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Local Beer Drinker’s Guide to 2016 Pop-Up Beer Gardens

Local Beer Drinker’s Guide to 2016 Pop-Up Beer Gardens

With Philadelphia’s collection of pop-up and seasonal beer gardens seemingly expanding year after year, we couldn’t help but lend you a hand by pinpointing the region’s cream of the crop. From Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s two breathtaking gardens—including one popping up by the iconic Reading Viaduct—to the highest beer garden to date, those lining the Delaware waterfront, and even, some suburban situations that are worth the trek, you’ll want to make time to visit each and every beer-drinking stop in this guide.

‘Tis outdoor beer-drinking season!

2016’s Pop-Up Beer Gardens:

PHS 15th & South Garden

Operator: Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS), Khyber Pass Pub

Soft opens: May 27; grand opening festivities: Wed., June 1, 5:30 p.m.

Hours of operation: Mon.–Thurs., 5–10 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 2 p.m.–midnight; Sun., noon–10 p.m.

Location: 10th & South

Returning for the third year to PHS’ popular flagship site, 15th and South Streets, the pop-up beer garden’s food and drink programs will be curated by the crafty Khyber Pass Pub. (Previous operators included Barren Hill and the Garage.)

The Beer Appeal: The Khyber will be slinging a 12-tap and 12-can beer program. Of the elite lines curated by some of the best hands in the city, you can expect one to feature the PHS’ signature beer brewed by Victory (American wheat ale with orange blossom honey) and one to showcase thriving independent, self-distributed breweries (who will also take part in meet-the-brewer nights), among others. Gear up for Brewsday every Tuesday, which will highlight breweries, special releases, chef collaborations, plus additional on-going programming with the regarded Captain Lawrence Brewery. During Philly Beer Week, expect beer events that focus on the “unique” approaches to beer executed by local brewers.

The bar and culinary programs will include a beautiful Botanical Bar, frozen rum daiquiris, Margarita Mondays with Mexican treats to eat; and live music and games; South Street Gulps on Wednesdays, featuring sangria, Hendricks Gin and Tito’s Handmade Vodka cocktails, and craft drafts. Happy hour pricing will be available throughout the week.

The Scoop on the Food: “From a culinary perspective, the Khyber does such great barbecue-style foods from the southern regions that we thought that it would be great to tie in some of the things we do on the menu [at the pop-up],” says Khyber’s Suzanne O’Brien. “We’ll be serving our pulled pork sandwich, as well as our baked beans—which are the best baked beans in the world.”

Additional menu items will include: sweet potato summer rolls with chipotle-hoisin sauce, Italian charcuterie and cheese with roasted olives, artichoke salad, pickled mushrooms and fig toast, bacon guacamole, fire-toasted salsa and spicy corn chips. Every holiday and weekend, the garden will be firing up the grill for barbecues.

About the Design: The garden design is executed by Karen Regan, of Tallulah & Bird, who created the lush, romantic garden last year. This year Karen, in partnership with Jeff Regan of Regan Construction, is enhancing beloved elements at the site with aged woods, inventive planters, antiques, flea market finds and curiosities that’ll conjure a magical retreat with the city skyline as backdrop. Expect the space to be composed of bursts of roses, fragrant herbs, cocktail cucumbers, a canopy of pink crape myrtles, wisteria and clematis, a multi-textured perennial mix, an illuminated, towering mulberry tree, and best of all, climbing vines of hops. Read more about the space here.

SOUTH ST garden

PHS Rail Park Garden

Operator: Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS)

Opens: first week of June; grand opening celebration: Fri., June 10, 5:30 p.m.

Hours of operation: Wed.–Thurs., 5–10 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 2 p.m.–midnight; Sun., noon–10 p.m.; closed Mon.–Tues.

