In a city as passionate as Philadelphia, where people bleed green and silver (fly Eagles fly) and Philly cheesesteaks and Cheez Whiz runs through the streets, it should come as no surprise to find an equally vibrant and pulsing craft beer culture. From a brewery marrying Russian Literature and brewing to Philadelphia’s first microbrewery still slinging one of the city’s best pilsners to a South Philly taproom brewing with ingredients like Coffee Blossom Honey from bees in Ethiopia, the City of Brotherly Love is showing its true colors when it comes to their passion for craft beer. And it should come as no surprise that Philadelphia has some of the most exciting breweries in the country.
In addition to the breweries included below, we wanted to shout out a couple of breweries that, while not in Philadelphia proper, deserve an honorable mention. Forest & Main Brewing Co. is, in our opinion, one of the best breweries around. Their ability to create traditional ESBs and saisons that are as exciting (if not more so) than their hazy IPAs is astounding. Plus, they have some of the best can art in the industry. Located in nearby Ambler, Forest & Main is only a short drive from downtown Philadelphia. Also, while Separatist calls Easton, PA their home, they’ve launched a location in South Philly. It’s well worth a visit to try some of their lagers, sours, and IPAs.
Below you’ll find our picks for the seven best breweries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Hop Culture’s Favorite Breweries in Philadelphia
Tired Hands Brewing Co.
16 Ardmore Ave, Ardmore | (484) 413-2978
Although Tired Hands is technically located just outside of Philadelphia proper, the Ardmore, PA-based brewery has helped define the Philadelphia craft beer scene. Their milkshake IPAs have been genre-defining and they’ve more or less brought new school hype to the Philly beer landscape.
That being said, Tired Hands paved the way for the American saison with beers like Ourison and SaisonHands. Moreover, the brewery has been at the vanguard of co-ferments in beer with offerings in the Frequency Illusion series. These beers are brewed with a variety of wine grapes resulting in stunning and dynamic beer/wine hybrids.
Swing by one of Tired Hands’ two locations in Philly or head out to Ardmore to the OG spot.
Crime and Punishment Brewing Co.
2711 W Girard Ave | (215) 235-2739
Mike Wambolt founded this brewery mere blocks from the Rocky Steps to combine two of his loves — Russian Literature and brewing. A frequent Hop Culture Juicy Brews participant and named one of our past favorite stops in Philly, Crime and Punishment continues to excel as a brewery with a point-of-view. Brewing imaginative beers from their Vistok Double IPA with Citra and Galaxy to their Shamanka Sour Ale with pineapple, guava, and coconut, C+P pairs its distinctive beers with Russian-influenced dishes. Crime and Punishment is a brewery unlike any other in the country.
2nd Story Brewing Co.
117 Chestnut St | (267) 314-5770
The saying goes that you only have one chance to make a first impression, but what about your second story? The one that you share with friends, co-workers, and others the second time you meet. 2nd Story Brewing Co. argues that it’s that second try that truly shows “the passion we have deep inside…the things we love to do because it defines who we are.” That passion flows heavily through all of 2nd Story’s handcrafted and handed down beers, reflecting in excellent interpretations such as their iconic Fritz’s Lager or Helles Yes lager.
Dock Street Brewery
701 S 50th St | (215) 726-2337
As a city, Philadelphia has a rich history. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams signed The Declaration of Independence in this city. Benjamin Franklin tempted fate with lightning by attaching a key to a kite in a storm. And, of course, the Eagles ended a historic NFL drought by winning the Super Bowl in 2018.
Similarly, Dock Street Brewery has a storied history. Hailed as Philadelphia’s first microbrewery, Dock Street proudly claims to be the brave sailor in a “proverbial sea of watered down and adjunct-plagued lagers.” Years of experience have helped Dock Street hone their lager recipes (no easy task). Their 35-year old Czech-style Pilsner is a testament to the brewery’s strong reputation in the city of Brotherly Love while their newest Futuro Italian Pilsner drop means they’re not afraid of innovation. The revered brewery even opened a new location, Dock Street South, just over a year ago in August of 2019. Go here for impeccably-made historic lagers.
Mainstay Independent Brewing Co.
901 N Delaware Ave | (215) 422-3561
The authentically and classically brewed beers from Mainstay Independent celebrate the legacy of the iconic city. Try their classic Constitution Lager, a cold fermented copper lager, or Birthplace Porter. Bonus their patio at the River Beer Garden at Race Street Pier looks at right over the Delaware River making for an extremely pretty place to kick back and enjoy a pint or two.
Second District Brewing
1939 S Bancroft St | (215) 575-5900
One of our Ten Best Brewpubs of 2017, this three-year-old South Philly taproom places an emphasis on quirky and unconventional ingredients. Head Brewer, Ben Potts counts Dogfish Head and Tired Hands on his past resume and now helms the mash tun at Second District cranking out some of the most consistent and creative beers in Philly. Beers like Silent Runners, a mixed fermentation sour ale conditioned on cherry, white peach, and passion fruit. And Thick & Creamy, a multigrain milk stout brewed with 50 pounds of Coffee Blossom honey harvested from bees who populate the indigenous coffee trees of the Majang Cloud Forest in Western Ethiopia. These are the beers that prove Second District isn’t afraid to play with flavors.
1700 Palethorp St
Although we named Fermentery Form one of the best new breweries of 2018, the West Kensington brewery remains something of a hidden gem. And maybe that’s by design. The brewery is only open on Thursdays (and sporadically on other days by announcement only). Finding the small taproom requires walking down an alley to sample some of their elusive, evocative beers.
Fermentery Form focuses on mixed-fermentation offerings that are subtle and nuanced. And, while there isn’t an ounce of bombast to this brewery, you’ll find beer fans eagerly posting “ISO” (in search of) on most of Fermentery Form’s Instagram posts. It’s the same reason that folks are so passionately attracted to breweries like The Referend, The Ale Apothecary, or Floodland. These breweries are unabashedly themselves and produce such special, engaging beers that fans desperately want to be a part of their world.
If you’re visiting Philadelphia, we highly recommend a visit to the world of Fermentery Form.
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