Philly Beer Week 2013: Our Top Event Picks During Philadelphia’s Annual 10-Day Beer Festival, Returning May 31-June 9

Philly Beer Week invites brew lovers and novices alike to hundreds of events, and we're here to help you find some of the best. (Photos by G. Widman for GPTMC)

Are you ready to raise a pint? Philly Beer Week, the city’s annual ode to our favorite fermented beverage, starts a week from today, Friday, May 31.

Home to dozens of craft breweries and named “the best beer-drinking city in America” by Esquire magazine, Philadelphia reigns as a brilliant beer town year round.

Once a year, though, Philly Beer Week amplifies this city’s beer-fueled greatness.

With hundreds of events over the course of 10 days, it’s tough to know just where to take your first sip.

The events kick off on May 31 with the epic Opening Tap celebration and tasting, and continue from there with brewer events, tap takeovers, beer dinners, block parties, games and competitions, beer gardens and more.

Read on for a handful of not-to-miss highlights, but remember this is only a drop in the bucket. Visit the Beer Week website for a full calendar of events and check back with us for more as the festival gets underway.


Hammer of Glory Relay: The iron-clad symbol of Beer Week — the Hammer of Glory — makes its way around the city, from bar to bar, transported by everything from dog-pulled carts to a parade of pin-up girls. Trail the hammer around town to such bars as Kite & Key, Brauhaus, Grey Lodge Pub, Johnny Brenda’s, Institute Bar and Standard Tap, or hop on the free double-decker (party) bus as a day-long spectator.

When: Friday, May 31; tour starts at 10 a.m., arrives at Opening Tap at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Throughout the city
Cost: Pay as you go

Opening Tap: A huge tasting celebration at the Independence Visitor Center, the annual Beer Week commencement ceremonies get started outdoors with a free celebration headlined by Mayor Nutter, as he taps a keg with the Hammer of Glory. At 7:30 p.m., the doors open on the tasting celebration inside the Independence Visitor Center. More than 35 area brewers will be on hand to pour for a crowd of thousands. Look out for limited edition brews, including the Philly Beer Week collaboration beer brewed this year by Weyerbacher’s Chris Wilson and Brussels’ De La Senne brewery. Tickets are available online.

When: Friday, May 31, 6:30-10 p.m.
Where: Independence Visitor Center, 6th and Market streets
Cost: $45; VIP, $90

Brewed in Philly: A History of Brewing from the Collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia: In its inaugural year as the Official Library of Beer Week, the Free Library presents an exhibition on local beer history featuring historic maps, documents and images from the Free Library’s collections.

When: May 31-June 9
Where: Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street
Cost: Free

International Great Beer Expo: Head south to the second massive tasting during Beer Week. Taste test more than 100 beers from 50 brewers at the fifth annual International Great Beer Expo at the Navy Yards, with proceeds benefitting the Committee to Benefit the Children. Tickets are available online, with designated driver passes for $10.

When: Saturday, June 1, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Marine Parade Grounds, Naval Shipyard
Cost: $46: VIP, $75

Varga Bar Pints and Pinups Block Party: Now in its fourth year, the Pints and Pinups Block Party takes over 10th Street at Spruce with a DJ, dunk tank, photo booth, games, barbecue and — of course — pints and pints of craft beer. And hey ladies, the block party also includes the bar’s annual search for its calendar girls!

When: Saturday, June 1, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Varga Bar, 10th and Spruce streets
Cost: Pay as you go

Craft Beer Day On East Passyunk Avenue: East Passyunk in South Philly gets into Philly Beer Week spirit with a full 15-hour day of craft-beer events. Try new eats, meet brewers and quench your thirst for craft beer. Eight East Passyunk bars host events all day, from beer brunch to home brew demos to happy hours.

When: Sunday, June 2, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Where: East Passyunk Avenue, between Mifflin and Moore streets
Cost: Pay as you go

Philly Beer Week Garden: Head to the historic Shambles at Headhouse Square nightly June 3-7 for the Philly Beer Week Garden to enjoy special one-offs and rare brews alfresco, plus live tunes and food from South Street Headhouse District restaurants. The Garden will be open nightly June 3-7, and admission is free, with brews and bites on a pay-as-you-go basis.

When: June 3-7, 5-9 p.m.
Where: The Shambles at Headhouse Square, 2nd and Lombard streets
Cost: Pay as you go

Philly’s Backyard Beer Garden: At the Four Seasons Hotel, kick back with Dock Street ales during the Backyard Beer Garden. Try the exclusive new summer Beer Four All Seasons collaboration, “Crackle & Squeeze,” a cracked pepper and Meyer lemon-laced Dock Street brew made just for the Four Seasons Philadelphia. A $25 entry fee to the beer garden allows for unlimited beer tastings in a commemorative cup, but snacks are pay as you go. Tickets are available online.

When: Thursday, June 6, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, One Logan Square
Cost: $25

Dunkel Dare at Frankford Hall: Get ready, Double Dare fans. Come out to see host Marc Summers lead a raucous German-beer-knowledge challenge for the second year of Dunkel Dare at Frankford Hall. Four breweries face off, with Great Lakes Brewing Company returning to defend the title, competing against Victory, Stoudt’s and Yards. Plus, The Franklin Institute lends a hand in replicating the challenges from the original game show.

When: Wednesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 6, 7 p.m.
Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Avenue
Cost: Pay as you go

Fishtown Festivale: Johnny Brenda’s, Frankford Hall and Fette Sau team up to bring beer lovers the second annual Fishtown Festivale, an outdoor daylong beer carnival with DJs, a dunk tank, fine food, dessert from Little Baby’s Ice Cream and a heady mix of classic German lagers and full-flavored craft ales.

When: Saturday, June 8, noon-8 p.m.
Where: Frankford Avenue between Girard Avenue and Shackamaxon Street
Cost: Pay as you go

Dock Street Free Music Fest: Finish out the 10-day beer bash with a final daylong music festival. The fifth annual Dock Street Free Music Fest draws crowds to West Philadelphia with free live music all afternoon, plenty of Dock Street brews, delicious pizza and outdoor games like canjam and ladder toss. The live music lineup includes On the Water, Post Sun Times, Norwegian Arms and more.

When: Sunday, June 9, 2-7 p.m.
Where: Dock Street
Cost: Pay as you go

The official Philly Beer Week guide has comprehensive info on the hundreds of events taking place throughout the festival.

Cheers to Philly beer!

Philly Beer Week 2013
When: May 31-June 9
Where: Locations throughout the city
Cost: Varies based on event
More info:


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