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Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant

Not Rated.
Nodding Head Brewery and RestaurantNodding Head Brewery and Restaurant
Based on:
36 Beers
451 Ratings
Place Score: 86
Ratings: 159
Reviews: 119
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: n/a
Taps: --
Bottles: --
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Brewery, Eatery ]

1516 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19102
United States
phone: (215) 569-9525

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Ratings: 159 | Reviews: 119 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of laintringulis
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Fairly large bar/restaurant with lots of tables and seating. Both times I went, it was pretty slow. I tried all of the drafts and they were all very solid offerings. They were out of the Grog, but I really liked the money knife fight and the berliner weisse. The food is primarily pub food, but the bleu burger is the bomb!!! The staff was knowledgable about the beers and the entire place was very clean. A great place to go and enjoy some solid brews and food and relax. I didn't really look at the bottled selections.

Photo of nlmartin
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The bar staff wasa very friendly and very knowledgable about their beers. The staff readily offered samples of beers on tap. Between my wife and I we had a pint of almost every offering at Nodding Head. The Hoptimus Prime was a dam tasty triple IPA. I enjoyed the Berliner Weiss very funky and sour. Oh yeah! The oatmeal stout was a very solid offering. They didnt have Grog. Oh well maybe next time I will get some Grog. I wanted some Monkey Knife fight. I was in luck. I had to come back in two days. Oh dam! You mean I am going to go back and drink some good brews? Ok! The burgers are cooked to order. We had the Monks version with blue cheese. Very tasty. The place was dimly lit and nearly empty both times we went here. This is a very good beer stop with no pretentions in Philly.

Photo of ggaughan
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

What can I say about Nodding Head. I have gone here so many times for lunch when working in Philly and the food is always great and the serve is equally good. The menu always has some very good sandwich and entree specials on a daily basis and the standard menu of apps, sandwiches and entrees are very good. The have frites that are very similar to Monk's Cafe although they are thicker and longer. They also have some of the Monk's Mussels as well. I usually get one of their fine sandwiches when I am here. The other day I was lucky enough to hit Nodding Head for lunch and dinner in the same day, what a treat. For dinner I had a Berliner Weisse, a Grog and a Hoptimus Prime and all were excellent. The Berliner Weisse was very refreshing and perfect for the summer. The atmosphere at Nodding Head is very cool with all the bobble heads around the bar and in a display case and the wood floors, bar and booths are equally cool. When you get to the top of the steps you almost immediately see the brewing tans which is nice and proves how fresh their brews are.

Photo of sacfly
3.56/5  rDev -7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Nice open, comfortable setting especially for Philadelphia. We did not eat, but enjoyed the ambiance. Comfortable seating and the fermenters are on display as you go towards the bathrooms. Had the Berliner Weisse and an IPA. Both were good. My wife had a chocolate stout. Also good. Nothing spectacular beer wise, but seems like a nice place to come and just hang out with friends. Wait staff was compliant, which is better than what you can expect in many Philly establishments. Was not too loud and smoky that night. Was a nice relaxing place for conversation.

Photo of RBorsato
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Visited on 03/08/06 and 03/09/06. Located in the upstairs part of the building. Very English pub-like.

Servers on all occasions had an attitude - the waiter did when we ate dinner the first night and the female bartender did the second night when we were drinking and playing darts. I know you guys make good beers but lose the 'tude ! You are NOT doing ME a favor just by being there. The bartender certainly took care of her friends first.

The number of selections was average for a brewpub - 6 different beers but the variation in styles was very nice -- not your std brewpub styles. Nice sampler sizes to start before moving onto the pints.

The beers brewed were of great quality for every style.

I would rate all of them very good/great.

The Steak Salad dinner was very good and the overall food menu is nicely upscaled for a brewpub.

Well worth a visit and miles above Independence.

Photo of elmocoso
2.83/5  rDev -26.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5

In the door and up the stairs to a smokey little joint. We ended up sharing a booth with another couple, but unfortunately, they didn't feel like talking, so the wife and i kept to ourselves. I kind of liked the space of this place, and could be fun with the right crowd of people. Unfortunately, there was lots of smoke.

I too, was put off by the disclaimer described by previous reviewer...NO REFUNDS.

Beers weren't too impressive, and not enough choices, am sorry to say. Overall, it was just too smokey, with nothing exciting going on with the beer. I'd skip it.

