Philly is already officially known as America’s best beer-drinking city thanks to a trademark on the phrase a few years back, but now, with Philly Beer Week on our doorstep, it’s time to prove why that’s true.
This year, Philly Beer Week runs Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 10, and includes hundreds of beer-centric events — all of which are listed on organizer Philly Loves Beer’s website. From regular old pub crawls to newfangled tricycling championships and comedy nights, there’s something for everyone’s beer-drinking preference.
But with so many events to choose from, it’s a little tough narrowing down where and when you should be lifting an elbow. Rest assured, though, wherever you choose to pull up a stool, you’ll have plenty of world-class beers to select.
Here, we rounded up 20 picks from this year’s run of Philly Beer Week events. For the math majors among us, that’s two alcohol-heavy events per day, so, please, try not to overdo it. Your liver will thank you.
The Hammer of Glory tour is the traditional way to kick off Philly Beer Week, and with a 10 a.m. starting time, this one ought to have you pretty toasty by Opening Tap. It all kicks off at Hop Angel Brauhaus before the HOG heads to about two dozen bars throughout Philly, including the Northeast’s Grey Lodge Pub, Center City’s Jose Pistolas, and Northern Liberties’ Standard Tap, so pace yourself.
After a day full of drinking while following the Hammer of Glory, the only way to cap the day is with, of course, more drinks. Opening Tap takes over the Fillmore for a night, featuring brews like the limited-edition Brotherly Suds, a hoppy saison collaboration between Dogfish Head and Brewery De Brabandere. About 60 other breweries will also have beer available, from locals like 2SP Brewing to California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Johnny Brenda’s is back with six special firkins for its ninth year running. For the uninitiated, firkins are traditionally wooden casks that hold some of the most interesting beer going these days, so come thirsty. Also, with JB’s kitchen pushing out fish and chips and meat pies all day, you might want to come hungry. Dance it off with DJs Girl Germs, Spacer Woman, and DJ Royal T, who will spin British rock throughout the event.
11 a.m. Saturday, Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., pay as you go, johnnybrendas.com.
The Alchemist of Waterbury, Vt. always causes a ruckus for beer lovers when their legendary brews come to town, and now is your chance to meet the man behind favorites like Heady Topper, Focal Banger, and Skadoosh XXI. Be forewarned, though: This one is cash only. First come, first served, so get there early for a few good tastes.
Noon Saturday, Monk’s Café, 264 S. 16th St., pay as you go, monkscafe.com.
Philly may love beer, but everyone loves beer and tubing. Join breweries like Weyerbacher, Terrapin, Fat Head’s, Free Will and others for a craft-beer-filled day on the Great Egg Harbor River. It starts at 10 a.m. at Devil’s Den, followed by a stop at Zed’s Beer in Marlton, so you’ll have plenty of brews on the river (and in your belly). Be sure to pace yourself.
Philly beer lovers know publican Tom Peters well, but with this event, they’ll get to taste some very special beers from the Monk’s Café owner. To celebrate more than 20 years in business, Peters will break out special collaboration brews for the evening, including Tired Hands’ Tom Hands (a barrel-aged cuvee), Allagash’s Tom’s Blend (a cuvee blonde), New Belgium Fallen Monk (a Flemish ale), and Brasserie De La Senne’s Major Tom (a smoked double saison).
Noon Sunday, Monk’s Café, 264 S. 16th St., pay as you go, monkscafe.com.
Hosted by Philly beer stalwarts Jose Pistola’s and Home Sweet Homebrew, as well as Rehoboth Beach’s Dogfish Head, the Extreme Homebrew Challenge decides which Philly homebrewer’s suds reign supreme — for 2018, anyway. Attendees can look forward to unlimited homebrew, while one lucky winner can look forward to a brewing trip to Dogfish Head, so this one is high stakes.
Full Front Street holds down Philly’s burgeoning burlesque scene every Monday at The Victoria Freehouse, but this week, they’re incorporating a little more craft beer into their repertoire thanks to Philly Beer Week. But even though the week is dedicated to beer, there will be a $5 champagne special. Performers include Mae Rose, Mustang May Hem, and Viktor Devonne.
9 p.m. Monday, Victoria Freehouse, 10 S. Front St., Tickets: $8-$15 at the door, facebook.com/FullFrontSt.
With brewing ingredients like purple sweet potatoes, lobster, and even lunar meteorites, Dogfish Head is anything but old school. But that doesn’t mean owner Sam Calagione and brewing ambassador Bryan Selders don’t enjoy a good, old-school beer lunch like this one Monk’s Café is hosting. Four courses, six beers, and a whole lot of beer talk sounds good to us.
Noon Tuesday, Monk’s Café, 264 S. 16th St., Tickets: $75 (call 215-545-7005 to order), monkscafe.com.
