It may sound like a Muppet with a hangover, but The Growler is a two-liter glass bottle with a vacuum clamp-cap, and Dock Street will fill it with their own microbrews straight from the tap. They’ve got a bright and bubbly Belgian number with a citrus bite, and a brown and brooding American porter with chocolate notes, or a spicy rye IPA with a whopping 6.8 percent kick. Take it home, take your shoes off, pour into your own pint glass (or coffee mug, or sippy cup) and quaff. Refill, and quaff again. If capped properly and refrigerated, the remainder should stay fresh for three days, but we’ve never let a draft brew sit within arms reach for that long. Dock Street will also box up one of their wood-fired pizzas, which will look nice on your coffee table accompanied by hand-crafted suds.
Dock Street Brewing Company, 701 S. 50th St. 215.726.2337. dockstreetbeer.com
A man of the people, Adam Ritter is at home talking business, the Phillies and even porn with just about anyone—including his mother-in-law. Unlike so many other ale-men of his ilk, he’s into sharing, not hoarding, knowledge of brew. He just about froths at the mouth when you get him going about doppelbock, saisons and IPAs. In a world full of condescension, Ritter is a straight shooter and a true tutor in the fine art of enjoying craft beer. You tell him what you’re into, and he’ll find a beer to match your palate. On top of that, he’s quick to offer a sample before you commit to a whole pint unlike some other owners in our city. (We’re looking at you Peters and Hartranft.)
Sidecar Bar and Grille, 2201 Christian St. 215.732.3429. thesidecarbar.com
An “Alphabet of Unreason” (sans apology to Mr. Ballard and the gents from Long Hind Legs) for the dear old Bike Stop : Assorted bears, cubs, daddies, extravagant fetish gear, hoods, interactive jockstraps, kinky Levi/leather men, nasty otters, piss queens, randy showboats, trashy underground vices, wasted xyloid young Zeuses (and/or zeros)—in short, at its best, a trip to the Castro without having to leave town. Or deal with that tiresome West Coast ’tude.
Bike Stop, 206 S. Quince St. 215.627.1662. thebikestop.com
There’s not much good to say about Penn kids. In general, they’re whiny, obnoxious and entitled. But as future yuppies, some do have one good quality, painful as it is to admit: they appreciate good food and drink. How else to explain Mad Mex’ s beer list? The mini-chain from Pittsburgh with a branch in the heart of Penn’s campus has OK food, cheesy decor, frozen margaritas, and a half dozen of the best IPAs on the planet. Avery, Bell’s, Bear Republic, Stone—they touch all the bases. And they were one of the first bars in the city not named Monk’s to carry Russian River Damnation. So thanks, Mad Mex, for enlisting Penn kids on the side of craft beer in its ongoing battle with the Bud/Miller/Coors behemoth.
Mad Mex, 3401 Walnut St. 215.382.2221. madmex.com
Philly gets its character from Mom-and-Pop places, the little guys like Joseph Fox Books and John’s Roast Pork. Extending Mom-and-Pop love to strip clubs may seem like a stretch, but it’s warranted with the Pennsport . Delilah’s has girls for days, but it’s slick and corporate, and their hard sell on the lap dances makes it feel like a swanky used car lot. Pennsport’s a regular tap room, a little shack on Delaware Avenue that happens to have topless girls walking on the bar. There’s a crusty old lady at the cash register changing twenties into piles of ones, and the pints of Yard’s and Flying Fish on tap for $5.50 are a thing of beauty. Get a table, play some pool and let the strippers in the background provide the louche atmosphere.
Pennsport Pub, 1920 S. Delaware Ave. 215.336.7033. pennsportpub.com
Ahh, the beer can. Big in the 1970s, eventually our little aluminum friend lost most of its market share to the longneck bottle. But the beer can is making a bit of a comeback, and there’s more to beer cans than just a Pabst Blue Ribbon pounder. Suburban brewer Sly Fox already releases its excellent Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale Ale in cans, and will soon add Route 113 IPA to the list. Yuengling releases almost all of its beers in cans. Cans are also smaller, and therefore easier to ship, so beers from some of the excellent brewers in Oregon and California are easier to get in cans on the East Coast. Plus, you can’t shotgun beer from a bottle. Please note: There are no runners-up in this category—don’t smash any beer bottles against your head.
Ready to find out Philly's coolest people, fanciest food, tastiest drinks, best shopping and more? Welcome to PW's "Better Than Best" list, a roundup of all of the city's top hidden treasures.