Now in its eighth year, Philly Beer Week kicks off today and will dominate the city's drinking conversation through Sunday, June 7. Throughout the week, the city will play host to some of the best brewers from around the country, and pretty much everyone — from Monk's and Tria to Pizzeria Uno — will be angling for your attention.
This time around, it sounds like the fest will have to go on without the limited-run Belgian collab brew that's become customary in the past few years. Billy Penn lays out the saga of this year's doomed beer, whose story includes a brewery fire, power outages, and a particularly ugly trek across the ocean as it traveled here from Hof ten Dormaal brewery.
But as is also customary for PBW, the week-long events calendar is again so thoroughly packed as to be almost intimidating for anyone but the most diligent and energetic beer geek. In an attempt to narrow it down, we present to you a few highlights for each day of the fest, with the obvious caveat that there are many, many other worthy events going on simultaneously. If you prefer to dig deeper, you'll find the full program here, and we would also direct you to Philly Tap Finder's guide, which provides thorough tap lists for many of the most exciting events.
Of course, if you're not quite this into beer, Negroni Week will offer alternate programming for the cocktail crowd. That out of the way, on to the beer:
Friday, May 29
· Opening Tap
After the symbol of PBW, the Hammer of Glory, makes its 12-hour trek around the city, it will land at the Armory in time for the official kickoff party (but don't let the name fool you into thinking there aren't already scores of events taking place before it starts). Sample the wares of 42 brewers, enjoy live music, hit some food trucks, and check out Brotherly Suds, the end result of a fairly epic collaboration between Flying Fish, Iron Hill, Nodding Head, Sly Fox, Earth Bread + Brewery, Troegs, Victory, Weyerbacher, and Yards. Tickets are still available; VIP tickets will get you in an hour early and include a buffet and cheese pairing from DiBruno Bros. 23rd Street Armory, 22 S. 23rd St., 7 p.m. (6 p.m. for VIPs), $46 GA/$92 VIP, tickets here.
· Allagash Takeovers x2
Two chances in one night to take on a slate of beers from Portland, Maine's beloved Allagash, all in one spot, with brewery owner Rob Tod on hand for the evening. The takeover at Memphis Taproom begins at 5:30 p.m., while the festivities at City Tap House Logan (including a Beatles cover band) don't get started until 9. Memphis Taproom, 2331 E. Cumberland St., 5:30 p.m., pay as you go. | City Tap House Logan, 2 Logan Square, 9 p.m., pay as you go.
· Sprecher at Doobies
A Wisconsin-themed party at one of our favorite bars? Please and thank you. Sprecher beer floats and cheese curds are promised, and we gladly accept. (The Sprecher party is slated to begin at 8 p.m., but if you arrive earlier, you'll hit upon an extended happy hour featuring Vermont's Long Trail. Bonus.) Doobies Bar, 2201 Lombard St., 8 p.m., pay as you go.
· Tired Hands Beer Dinner
Aldine will host Ardmore's Tired Hands for a beer pairing dinner, featuring two beers brewed exclusively for the restaurant for PBW. More details here. Aldine, 1901 Chestnut St., $65 to $75.
Saturday, May 30
· Deschutes Street Pub
Oregon's Deschutes Brewery will take over the Headhouse Shambles for one day only, with 100% of the proceeds from the event going to the Vetri Foundation. Expect an impressive 40 taps and food from Alla Spina, Lo Spiedo, Mom Mom's Polish Food Cart, Twisted Tail, and Deschutes corporate exec chef Jeff Usinowicz. (The event promises to be family-friendly, with games and prizes and live entertainment.) Headhouse Plaza, Second and Lombard streets, noon to 10 p.m., pay as you go.
· Great International Beer Expo
Simply put, there will be an insane number of beers (more than 200 from over 75 breweries), and proceeds go to the Committee to Benefit the Children. Navy Yard Parade Grounds, 4747 S. Broad St., 1:30 p.m. (12:30 for VIPs), $46 GA/$75 VIP (more if purchased day-of), tickets here.
· 5th Annual Pints and Pinups Block Party BBQ
This annual block party is hosted by Varga Bar but involves Tenth Street neighbors like Cheu Noodle Bar, too, so get ready for a full day of drinking, barbecue, bao, games, and much more. (Also get ready to drive down some other street if need be, because this one will be shut down.) Varga Bar, Tenth and Spruce streets, 11 a.m. to whenevs, pay as you go.
