Philadelphia, PA - One hundred years ago, Philadelphia was known as the most fantastic brewing city in the Western Hemisphere, or the “Cradle of American Libation,” according to food critic Craig LaBan of The Philadelphia Inquirer. It was in Philadelphia taverns that the American Revolution took hold.
In the mid-19th through the early 20th century, more than 90 breweries operating in Philadelphia proper and another 100 were used in the city’s environs. One area northwest of Philly, located on the banks of the Schuylkill River near the Girard Avenue Bridge, became known as Brewerytown. As Brewerytown grew, area producers of German-style beers and American lagers expanded into the nearby Kensington and Fishtown neighborhoods and beyond.
The brewery boom ended in 1920 when Prohibition brought on the decline—and near demise—of virtually all of Philadelphia’s beer producers, most of whom remained shuttered beyond the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
Craft breweries have reclaimed the region’s reputation by brewing some of the world’s best beer. Special designations from the national press include Philadelphia’s appearance in Wine Enthusiast’s “Five Best Beer Cities,” GQ’s “The 5 Best Beer Cities in America,” and Frommer’s “World’s Best Cities for Beer.”
The 10-day Philly Beer Week is the country’s most significant beer week. Visitors can tour the facilities and sample the beer by following the “Breweries, Brewpubs and Craft Beer Trail of Greater Philadelphia.” Available on visitphilly.com, the self-guided trail features about 40 regional breweries and tasting rooms. In addition to experiencing the breweries themselves, beer lovers can walk into the hundreds of bars that keep local brews stocked and on tap or partake in the brew-focused events that fill the calendar.
Here’s a look at the breweries of Greater Philadelphia.
- 2nd Story Brewing Company – At this craft brewery and restaurant in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood, head brewer John Wible presents classic ales and lagers. At the same time, executive chef Aaron Sheppard serves American bar fare, including many vegetarian options. A must: “big and boozy adult sundae,” with stout ice cream, chocolate syrup, salted caramel, malt pretzel-peanut crumble and honey whipped cream. 117 Chestnut Street, (267) 314-5770, 2ndstorybrewing.com
- Crime and Punishment's Brewery – Inspired by the words of great thinkers—such as the author of the brewery’s namesake, Fyodor Dostoyevsky—Crime and Punishment toys with a Russian theme in its décor. As the first 21st-century brewery to return to the neighborhood known as Brewerytown, the brewpub showcases Russian fare in addition to eight rotating beers on tap. 2711 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 235-BREW (2739), crimeandpunishmentbrewery.com
- Do Good Brewing Co. – Do Good—named both for its deep spirit of philanthropy and for Ben Franklin’s nom de plume—currently produces four beers, including Kenzo Sour and Birra Forte Limoncello IPA. The United Ale is a cream ale with blood orange and coriander that generates money for charities that battle child poverty. The seven-barrel brewery and tasting room, housed in a former textile mill in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood, also operates as a shared workspace for craftspeople. 3245 Amber Street, (267) 752-3548, dogoodbrewing.com
- Dock Street Brewery and Restaurant – Alongside traditional unfiltered ales and lagers are alternative and experimental styles, such as Bubbly Wit and Spanglish Fly (brewed with wormwood and yarrow), and special releases like Walker, a beer brewed with smoked goat brains to honor the TV show Walking Dead. Located in an old firehouse, the brewpub features wood-fired pizzas, Pennsylvania wines, beer cocktails, and a weekly movie night. 701 S. 50th Street, (215) 726-2337, dockstreetbeer.com
- Earth Bread + Brewery – From utilizing reclaimed furniture to composting, the husband-and-wife owners—who once owned New Jersey’s renowned Heavyweight Brewing Co.—are as committed to reducing their footprint as they are to creating wood-fired flatbreads and pouring a niche selection of beers and wines on draft. Regulars know not to get attached to any particular beer style, as brewer Tom Baker rarely repeats a recipe. 7136 Germantown Avenue, (215) 242-6666, earthbreadbrewery.com