Location: 10th & Hamilton Streets

New for 2016 is PHS’ pop-up garden at the notoriously abandoned Viaduct Rail Park. The gang will transform the post-industrial landmark into a 21st-century urban oasis, all while raising awareness of its horticulture, history and the new development that’s in the works. Major support for the new Viaduct Rail Park garden has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for creative installations by designers, artists and historians, with help for Friends of the Rail Park and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

The site’s culinary program will be backed by Top Chef alum Jason Cichonski (ELA, Gaslight) and Sylva Senat (Dos Tacos, Maison). The pair has developed a novel food concept for the garden, coined the ‘Bun Box’, which will sling an array of steamed buns that range from mild to wild. Expect additional snacks like kimchi salsa, black truffle guac and chips, buffalo chicken nugget boa, tikka masala curry and warm churros with salted sweet sesame dulce de leche.

The Beer Appeal: The garden bar will feature six taps—one of which is Victory’s PHS beer—and canned beers. Also available are wines and cocktails (e.g. blood orange margaritas, Pimm’s Cups, sangrias). Special themed dinners and events, including a ‘90s night and acoustic musical performances, are planned throughout the season.

About the Design: The big appeal of this pop-up garden is the extensive design that has went into its structure. The goal was to merge the overhead rail structure with green urban space, with Oakland, Cali.-based landscape artist Walter Hood taking the lead on the project. The design is inspired by railroad cars and remnants of what had been an abandoned site, and will also include species that naturally emerged on the Viaduct since the rails were decommissioned, as well as plants that share similar characteristics. There’s even a site-specific sound installation created by artist Abby Sohn, a Philadelphian now based in Wales UK, will be on display underneath the Viaduct. The new work is in response to Sohn’s research into the history, places and people connected to the three-mile rail line. The artwork aims to reactivate the once heavily trafficked corridor, making use of the iron structure to create a sonic experience that explores the cultural heritage and the rail site’s creative potential.

There’s fun too: the pop-up will also feature a stretch of Philadelphia’s new ball toss game, Stones (created by the Philly Stones League), which borrows from bocce, chess and other games.

parks on tap

Parks on Tap

First pop-up hits: June 29

Hours of operation: Fri.–Sat., 1–11 p.m.; Sun., noon–10 p.m.; extended hours: Wed.–Thurs., 5–10 p.m. at certain locations where noted

Locations: roaming

Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation Department and the Fairmount Park Conservancy have teamed up, with the help of Avram Hornik (Morgan’s Pier), to host a series of pop-up beer gardens throughout the city’s green spaces from late June to early October. Each of the 14 Parks on Tap pop-up gardens will feature two food trucks, craft beer options and non-alcoholic beverages.

Review a full of schedule of where to find the pop-ups here. Locations will include: Schuylkill Banks at Walnut Street Bridge from June 29–July 4, Shofuso Japanese House and Garden from July 8–10, Belmont Plateau from July 15–17 and Aviator Park (in front of Franklin Institute) from July 20–25, among others.

The Oval

Opens July 15, runs through Aug. 21

Hours of operation: Wed.–Fri., 5–10 p.m.; Sat., noon–7 p.m.; Sun., noon–5 p.m.

Located: Eakins Oval, center of the Ben Franklin Parkway, 2451 Benjamin Franklin Parkway 

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, in partnership with the Fairmount Park Conservancy, unveiled the Philly’s “Park on the Parkway” in July 2013. Now, the pop-up dominating eight-acres of public space returns each summer with community programming, events and a beer garden. Click here for more details—to be updated as we approach its opening date.

Point Breeze Pop-Up 

Now open, runs through October 31

Hours of operation: Thurs., 4-10 p.m.; Fri., 4-11 p.m.; Sat., noon-11 p.m.; Sun., noon-10 p.m.

Located: 1622 Point Breeze Ave.

This pop-up beer garden kicks off its 2016 season by hosting its 11th annual Wheat Beer Festival on June 4, noon–8 p.m. Scope the 40+ wheat beers that’ll be pouring come Saturday here. A regular rotating food truck schedule will unfold through the summer. Stay tuned to PBPU Facebook for to-the-minute details.