Sunday, May 31
· East Passyunk Craft Beer Day/Asian Street Food Sidewalk BBQ Party
No real need to stray from East Passyunk on Sunday, because there's more going on on that street alone than you could possibly manage to squeeze into one day: brunches, tap takeovers, specials, and more. Get the full rundown here. Bing Bing Dim Sum's contribution is a street food party from 4 to 7 p.m. that will feature beer specials, $3 dim sum snacks, and beer-flavored soft serve. (Travis Masar teased strawberry-wheat beer soft serve on Instagram.)
· Brunches, Brunches Everywhere
Hope you like beer brunches, because the only way you're avoiding them this day is if you sleep until 3 p.m. (No judgements here.) We're talking Kegs and Eggs at Eulogy, Baltimore brunch at Bru (featuring DuClaw, Stillwater, Evolution, and Heavy Seas), a Dogfish Head brunch at Cedar Point raising money for Palmer Doggie Depot dog park, Two Roads brunch at Sancho Pistola's, and more.
· Throwdown in Franklintown
This annual competition between Yards' Tom Kehoe and Kite and Key's Jim Kirk is a PBW tradition. This year, it's dodgeball. But it's also about great beers from Allagash, Victory, Dogfish Head, and Yards, including Yards 20th Anniversary Sour. Kite & Key, 1836 Callowhill St., 2 p.m., pay as you go.
· Founders Dinner at SPTR
Favorite and rare Founders drafts will be on hand to pair with a four-course tasting dinner that promises to be "epic." Check out the full menu and impressive tap list here (PDF alert). South Philadelphia Tap Room, 1509 Mifflin St., 7 p.m., $100, tickets here.
Monday, June 1
· Boilermaker Happy Hour at the Dandelion
Because you can't survive on beer alone — sustaining human life requires whiskey, too. Get into some citywides and beer cocktails featuring Yards (including their port barrel-aged Grand Cru) and Dad's Hat. The Dandelion, 124 S. 18th St., 5 to 8 p.m., pay as you go.
· Dogfish Head/Wells & Young at Local 44
Drink with and learn from two brewing legends, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Jim Robertson of Wells & Young, and eat some Resurrection Ale House fried chicken while you're at it. Local 44, 4333 Spruce St., noon, pay as you go.
Tuesday, June 2
· Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen With Beer Dinner
Sancho Pistola's chef Adan Trinidad will be joined by chefs from Will, Amis, Blue Duck, La Calaca Feliz, Bar Ferdinand, Heritage, and Oyster House for one serious dream of a beer dinner. Each course will be paired with a different beer (plus a few extras: eight courses and twelve beers total) including brews from Oxbow, Cantillon, Firestone Walker, and more. Seats are extremely limited, so call the restaurant immediately with your credit card handy if you want in. Sancho Pistola's, 19 W. Girard Ave., 7 p.m., $125.
· Farmer's Lunch with Hof ten Dormaal
This lunch at Monk's is a chance to hear from brewer Jef Janssens of Hof ten Dormaal — a talk that will be all the more interesting given the tragic fate of this year's PBW collab brew. 50% of ticket sales will go to help rebuild the brewery following the devastating fire that hit it just weeks before the collab started. Monk's Cafe, 264 S. 16th St., noon to 2 p.m., $60.
· PBW Pop-Up Beer Garden
From June 2 through June 5, the official pop-up beer garden of Philly Beer Week returns to the Headhouse Shambles. Enjoy an ever-changing lineup of beers from different local breweries each night at one of PBW's chillest outdoor venues, with live music throughout the week and food from neighboring restaurants available. Headhouse Shambles, Second and Pine streets, pay as you go.
Wednesday, June 3
· Bell's Barbecue
Drafts and cans from Michigan favorite Bell's will fuel this this can't-miss backyard barbecue featuring food from chef (and Michigan native) Scott Schroeder. American Sardine Bar, 1800 Federal St., 5 p.m., pay as you go.
· "Big Apple Brawl" Cage Match
Brooklyn Brewery and Sixpoint will battle it out at Alla Spina, providing head-to-head beer pairings for a four-course prix fixe dinner. Call ahead to reserve your seats. Alla Spina, 1410 Mt. Vernon St., 6:30 p.m., $45.
Thursday, June 4
· Beer and Coloring at SPTR
Indulge your inner kid while enjoying some adult beverages, with handmade Philly-themed coloring books and brews from Kensington microbrewery Saint Benjamin. ("BYOC" or use the art supplies provided by the restaurant.) South Philadelphia Tap Room, 1509 Mifflin St., 4 to 7 p.m., pay as you go.