- Manayunk Brewery – This canal-side destination constantly updates its beer selections, which pour from 10 taps, including a hand pump. Patrons wash down stone oven-fired pizzas and sushi with beers that range from fruity mainstay Schuylkill Punch, a berry ale made with real cherries and red and black raspberries, to Yunkin’ Punkin’, a fall favorite made with 100% natural pumpkin and fall spices. 4120 Main Street, (215) 482-8220, manayunkbrewery.com
- Philadelphia Brewing Company – PBC operates in a facility that was initially constructed as the Weisbrod & Hess Brewing Company. People can tour the brewery every Saturday and sip samples of what’s on tap. 2440 Frankford Avenue, (215) 427-BREW, philadelphiabrewing.com
- Saint Benjamin Brewing Co – Named for Ben Franklin, Saint Benjamin brews on a three-barrel system in the carriage house and stable of the former Theo Finkenauer Brewery, built in the Kensington neighborhood around 1880. Tours and tastings take place once or twice a month on Saturdays. 1710 N. 5th Street, stbenjaminbrewing.com
- Yards Brewing Company – Owner Tom Kehoe helped ignite a craft beer revolution in Philadelphia. As his 2014 designation as Philly Beer Scene magazine’s “Humanitarian of the Year” proves, he remains notably committed to sustainability and community. Visitors to Yards’ wind-powered tasting room can sample its mostly English-inspired ales while shooting pool or nibbling light fare from the kitchen or the food trucks on Fridays. 901 N. Delaware Avenue, (215) 634-2600, yardsbrewing.com
- Broken Goblet Brewing Company– The brewery indeed produces some unusual beers, but what may be more notable is the fact that the office-park brewery comes equipped with soundstage and professional audio/video capabilities. That means trivia nights, karaoke, comedians, live music, movies, seven beers on tap, and some unique hot-dog concoctions, such as the Uncle Paul Dog, with peanut butter, jelly, marshmallow fluff, and bacon. 1500 Grundys Lane, Bristol, (609) 868-6385, brokengoblet.com
- Bucks County Brewery– Owner Andrew Knechel takes advantage of his proximity to his next-door neighbor, distillery Hewn Spirits, to simultaneously brew and distill products using shared ingredients. The devoted conservationist brings food trucks and music to the 2,500-square-foot brewery every Friday night. 31 Appletree Lane, Pipersville, (609) 439-2468, buckscountybrewery.com
- Doylestown Brewing Company – The son of a saloon owner and grandson of a man who opened a beer distributor in 1948, Joe Modestine makes seasonal brews in a full-service brewpub that opened in 2015 in downtown Doylestown. 22 S. Main Street, Doylestown, (267) 454-7240, doylestownbrewingcompany.com
- Free Will Brewing Company – Emerging as a leader in the sour-beer trend, Free Will has vastly expanded its downtown Perkasie space to devote an entire floor to making sours. That doesn’t mean the other intensely flavorful beers—think mango habanero IPA—are going anywhere, to the delight of Free Will fans. 410 E. Walnut Street, Perkasie, (267) 354-0813, freewillbrewing.com
- Tower Hill Brewery – Culinary Institute graduate and landmark local deli owner Stan Kreft sources from local farms for his seasonal restaurant food menu, and he brews classic styles to match. 237 W. Butler Avenue, Chalfont, (215) 527-1192, towerhillbrewery.com
- Triumph Brewing Company - New Hope, PA – The eastern Pennsylvania location of the mini-brewpub chain pours mostly standard Belgian, German and English styles (including ciders) from five taps and a hand pump. The rustically modern space houses live bands on weekends and open-mic nights on Sundays. 400 Union Square, New Hope, (215) 862-8300; triumphbrewing.com
- Vault Brewing Company – Housed in a circa-1889 bank, Vault’s allure comes as much from its quirky, speakeasy design—including the original 125-year-old, 8,000-pound vault door that opens into the beer-conditioning cellar—as its beer. The brewery and wood-fired oven are visible from the dining room, and live jazz and funk accompany the unfiltered American, British and Belgian beers, some of which are poured on nitro or cask. 10 S. Main Street, Yardley, (267) 573-4291, vaultbrewing.com
- Boxcar Brewing Company – What started in a garage in 2009 has become a full-production brewery (that cans its beer) with a Prohibition-themed brewpub. The pub hosts bands and family entertainment in a former music venue. The couple that owns the brewery produces a Community Supported Beer series, which designates a charity recipient for proceeds from the one-offs that comprise the CSB program. 142 E. Market Street, West Chester, (484) 947-2503, boxcarbrewingcompany.com
