From May 31 to June 8, Philly Beer Week returns for a seventh year.
The 10-day celebration of “America’s best beer-drinking city” is the largest of its kind in the entire U.S., with more than 1,000 events listed.
That’s a good thing, but it does mean even seasoned locals can find it tough to navigate the festivals, tap takeovers, meet-the-brewer gatherings, pairing dinners, pub crawls and tastings. We’re here to help.
We’ve picked one major don’t-miss event for each day, then suggested nearby options for what to do before and after. That way, once you get to where you want to go, you won’t have worry about travel or transportation until you’re ready to crawl between the sheets, blissfully beered out.
Friday, May 30
Main Event: Opening Tap
Thanks to the new, larger venue of the 23rd Street Armory, this official kick-off event is set to be better than ever. General admission tickets to the 7 to 10 p.m. party are $45 (here), and include all-you-can-taste samples from more than 30 local breweries along with the first chance to sip special PBW collaboration brews.
Before: If you’ve got the day off, jump on the free SugarHouse bus that will be following the Hammer of Glory on its epic day-long trek through the city, making stops at 18 different bars before it lands at Opening Tap to be used by the mayor to tap the ceremonial first cask.
After: After-parties abound, but the closest is at Good Dog Bar, where a special firkin of Yards Heavy Hands IPA will join several other Yards brews on the taps. If you don’t want to make the eight-block walk or are craving something other than beer, stop off at Ranstead Room or 1 Tippling Place for a spirited nightcap instead.
Saturday, May 31
Main Event: Beer Reps Day of Games at City Tap House
If you always wanted to see representatives of your favorite breweries making a fool of themselves, this is your chance. From 1 to 6 p.m., beers will flow from the 60 taps as teams battle with water balloons, karaoke, dance-offs and frisbees on the West Philly pub’s large terrace, all led by emcee Johnny Goodtimes.
Before: Give your eyes a treat and pop into Distrito for brunch or a few of Jose Garces’ modern Mexi-snacks - the walls are covered with colorful luchador masks and there’s even a vintage taxi cab serving as a table.
After: Located on the second floor above an unaffiliated Ethiopian restaurant, Fiume is Philly’s best hidden bar secret. Featured beers of the day are from North Coast Brewing - Le Merle saison on tap and five versions of Old Rasputin imperial stout.
Sunday, June 1
Main Event: Throwdown in Franklintown
At this block party from 2 to 6 p.m. outside Kite & Key on Callowhill, you’ll get to cheer on costumed beer reps from Yards, Allagash, Troegs, Victory and Dogfish Head as they duke it out in zany contests while plenty of good beer helps to egg on the mayhem.
Before: Sabrina’s Cafe is a BYO, but it’s just a few doors down and known as one of the top brunch spots in all of Philadelphia. Coffee up while digging into loaded French toast and the beer afterward will taste that much better.
After: Don’t miss a chance to try the pies that come out of the brick oven at Pizzeria Vetri a block away. Plenty of great brews are available in bottles and cans, or go for a house-bottled cocktail as your dinnertime finisher.
Monday, June 2
Main Event: Oyster Cult
Starting at 6 p.m., bars all over Philly are joining the cult with beer and oyster pairings, and three of them are close enough that you can slurp and sip at all. Make your way from Johnny Brenda’s to Sancho Pistola’s to Standard Tap and get your fill of briny oysters and special brews.
Before: Hit up Frankford Avenue vintage arcade haven Barcade sometime prior to 3 p.m., because that’s when Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head is expected to show up.
After: Walk a few doors up Second Street from Standard Tap to get to North Bowl, the retro bowling alley (and full bar) with a Big Lebowski theme.
Tuesday, June 3
Main Event: Barrel-Aged Beer Tasting at Village Whiskey
From 4 to 7 p.m, this Rittenhouse tavern from Jose Garces is setting up tasting stations featuring bottles, casks and kegs of barrel-aged brews from Allagash, Founders, Weyerbacher, Yards and more. Six pours plus bar snacks will run you $40, including tax and tip.
