The 30 Best Craft Breweries to Visit in Pennsylvania
The 30 Best Craft Breweries to Visit in Pennsylvania
Here are the Pennsylvania breweries you should make an effort to visit.
2SP Brewing Co. (Aston, PA)
The 2SP Brewing Company, a Delaware County brewery, was founded by Bob Barrar, a 19-time Great American Beer Festival (GABF) winner, during his days brewing at Iron Hill Brewery. Combining forces with the team behind the popular Two Stones Pub gastropub chain (thus, “2SP”), the troika opened in their brewery in 2015. Barrar’s beers mostly focus on the sessionable, whether that’s Cold Cock, an English IPA, or Weiss Wit, a tart witbier. Head cellarman Andrew “Ruby” Rubenstein manages 2SP’s wild and barrel-aged program.
Al’s of Hampden/Pizza Boy Brewing Co. (Enola, PA)
One of the more unlikely success stories in Pennsylvania brewing, Al’s of Hampden started in 2002 as the eponymous Al Kominski’s family pizzeria—which initially didn’t even serve beer. Five years in, he added a few tap lines and then eventually began brewing his own. These brews weren’t just the kind of ice-cold lagers you typically associate as being served at pizzerias—instead Pizza Boy dealt in barrel-aged wild ales, stouts and barleywines. The restaurant now has 102 taps, a good quarter usually devoted to in-house offerings like Eternal Sunshine, a sour ale, and Sunny Side Up, an oatmeal coffee stout.
Bonn Place Brewing (Bethlehem, PA)
A relatively new entry on the Pennsylvania scene, Bonn Place Brewing, a less-than-one-year-old brewery, is the brainchild of Sam Masotto and his wife Gina. Longtime actors (Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding) and bartenders (The Pony Bar) in the New York City area, the Masottos opted for Pennsylvania real estate when opening their nano-brewery in the tri-state area proved too pricy. Their small, Lehigh Valley tasting room offers a wide variety of beers such as Tarte Priya Chai, a sour ale, and The Delusionist, a Cascadian dark ale.
Brew Gentlemen (Braddock, PA)
One of the hottest breweries in the state formed its foundation while its owners were just in college. Envisioned as early as 2010 by two Carnegie Mellon students who were homebrewing on campus, Brew Gentlemen finally became official in 2014, just a couple of years after Asa Foster and Matt Katase graduated. Located in a former electrical supply store, Brew Gentlemen mostly makes hop-forward, juicy beers like General Braddock’s India Pale Ale and Mammoth, a DIPA. While their Mise en Rose Collection is devoted to oak barrel-aged farmhouse ales (despite being quite removed from the farm) in offerings like Table Beer and the Exploration & Discovery series.
Bullfrog Brewery(Williamsport, PA)
Having been around for over two decades, you might not expect this family-friendly brewpub to still be on the cutting-edge. That couldn’t be further from the truth as Bullfrog could very well be making the best wild ales in all of Pennsylvania. The brewery is a multi-time GABF winner in the competitive Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category, and offerings like Le Roar Grrrz, a gueuze, also excite beer geeks. Bullfrog was one of only four Pennsylvania breweries to make RateBeer’s recent top 100 Best Brewers In The World list.
Church Brew Works (Pittsburgh, PA)
A brewery perhaps more famous for its locale than libations, Church is still worth visiting, even if it ain’t Sunday. It’s set in the restored confines of St. John the Baptist, a 1902-built Roman Catholic church that had services until 1993. Three years after closing—and after being officially deconsecrated—guests were allowed back into Church to deconsecrate it themselves by crushing beers like Pious Monk Dunkel and Pipe Organ Pale Ale. Today the building is a historic landmark, surely one of the few at which you can order pulled pork nachos.
Crime + Punishment Brewery (Philadelphia, PA)
With a name intentionally meant to evoke, if not downright celebrate, the great Russian literature of the past, Crime + Punishment’s beers hew a little more modern American. Set in the neighborhood of Brewerytown—that’s seriously what it’s called, due to the many that were located here in the 1800s—they currently produce beers like the Citra and Mosaic-hopped pale ale Tremendous Upside Potential and Space Race, a juicy IPA. The two-year-old brewpub has food that might be more appealing to Dostoyevsky: pierogies, ajika (a Georgian vegetable dip), and, of course, kielbasa.