- Levante Brewing Company – Taking its name, which means “rising,” from a region in Italy, Levante rose from two home-brewing friends who wanted to make beers in the explorative tradition of the Old World. More than half a dozen beers on tap range from chocolate stout to ESB to Kolsch. 208 Carter Drive, Suite 2, West Chester, levantebrewing.com
- Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company – A former River Horse Brewing Company brewer and Seibel Institute graduate, Jeremy Myers, along with friends Steven Capelli and Rob Jahn, opened Bucks County’s first brewery, tasting room, and gift shop in 2012. Myers won the Philly Beer Scene Awards’ “Brewer of the Year” in 2014 and then took it home again, along with “Brewery of the Year,” in 2015. 909 Ray Avenue, Croydon, (215) 458-7081, neshaminycreekbrewing.com
- Stable 12 Brewing Company – Stable 12 originated when three high school friends decided to homebrew as a hobby after college. They began at the horse farm where CEO Rick Wolf grew up and eventually expanded and established their own business. Stable 12 has launched with four classic style beers—wheat, stout, IPA, and amber ale. 368 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, stable12.com
- Victory Brewing Company – Founded by childhood friends Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski, who met on a school bus in 1973, the brewery formally began operations in February 1996. Victory now distributes to 36 states and ten countries and owns and manages three operations in Chester County: a brewery and full-service restaurant at the original Downingtown site; the second brewhouse in Parkesburg with an on-site restaurant and self-guided tours slated to begin in 2015; and a recently opened a 300-seat brewpub called Victory at Magnolia in Kennett Square. 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, (610) 873-0881; 3127 Lower Valley Road, Parkesburg; 650 W. Cypress Street, Kennett Square, (484) 730-1870, victorybeer.com
- Ship Bottom Brewery – While looking for a more prominent spot for his nano-brewery, brewer/owner Rob Zarko has added some eye-catching beers to his early roster of British and German styles. Most notable among them: Whiskey Barrel-Aged Baconator Stout brewed with maple syrup, coffee, chocolate, oatmeal, and three pounds of Bespoke bacon per barrel, all aged in Dad’s Hat rye whiskey barrels. 209 Glendale Road, Wallingford, (610) 368-5660, shipbottombrewery.com
- Appalachian Brewing Company – As the local outpost of a Harrisburg brewpub that runs several locations, ABC’s Collegeville restaurant brews the experimental beers for the company. Alongside the alcoholic options are house-made root beer, white birch beer, and ginger beer. The vast selection of gourmet pub fare includes enough vegetarian and vegan dishes to keep herbivores happy. Collegeville Station, 50 W. 3rd Avenue, 2nd Floor, Collegeville, (484) 973-6064, abcbrew.com
- Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery – Prolific restauranteur Erin Wallace breathed new life into this authentic Colonial-era inn and named it for a historic battle that took place here. Barren Hill offers a dynamic brewing schedule from head brewer Dave Wood and a hearty menu of creative comfort food. It boasts 16 varieties of house craft beers and 15 guest taps. 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, (484) 344-5438, barrenhilltavern.com
- Conshohocken Brewing Company – “Conshie” is led by a brewing and ownership team with a notable pedigree: Both owners have received certifications from the Beer Judging Certification Program; the head brewer hails from Yards Brewing Company; and his assistant put in time at Victory and Weyerbacher, located just outside the Philadelphia suburbs. At the taproom, vegetarian chili, three-cheese panini, and pulled-pork sandwiches satisfy patrons who can eat them on a deck overlooking the Schuylkill River. 739 E. Elm Street, Suite B, Conshohocken, (610) 897- 8962, conshohockenbrewing.com
- Crooked Eye Brewery – Fifteen years ago, Paul Mulherin’s son introduced him and his brother-in-law to home brewing. Today, the three of them run a nano-brewery that rotates 18 beers on 12 taps in the brewhouse. 13 E. Montgomery Avenue, Hatboro, (267) 246-5046, crookedeyebrewery.com.