SkyGarten

Operator: Top of the Tower, in conjunction with Doug Hager and Jeremy Nolen (Brauhaus Schmitz, Whetstone)

Opens: early June

Located: Top of the Tower, 50th and 51st floor of Three Logan Square, 1717 Arch St.

Top of the Tower, an event space within the city’s tallest buildings, partners with the Brauhaus Schmitz/Whetstone team to bring Philly’s it’s highest pop-up garden—one that sprawls 3,000-square-foot space (inside and outside).

The Beer Appeal: The space will host draft lines and canned German beers, plus local crafts. The initial tap lineup will include: Double Nickel Pilsner, plus 3 Germans: Warsteiner Dunkel, the unfiltered Hofbrauhaus Sommerbier, Schöfferhoffer Grapefruit Weizen. City cocktail kingpin, Jesse Cornell, acts as the site’s beverage manager, so you can absolutely expect a proper sipping list beyond the beers as well.

Spruce Street Credit Matt Stanley

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Opens: Now open

Hours of operation: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is back with its seasonal waterfront park thanks to the support from Univest Corporation and Valley Green Bank, a division of Univest Bank and Trust Co. Open as May 6 and running through Sept. 25, the free outdoor park is the “it” destination for summer lounging, as well as a go-to alfresco spot for beers, pop-up food trucks and indie shopping. Expect everything from hammocks, floating gardens, eye-catching light exhibits, outdoor games and more.

The Beer Appeal: Yards Brewing Company is back with a signature beer collaboration. Catch it on tap at the Lazy Hammock all summer long. In addition to Yards’ signature ale pouring strong, enjoy a variety of local beers on tap (more than 15 taps!), wines and summer cocktails. Street Harbor Park will also act as the official beer garden for Philly Beer Week which will run June 3-12. Expect special beer-centric programming all week long.

Scoop on the Food: DRWC is pleased to announce an expanded summer line-up of restaurant collaborations, which includes Philly favorites like Franklin Fountain (waffle ice cream sandwiches, fresh-pressed pure cane sugar drinks), Federal Donuts (iced coffee, bags of donuts, fried chicken sandwiches), Frozen Delights (soft serve, funnel cake), Garces (Distrito tacos and margaritas, Village Whiskey burgers, Froman’s hot dogs and sausages, Papas Fritas), Chickie’s and Pete’s (crabfries, crab pretzels) and Sbraga Dining (Fat Ham pulled pork, fried fish sandwiches, pork rinds). Each restaurant will serve a variety of their signature options out of cheeky cargo boxes along the waterfront. More on the food here.

Everything else you need to know about the SSHP, including food and drink, how to reserve a hammock, etc., is available here.

Uptown Beer Garden

Uptown Beer Garden

Operator: Teddy Sourias (BRU Craft & Wurst, U-Bahn, Cinder)

Now open

Hours of operation: Mon.–Tues., 4–9 p.m.; Wed.–Fri., 2 p.m.–midnight

Located: 1732 Market St.

Teddy Sourias of BRU Craft & Wurst, U-Bahn and the coming-soon Cinder announces the return of Uptown Beer Garden. The 9,000-square-foot space will be bigger than ever, including more seating and an expanded bar, as well as party access to the BNY Mellon Wealth atrium. For 2016, the beer garden also adds a new team member—the acclaimed chef Jonathan Petruce who will man its outdoor grill and specialize in barbecue and street food (think Spanish Octopus, Turkish chicken, chimichurri beef skewers, grilled Mexicorn, lobster roll, etc.)

On the drink side, the pop-up’s bars will feature a selection of spirits, select wines, eight craft drafts and four craft cans. Signature cocktails will include sangria, Dark ‘n Stormy, Moscow Mule, frozen margaritas and seasonal specialty cocktails.

The Beer Appeal: Sourias is slinging what he’s dubbing the “best draft lineup of any beer garden in the city”—which will include the ‘Uptown IPA’ brewed exclusively for the space by local Pizza Boy Brewing Company. Additional taps will include: Neshaminy Creek Trauger Pils, Half Acre Daisy Cutter, Ballast Point Wahoo White and Sprecher Grapefruit Radler, plus other selections to be announced.

