It’s the premier annual party for the craft beer-obsessed for sure, with all manner of creative programming helping you get half in the bag.
But what if you just want to sit down and drink a beer, free of soused crowds, hoppy-pun T-shirts, barrel-aged thisthattheother and hammers that look like they could shatter your metatarsals?
Here are 10 wonderful watering holes not participating in Philly Beer Week, for those seeking a little unscheduled respite between events. Stay hydrated.
“We do big beer all year” is the cheeky proclamation Kraftwork’s Adam Ritter leans on to let y’all know his two dozen taps and single cask never take a vacation. “We consider ourselves an oasis of sorts during Philly Beer Week,” he says. But not many oases we know pour inspired picks like Brasserie De la Senne's Brussels Calling or De Proef's big-bodied Knock Out. Chef Brian Lofink keeps the kitchen classy, too, with both low- and high-end options. Starting this Monday, spring from the filet and foie gras cheesesteak, complete with a classy summer truffle supplement. (541 E. Girard Ave., 215-739-1700, kraftworkbar.com)
The Sidecar Bar & Grille
Ritter’s original spot, an anchor of the Graduate Hospital ‘hood, is not nibbling the PBW bait this year, either. While they don’t boast the tap-handle volume of sister bar Kraftwork, they make up for it in cozy bilevel seating options and reliable cooking. Their standby carnitas tacos and reuben sandwich will always be available, but starting next Wednesday, Lofink will be launching a brand-new menu. Look out for the new Blue Ribbon Burger, topped with oxtail/port marmalade and bone marrow/parsley butter. (2201 Christian St., 215-732-3429, thesidecarbar.com)
“The Vous,” as barflies who value brevity call it, is quietly one of Center City’s best bars. A half-block off Broad and Locust, this welcoming no-frills hang has been making its easy-to-please patrons smile for 25 years. If a fizzy yellow macro beer is what you crave, they got High Life longnecks for days, but there’s also a small, mostly local craft selection for more particular drinkers. Plus, the menu’s long list of waffle fries, which can come topped with gravy, Whiz, chili, marinara and more, are the ideal preemptive-drunk-strike snack. (1415 Locust St., 215-985-1163, locustrendezvous.com)
Madira Bar & Grill
Brand-new to Point Breeze, Madira is a combination retail bottle shop and sit-down craft beer venue with a laidback sports-bar feel. Eighteen taps cover a solid swath of the relevant American craft scene (Ballast Point, Founders, Lagunitas, Southern Tier, etc.), with a bottle selection that expands into Euro picks. To eat: crowd-pleasers like burgers and cheesesteaks, plus homemade Indian samosas and pakora, a culinary rarity in this part of town. (1252 S. 21st St., 215-551-0107, madirabarandgrill.com)
Given its sterling reputation and location, we have a feeling Fountain Porter is going to be a go-to end-of-shift stop for employees of participating Beer Week bars. Join them on the drink rail up front or at one of the picnic tables in the back for pints pulled off the clever international 20-tap selection (no bottles or cans here). If you’ve got five bucks in your pocket, you can commandeer your very own backyard cookout-style burger, best enjoyed alongside a glass of something nice, a shot of Bulleit Rye and some vinyl turntable tunes filling your ears. (1601 S. 10th St., 267-324-3910, fountainporter.com)
Pub & Kitchen
The culinary prowess of P&K’s killer kitchen, headed by chef Eli Collins, is well-documented. But it’s quite possibly underrated as a drinking destination, as it offers impressive consistency and reliability in the beer and cocktail categories. It’s one of the better day-drinking spots around town, whether you’re out on the sidewalk with a Sazerac or leaned up on the bar with a perfectly poured Old Speckled Hen. (1946 Lombard St., 215-545-0350, thepubandkitchen.com)
Sometimes, it’s tough to secure a seat at what might be Fishtown’s most popular bar, pound for pico de gallo-topped pound. But while we wait for them to expand next door, it might be a good idea to take advantage of the bar-patron displacement that Beer Week tends to cause by popping in for tacos, tequila and Tecates. Not a ton on tap here, but they do have a nice lineup of Mexican and American craft beers in bottles and cans. Remember that it’s cash-only, so be sure to bring the verde. (2401 E. Norris St., 267-886-8061, locopez.com)
The Fat Ham
Fancy brown liquor arrives in your outstretched hands quicker if you’re lucky enough to land at The Fat Ham, chef Kevin Sbraga’s fun-loving shout to the American South. Their famous Nashville-style hot chicken is the premier pick on the menu, but don’t sleep on the boiled peanut hummus, oyster sliders or baked mac ‘n’ cheese. And it behooves you to dedicate a large portion of your attention to who and what’s behind the bar — funny and knowledgeable drink pourers who will crack you a craft can and run down the small-batch bourbon options in a single swift maneuver. (3131 Walnut St., 215-735-1914, sbragadining.com/fatham)
Philly Beer Week does offer opportunities to hear live music, but anyone looking to take in tunes independent of the event cycle would do well at MilkBoy. There’s a solid variety of shows skedded for the duration of PBW, including a “BBQ, Blues, Bourbon & Beer” party on June 8. A big selection of craft beers both on draft and in cans, plus a smart and affordable cocktail list, complete with clever Citywide Special riffs (absinthe and Abita Purple Haze!), means you won’t miss the booze part of the equation. (1100 Chestnut St., 215-925-MILK, milkboyphilly.com)
Yes, we know — a cocktail bar wouldn’t participate in Beer Week in the first place. But Emmanuelle still deserves a slot on this list, given its status as a calming, escape-from-hoppy-reality getaway in Northern Liberties. Find the subtly marked in the back of The Piazza and you’ll be rewarded with good tunes, good people and great drinks, a hearty list featuring both can’t-be-improved upon classics and original meanderings from bartenders Phoebe Esmon and Christian Gaal. (1052 N. Hancock St., 267-639-2470, drinkemmanuelle.com)