East End Brewing Co. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Now well into its second decade, East End has long been the Steel City’s premiere brewery. With two locations (the original in the East End, a new taproom in the Strip District), the brewery continues to excel at a variety of styles, from their Big Hop IPA to Black Strap Stout and Monkey Boy, a banana-y hefeweizen. Their bottled barleywine Gratitude has been a beer geek sensation for years—of late, a bourbon barrel-aged version has appeared in cans.
Earth Bread + Brewery(Philadelphia, PA)
There’s a reason that “bread” is in the name of this “earth-friendly” brewery. Earth Bread + Brewery owners (and spouses) Tom Baker and Peggy Zwerver’s frequently-changing beers include such offerings as Community, a hoppy pale ale, and Spelt Incorectly, a Belgian-style single made with that grain. They even brew their own kombucha. The food is flatbread heavy, with options like Black and Blue (made with a black cherry sauce and bleu cheese) and Vietnam Veggie, with a spicy peanut sauce covered with cellophane noodles. As as you'd expect from its name, Earth takes great pride in composting, recycling, sustainability and using strictly local ingredients.
Fegley’s Brew Works (Bethlehem/Allentown, PA)
Founded in a dying steel town on the brink of ruin, Fegley’s might be the business responsible for turning around Bethlehem’s fortunes. With an ethos built on the city’s working class values, Peg and Dick Fegley’s brewpub, which opened in 1998, quickly became a Lehigh Valley destination. A “Steelgaarden” lounge was soon added to the Bethlehem location, and then a second location built in Allentown in 2007. While campaigning for office in 2008, Barack Obama even visited. The brewery is still run by the Fegleys and their two adult sons.
Forest & Main Brewing Co. (Ambler, PA)
Set in a 19th century house-turned-brewery is decorated with rustic tables, Forest & Main Brewing Co. is a five-year-old brewery that's made a name for itself in both the English ale and farmhouse realms. The former category includes offerings like Your Analog Brain, a bitter, and Omphalos, an English barleywine served via traditional hand pump. The From the Cellar line showcases “terroir-driven” beers aged in oak barrels.
Free Will Brewing Co. (Perkasie, PA)
When longtime friends John Stemler and Dominic Capece opened Free Will in 2012, their focus was drinkability. But they soon began pumping out the kind of beers that make the geeks go gaga. Free Will currently makes of-the-moment double IPAs like Chasing the Dragon, while also offering more ambitious options like Mojito Sour, a key lime lambic-style beer aged in rum barrels with mint. A second taproom opened in the fall of last year in nearby Peddler’s Village, in a ritzy shopping district space that also features Hewn Spirits.
Funk Brewing Co.(Emmaus/Elizabethtown, PA)
“Funk” has become a de rigeur term to describe a beer’s flavors—but Funk Brewing is actually named after its proprietor, Kyle Funk. Going against the script, Funk makes beers that mostly lack any funk, instead focusing on clean lagers like Built to Pils, juicy IPAs like Silent Disco and even an occasional rauchbier like Lil’ Smokey. And, OK, he does have a funky farmhouse ale or two. His brewery was opened in 2014 in the Lehigh Valley town of Emmaus, just west of Allentown. A second taproom has opened in a hotel in downtown Elizabethtown, about an hour-and-a-half away, where live music plays nightly.
Helltown Brewing (Mt. Pleasant, PA)
On a quiet residential street in peaceful-sounding Mount Pleasant sits Helltown, whose beers include Extra Sinful Bitter, Perverse Stout and the highly-acclaimed Idle Hands Double IPA. Their burgeoning sour beer program so far include their take on the classic Belgian cherry Kriek, as well as a tropical saison, Spiteful. The Mt. Pleasant location currently only has a tiny tasting area, but a more robust taproom is set to open in Pittsburgh this summer.
Hidden River Brewing(Douglassville, PA)
Located in the historic Brinton Lodge—an offbeat, 18th century farmhouse structure set on land once owned by William Penn, that many say is haunted— Hidden River Brewing is a small-batch brewery produces beers using most local ingredients. Opened in the summer of 2015, Kevin Margitich and Doug Reeser brew in a teeny tiny space in a corner of the lodge. They never repeat a recipe, and, of the 200 or so beers they’ve produced so far, the focus mainly been IPAs and saisons. The pub room also features a food selection, meats, cheese, and the like, all sourced from farms within 15 miles, as well as an outdoor patio bar.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (various)
While it might seem silly to include an aging chain brewpub (originally started in Jersey) on a list of top Pennsylvania breweries, Iron Hill should not be ignored. Nine of the chain’s thirteen locations are currently in Pennsylvania, with a crown jewel spot set to open in Philadelphia shortly. The brewpubs each have their own equipment and brewmasters who brew on-site—and they’ve won GABF medals for twenty straight years, the current record.