Before: A block south is the new Tria Taproom, where 40 lines pour beer, wine and cider in a dining room so slick it was a finalist for a James Beard design award. You can also amuse yourself by checking on each keg’s fullness via smartphone or provided iPad.
After: Finish the night on a British note with a Wells and Young lineup at The Dandelion, two blocks away. Specials casks, bottles and kegs will be pouring, and there’s a special cheese pairing to go with.
Wednesday, June 4
Main Event: Dunkel Dare at Frankford Hall
From 7 to 9 p.m., original TV host Marc Summers is back to reprise this sudsy takeoff on the cult-fave Nickelodeon kids show. Over two evenings, teams from different breweries will compete in absurd challenges in a raucous battle for a year-long spot on the tap list. You could be a contestant - just tweet with #slimeme for your chance.
Before: Set a solid base with lunch or dinner at Pizza Brain, a bit farther up Frankford Avenue. The BYO has the Guinness-certified world’s largest pizza memorabilia collection, on display throughout the shop. Slices are tasty, too.
After: Swing next door to Fette Sau for some smoked meat and whiskey, or escape the craziness altogether by heading a half-dozen blocks up Girard to Kraftwork, where a giant metalwork saw hangs over one of the best tap lists in town.
Thursday, June 5
Main Event: Fast Times at Percy Street Barbecue
Each summer, the Cook + Solo team throws a beach-themed shindig, and this year it falls during Beer Week. From 6 to 10 p.m., the South Street ‘cue house will be rocking with rides on a mechanical surfboard and special Oskar Blues cans, including the rarely-seen Chaka. Wear your best Hawaiian duds so you look cool in the photo booth.
Before: Varga Bar’s all-day pig roast is just a few blocks north, so if you aren’t worried about too much pork, make this your daytime hang, starting at 2 p.m
After: A block down South, a special seasonal wheat beer from Germany’s Andorfer will be pouring at Brauhaus Schmitz - the only place outside of the brewery’s hometown you can find it.
Friday, June 6
Main Event: Tapping Tandoor at South Philadelphia Tap Room
Starting at 5 p.m., chef Scott Schroeder is transforming this Newbold tavern into an Indian restaurant for one night, all the better to pair the food with the British-inspired and well-hopped ales of Firestone Walker. Firestone barrelworks director Jeffer Richardson will be in the house more of the California brewery crew.
Before: South Philly is friendlier with multiple IPAs in you, and that’s exactly what’s taking over the lines at Tap Room on 19th starting at 11 a.m.
After: If you’re still hungry, head south two blocks to the old school Melrose Diner, but if you want more brew, take that two-block trek east to Lucky 13 Pub, where you could conceivably begin a late-night crawl of East Passyunk Avenue.
Saturday, June 7
Main Event: Fishtown FestivALE
Neighbor bars Johnny Brenda’s, Frankford Hall and Fette Sau are teaming up to turn Frankford Avenue into a giant block party from 12 to 8 p.m. Look for DJs spinning tunes, games, Hammer of Glory photo ops and plenty of great brew.
Before: Snag one of the best sandwiches in Philadelphia at nearby Paesano’s, where the hoagie menu is as creative as the decor is simple.
After: Keep the party going a couple blocks away at Kung Fu Necktie, a divey performance venue with a serious ‘90s vibe and plenty of cheap drinks. Expect a small cover charge to get into the show.
Sunday, June 8
Main Event: Dock Street Scavenger Run & Music Fest
Put all the vitamin B you’ve been drinking all week to good use and sign up ($25; here) to participate in the 3-4 mile scavenger run through University City, gathering tokens as you go. If you don’t want to jog, just show up at the West Philly brewery around 4 p.m. for the free outdoor music festival.
Before: Local 44 isn’t that far up the road, and at 11 a.m. the bottleshop-bar starts the annual Russian River brunch, pouring Pliny the Elder, Supplication, Damnation, Blind Pig and more.
After: If what you need is a change of pace after a week of pub fare, skip over to Vietnam Cafe, where inexpensive Vietnam Cafe, where inexpensive noodle soup will soothe your soul and your wallet.