Beautiful-good. This is the name ancient Sumerians gave to the delicious biochemical concoction we now call beer.
Beer brings people around a table, fosters conversation, and opens the opportunity for communal fellowship centered around the shared experience of enjoying refreshing, satiating beverages together. Not to mention, this bubbly brew releases the feel-good hormone, dopamine, which makes these gatherings all the more jovial.
I imagine the ancient beer-creators of old speechless after their first ceramic bowl full, dodging yeast clumps and particles with bamboo straws, then exclaiming the two most flattering, celebratory adjectives they could think up to describe their new boozy discovery: “Beautiful! ….Good!”
Many of today’s leading breweries across the country respectfully use beer’s rich history as a foundational stepping stool to launch themselves toward more creative, modern takes on traditional recipes. With craft beer on the rise, more and more entrepreneurs and beer connoisseurs are building their own breweries and pubs, positioning their take on this ancient creation from a different and unique angle.
Here at Bellhops, we are scanning the country, seeking out the best breweries that capture beer’s potential and provide delicious brews to happy patrons (we’re a modern alternative to traditional moving companies in Philadelphia, by the way). City by city, we’re doing the work and investigation so that you can focus on enjoying your beer and the people around you.
Next up, we’re filtering through Philly. Turns out, there’s much more to this city than American history. Philly boasts a strong art scene with unique music venues and visual and graphic arts that spill out onto the cobblestone roads, spreading murals and street art throughout the neighborhoods. And this city-wide value for the creative and the uncommon has opened a wide space for unique and artsy craft brewers to step in.
We’ve narrowed down our favorite of Philly’s breweries to 3 that we think accurately displays the types of breweries filling the Philly streets. So if you are thinking of moving to Philly, or just taking a weekend trip with your dad. Check out our listings below to find the right bubbly for you in this city of brewery love.
Try this: Stacy’s Mom. It’s not their most experimental recipe, but a solid one. Evil Genius brews this high ABV citrus IPA with bright, fruity aromas and a clean toasty taste. If you love what hops bring to a beer but aren’t a fan of puckeringly dry bitterness, this beer is for you.
To get to Evil Genius, you will travel several miles under the low-hanging bridge of green train tracks along eastern Philly. The grungy, underground feel of the brewery’s exterior does not prepare you for the vast open taproom with stretching bright skylights and a plethora of seating options. Despite its size, Evil Genius will be packed on a Saturday afternoon, so be prepared. This casual, quirky brewery seems to have hit a soft spot amidst Philly locals, and its authentic air does not come across as haughty or critical. In fact, in a charmingly weird underdog sort of vibe, Evil Genius welcomes all – from babies to oldies.
The environment. Evil Genius pumps out creative dark brews and IPAs with goofy names, like their ‘Santa! I know him!’ or ‘New Phone Who Dis?’. However, we are most smitten by the laid-back, inclusive atmosphere they’ve created. Plenty of boardgames get passed around between friendly strangers, tasty bar food is prepped right in the main room, and, of course, a large glass display case heats and rotates giant, chewy soft pretzels. Want another beer? There isn’t table service at this taproom, like many pub-style breweries in the city. Just pop on up in line at the bar for a refill.
Yards has been brewing a constant flow of on-point brews since its founding in 1994. With a fancy new taproom comes more taps (20 total to be precise), and plenty more seating space. But it seems that Yards didn’t quite plan out how much space they’d really need. Come prepared to wait in a long line out the door on weekends, because this brewery has definitely become one of the locals’ and visitors’ very favorites.
The beer. Though Yards creates a modern, elegant, and aesthetic environment, their beer is what keeps us most interested. Yards has mastered the difficult skill of creating quality beer in large quantities. You won’t have to waver and worry when ordering from Yards’ menu – it’s all good.
Try this: Philadelphia Pale Ale. This Yards staple is simply just what you want and expect in a good Pale Ale. Its crisp, lightly freshened with hops, and drinkable at 4.6%. Pair this with one of their “sangwiches” like their roast pork sandwich with fermented broccoli rabe, aged provolone, and roasted garlic-aleppo spread.
If you’re looking for a more adult brewery, 2nd Story will be a good pick. This is the type of brewery where you could comfortably meet the parents – ease the stress with a brew, but look classy while you’re doing it. 2nd Story sits to the side of cobblestoned Chestnut Street, with its tall, shoulder to shoulder buildings opening up to a stip of sky. Your eyes will need to adjust when walking into the cozy, darker taproom of 2nd Story. The taproom is decorated with dark rusted-brown iron stairs that match the rust-brown iron beams running along its ceiling. A long wall of rough wooden cubbies is stacked with old liquor bottle and bundles of barley. Edison light bulbs send a cast of yellow light across tall rectangular tables and their wooden-backed chairs. And one long table is bathed with the only natural light in the room near the front entrance and beside beautifully exposed brick.
It’s pairings. 2nd Story holds the fort with their two flagship brews, a lager, and an IPA, and they release regular seasonals to mix things up for their patrons. They’ve designed a food menu full of pub foods like burgers, sandwiches, salads, and soups, and in addition, offer intriguing entrees with more culturally diverse ingredients.
Try this: Three Sheets Tripel. 2nd Story’s high grav. Belgian Tripel will be the perfectly strong and sweet pairing with their Coconut Curry Stew, simmered with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass and served over basmati rice.
We cannot help but mention a few breweries that would be worth taking the train out of the city.
Tired Hands Brewing Company (Ardmore): We’re crazy about this brewery – its tasty drinks, quirky cartoonish can art, and delicious hot paninis keep us smitten.
Sly Fox Brewing Company (Phoenixville and Pottstown): Sly Fox has been brewing beer since 1995, but their easy-drinking ales and lagers have recently caught the attention of the swelling craft beer crowd. Try their Pikelands Pils, a German-style Pilsner that’s crisp and refreshing.
Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, Parkesburg, and Kennet Square): Known as the ideal gateway to craft beer, this brewery has a mass following and a massive distribution radius. Thankfully, fans of Victory can enjoy their tasty creations states away.
To keep up with our latest posts, be sure to like us on Facebook!
Knoxville has been steadily building a unique and diverse beer scene well worth a visit. Check out our choices for the best breweries Knoxville has to offer.
Raleigh has recently started pumping out some great beer, and its 25+ breweries’ open barstools were calling out for us to explore the beer scene and give you a thorough review. Check out our selections for the best breweries in Raleigh here.