Happy Hour will run Mon.–Fri., 4–6 p.m. featuring $4 drafts (all eight choices), $5 apps and $6 sandwiches. For Center City SIPS (each Wednesday), Uptown will pouring four different $3 drafts, $4 house wine, $5 Green Tea Whiskey Sours and Moscow Mules, plus serve select half-priced apps. (The first Center City Sips is on Wednesday, June 1, 5–7 p.m.)

NEW: Evil Genius Brew Garden

Operators: Evil Genius Beer Company, Home Brewed Events

Now open weekends

Located: 1730 N. Front St., Fishtown

Curious what’s the status on Evil Genius Beer Company‘s opening their Fishtown HQ? While they intend to open the brewery itself early 2017, they are inviting beer fans to join them for a summer preview. From July through October, EGBC in partnership with Home Brewed Events will transform a portion of their outdoor property into a summer beer garden that’s fully equipped with local beers, rotating Philly food trucks and a series of events—including free movie and music nights. Each month’s pop-up will benefit a local charity, with July’s gardens supporting the Fishtown Neighbors Association. More info here.

NEW: Bok Bar

Now Open

Located: 1901 S. 9th St., South Philly

The rooftop space atop the former Bok Technical High School becomes a bar for the second consecutive summer. Operated by Starr vet Stephen Yaeger and executed with the food serves of Ronan Libunao, a Filipino-American chef, expect an affordable all-under-$10 menu of banh mi, sesame balls, satay, plus more. Drink list includes a dozen beers (bottles, cans) and a mix of 10 wines. More info and hours here.

NEW: Kensington Gardens

Operators: Kensington Community Food Co-op

Opening event: July 16; Open dates to follow: August 13, September 10, and October 1 and 22

Located: 2666-72 Coral Street, Kensington

Kensington Gardens is a new beer garden sponsored by Kensington Community Food Co-op. Nodding Head Brewery will pour beer at each of its five pop-up gardens, with a rotating roster of food trucks filling out the events. For example, the opening pop-up will feature Phoebe’s BBQ and Lil Pop Shop. The garden will also be family-friendly with games and activities for kids. More on this garden here.

Large-Format Beer Gardens:

Frankford Hall

Operator: Stephen Starr

Hours of operation: Mon.-Fri., 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat., noon-2 a.m.; Sun., 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.

Located: 1210 Frankford Ave., Fishtown

Sure, Stephen Starr’s 400+ seat beer garden is open 365 days a year. But, if you’re prancing around Fishtown and it isn’t late-night yet (those lines!), breeze by for a litre stein and embark in a vigorous game of Jenga. The beer list features a mix of native old-faithful (Victory, Bell’s) and respected German imports. Save room for Bavarian (read: gigantic) soft pretzels and bratwursts (full menu here). Hot events like Philly Beer Week’s Dunkel Dare are slated to unfold early June (more info), with Visit Philly’s Beer Garden Series hitting June 13.

Morgans Pier

Morgan’s Pier

Now Open

Hours of operation: Mon.-Fri., 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Located: 221 N. Columbus Blvd.

For its fifth year, the 500-seat beer garden returns to the Delaware Waterfront. The chef in residence for the season is Jim Burke, who intends to personalize the beer garden’s culinary program with his take on summertime cookout staples. Expect dishes like gnocchi gratinata, fisherman’s stew, country ham and a grilled menu aside returning staples like snack bacon, elote salad and lobster rolls.

New weekly events for 2016 include: industry nights on Tuesdays, rotating special events on Wednesdays–such as craft beer tastings, live bands every Thursday, and a more extensive brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. 14-draft taps and an extensive can menu foots the beer program (mix of macros and crafts; explore it here). Follow ‘em on Facebook for updates on events.

 Independence Beer Garden

Independence Beer Garden

Operator: Michael Schulson

Now Open

Hours of operation: Sun.-Tues., 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m.; Wed.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m. Bar remains open 2 hours after the kitchen closes.