Levante Brewing Co. (West Chester, PA)
Meaning "to rise up" in Italian—referring to the sun rise— Levante comes from brewers with a Mediterranean heritage themselves. Founders Eric Santostefano and Tim Floros currently brew on a fifteen-barrel system—small, even by craft brewery standards. Inspired by the old world of brewing, Levante has a Belgian Trappist-inspired series, a German kölsch called Kolibri, and Bohemian-style pilsners like Birra Di Levante. They also make more modern, Americanized beers like Cloudy and Cumbersome, an IPA, and Going Guava!, a milkshake-style hop bomb. Their taproom is open Thursday through Sunday, with a different food truck on site each night.
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co. (Croydon, PA)
All the water used in Neshaminy Creek beer comes from its namesake creek—from their Dank Hill double IPA to their popular pumpkin seasonal Punkless Dunkel. Opened in 2012 as the first production brewery in Bucks County, within a year Neshaminy Creek had won a gold medal at GABF (for their Churchville Lager). Recently, they signed a lease on a satellite taproom space in Philadelphia and also have plans to take over the former Guild Hall Brewing Co. space in next-door Montgomery County.
Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. (Philadelphia, PA)
Located in the carriage house and stables of the former Theo Finkenauer Brewery, the Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. puts modern spins on classic styles (all with Ben Franklin’s face staring back atcha’). Founder Tim Patton’s year-round beers include such creations as Inca, a so-called “India-style cream ale,” while seasonal offerings feature Bayside, a sea salted saison, and BNC Barleywine, a pale take on the traditional malty beer meant to act like beer's equivalent of white wine. The gorgeous taproom/restaurant next door offers traditional pub fare like a ploughman’s lunch, as well as more modern bites like pork pibil tacos.
Selin’s Grove Brewing (Selinsgrove, PA)
Set in an early-19th century building once owned by three-term governor Simon Snyder and now on the National Historic Register, Selin's Grove is becoming part of history itself—now in it's twenty-first year. Husband and wife team Steven and Heather Leason got their start at Colorado's New Belgium in the early 1990s. Their brewpub was opened in 1996 and, amazingly, the Leasons still do all the brewing themselves, producing beers like their India Pale Ale and a bevy of popular fruited ales like Phoenix Kriek and Saison De Peche.
Sly Fox Brewing Co. (Phoenixville/Pottstown, PA)
A brewpub founded in late 1995 by Pete Giannopoulos, today Sly Fox has grown into one of the state’s most potent beer brands. Initially offering updated takes on classic European styles, beers like Pikeland Pils and Royal Weisse were early hits. By 2002 popularity was big enough that Sly Fox offerings could be sold outside of the brewpub—they were even one of the first craft breweries to can beer, starting in 2006. By 2012 they needed a whole new production brewery in Pottstown. Today, the focus on classic European styles has shifted, somewhat, to keeping up with the American state-of-the-art, like with their new Hop Project beers offered in hip 16-ounce cans.
SØLE Artisan Ales (Pittston, PA)
It would be tough to speak about the cutting edge of Pennsylvania beer without mentioning SØLE, the rare gypsy brewery on this list. Helmed by self-proclaimed “food nut” Joe Percoco, who previously held countless jobs within the food industry, he eventually found his life’s work in producing the artisan, farmhouse-style beers of Europe. After brief stints at Funk, Weyerbacher, and even Cantillon in Belgium, Percoco founded SØLE in 2015 (he’s still in his mid-twenties by the way). Mostly brewing out of Susquehanna Brewing Company, Percoco’s beers like Turbo Nerd Xtra IPA have become a sensation amongst beer geeks, who line up on weekends hoping to snag cans. You’ll finally be able to visit this gypsy soon; Sole Bar + Bottle is slated to open in Easton soon.