- Evil Genius Beer Company – Contract brewed in Connecticut, Evil Genius prides itself on innovative styles and funky names: Purple Monkey Dishwasher Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, I Love Lamp Pineapple Hefeweizen, Turtle Power Grapefruit Pale Ale, and Trick or Treat Chocolate Pumpkin Porter. Owners hope to construct a brewery in the Philadelphia area by late 2015. 160 Stine Drive, Collegeville, (484) 961-0247, evilgeniusbeer.com
- Forest & Main Brewing Company – Voted 2012’s best brewpub by Philadelphia magazine, the half-British, half-Belgian brewery and cafe serves a full dinner menu of ingredient-driven pork chops, seafood, and curried popcorn out of a charming 19th-century mansion. Some beers are aged in wine barrels, and others, true to British tradition, are poured at cellar temperature. 61 N. Main Street, Ambler, (215) 542-1776, forestandmain.com
- Guild Hall Brewing Company – General Lafayette Inn’s original head brewer, Owen Hutchins, returned to the industry with his wife to open a brewpub in an old Rolls-Royce garage. He brews mostly classic styles (including General Lafayette flagship Germantown Blonde Kolsch) and serves fresh pub-inspired food, along with Pennsylvania wines. 208 York Road, Jenkintown, (267) 287-8698, guildhallbrewing.com
- The Naked Brewing Company – Up and running in its present location since 2012, the nano-brewery that two home-brewing friends started churns out ales like Pomegranate Wheat, Carpe Noctum Black IPA, and The Gentleman Imperial Stout. Several dozen bars in the Philadelphia area sell its rare black currant and ginger spice wheat beers, not to mention a variety of sours and one-offs. 51 Buck Road, Huntingdon Valley, (267) 575-0166, nakedbrewingcompany.com
- Prism Brewing Company – In less than five years, brewer/owner Rob DeMaria has gone from contract brewing in a small suburban brewpub to opening his full-scale brewery, complete with a bottling line and a tasting room that’s open every day and features gourmet hot dogs and bar food, plus live jazz and games. DeMaria adds twists to classic styles, meaning he brews his pale ale with whole-leaf tea and accents his IPA with fresh local honey. 810-B2 Dickerson Road, B2-Rear, North Wales, (267) 613-8572, prismbeer.com
- Round Guys Brewing Company – Biologist Scott Rudich took on home brewing with the intent of opening a brewery. In addition to distributing to bars, the brewery features a taproom and a kitchen serving sandwiches, homemade hummus, and nachos. As for the beers, Rudich pours 16 at the brewery, including some barrel-aged and sour beers. 324 W. Main Street, Lansdale, Montgomery County, (610) 715-1512, roundguysbrewery.com
- Tired Hands Brewing Co – In 2015, owner Jean Brouillet IV opened a production brewery and second brewpub down the street from his original—and still operational—Brew Cafe. In less than five years, the Belgo-French cafe-brewery has won some of the world’s most prestigious awards, including second place in RateBeer’s ranking of the best new breweries on earth. Now Brouillet and his wife/business partner can distribute their farmhouse and hop-forward ales region-wide from the space they’re calling their Fermentaria. Brew Cafe, 16 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, (610) 896-7621; Fermentaria, 35 Cricket Terrace, Ardmore, (484) 413-2983, tiredhands.com
- Iron Hill's Brewery & Restaurant – The East Coast’s fastest-growing group of brewpubs counts 11 locations in the region, with its latest opening in Ardmore, Montgomery County. The acclaimed beers have accumulated a wealth of awards from the nation’s top beer festivals, and the restaurants have earned more than 100 “best of” nods from local and national publications.8400 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, (215) 948-5600; 130 E. Bridge Street, Phoenixville, Chester County, (610) 983-9333; 3 W. Gay Street, West Chester, Chester County, (610) 738-9600; 60 Greenfield Avenue, Ardmore, Delaware County, (610) 228-2280; 30 E. State Street, Media, Delaware County, (610) 627-9000; 1460 Bethlehem Pike, North Wales, Montgomery County, (267) 708-2000, ironhillbrewery.com
- McKenzie Brew House – Eaters and drinkers in Philadelphia’s western suburbs have three McKenzie locations to choose from. Patrons at each sip beers that have earned the company eight Great American Beer Festival medals and the top prize in a blind tasting of 28 local beers sponsored by Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan. 324 Swedesford Road, Berwyn, Chester County, (610) 407-4300; 451 Wilmington-West Chester Pike, Glen Mills, Delaware County, (610) 361-9800; 240 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern, Chester County, (610) 296-2222, mckenziebrewhouse.com
- Sly Fox Brewing Company – Since launching in 1995, the family-owned Sly Fox Brewing Company has expanded and moved several times and now consists of a brewhouse and Eatery in Phoenixville and a brewery and tasting room in Pottstown. Sly Fox, which launched the Mid-Atlantic’s first canning line several years ago, opens the Pottstown brewery for tours and tastings. Sneaky Fox has garnered numerous medals at The Great American Beer Festival and won the best new beer at the 2014 Inquirer Brew invitational for its Nihilist Imperial Stout. Brewhouse & Eatery, 520 Kimberton Road (Route 113), Phoenixville, Chester County, (610) 935-4540; Brewery and Tasting Room, Pottstown Airport Business Center, 331 Circle of Progress Drive, Pottstown, Montgomery County, (484) 524-8210, slyfoxbeer.com