of any number of food trucks that pop-up on weekends throughout the year.
A family-run operation since 2017, with origins in a Father’s Day homebrewing kit, Wissahickon pays home to the Lenape Indians who originally inhabited the banks of the Schuylkill River. The East Falls neighborhood is rich in folklore and inspired the names behind Wigwam IPA and Black Bear IPA.
Taproom Experience: Hikers are welcome after trekking the trails at Wissahickon Valley Park. This is a judgment free zone for cargo pants and prime knits. Their comfy outdoor spaces – beer garden in the summer, heated patio in the winter – make it equipped for year-round hijinks, including an inside space resembling a cozy ski lodge.
It’s only fitting one of the best new breweries in Philadelphia sits in the shadow of the old Schmidt’s Brewery, a city institution that shuttered in 1987. Urban Village is a “tank-to-table” restaurant and brewpub known for brick-fired pizzas and hoppy brews. They sell roughly 1,500 pints per week in the hip Northern Liberties neighborhood.
Taproom Experience: An outside illustration explaining various phases of the brewing process beckons guests inside to explore a thoughtful menu. Foodies will go crazy for the pizza pies – cold-fermented for three days – and beer lovers will want to sample Rye Bread, an IPA with caraway seed and rye malt. Groove to vinyl records spun by local DJs, with live jazz, funk and blues artists performing on select evenings each week.
Their East Passyunk outpost – the brewery’s second outpost after starting up in Easton, PA – prides itself on “spontaneous fermentation” and specializes in hoppy and wild ales infused with foraged ingredients. Ask to see the barrel-aging room in the basement after running down the inventive tap list in their 2,000-swuare-foot tasting room.
Taproom Experience: The dimple mugs give Separatist a throwback charm and British pub feel – although the beer is forward thinking and modern. For example, Battistrada is an Italian-style pilsner brewed with a touch of honey malt. Candles adorn communal tables in an effort to encourage shared thought and conversation.
This retro 1990s-themed brewery opened in 2017 in an old rail-car factory under SEPTA’s Market-Frankford “El” elevated train line on Front Street. “The Lab” focuses on pop culture references and features menus wrapped in VHS-tape cases and an old school Sega Genesis.
Taproom Experience: Think of your best friend’s basement, complete with old-school board games and a grunge soundtrack. Jean shorts and flannels are optional. Drinking funny-named beers is required: Chickity China The Chinese Chicken, Stacy’s Mom, There’s No Crying In Baseball, New Phone Who Diss, for example.
This serene neighborhood brewery set up shop in 2015, inside Bar Hygge in the Francisville section of Fairmount. “Hygge” applies their namesake coziness and conviviality to the brewery, with a well-rounded draft list that runs the gamut from fruit-forward sours and funky saisons to over-the-top barleywines.
Taproom Experience: Scandinavian ambiance sets the mood at this eatery and brewery. Walk in and hang a sharp left to a Victorian-era lounge area filled with fuzzy couches and wing-back chairs. Order a Lemon Meringue IPA and pair it with one of their “Hygge Boards”, a selection of customizable shared snacks.
The first post-Prohibition craft brewery to open in Philadelphia — their original brick and mortar opened in Logan Square, in 1989 — owner Rosemarie Certo has long been a pioneer. She has since expanded to two locations: Dock Street West, the original located on South 50th Street; and Dock Street South, at 2118 Washington Street.
Taproom Experience: Dock Street West has been slinging hand-tossed, wood-fired pies since 2007 while racking up Great American Beer Festival awards for dreamy beers like Man Full of Trouble Porter. Tucked away in an old West Philadelphia firehouse, the heart and soul of the place lies in the brick oven. It begs thirsty travelers to stay for another round.
This bi-level brewery in Old City has been part of the beer scene since 2014, encouraging both their brewers and guests to embrace what they are passionate about through their own “second story.” Owner Deb Grady sources hops and barley from her 90-acre farm whenever she can; and their Fritzie’s Lager relies on all-Pennsylvania ingredients.
