Center City: Philly Beer Week

McGillin's Old Ale House co-owner Chris Mullins holds the Philly Beer Week mallot

Taps at Finn McCool'sPhilly Beer Week. Ten days to celebrate beer in Philadelphia.

From June 4 to June 13, there will be about 500 beer-drinking events held. These events include anything and everything related to beer, from featuring specific beers or breweries, to food pairings and live music.

“It’s a chance for everyone to come out and sample a bunch of beers,” says Jason Evenchik, the owner of Bar and TIME Restaurant“Philly’s a huge beer drinking city and it allows the option of going out every night of the week tasting beers from all around the world, meeting some brewers and basically celebrating beer.”

Evenchik describes the many events his bar and restaurants are holding this week, including firkins and several beers from one specific brewery on different nights. “Beer week allows us to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to do five beers from one brewer,’ which is pretty cool,” he explains. In all, he is holding nine events at TIME and five at Bar. “We’re doing a lot of cool stuff. A bunch of brewers are coming in and we’re really excited about it,” he says.

Corey Elmi, the manager of TIME Restaurant, adds to the excitement and encourages people to come out to the restaurant’s events. “Come in to try new things and try new beers,” he says. “Try a porter, try an IPA, try a double IPA and see how you like it. It’s all about learning and having fun with it.”Beer enthusiasts sit at the bar at McGillin's Old Ale House

Fergus “Fergie” Carey, the owner of Fergie’s Pub, Monk’s Café and several other bars, couldn’t agree more. “It’s just a great event, it’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of business,” he says.  “It’s just taken off so great. It’s, I think, the biggest beer event in the country. It’s bigger than the great American beer festival.

“Everywhere I go I’m running into Belgian brewers or English guys who are just here from San Francisco. They’re all pretty psyched and they realize that Philadelphia is such a great beer city.”

Carey says he is holding about 18 events all together, including live music. As much fun as these events may be, he explains that the taxes in Philadelphia make it hard. “I think people who own bars in other cities have it easier and make a lot more money, but we’re here God damnit and we’ll do our best and we’re still the best beer city in America!”

Peter Sourias, the owner of Finn McCool’s, has the same mindset. He says that Philly Beer Week, which is now in its third year, means a lot to him because not only is he able to meet new people, but it’s great for his business. “People like beer and like to try new beers, especially right now with the better quality beers,” he says. “Better quality beers are out there and they try to promote the beers so they come to us and it works out nice.”  He continues to explain, “People want the beers and business increases.”

Heather Adams, a bartender at Finn McCool’s, has more to add. “Philadelphia used to be a big brewery town and it kind of got lost with that,” she explains. “Now, more local breweries are getting exposure. It increases business for the bars and you meet new customers. It offers more varieties for people to get away from just the regular, standard beers.”

McGillin's Old Ale House co-owner Chris Mullins holds the Philly Beer Week mallotFinn McCool’s is holding an event almost every night of Philly Beer Week, including samplings from Rogue, Franziskaner and Spaten. The bar is also holding burger and brew pairings daily. For those interested, stop by the bar for a beer from Victory on the patio on Thursday or try a Long Trail beer on Friday. “Even though we have local stuff, we’re trying to expand to other small venues and other states as well, which I think is a good idea for Philly,” says Adams.

Chris Mullins Sr., the co-owner of McGillin’s Old Ale House, likes the idea of promoting local breweries. “I don’t ever say that any beer is not good,” he says. “If it’s selling and people love it, it’s a good beer. But, the craft movement has been an awesome thing for my industry, the bar industry, because it gets us a new product and we get excited.”

McGillin’s has an even better reason to be excited. The oldest bar in Philadelphia is celebrating its 150th anniversary. On Sunday night, the bar held a huge party with a few breweries, live Irish music, and about 300 guests. Other events include a pub crawl of six breweries ending at McGillin’s on Wednesday night, all with their own beer brewed especially for the event and a visit from Seamus O’Hara of Carlow Brewing Company in Ireland.

Mullins shares a story about how McGillin’s started to sell local beer, rather than what was popular when he and his wife bought the bar in 1993. “We were the first bar in Philadelphia to embrace locally brewed craft brews,” he says. “So, we pushed Carol and Ed Stoudt (founders of Stoudt’s Brewery) and they brewed an ale specifically for us. As the breweries came along…we embraced them and now we’re fortunate to have 10 or 12 breweries within 100 miles that supplies us with a steady diet of great, local, fresh beer.”People gather to enjoy an event at Fergie's Pub

Due to the growing popularity of breweries in the area, Mullins believes that Philadelphia is a great place to hold such an event as Philly Beer Week. “I would say that Philadelphia is the best beer drinking city in America,” he says. “I think people should come out, especially this Beer Week, because they’re going to find beers that they’ve never heard of before or never tasted before. It’s a good experience for the breweries and the public too to get to know the beers. I think it’s good for everybody, even for the city. It brings business in from all over.” To sum up Philly Beer Week, Carey exclaims, “Philly rocks. I love it!”

Philly Beer Week ends on June 13. For more information about the events at these bars or any others, go to Cheers!


  1. Nice article on ber week in Philadelphia. I stopped with some friends for lunch at McGillians and enjoyed one of the localy brwed different beers. It is nice to have a bar that supporets the local brewers and also has good food to go with the beer. So as we close this years beer week, raise a glass of one of our localy brewed beers and toast to the sucess of another Philadelphia Beer Week and hope for many more to come.

  2. Got locked in Philly during the blizzard of 95. Finn McCools saved my life. Great place! I have friends that would give a hockey-loving arm for some of the stuff on the wall….

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