Photo of beernut7
2.31/5  rDev -39.7%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 1.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3

I have been looking forward to trying the brews here for a while and had heard mixed reviews all around. Stopped in late on a slower Friday night. First thing noticed is the hazy cloud of smoke I've become use to not seeing up in Boston. Not a surprise, except I had to wait for the bar tenders to finish their smokes before we were served. Beer menu has a disclaimer printed at the bottom that stated if the brew was not to the satisfaction of the patron, it wasn't the fault of the pub or how the beer was brewed--meaing there had been enough complaints to warrant such a warning.

Tried the Grog first and was put off by a not-so-subtle dirty diaper aroma. Flavor did not really reflect the aroma much so I pushed on to the Spring Ale. The same aroma greeted me with an even stronger cheesy, band-aid flush--this time carried over into the flavor. Every time I took a sip the aroma pushed my nose right up out of the glass again. For the first time in many years I left a beer unfinished. An obvious sanitation issue.

I didn't stay to sample to food and probably won't return here. It is one thing to have good beer with a temporary problem, but finding the patron at fault for poorly brewed beer believed by the pub to be of fine quality is unacceptable.

Photo of dogfooddog
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

visited here early PM on 14MAR06

the beers were very nice but too cold for the (british) styles they were based on, IMHO. the 60/- made me feel like I was in scotland, the stout was very pleasant and roasted, and the grog was not exceptional to me but had a lot of character in the taste. The burger was nothing extraordinary but good enough, and the steak fries were more like 1/8's of entire potatos.

I went at 5pm and thus the place was empty; I do try to avoid happy hour crowds. service was friendly (friendlier than monk's, with the same owners) and if in the mood for those products I would go back happily.

Photo of BillyB
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Descent brewpub with a nice friendly staff and a strange collection of bobble heads in a huge glass case. Didn't try the food but the beers were decent.
60 Shilling was a light easy drinking session beer.
Doc was nice and hoppy.
Chocolate Stout was good but not great.
George's Fault was 1 of the two more interesting beers. A belgian styled beer with citrusy and honey notes. Tasty.
Grog is a good english brown ale.
Rudy's kung-fu grip was a good strong belgian style ale. Interesting name.
Overall a good place to go and try some fresh beer and meet some nice people.

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

When I first heard the name, Nodding Head, I thought first, “Nodding sounds like some place in England, like Robin Hood‘s Nottingham.” and second, “A ‘head’ is sorta like a peninsula. Like Dogfish Head.” Ergo, this place must be named after some coastal region of England, so it must be an English pub! So, when I walked up to the building front and saw the big bobble-head neon sign, I was terribly disappointed.

To get to the bar, you need to head in the door and immediately up the stairs where you’ll run into a display case jam-packed full of these stupid bobble-heads. What’s the purpose of a bobble-head again? Any way, the rest of the bar is surprisingly open and very nice looking with lots of open space and hardwood everywhere. There are booths spread along the walls with small tables around the stairwell. The bar itself is very attractive and rustic in itself with matching overhead shelving of sorts that displays the beers of the day on chalk boards. Sorta looks like some fantastic pill-box for alcoholics. Down one hall that seems to lead to the kitchen (and the restrooms) there are brewing tanks on display behind glass. On the other side of the wall, there were fake windows with colored glass that were illuminated from behind that had a neat effect. That’s just a little extra effort to make the place look nice that was duly noted. There is also an adjacent seating room that would be a little better for a sit down meal. Those of us who were out on the town were in no mood for food. We needed drink, so we grabbed one of the little tables by the stairwell. I must say, although there were a fair number of people there, the music wasn’t too loud and it just seemed to be quite. I liked that a lot. Over all, the atmosphere is warm and inviting.

The beers here tend to be a bit on the sweet side. They tend to be well thought out and a bit different, but I’m deterred by their sweetness but not enough to stop coming back. Of these beers, six or so were offered for the day. The young lady who brought our beers was quick and efficient. I enjoy this place a lot for their different take on beer and a fantastic atmosphere. I’ll have to have dinner here some day.

Photo of Billolick
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Up stairs location, situated between Monks and Ludwigs, this is a comfortable, casual beer hangout. Darts, televisions on showing the game, easygoing athmosphere. The beers we tried were decent, but nothing special. Seemed to be in the middle of the road, sessioner scheme of things. Never a bad thing, but I dont think they are looking to blow their customers away with anything too hard to handle. No time to try the food, but it looked to veer towards the pub grub/burgers and fries neck of the woods. Well worth a visit for the laid back, sessioner friendly athmosphere and medium quality beer.