Taproom Experience: The concept was to create a brewery born out of everyone’s “second story” – or the one you tell when you’re riding SEPTA home or mingling with co-workers after hours. That philosophy is mirrored in the two-story layout of the place which allows for guests to stretch their legs out and relax.
Founded in 1996, this expansive riverfront mecca on Main Street in Manayunk has earned a stellar reputation for doing a wide array of beer styles including more than 600 varieties. The brewery has survived multiple floods – the most recent was in 2021, due to their proximity to the Schuylkill River. An industrial scale for weighing wool – the building was originally a textile mill – stands guard at the door. NOTE: Due to flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, Manayunk Brewing remains temporarily closed.
Taproom Experience: Flooding from Hurricane Ida has forced the brewery to temporarily close, although owners vow to return stronger. When they do, expect the same convivial cheer and boisterous atmosphere ‘Yunkers (Manayunk residents) have been enjoying for 25 years. Al fresco dining on the patio offers the best views of the Schuylkill River.
Husband and wife owners Nick and Lindsey founded Chestnut Hill Brewing Company in 2016 with a shared passion for craft beer that pairs well with wood-fired pizza. Located in Philadelphia’s Garden District, this small neighborhood brewing operation features anywhere from eight to ten beer options that are brewed on-site with a five barrel system, available to enjoy on-site or to-go in four packs, crowlers or growlers.
Taproom Experience: Small-batch beer, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, and vegan-friendly pub fare is the name of the game at this intimate taproom with indoor and outdoor seating that is connected to the Market at the Fareway public market (think: mini-Reading Terminal Market).
This newcomer from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, opened their doors in 2017 and immediately won favor with their delightfully wacky barrel-aged sours and unique German-style wheat beers. Roy Pitz Barrel House, with an industrial look built into old truck docks on Spring Garden Street, is a liquid tribute to all things Pennsylvania.
Taproom Experience: A vibrant mural detailing a thrashing octopus on the high seas emphasizes the brewery’s appreciation for “liquid art.” It’s the term they use to describe their brews. Expect to find local artists and musicians sipping the day away at their industrial chic location in Philadelphia’s flourishing, mural-filled Spring Arts District.
This Kensington landmark has been churning out easy-drinking craft brews since 2007 out of the old Weisbrod and Hess Oriental Brewing Company building. No frills here – look for the white Kenzinger truck and there’s probably something going on in the courtyard (live music, food festival, dog show). Philadelphia Brewing Company has been featured in movies like Creed and their flagship beer, Kenzinger, got its own TV commercial in 2011.
Taproom Experience: The warehouse-style brick building is reminiscent of an old-school brewery, like a smaller version of Yuengling’s Pottsville facility. Live music is a point of pride on their outdoor loading dock, including fun jazz bands on Friday nights. Grab cans of “Harvest From the Hood,” their seasonal wet-hopped ale made with urban hops from around the city.
Focusing on brewing classic and new world styles, Mainstay Independent was the first tenant in Craft Hall, one of Philadelphia’s top family-friendly restaurant options. Their proximity to the water (overlooking the Delaware River, in the former home of Yards Brewing Company) feeds the nautical theme, hence beer names like Cleat Hitch and Harness Bend. Head brewer Brian O’Reilly is well-known in the industry with 10 Great American Beer Festival medals to his name.
Taproom Experience: Fun and games reside inside Craft Hall, including Skee-Ball, foosball, shuffleboard, Nintendo, and a wide selection of board games. Think of it like a Chuck E. Cheese for adults except with the smell of smoked meats coming off a 700-pound smoker tickling your senses instead of day-old pizza.
Philadelphia’s first black-owned brewery is still looking for a brick-and-mortar spot but you can find their beers at Craft Hall (901 North Delaware Avenue) alongside Mainstay Independent Brewing’s offerings. Two brothers – Richard and Mengitsu – embarked upon their dream in 2016 after purchasing a homebrew kit and testing out recipes in the backyard. Now their tasty brews are being served at Lincoln Financial Field during Eagles games.
Look for the green light on a back alley in West Kensington to find some of the best Belgian-style mixed fermentation beers in the country. If it’s on, they are open (they also share opening alerts on their Instagram). They don’t brew anything on-site, instead they create wort (unfermented beer) at neighboring breweries and trek it back to their 1,400-square-foot facility where those magical microbes are blended and aged.