Located: 100 S. Independence Mall West

The expansive 20,000 square-foot, all-American beer garden overlooking the Liberty Bell and Independence National Historic Park is open for the season. As part of the Sampan/Double Knot family, the outdoor beer garden, as dressed with reclaimed timber, distressed metals, Tivoli lights and tons of games, is absolutely one of the most stylized Old City space to grab a beer outdoors.

The Beer Appeal: 40 taps of regional and domestic craft beers offered. Catch local favorites always on tap (Yards, Nodding Head, Tröegs, Victory) aside an eclectic mix of national notables (Fathead, Sweetwater, Deschutes). Canned crafts, cocktails and wine also available for your imbibing pleasure. Updated list here.

The Scoop on the Food: Menu plays off the “picnic” theme (e.g kielbasa, double-decker burgers, watermelon and mint salad) and many options are prepared over an open-flame rotisserie. Make it a party with group platters (franks in a blanket, pretzels, etc., available).

 

Restaurant Off-Shoots:

Drury Beer Garden

Operator: Opa

Located: 1311 Sansom St., Center City

The edgier sister of Sansom Street’s Greek goddess is nestled in its back-end. Take the narrow alleyway to pound craft cans (list here) or nibble on mostly American comfort food snacks (though gyros and kebabs are on the rotation; scope food list here). 8 beers are also on draft and you can rent a table—fire pits included. Seats 50.

Memphis Taproom Beer Garden

Now Open

Located: 2331 E. Cumberland St. & Memphis, Kensington

The craft mainstay swung open its backyard beer garden for the season last month, packing a serious canned beer lineup. What’s even better is there’s a stationary food truck nesting on the site’s premise busting out a mighty hot dog repertoire. Though more petite than most of the city’s gardens (seats around 64), it’s calm and neighborly—definitely a place to unload.

More info and menus here.

Haas Biergarten at La Peg

Now Open

Located: 140 N. Columbus Blvd.

La Peg continues its beer-garden game for the summer season, debuting its own New England-inspired seafood shack just next to its restaurant. (Yeah, that’s right—you’ll score sweeping views of the Ben Franklin Bridge as you swig your beers.) The walk-up shack is pay-as-you-go, serving lobster rolls, fried clams and crab poutine. Live music, beer events and movie nights are on the calendar.

NEW: Heffe Beer Garden

Now Open

Located: Frankford & Marlborough, Fishtown

As of June 10, Peter McAndrews expands his grab-and-go taco joint by adding a beer garden to his adjoining lot. The expanded space is a partnership with neighbors Brad Helder (of Bottle Bar East) and John Fischer (of Baby Blues BBQ). Expect mix of local beer favorites (Neshaminy, Victory) and macro Mexican classics (i.e. Tecate). There are signature cocktails too, including a margarita, spiked lemonade and punch. Hours of operation are as follows: Thurs., 6–11 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 2 p.m.–midnight; Sun., noon–10 p.m.

 

 

Honorable mentions:

Silk City (435 Spring Garden St.): What happens when you marry a diner with a dance club, throw in a quirky outdoor oasis and of course, back it with a solid bar? Silk City, of course. Seating for 50 up for grabs.

Llama Tooth (1033 Spring Garden St.): Pop into the mural-laden patio before a Union Transfer show (it’s across the street). Seating up to 50 guests, the bottled beer list is reputable and the classic comfort food will certainly hit the spot (eat the pork Mac and cheese).

Hop Angel Brauhaus (7980 Oxford Ave.): This Fox Chase-based, German-inspired restaurant expands to feature a 30-seat garden of its own, fully equipped with the proper beer serving sizes (.3, .4, .5, full litres) and lots of brats. Not fussy and plain fun—make the visit.

Cannstatter Volksfest-Verein (9130 Academy Rd.): Kick around Northeast Philly some more by stopping by the German social club’s pop-up beer garden. The five-acre park, most notable for Oktoberfest celebrations, will transform into a summer—and into early-fall—outdoor beer-drinking destination, fully equipped with craft and German beers, wursts and burgers. Open Fridays–Sundays.