Stoudts Brewing Co. (Adamstown, PA)
An old dog on the PA scene, Stoudts has been around since 1987. Founded by Carol Stoudt, supposedly the first female brewmaster since Prohibition, the brewery has managed to keep up with the times. While still producing the lagers that made them famous, like Gold Lager and Pils, today's portfolio includes plenty of double IPAs and even a rum barrel-aged imperial stout, Fat Dog. The pub’s dinner menu is European in style, with soft pretzels, tripel-steamed mussels and German sausage sandwiches.
Tired Hands Brewing Co. (Ardmore, PA)
Tired Hands is the brainchild of Jean Broillet IV, who had long been inspired by the farmhouse ales of Belgium and France and would perfect his craft at Weyerbacher and Iron Hill. Inspired by the latter's brewpub model (and after a few business classes at Wharton), Broillet opened his Tired Hands Brew Cafe in the quiet suburbs of Ardmore in 2012. With beers like HopHands and SaisonHands (and bread baked in-house), it was an immediate smash hit for both locals and those from afar. Accolades, like a James Beard nomination, would soon follow. In 2015, a second brewpub, Fermentaria, was opened just down the block, serving tacos and the lactose-laden “milkshake” IPA that Broillet has become famous for.
Tröegs Independent Brewing (Hershey, PA)
Brothers John and Chris Trogner founded Tröegs in 1996, and today it’s still independent and still family-run. Early successes were mainly in the European high-ABV realm, with beers like Troegenator Double Bock and Mad Elf, a cherry-flavored Belgian strong ale. Today, though, Tröegs is better known for their hoppy amber ale, Nugget Nectar, as well as their recent forays into barrel- and foeder-aged beers.
Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, PA)
Also founded in 1996, Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski’s brewery is perhaps the state’s most famous these days. Opened in what had once been a Pepperidge Farm factory, today the brewery and the adjoining restaurant has seating for 300—though most brewing is now done off-site in Parkesburg. There’s also a Kennett Square location with a small, 7-barrel brewhouse that focuses on more unique, brewpub-only offerings, some which come from the location’s open fermentation system. While early on Victory’s beer often paid tribute to the area’s German heritage (see: Prima Pils), today they release bourbon barrel-aged coffee stouts like Java Cask, fruited sours like Kirsch Gose, and even a state-of-the-art Dry-Hopped Brett Pils.
Voodoo Brewery (Meadville/Homestead/Erie, PA)
Employee owned, in the last couple of years the Meadville brewery has added pub locations in both Homestead and Erie. Voodoo’s massive success and ability to expand doesn’t just ride on its geeky beers (their honey and maple bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, ManBearPig, is one of the more acclaimed beers in recent memory), but its standard sippers too, like Moar Tropic, a wheat ale, and White Magick of the Sun, a witbier. Each tasting room setup is unique: The Homestead location is a raucous, European-style beer hall, complete with an art gallery next door that you can browse while boozing.
Weyerbacher Brewing(Easton, PA)
Founded in 1995 in a horse stable, Weyerbacher today is one of the major forces in Pennsylvania beer. Founder Dan Weirback’s brewery has mainly made its mark over the years by producing big, aggressive beers like Insanity, an English barleywine, and Sunday Morning Stout, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout which is currently BeerAdvocate’s highest-rated Pennsylvania beer. The tap room, called The Jester’s Court, offers weekend craft fairs and yoga classes, but you can also just pig out on dips, cheese and jerky.
Yards Brewing Co.(Philadelphia, PA)
Yet another classic Pennsylvania brewery, Yards, a Philly institution, dates back to 1994. Once apprentices at Maryland’s British Brewing Company, friends Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovit decided to open their own spot after finding success selling their homebrews at Grateful Dead shows. Early beers, like ESA and Entire Porter (a blend of English mild and stout), were inspired by their English brewing knowledge. By 2001 they were able to expand in capacity by purchasing further buildings in the Kensington neighborhood; by 2010 they finally had a tasting room.
Yuengling (Pottsville, PA)
Is this regionally-distributed giant a craft brewery... or are they not? Does it even matter? Yuengling’s Pennsylvania heritage is undeniable. In most parts of the state, you can order their flagship beer by simply asking the bartender for a “lager.” America’s oldest brewery has been around since 1829 (making it 23 years older than Anheuser-Busch) and still remains family-owned. Of course, that occasionally means you get non-corporate-like behavior: To great controversy, current owner Dick Yuengling supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election.