Taproom Experience: The overall feel is more speakeasy than brewery. Urban farmhouse vibes, with plenty of odes to Belgium like church pews, crooked staves, and green bottles. The star of the show is a towering pyramid of wooden casks filled with beers in various stages of the aging process. That solera brewing method, or fractional blending, guides all recipes.
A newcomer to Philadelphia’s brewing scene, Cartesian opened their South Philadelphia garage brewery and taproom in 2021, just a stone’s throw from iconic cheesesteak spots Pat’s and Geno’s along East Passyunk Avenue. They pride themselves on sourcing ingredients from local producers and partners, infusing them in their beer to create a unique, true-to-Philadelphia brew. The ever-changing tap list features multiple styles of IPAs — hazy, west coast, and farmhouse — alongside a rotation of saisons, Belgian ales, and malty amber ales.
Taproom Experience: Beer is the primary focus inside of this no frills garage. Look for art created by local artists to line the walls, with board games available to play as you sip while seated at the bar or one of the many tables inside. For food, Cartesian partners with local restaurants and food trucks for pop-up events, but visitors can also consider grabbing a cheesesteak from around the corner or order take-out or delivery from one of the many eateries in the neighborhood.
The Countryside and Beyond
Philadelphia’s craft beer footprint extends far beyond downtown Philadelphia, with independent breweries operating in Countryside towns and suburbs such as King of Prussia, Ardmore, Ambler, West Chester and more.
Founded in 1996, Victory Brewing Company has since grown to become the second-largest “craft brand family” in the state of Pennsylvania, with multiple breweries and taprooms located throughout the Countryside of Philadelphia. Their flagship brewery operates out of a former Pepperidge Farm manufacturing complex in Downingtown, Pennsylvania — approximately an hour’s drive from downtown Philadelphia — and they are known for popular year-round brews such as HopDevil IPA, Prima Pils German pilsner, and the boozy-yet-tasty Golden Monkey Belgian-style Tripel, plus seasonal options such as the Summer Love ale, Festbier Märzen and Winter Cheer wheat ale.
Taproom Experience: In 2021, Victory opened a Philadelphia taproom — their first location in the city — along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The bi-level, 14,000-square-foot space features three total bars pouring exclusive brews, street level outdoor seating and a rooftop patio. Victory’s brews can also be found at the Victory Beer Hall in South Philadelphia, one of the five areas found within popular sports bar Xfinity Live!. A visit to Victory’s flagship Downingtown brewery and taproom is a must, with a 300-seat restaurant and a dedicated Spirit Room serving craft spirits from Southern Tier Distilling Company. Additional locations can be found in Kennett Square and Parkesburg, Pennsylvania.
Beer nerds from all over the country have sought out their milds and saisons since 2012. They opened the doors to their new brewpub in November 2021 at 33 East Butler Avenue in Ambler, Pennsylvania, with 13 beers on tap. Mugs poured from the hand pump are magical and check social media for Solaire Reserve. Aged in wine barrels, the funky beer has been called one of the best saisons on the planet. Look for them on weekends at the Rittenhouse Farmer’s Market.
Taproom Experience: Their signature Victorian home has been replaced by a 15 Barrel Brewhouse stashed inside an old apartment building just a few blocks up the road. Forest & Main’s art aesthetic remains intact – co-owner Dan Endicott designs can labels – and his trippy paintings adorn the walls. Cozy, quaint, comfortable.
Tired Hands has been creating “strange and beautiful beers” in Ardmore since 2012. Their “Milkshake IPAs” (brewed with lactose) crashed the craft beer scene as fans of the style would line up around the block and wait hours to purchase pricey four-packs. Hazy beers like Alien Church, Oblivex, High Road, Grassman have cult followings, as does their Only Void stout, which has a full day dedicated to it every October.
Taproom Experience: The Fermentaria has been the place to see and be seen in craft beer circles over the years. It’s a sprawling mecca where views of stainless-steel tanks and wooden aging barrels are free, along with smells of barley and hops. Owners opened a Philadelphia location called St. Oner’s in Fishtown in 2019 to expand their footprint. Both locations offer an adventurous food menu.
