The Philadelphia Craft Beer Scene Has The Rarest Exotic Brews

Philadelphia craft beer

McGillin's Old Ale House - one of the best places for Philadelphia craft beer. It actually is pretty old - it opened in 1860 - before the Civil War - located on narrow Drury Street, in the shadow of City Hall. For a better view of the sign, just click directly on the photo to enlarge it. / CC BY 3.0

We recognize that the Philadelphia craft beer scene is burgeoning, and although we're not experts at it, we do have the opportunity to rely on the expertise of those who are.

Accordingly, we've assembled a partial list of the best places to visit in Philadelphia for exotic ales and lagers. Speaking of the latter...

Philadelphia Was Home to America's First Lager, in 1840

As you can see, Philadelphia craft beer goes back a long way. According to a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Marker - those blue-and-gold signs you, fortunately, see everywhere in Philadelphia - in Northern Liberties:


In 1840, John Wagner brought lager yeast from his native Bavaria and brewed the nation's first lager beer. Later, other German immigrants began brewing lagers, which soon became popular and promoted growth of America's brewing industry.

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission - 2001

We have them grouped by neighborhood - and in an effort to promote safety - also have them grouped by the nearest SEPTA Regional Rail station - so that you can get back home, or to your hotel, without driving. (Many of these craft beers are far more potent, than conventional, mass-produced beer.)

Market East Station - All Of the Below Bars, Listed Under Old City, Northern Liberties, and East of Broad Street

If you are sampling the craft beer suds in Old City and/or Northern Liberties - you want to come by, and return to, Market East Station - located at 11th and Market Streets. Particularly in the case of Northern Liberties, due to its increased distance, you'll want to cab it back to Market East.

The Best Places for Craft Beer in Old City

This is just a partial list...

Beneluxx Tasting Room - 33 South 3rd Street - 3rd between Market and Chestnut Streets. 267.318.7269

The Khyber - 56 South 2nd Street - 2nd between Market and Chestnut Streets - 215.238.5888 - One of the oldest bars in Philadelphia, the Khyber remains a highly relevant part of the craft beer scene.

Eulogy Belgian Tavern - 136 Chestnut Street - Chestnut between Front and 2nd Streets - 215.413.1918

Triumph Brewing Company - 117 Chestnut Street - Chestnut between Front and 2nd Streets - 215.625.0855

The Best Places for Craft Beer - Northern Liberties

Standard Tap - 2nd and Poplar Streets - 215.238.0630. Standard Tap opened on the verge of the 21st century and the third millennium, welcoming visitors for the first time in December, 1999. They have been there ever since.

North Third - The operators of this establishment picked a great name, as it is, in fact, located at 801 North 3rd Street, the intersection of 3rd and Brown Streets - 215.433.3666.

The Best Places for Craft Beer - Others East of Broad Street

Caribou Cafe - 1126 Walnut Street - 215.625.9535 - Caribou Cafe is also just two and a half blocks south of Market East Station, and a great place to try one, while being close to the train...

Moriarty’s Restaurant and Irish Pub - 1116 Walnut Street - 215.627.7676 - Open Daily 11am to 2am - Right down the street from Caribou Cafe, this Irish place never fails to please.

Fergie's Pub - 1214 Sansom Street - Sansom between 12th and 13th Streets - 215.928.8818

Varga Bar - 10th and Spruce Streets - 215.MA7.5200.

Tria Cafe - two locations - 12th and Spruce Streets - 215.629.9200 - Tria describes itself as "celebrating the fermentation trio of wine, cheese, and beer", and that self-description tells you everything you need to know. Its other location is on Rittenhouse Square, on the other side of Broad, and is listed under the Suburban Station heading. Most notably - for those avid aficonados who'd like to know more - Tria offers Fermentation School and Sunday School - taught by professionals - to educate the curious about how the fermentation process works.

Observing its 150th anniversary, now in 2010, McGillin's Olde Ale House - 1310 Drury Street - 215.735.5562. This can be tricky to find, in the shadow of City Hall - so here's a better explanation. Among the major streets, get yourself to the intersection of 13th and Sansom Streets. Drury runs parallel to Sansom - just above it - between 13th and Broad Streets. But better yet - look at the McGillin's official site, linked above - we have the link going directly to the page with the map - "Contact".

Suburban Station - Other Places West of Broad, Excluding the Art Museum Area

For all Philadelphia establishments, offering craft beer, west of Broad Street (but excluding the Art Museum Area/Fairmount), you want to travel to and from Suburban Station - located at the intersection of 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

Good Dog Bar & Restaurant - 224 South 15th Street - 15th Street between Walnut and Locust Streets - 215.985.9600.

Right down the street from the Good Dog, you can find Jose Pistolas - 263 South 15th Street, 15th Street between Walnut and Locust. Mexican fare amidst the microbrews.

Monk's Cafe - 16th and Spruce Streets - 215.545.7005.

We can write with some authority on Monk's. It bills itself as "the Soul of Belgium in the Heart of Philadelphia" - and that's accurate. It's a little hole in the wall place, and you genuinely do feel like you've suddenly crossed the Atlantic and find yourself in a tiny pub in Belgium. The ambience is dark and European. The one downside to Monk's, is that you need to go there early; it is really jammed in, and if you want to sit and lounge comfortably for a couple of hours, this isn't the place for you.

But it really is a very fine establishment. We recommend the following, and we'll let Monk's "What's On Tap" page speak for itself, on the subject:

"Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

Our own private label brewed for us by the family owned Van Steenberge brewery, just outside of Ghent, Belgium. Medium body, red color, somewhat fruity nose, malt flavor with a slight lactic sourness. A real thirst quencher and palate cleanser."

Translated - it tastes really good. Highly recommended. Just don't linger there if it's crowded.

Misconduct Tavern - 1511 Locust Street - Locust between 15th and 16th Streets - 215.732.5797 - Don't be confused by the name - this is actually a very high-class establishment. The name was conceived of by the bar's previous owner, who had a pleasure boat named Misconduct.

This place has great craft beers, friendly staff, and outstanding chicken fingers, too. Highly recommended - we love this place...

The Black Sheep Irish Pub and Restaurant - 247 S. 17th Street - 17th & Latimer Streets, between Spruce and Locust - Rittenhouse Square - 215.545.9473

Tria Cafe - two locations - Rittenhouse Square - 18th and Sansom Streets - 215.972.TRIA - As noted, it was one of the two Tria locations.

The Bards Irish Pub - 2013 Walnut Street - Rittenhouse Square - Walnut between 20th and 21st Streets - 215.569.9585.

The Bards Irish Pub's slogan is "For A Real Taste of Ireland!" And the slogan is accurate. It offers pleasantly exotic beers, high quality food, and an intimate atmosphere. Pictures of Ireland, many with a literary theme, abound on the walls - it seeks to evoke the atmosphere of a real, genuine Irish pub - and it succeeds enormously. We've had the pleasure of eating there, and highly recommend it.

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