Photo of chOAKbarrell
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 2.5 | food: 3.5

I was in Philadelphia for a few days on business, and of course had to check out the #1 rated brewpub in the area - winner of several awards.

Nodding Head is an attractive restaurant located upstairs on the narrow, one-way Sansom street in Center city, Phila. Nicely dimmed lights and wood everywhere you look. All brewing equipment is mostly located down a long hall and easily viewed.

Obviously, as they are ranked so highly, the quality is tops. Both beers I ordered were well above average, with one of them in particular ("goblin grog") being rather outstanding.

Our waitress was attentive & friendly with no city attitude. Couldn't ask for more in that department.

The selection was lacking, unfortunately. I suppose they dont have the capacity to offer more than 5 beers at a time, which I was rather suprised at. I figured they would have had at least 7-8. Our waitress said 5 is the max - they just end up rotating them, usually.
Also, the variety was lacking as well, strangely. There were two hoppy beers - an IPA and a weaker APA, a golden ale (geared towards "light" beer drinkers), a scottish ale, and an english brown ale. No stout, no porter, no wheat/hefeweizen, no seasonal (pumpkin).

The food was a nice treat. This restaurant is very vegetarian/vegan friendly, which is refreshing, and suprising. There was actually more than just one vegetarian option on the menu. The white-baked-beans-with-pita appetizer was tasty, but beware - it will fill you up quickly. There are also vegan burgers offered, and I saw at least one other vegetarian appetizer.

The value is good, for being downtown in a big city. Pints are $4 each, appetizers between $5-8, entrees around $10-15.

Nodding Head is worthy of its #1 Phila. brewpub status on Beeradvocate. Stop in and at the very least try the Grog ale.

Photo of gueuzegeek
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

How on earth did this get past me...I cannot believe I have not written a beerfly for Nodding Head yet!!! I guess I am just there so much, I thought I had!!

Anyway, I love this place and really have nothing but good things to say. The staff is great, the beer is great and the food is great--what more can one ask for?

If it has been a while since you have been there, you may find some beers you have not ever had, and even if you have been there, they do rotate off and on, so you might catch a terrific seasonal, like Monkey Knife Fight or the Oatmeal Stout. Right now, the Harvest is on, and boy is that a great beer. Lots of fresh cut hops with enough malt to support them, without taking over for the hops.

The atmosphere is pretty much open feeling, but it can get crowded on weekend nights. I try to arrive early enough to not have to worry about that part though. The nodding head collection case is a great eye catcher as well.

Sunday brunch is also a good time to go. They run a brunch menu with a spinach crepe that I just cannot get enough of!!

Well, just feel free to beermail me if you have any questions about the place.

Photo of Chuck
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

I was recently in Philadelphi for a 3-day conference and stopped in for lunch on two occasions. The food is a step up from basic pub fare and quite satisfying. Beer-wise I was in search of their signature Berlinerweiss, which did not disappoint. The staff was also efficient and quite helpful, providing samples of the brew with and without woodruff syrup (both quite tasty!). I'm not sure how easy it is to park nearby (I was within walking distance), but I would definitely return next time I'm in Philly.

Photo of sulldaddy
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2.5

This was the first stop on my bachelor party extravaganza in Philly. The pub is located up a flight of long stairs (mental note of Royal Stumble hazard!) There are some booths and table chair sets to the right a case of the bobble/nodding head dolls. My favorite was a headless George W Bush!! The bar is to the left. It is typical rectangle with about 10 stools. ALmsot everything is made of wood. The fermenters are viewable behind some glass. There is another room of tables and chairs for dining. We sat there. The were 5-6 beers on tap and no cask. Only on certain nites do they run a cask, just put a firkin on the bar and drink till its gone.
The beers were pretty tasty. Nothing overwhelming or mindblowing, but all were well crafted and easy to drink. Our server was very friendly and knowledgeable. We actually ran into him at MOnks later, more evidence of knowledgeable staff IMO.
Food is typical pub grub. I orderd a pulled pork sandwich, as is my normal at a new brewpub. Everyone at the table was pleased with their meal, but I was a little disappointed. The sandwich was a little dry and since it was on sourdough, this dried it even more. NOt a lot of sauce. Flavor was good but a little too dry for my tastes. Like I said everyone else was pretty happy, the Jumbalaya especially was a fan favorite.
Overall I enjoyed the pub and I am planning to come back into town for the Royal Stumble next time they hold it. Should be a fun time!