Some of the world’s most prolific writers turned to drink for a little inspiration during their careers, but we’ll bet getting sauced didn’t make any of them better at spelling. Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. and the Pub on Passyunk East will put that idea to the test with their third annual Drunk Spelling Bee. Study up, kids.
7 p.m. Tuesday, Pub on Passyunk East, 1501 E. Passyunk Ave., pay as you go, pubonpassyunkeast.com.
Pizza Boy is paying tribute to Fishtown’s favorite sugary iced tea, Arctic Splash, with a lemon tea cooler-inspired brew dubbed Arctic Trash. Catch the brewery’s very first release of the beer at Garage Fishtown, along with other Pizza Boy drafts like Float Along, West Shore, Hop for Teacher, and Country Lager, as well as a Strawberry-Lime IPA from Evil Genius. Food wise, there will be ramen from Neighborhood Ramen.
7 p.m. Wednesday, Garage Fishtown, 100 E. Girard Ave., Pay as you go, garagephilly.com.
Four bartenders will face off across three rounds of beer cocktails to be decided by a crowd vote in this Chopped-style competition from Dock Street Brewery and Prohibition Taproom. The rules: Each round must contain an aperitif, a Dock Street brew, basic cocktail ingredients, and a secret, local ingredient. Entrance includes 2-oz. cocktail tastes, snacks, and voting rights.
9 p.m. Wednesday, Prohibition Taproom, 501 N. 13th St., Tickets: $25 at the door, prohibitiontaproom.com.
If tubing while tipsy doesn’t seem safe to you, you might also want to stay away from Beer and Boats at Bartram’s Garden, which ups the soft, squishy inner tube factor to actual kayaks and rowboats (yes, you need to sign a waiver). Look out for beers from Crime & Punishment Brewing Co., Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia Homebrew Club, Sly Fox Brewing Co., and others.
Into a Delco state of mind with a night of comedy almost as funny as the area itself, thanks to appearances from Delaware County-born comedians including Michael Brooks, Cassandra Dee, Peggy O’Leary, and everyone’s favorite Delco lady, Aunt Mary Pat. Drinks, of course, will come from Aston’s own 2SP Brewing Co. Food-wise, be prepared for hoagies, pretzels, and pizza.
Sly Fox and Troegs are back in 2018 with another edition of their popular Canwood Derby model car race. Build up your own racer, but be sure to follow the rules — standards like car length, width, and wheelbase — or you’ll be disqualified. If that happens, drink your sorrows away with rare Sly Fox and Troegs brews out the wazoo. This may actually be the only event at PBW where cars and alcohol can mix.
5 p.m. June 8, Good Dog Bar, 224 S. 15th St., Pay as you go, gooddogbar.com.
Philadelphia isn’t known much for its tricycling community, but City Tap House’s University City location is looking for a few good tricyclists, anyway. And they’ll need to be good, considering they’ll be cycling on an obstacle course that includes hay bales and whiskey barrels, among other interferences. Troegs, Victory, Downeast Ciders, and others will be on tap.
5 p.m. June 8, City Tap House University City, 3925 Walnut St. Fl. 2, pay as you go, ucity.citytap.com.
Johnny Brenda’s shuts down Frankford Avenue once again with its Fishtown Festivale, a Fishtown-centric celebration of all things craft beer and food. At JB’s booth, they’ll be serving up fresh waffles and a slew of Sly Fox beers, but also look out for plenty of food, games, vendors, and other attractions for those of us who are all beered-out from a week-plus of heavy elbow-lifting.
Noon June 9, Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave., pay as you go, fishtownfestivale.com.
Folks who hate jam bands might not know it, but that music scene’s lot culture was a big help for craft beer during its infancy. Now, that lot scene gets feted at City Tap House University City in West Philly, former home of the Blockley — an important jam band base in its own right. Grateful Dead tribute band Splintered Sunlight and Phish tribute band Control for Smilers will provide the tunes, while beers will come from Oskar Blues, Starr Hill, Sierra Nevada, and others.
2 p.m. June 9, City Tap House University City, 3925 Walnut St. Fl. 2, Pay as you go, ucity.citytap.com.
Northern Liberties’ Heritage hosts this bluegrass-centric celebration of beer, complete with performances from Philly bluegrass acts like Midnight Flyer, River Bones Band, and the aptly named Citywide Specials. Plus, this one is for a good cause, thanks to proceeds going to the CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia, which funds fine and performing arts initiatives.
Noon June 10, Heritage, 914 N. 2nd St., tickets: $10 suggested at the door, heritage.life.
Out in the suburbs for PBW, they’ll get a taste of the pop-up beer garden madness Philly experiences every summer. This time, La Cabra Brewing is setting up out back of their Berwyn brewery for a day of brews from Big Hill Ciderworks, East Branch Brewing Co., Levante Brewing, and others. Just don’t expect to take the Broad Street line home afterward.
1 p.m. June 10, La Cabra Brewing, 642 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, pay as you go, lacabrabrewing.com.