It’s finally spring, and in Philadelphia, that means it’s time to celebrate the good weather with a few lifts of the old elbow -- preferably outdoors and with great beer, too.
This month has a ton of beer-related events to go around, including the opening of beer gardens. And this is just April. On May 11, Philadelphia Media Network hosts the Brewvitational (philly.com/brewvitaste), where you'll get a chance to sample the beers participating in Craig LaBan's annual beer competition. Whatever your preference (or tolerance), you’ll be able to get the good-weather brews that are best for you.
We’ve put together a list of eight Philadelphia-area beer festivals and events to look forward to throughout the month. But as this year’s best beer-drinking weather descends upon America’s best beer-drinking city, remember: Pace yourself. There’s plenty to go around this season.
Philadelphia’s first elevated park, Cira Green, will welcome spring -- with some help from World Cafe Live -- in the debut of its elevated beer garden. Featuring great views paired with craft beers, Cira Green’s beer garden will offer eight beers on tap, plus ciders, wine, and cocktails. World Cafe Live, meanwhile, will provide live music. The Cira Green beer garden will be open through June 23.
5-9 p.m. Friday, Cira Green, 129 S. 30th St., ciragreen.com.
Hop on the bus and experience all sorts of special brews in Center City and its surrounding neighborhoods (Erin Express this is not). Some bars will have DJs (NoLibs' the Abbaye), while others take the opportunity for a strong-man (or -woman) competition (South Street's Brauhaus Schmitz will hold a timed Liter Lift competition). Tickets can be purchased on the website craftbeerexpress.com.
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, various locations. $10 in advance, $15 day-of, craftbeerexpress.com.
The metalheads over at Philadelphia music publication Decibel magazine are also apparently hopheads, judging by their coming festival. Groups such as stoner metal pioneers Sleep, Massachusetts grindcore group Agoraphobic Nosebleed, and thrash legends Municipal Waste will play the festival over two days. The beer, by the way, will come from craft breweries including Tired Hands, Cigar City, Holy Mountain, Three Floyds, and Unibroue, a Quebec brewery that recently partnered with Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine for A Tout Le Monde, a saison named after one of Mustaine’s songs.
It’s all about being local at this Haddon Heights festival -- whether that means local beer, local bands, or local art. Rhythm & Brews will have all three when it closes down the 500 and 600 blocks of Station Avenue in Haddon Heights to foot traffic only, complete with two stages for music performances, food trucks, vendors, and a large beer garden pouring drafts by the pint. What’s more, the fest will donate proceeds from cup sales to the family of Douglass Michele, a local, 29-year-old Haddon Heights resident who was diagnosed in 2016 with cardiomyopathy.
3-8 p.m. Saturday, 500 and 600 blocks of Station Avenue in Haddon Heights, pay-as-you-go, haddonhts.com.
Sure, tourists can get annoying, but WMGK-FM (102.9) isn’t excluding them from this “locals-only” beer festival. Rather, the name refers to the exclusively local brewery lineup for the fest, which includes about 50 offerings from 25 area stalwarts like Sly Fox, Evil Genius, Yards, and Dock Street. On the non-beer side of things, WMGK DJs John DeBella, Debbi Calton, Ray Koob, and Andre Gardner will be spinning tunes from their own personal collections, and food will come via Cow & the Curd, Toll Man Joe’s, and Philly Pretzel Factory.
1-5 p.m. Saturday, Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Blvd. Sold out, wmgk.com.
Manayunk Brewing brings back its annual beer fest for its 19th year, and this time around, there will be more than 70 craft beers to taste across the four-hour session. Aside from all that beer, attendees can look forward to top-shelf tequila samples and pulled-pork tacos, plus musical entertainment from blues musician Deb Callahan and her band. Regular entry into the festival includes unlimited beer samples, tequila samples, and a program. Designated drivers, meanwhile, will receive one free taco and free soft drinks with their entry. VIP tickets grant early entry and access to rare beers available at the fest.
Xfinity Live! throws a beer festival every season, and it’s finally spring’s turn. The South Philly bar complex will bring together more than 175 beers from more than 75 breweries at the end of the month, including selections from Dogfish Head, Neshaminy Creek Brewing, Smuttynose, and Stone Brewing Co. For food and entertainment, Xfinity will have food trucks, body painting, three bands, and a balloon drop with a prize giveaway. All the usual Xfinity accoutrements -- like the mechanical bull in PBR Bar & Grill and the complex's lawn games -- will also be available.
Yards is 10 years into its Real Ale Invitational events, and this year will be the last in the company’s Delaware Avenue brewery before it move west this fall to a new location. This year’s lineup features more than 60 cask-conditioned, unfiltered, unpasteurized beers from breweries around the world -- a list that Yards says is its most extensive roundup of offerings in the event's history. For the uninitiated, cask brews are conditioned and served from wooden casks, allowing them to carbonate naturally, without added pressure from carbon dioxide or nitrogen. The resulting beers are lightly carbonated, and slightly more mellow in the hops department than their kegged or bottled counterparts. Yum.