American Sardine Bar (1800 Federal St.): Keep it casual by hanging in the backyard with the ASB crew, throwing back cans and taking advantage of repeat specials. Monday through Friday, you can score half-price select cans, plus a boilermaker on special, and even, a Philadelphia Brewing Co. $8 growler to-go. Grab a sardine sandwich (of course) or a sweet Bologna slider while you’re at it (more on the food here) and follow their Facebook for on-going beer events.

Manayunk Brewery & Pub (4120 Main St., Manayunk): Grab a seat on this local brewpub’s deck aligning the Schuylkill River and toast to its impending 20 years of success. Brewer Evan Fritz has been flexing his creative juices as of late throughout a wide-range of releases—all of which will be refreshing in the summer sun (or shade; you pick). Explore the Hip Hop IPA Series and catch their regular live music programming.

Travel to the ‘Burbs:

Blue Dog Beer Garden

Broad & Vine Sts., Lansdale

Opens July 10

 Blue Dog Family Tavern & Pub debuts Lansdale’s first-ever beer garden with a range of beer on tap (craft and domestic), wine, Stone & Key Cellars cider and Boardroom Spirits concoctions. The beer garden also features the Freight Station, which includes food inspired by the kitchens of Blue Dog Pub and Tavern. Cool off with concoctions created by Lansdale’s own Boardroom Spirits. Expect regular live music. Follow their Facebook for to-the-minute updates.

Stable 12 Brewing Company

Located: 368 Bridge St., Phoenixville

Stable 12 Beer Garden

Experience the downtown Phoenixville-based craft brewery in the great outdoors as they expand their taproom to the next-door lot, featuring a spacious (see below) al fresco drinking situation where you can enjoy their house beer, catch live music every Friday and Saturday, and also participate in on-going activities (paint nights, yoga classes). Catch the full schedule of events here.

The Creamery

Operator: Michael Bontrager with the help of Brauhaus Schmitz, Whetstone, The Institute Bar

Opens: May 27, operates through mid.-Sept.

Hours of operation: Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri., 5 p.m.-midnight; Sat., 2 p.m.-midnight; Sun., noon-10 p.m.

Located: 401 Birch St., Kennett Square

We hear you—suburbanites need their pop-up beer gardens too! Kennett Square entrepreneur Michael Bontrager, with the help of the Groundswell Design Group, has converted a long-vacant, three-acre industrial complex (formerly Eastern Condensed Milk Company) into The Creamery.

The Beer Appeal: The beer program will spotlight a hearty inventory of local, sessionable ales and lagers. Scout the tap list here.

The Scoop on the Food: Philly chef Jeremy Nolen (Whetstone Tavern, Brauhaus Schmitz) heads up the food program, which features a heavy rotation of guest food trucks on Fridays. There is also what they are dubbing “Louie’s Lunch Pail,” which will be open for lunch from Wed.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Menu here.)

Everything else you need to know here.

Ambler Yards Beer Garden

Now Open

Hours of operation: Thursdays, 4:30–9:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2–7 p.m.; runs through end of June

Located: Ambler Yards, 300 Brookside Ave., Ambler

Ambler Yards teams up with Cantina Feliz for 11 pop-up beer gardens throughout the warm-weather season. The Ambler Yards Beer Garden offers an open-air meadow where you can enjoy craft beer, wine, light fare from Cantina Feliz (including their stellar guac!), outdoor games and live music.

Follow Ambler Yards Beer Garden on Facebook for more info.

Conshohocken Beer Garden

Opens: Opens June

Hours of operation: Runs Wednesdays-Saturdays through October, 5-10 p.m.

Located: 3 Tower Property, 2 Ashe St., Conshohocken

Kevin Tierney (same organizer as Ambler’s garden) heads to Conshohocken to host a pop-up beer garden too, this time teaming up with Bar Lucca and Pepperoncini. Additional select dates are open to operating restaurants. Follow ‘em on Facebook for additional info or visit this post.

 

Stay tuned to this post for updates and additions.

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