I love a good beer. I love it even more if it’s a local brew. Bonus points if it was brewed in the same place I’m drinking it.
In Philadelphia, my beer stars aligned.
Within a couple hours of rolling into the City of Brotherly Love, I was on the Philly On Tap tour, in a pub with a fresh pint in my hand. Excellent. We started off at McGillin’s, which has been serving up the goods since 1860. As the oldest continuously serving pub in Philly (yep, they served during prohibition!), McGillin’s is a landmark watering-hole in the city.
Hidden down one of Philadelphia’s many functional alleyways, McGillin’s draft list is massive, stocked with locally brewed beers and anchored by the 1860 IPA. Brewed at Stoudt’s Brewery in Adamstown, PA beginning in 2010 for the pub’s 150th birthday, the 1860 IPA is now a staple at McGillin’s, and, naturally, we had a pitcher of it. Delicious. Really hoppy, the way I like my IPAs.
Next, we trundled along to the Nodding Head. It’s up a flight of stairs, which generally serve as a tourist gate. Most tourists won’t go up or down stairs to get to a restaurant or pub, usually because they don’t see them. Their loss! Nodding Head, famous for its eclectic collection of bobble heads, actually brews its beers on site.
As we had a gander at the brewing equipment, I sipped on the “Guillotine”, a 9% ABV dry-hopped strong ale. It was one of the tastiest beers I’ve had in a long time, but you know what made it better? The fact that it was brewed, not too long before, in the set-up in front of me. Hells yes.
After an ever-so-tipsy descent back to street level, we headed for Tangier, our guide Chuck’s preferred spot. Chuck tells us that the guides usually pick the last pub based on the dynamic of the group they’re leading. We rolled into Tangier, a cool little place with a long bar, a slight Moroccan feel, and a large collection of hot sauce.
A touch peckish, we ate some of the best fries I’ve ever had (so crispy!), and I’m pretty sure I had a beer from nearby Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery (Delaware is a real place! They make real products!). It was clear that we were amongst locals in Tangier, as we’d been at every other stop along the way, and we were having such good fun that even though the tour typically ends at Tangier, we kept going.
The Guillotine at the Nodding Head is the reason I didn’t take any more iPhone photos the rest of the night…it was like 9% ABV! Mmmmmm…..
A few corners away is the inconspicuously double-doored Pub & Kitchen. A long space with wooden beams and a solid bar, Pub & Kitchen has a wickedly diverse beer menu and a very tempting food menu. I nabbed some mussels with sausage (brilliant idea) and a wheat beer (please don’t ask me to remember its name), and was oh so close to ordering their special funnel cake for dinner. I didn’t, but only because I was full from a thousand beers.
Eventually, it was time to stop. We did, after all, have a conference to run the next day. But before we gave up, we made it to one more local bar – good dog. I tapped out (fail, I know), but the boys kept going with more brews that were brewed down the block. good dog was packed, and I was well occupied staring at the framed dog photos that line the walls of the bar. Loved it.
So while we got a bit of extra special treatment on our Philly pub crawl, it was the Philly On Tap tour that set the stage for a (somewhat) memorable night and a true sense of local beers and bars in Philadelphia.