Photo of DarkStar2222
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 5

Hard to believe I was in a city where Nodding Head would be the “change-up” venue, between two fabulous Belgian bars … Philadelphians live charmed lives. I’d heard Nodding Head called the “Best Brewpub in Philly” more than once, although this may be true inside city limits, the real home runs are in the suburbs. Their standard line-up was good but not great (again, in fairness I did bookend this place with two Belgian bars). The specialty brew was a Berliner Weiss which was outstanding and served with just a tiny splash of belfrut syrup. A great play I think in a city that’s up to its ears in Flanders Reds and Gueuze.
Atmosphere at Nodding Head was very relaxing in our weekday afternoon visit. Lots of big liquid filled equipment on the second floor of an old building, kind of cool from a structural standpoint. The bar tender had make-up free natural beauty and a great attitude. I forget her name, but you’ll know her when you see her. Finally, as it turns out they happen to have the best cheese steak in Philadelphia, except they call it French Dip. Big crusty sub roll, piles of rare shaved steak, oozing with what I’ll guess was sharp provolone and a bodacious black pepper spice flavor. Then you get to dip it in the au jus. Make sure you don’t miss this sandwich.

Photo of ChappyCubsFan
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

This was our first stop after checking into the hotel just around the corner upon our arrival in Philly for the first time. You enter the place via a stairway off Sansome Street.

We arrived there about 11:15 a.m. even before they opened the kitchen, but the bartender was really friendly and found a table where we could begin our tasting of their beers. We sampled about 7 beers in all, including a double IPA that was really hopped-up, much like a west coast San Diego style IPA. We loved it and felt right at home. The "Grog" was quite unusual. Everything we tried was tasty.

When it came time to order food, I asked the bartender about the roast beef (french) dip. He said some prefer it over the Philly Cheese Steak. That was enough to get my attention. He was right. It was an exceptional sandwich, just enough food so that we were energized to begin our walking tour of the historic sites to the east of the city.

We visited Noddinghead again that night. We ordered a pitcher, thinking it would be less expensive, and realized that we had paid about $4.00 a pint. Then I recalled how lunch too was a bit pricey. It's a great place. The service is friendly and they know their beers, but pay attention to your tab. It can get costly.

Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

The best stop on a 4 day 7- pub tour of the city. This was one of my favorites. A couple of exellent beers, and an attempt at a fun environment. Its up a flight of stairs, a relatively spacious compared to Moonk's, and I was there during trivia night. It was F-this and f-that by the MC, I'd rather have run the jukebox. The bartender made a good effort to take care of me, brew wise,. Its big city, there was only 1 of the 7 bars I am listing where it was not super-cliquey. I understand the food is good, but did not try it. Beer was very fresh and served in appropriate glassware.

Photo of hudsonvalleyslim
4.75/5  rDev +24%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Stopped in the Nodding Head Brewery for some lunch and refreshment on my way up to Boston. First time in Philly. Very friendly place. Scotty the Irish bartender pulled me a pint of Grog, a mild brown which was quite drinkable. A good session brew as advertised. Next up was the DBA which was very tasty. A West Coast IPA, nice and hoppy. Had the delicious 'famous' crabcake, which was BUSTIN' with fresh crab, and was on my way.

Located upstairs on Sansom Street, small bar, good size restaurant. Bobble heads everywhere... 'scuse me, nodding heads. Recommended!

Photo of bennybrew
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

i should preface this review by saying i didn't spend a dime in this place and got 3 beers and food (i did, of course, tip). get your boss to send you to a craft beer confrence. good things happen.

this place is off some street upstairs (i used to call my homebrewery: upstairs brewing co). cool (sorta little) bar and a bunch of spaces. i hesitate to call them seperate rooms especially as they are not really distinct rooms. there is a nice feel to the place. there are shiny tanks here and there too. never really figuired out what those were for.

they had several of thier own beers on and then one i had was good. read you some beer reviews.

they laid down a buffet for us and the food was good bar food and an interesting mix of stuff. i didn't see a proper menu.

Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev +4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I had heard that this place and their beer kinda sucked. So when I actually made it out here for Londonporterfest 1.5, I was pleasantly pleased that it was actually a pretty damn nice joint. On Sansom street, very close to Monk's and Ludwigs, not too far from Tria either. This second floor establishment has a nice atmosphere. More restaurant than pub, with many sections full up of booths and tables, and a small bar serving some fine ales and lagers. The quality of the brews was very good. I had the BPA, which was actually better than the guest brews they had on tap (Elysian IPA, and Pizza Port Red). I also had a cask-pulled pint of Oatmeal Stout. Both were very tasty and fresh. The beer-list was much better than normal due to the conference that was going on in Philly. They had something like 8 or 9 beers on tap (bpa, 2 stouts, wee heavier, 3c, grog, spring ale, elysian ipa, and maybe a few more). Service was fast and friendly. Prices fair. The beers were not mind-blowing, but this place wasn't too packed on a Friday night either. I'd definately stop by for a meal and some seasonals the next time I am out crawling in the area. Cheers.

Photo of whartontallboy
3.6/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Nice atmosphere in Center City, big enough that you don't have to wait forever to get a table, and if you do, you can enjoy some appetizers and brews. The quality of the beers I've tried is sort of middling for craft brews, but better than most brewpubs I've hit up. The worst thing you can say about their beers is that they're sort of boring. Our waiter was extremely friendly and competent as a waiter, but he didn't know much about beer. I asked him how their chocolate stout compared to other chocolate stouts and he basically told me he didn't know. Then I asked what IPA their IPA compared to, and he didn't seem to know that either. Nice guy, just not really an expert on beer. They have 5-6 beers of varied styles on tap, although no lagers when I visited. The food was really tasty, especially the garlic-y sauce that came with the fries; it's a must-taste. Overall, a nice experience, not too expensive, and worth trying in center city.

Photo of goindownsouth
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Nestled in a place I never would have looked in order to find it, Nodding Head rests in the heart of center city Philadelphia. After taking the surprising long walk up the stairs to my destination, I found the environment to be basic, yet casual pub-like. Bobbleheads abound in glass casings. The brew list when I was there was impressive. While I only tried the Berliner Weisse and the Pale Ale, I was impressed with what they were doing there. Definately a place I would like to revisit and sample some of the good (looking) food...


Photo of woodychandler
4/5  rDev +4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

I always enjoy visiting Nodding Head when in Philly. I like the way that the bar opens up on yr left as you ascend the staircase to the second floor and the immediate, eye-catching presence of the glass case full of bobblehead dolls upon achieving the landing. The bar is of a gorgeous carved red wood, perhaps mahogany, perhaps cherry. They have instituted a new practice of having a live jazz trio/quartet on Sunday afternoons, which is really cool. If you go during the week, sit at the bar and ask for Spanky, especially if you are into rock & roll. Also, make sure that you take in the rest of the bobblehead collection and sit in one of the booths upholstered in red velvet. Finally, enjoy their beers, some of which I will review/mention separately.

Photo of blitheringidiot
2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2

For so-ooo long, I was curious to review Nodding Head...eh.

There were only five beers on tap: Grog English Style Ale, 60 Shilling Scottish Amber Ale, Berlinger Weisse Summer Wheat, American Pale, and Monkey Knife Fight Tropical Ginger Beer.

Had the Monkey Knife and the BPA. $8.80 bill.

The bartender was friendly. Overly friendly, but not to a fault. This joint was Sam Adams Brewpub a while back. I hope that their beers improve upon my next visit. This is a small second floor place with one bathroom and a small restaurant seating area off to the side.

A bit of a gripe when each pint was $4.40 each. Overpriced for average beer? Maybe the rent is too high.

Last swigs:I will be back, but under "BA Protest." -wink- Big ups to all local breweries and brewpubs. I know I'm a little down on the joint, but their 3-C Hoppy IPA at the Iron Hill tasting rocked! Where was that???

*** Went back to Nodding Head on a Wednesday afternoon to give them a shot. They were getting ready for a beer dinner that night so they were a little distracted. The y had three beers on tap. A Scottish, a 700 Pale and Grog. Just overall lame and bland. I will not go back to Nodding Head unless I hear differently. ***

Beer is good. Happy brewpub beering.

Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA
86 out of 100 based on 159 ratings.