New on the Philly Bar Scene

By Tara Nurin
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Jun. 1, 2010

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The HeadHouse is a bi-level “craft beer café” that focuses on pairing international beer with international food. He and partner Madame Saito, of local sushi fame, run 32 lines to three bars, including one that’s reserved for special and private events and another that’s devoted exclusively to one brewery at a time. This may be the only place in Philadelphia to concoct beer cocktails and pour them through some of those lines.

Philly Beer Week Highlight: Pimp My Rye, Pimp Yourself. Don your bling and compete for prizes while showing the firkin of Dock Street Rye IPA that it’s always pimps up, ho’s down. 6/11. 9 p.m.-12 a.m. Pay as you go.

Iron Abbey
(680 N. Easton Road, Horsham. (215) 659-9600,

It’s a Brazilian steakhouse! It’s a Medieval European beer bar! It’s big enough to seat 337! It’s Iron Abbey, a new addition to Montgomery County’s drinking scene! The enormous dual-purpose building is wrapped in two patios, including one that passes for a German beer garden, and its interior is imposing and castle-like with exposed beams and stone walls. The menu is pan-European and the beers are rare Belgians, Germans and Americans, with a few others from the Netherlands and elsewhere thrown in. Beer dinners scheduled for every 3rd Wednesday of the month switch evenly between European and Yankee breweries and food.

“We always sell out our beer dinners,” says general manager of operations, Rui Lucas. “We’re a destination but we don’t have a young crowd coming to get drunk.”

The bar boasts 310 bottles and 36 taps, so that should be enough to keep all of the tie-clad regulars who shuffle in from surrounding office parks for happy hour and dinner busy until retirement.

Philly Beer Week Highlight: Cali Fest—10 California brews will make you say, “It’s all good.” 6/5. 9-11 p.m. Pay as you go.

(541 E. Girard Ave., (215) 739-1700,

“We’re selling copious amounts of tasty beverages from around the world. And that’s a direct quote.”

Such is the beginning of a conversation with Adam Ritter, owner of The Sidecar Bar & Grille, four days after he, as operations manager, opened Kraftwork, an industrial-chic bar in Fishtown. At Kraftwork, what’s in a name is what’s in the bar, considering that everything—from the food to the tables to the classic cocktails—has been handcrafted. Beers are all micro, as are the wines.

The food is micro, too, but in a different way.

“Instead of having customers with their faces in an entrée, it will be stuff that lends itself to sharing,” Ritter says. That means smaller portions, sandwiches, cheese plates, veggie trays and items that help create an atmosphere that’s “really super duper social,” he says. He’s lined up global kegs that will only be sold on tap but can be consumed in flights, pints, pub pours, goblets or from growlers.

Philly Beer Week Highlight: Hitachino Nest Night. Ritter’s been hoarding 10 kegs of the Japanese brew for months in anticipation of this very evening. 6/5. All day. Pay as you go.

Resurrection Ale House
(2425 Grays Ferry Ave. 215-605-5667.

With the addition of their third bar in about as many years, Brendan Hartranft and his wife, Leigh Maida, now rule over a small empire of tap houses that, thanks to their curious semi-fringe locations, the owners’ irreverent humor and the fact that they serve some of the best suds and vittles around, reach cult status almost as soon as they open.

Resurrection Ale House follows the same formula as the first two: ridiculously rare beers in constant rotation from all over the world, a warm, no-pretense atmosphere with the liquid menu inscribed neatly on a chalkboard, and quirky events like a mom’s day out.

“It is in the way that it is. There’s never any intention of making it different from the others, we just want to make it what it is,” Hartranft says.

Philly Beer Week Highlight: The Trivial Pursuits of Sam Caligione. Play Trivial Pursuit—Genius Edition—with Dogfish Head’s brewing legend while his beer dominates all 12 taps, as well as your mind’s ability to out-trivia him. 6/9. 2-4 p.m. Pay as you go.

Swift Half
(1001 N. 2nd St. 215-923-4600.

Swift Half owner Dave Garry may not serve his famous blue-cheese-stuffed burgers from Good Dog at his new establishment in The Piazza, but he is more than happy to feed you free appetizers every Thursday night at 7 when he taps a firkin of local brew. He’ll also stuff you full of comfy Euro and American food until 1 a.m. every night with lamb lollichops, pierogies, roasted chicken or fish and chips.

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