Although Philadelphia Beer Week has now come to a close, we were able to get in on the action a bit and gauge the best bars taking part in the event.
The week opened with a relay that lead Philly Beer Week's official symbol, the Hammer of Glory (H.O.G.), a locally made mallet used to tap the first keg of the week (by the city's Mayor Michael Nutter himself), from bar to bar for several hours. This gave us a great opportunity to check out many of Philadelphia's best watering holes. While Philadelphia Beer Week may be over, we loved these bars for supporting craft beer and will be visiting again soon.
On Friday, the team at Kite & Key dressed like Top Gun's Maverick and Goose and drove a go-kart down the street outfitted to look like an airplane to carry the Hammer of Glory to the next bar. On Sunday, beer reps from Victory, Allagash, and Dogfish Head competed against the bar owner in a variety of events, like wheeling a full keg around obstacles (empty pony kegs). This was the place to be all weekend.
The much-lusted after brew from Oregon's Deschutes Brewery could be found at Jose Pistola's throughout the weekend. The highlight was certainly Sunday's brunch: five Deschutes brews, Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, Inversion IPA, Chain Breaker White IPA, Twilight Summer Ale, and Hop Henge IPA, were served with a selection of Tex-Mex inspired dishes, including Chilaquiles Verdes and Scrapple Tacos (OK, maybe there was a little local flavor in there as well). The food was delicious and the beer was awesome.
A cozy beer bar, this Old City-based place has actually been around for several decades. It has a nice long bar, a few tables (that you can grab if you get there early enough), and some unique touches. On top of that, their sour beer class and the "Taste the Barrel" event that kicked off Philly Beer Week for them (and featured Deschutes and Hair of the Dog, just to name a few) made this easily one of the best bars to check out for the rest of the beer-loving week.
First of all, the brunch at this place is amazing. How can you beat something called a "Stomachectomy" that features layers of pancakes interspersed with sausage, bacon, and scrapple? (You can't!) But when you add their beer week events, like the Allagash takeover and not to mention hosting Tomme Arthur for a Lost Abbey and Port Brewing event, this bar just edges over the the line from cool to "Oh My God, this place is awesome!"
Between their outdoor garden area, where you can buy a good selection of canned beers from their food truck, and their indoor (air-conditioned) section, this bar has a variety of great beer and friendly atmospheres. They also dedicated themselves to pouring new and unique beers all Beer Week long — without repeating anything. It sounds like it could be challenging, but the bar mapped out a plan, complete with Perennial Savant Biersel, a sour beer from St. Louis, and Russian River's Pliny the Elder.
This microbrewery is known for their Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse. They've been making it since before it was really popular in the U.S. and they've even brought home a few Great American Beer Festival gold medals for it. So they've got that going for them. But add to that the fact that they welcomed a series of sour beers on Sunday, including several from Lost Abbey and Russian River, and you've got a great bar that knows how to throw a Philly Beer Week party!
Another of the bars along the Hammer of Glory relay, The Standard Tap greeted the H.O.G. with a Star Wars theme and a beer release from Sly Fox Brewery — the Sly Fox Standard Pale Ale. After the Hammer left in the Imperial Shuttle (or a small three-wheel car made up to look like a Star Wars ship), the bar went on to have some amazing events and for the rest of Philly Beer Week.