· Pigs in Space
Mechanical bulls seem awfully passe compared to a mechanical pig, which you'll get a chance to ride (a trophy's on the line, people) if you so choose at Percy Street's Oskar Blues blowout. Chef-partner Erin O'Shea plans pork pancake roll-ups, crispy pig fritters, boar and bean fries, pig-n-galaxy frits, and more to go with specials on tons of Oskar Blues cans. And because why not, "intergalactic attire is suggested." Percy Street Barbecue, 900 South St., 5 p.m., pay as you go.
· New German Cooking Cookbook Dinner
Get a taste of chefs Jeremy and Jessica Nolen's recent cookbook, New German Cooking, at this four-course beer pairing dinner featuring recipes from the book. (The book will also be available at the restaurant for purchase and signing.) Brauhaus Schmitz, 718 South St., 7 p.m., $70 (includes tax and tip), menu and tickets here.
· Over the Hill & Through the Sour We Go
Tapping at noon, the Barrel House will feature several beers from renowned Hill Farmstead, in addition to a number of great sours. (Williamsport's Bullfrog is on the taplist, with appearances expected from seldom-seen Cascade out of Oregon, and Colorado-based Trappist-style brewery Trinity.) Bainbridge Street Barrel House, 625 S. Sixth St., 12 p.m., pay as you go.
Friday, June 5
· Little Baby's/Saint Benjamin Ice Cream Collab
It's a First Friday beer and ice cream pairing at Little Baby's. The special ice cream flavor is Pepper Lavender, inspired by St. Ben's Liaison Saison, with samples of beer to go with (while supplies last). Little Baby's Ice Cream, 2311 Frankford Ave., 6 to 9 p.m., pay as you go.
· Pizza Boy Lunch at Tria Taproom
Half-price flatbread pizzas meet beers from Enola, PA cult favorite Pizza Boy on tap, which sounds every bit a winning combination to us. Tria Taproom, 2005 Walnut St., noon to 4 p.m., pay as you go.
· Second Annual Canwood Derby
Pinewood Derby meets PBW as competitors race their own cars (incorporating canned beers into car kits, which you can buy at the bar) on a track that runs the length of the bar at Good Dog. (See last year's specs to get a better idea.) Whether you're competing or not, you'll enjoy a great selection of drafts and cans from both Sly Fox and Troegs. Good Dog, 224 S.15th St., 5 p.m., pay as you go.
Saturday, June 6
· Fishtown FestivALE
Hit Fishtown for a family-friendly all day block party hosted by neighborhood favorites including Frankford Hall, Fette Sau, Fishtown Tavern, Johnny Brenda's, La Colombe, and Bottle Bar East. Expect beer, food, music, and more, including a beer garden featuring Ballast Point Brewing. 1200 and 1300 blocks of Frankford Avenue, noon to 9 p.m., pay as you go.
Christmas beers in June? Absolutely, if Jose Pistola's has anything to say about it. Winter brews in this weather might not be for everyone, but those that venture in will be rewarded with pours of St. Bernardus Christmas, Jolly Pumpkin Noel, 5-year-old Scaldis Noel, Ninkasi N.W.A, and more. Jose Pistola's, 236 S. 15th St., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., pay as you go.
· PGH vs. PHL
The beloved beers and sandwiches of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will be cruelly pitted against each other for this event at Grey Lodge. To that end, they'll be pouring beers from Yards and Penn, as well as serving up both cheesesteaks and Primanti-style sandwiches (and look, no offense to us, but cole slaw and french fry-topped sandwiches are no joke). The Grey Lodge Pub, 6235 Frankford Ave., noon to 3 p.m., pay as you go.
Sunday, June 7
· Goose Island Block Party & Pig Roast With Paul Kahan
Renowned Chicago chef Paul Kahan (Publican, Blackbird) joins his Vetri pals for a block party blowout at Alla Spina, with whole roasted pigs, housemade sausages, and more to go with your beer. Bourbon County Vanilla Stout will be available in very limited quantities, meaning that only the first 90 people to show up will get a taste, but there will be tons of other beers flowing throughout. Alla Spina, 1410 Mt. Vernon St., 2 to 8 p.m., pay as you go.
· Brunching and Keg-Kicking Galore/Goat Roast
We won't try to list them all here, but chances are that if you re-hit any place you liked throughout the week, you'll find either a beer brunch, kick-the-keg event, or some combination thereof. Go where you may, but we will leave you with one suggestion: Prohibition Taproom will be offering discounts on beers throughout the night as they aim to kick their kegs (prizes if you nab the final pint from any of them), then going one better by adding in a jerk goat roast. Just sayin'. Prohibition Taproom, 501 N. 13th St., 6 p.m., pay as you go.