Travel to West Chester to discover a unique brewery influenced by the rustic vineyards of Italy. Their 15-Barrel Brewhouse is only 20 minutes from Longwood Gardens and beer gets distributed throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C. Tickle Parts and Cloudy & Cumbersome are favorite IPAs, along with their rotating Hop Cartel and Fruit Fetish series.
Taproom Experience: Located in the back of an office park, at 208 Carter Drive, Levante is big on sensory experiences and their 20-tap digital display puts that on full display. Take a selfie by the “Elevate Your Craft” mural and grab a seat by the garage door where you can get a whiff of one of the rotating food trucks.
With more than 20 locations up and down the East Coast, it’s important to remember that Iron Hill started as a hyper-local brewery in nearby Delaware. They opened their flagship Philadelphia brewpub on Market Street – near the Pennsylvania Convention Center – in September 2018.
Taproom Experience: Iron Hill’s promise of “Tap to Table” – brew tanks are literally 10 feet from tables – influences the food menu. Everything can be paired with their award-winning scratch brews, including beer-infused dishes like the “Brewben.” They are the most decorated brewery East of the Mississippi River as evidenced by medals in 21 straight Great American Beer Festivals from 1997 through 2018.
One of the newer kids on the block, Workhorse opened its massive doors in 2018 in King of Prussia. Their 70,000-square-foot facility immediately gained local acclaim for cranking out approachable beers, like Vienna Lager and Golden Lager. The brewery’s name serves as an ode to those hard-working, clock-punchers in the suburbs. And don’t forget to grab the beer industry’s first to-go flight: six portable 8-ounce cans you can take home.
Taproom Experience: It’s a great location for day trippers looking to enjoy Valley Forge and the Montgomery County countryside. The space is huge but it never feels empty, maybe due to a friendly staff and comfortable bar stools. Ask about weddings and private events.
One of the oldest breweries in the Philadelphia area, Sly Fox has been around since 1995. They were the first to see the value in canning and the development of the “360 lid” kept them ahead of the curve. It peels back to allow for easy drinking on the go. They are up to five Pennsylvania locations: Pottstown, Phoenixville, Wyomissing, Pittsburgh, Malvern.
Taproom Experience: The Pottstown facility is the head of operations and tripled its brewing capacity in 2012 after adding a 30,000-square-foot brewery on six acres. The casual warehouse gives way to an inviting outdoor grassy field, including a nine-hole disc golf course and outdoor patio stage. Sly Fox hosts marquee events like the largest Kan Jam tournament in the world and their legendary Bock Fest & Goat Race.
The pride of Delaware County — known locally as “Delco” — 2SP has been producing unpretentious beers in Media since 2015, highlighted by Delco Lager and The Russian. Look for seasonal releases of their WaWa collaboration stout around the holidays. The 15,000-square-foot facility sends beers to the best taverns in Philadelphia, plus Japan thanks to a special college friendship.
Taproom Experience: 2SP’s U-shaped bar sets the tone for a love letter to Pennsylvania that hearkens back to its pub roots. The name honors Two Stones Pub, a cherished craft beer bar in Media where the idea for a “Made in Delco” brewery started. Hang around long enough and you’ll probably meet head brewer Bob Barrar, aka “The Medal Machine.”
This once secret gem in Berwyn was outed with a slew of accolades in 2018, including a win at local culinary critic and columnist Craig LaBan’s “Brewvitational.” Head brewer Chris Young is a mad scientist of sorts and a 7 Barrel Brewhouse allows him to run one of the most experimental beer programs in the area. Hipster Catnip is also one of the more sought-after IPAs in the area.
Taproom Experience: Latino influences explain the name (literally, it translates to the goat) and the menu which counts Duck Empanadas and a Street Corn Caesar as standout items. The dining room has a distinctive log cabin feel, with bright turquoise odes to the Southwest. Better yet, the SEPTA regional line stops right across the street.
Cover photo: Courtesy of Human Robot.