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Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant

Nodding Head Brewery and RestaurantNodding Head Brewery and Restaurant

Beer Stats:
Active Beers: 48
Beer Ratings: 438
Beer Avg: 3.76

Taps: - / Bottles: -
Cask: / Beer-to-Go: N
very good

133 Ratings
Ratings: 133
Reviews: 114
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 11.46%
$$ - reasonable

[ Brewery, Eatery ]

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

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 133 | Reviews: 114 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Metalmonk

North Carolina

3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3 | $$

You walk up the stairs into what feels like a room from a time-machine, I could see it being the 1970s, or even the 1870s. Except for the huge collection of bobble-heads in the display case right at the top of the stairs. Be sure to check that out! Pretty cool atmosphere then, not an overly adorned place with all kinds of crazy crap on the walls, just a classy room that feels friendly. Our large table, complete with plush, antique-looking padding, was more than two people needed, but that was great, and it was easy to get a seat because it was dead on this particular Sunday afternoon.

Service was good, friendly and efficient. The beer and food were a letdown though. I had the 60 Shilling Scottish Ale, which was well-made, but a bit on the dull side and not really to my liking. The food was on the bland side, which paired well with the beer (har har). I was told by my pal that their winter offerings are more flavorful, and I appreciate the old-school vibe of their selections, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for their stuff (the food was still marginal...but I didn't get a chance to try more than one offering, so there you go).

I don't know, maybe it was because we had just walked over from one of the best times ever had at Monk's, or we just got there on an off day, but this visit wasn't one for the memory banks. Wasn't bad, but I expected more, as did my Philly host, who has been here before and who also found this visit disappointing.

04-05-2010 12:12:16 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of krisandajt


4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5 | $$

Nodding Head was the first of several stops with the wife and a friend while down in Philly for a concert. We got there around 3pm and made our way to the bar for a beer or two and a late lunch.

The general atmosphere was very laid back, which I like in a bar. There's plenty of interesting bobble-head figures scattered about the place (hence the name Nodding Head), some on shelves, some in display cabinets, which I thought was a pretty cool theme.

We got there at sort of an in-between time, after lunch but before the big dinner crowd, and there were plenty of seats at the bar. The bartender was very friendly and was rather helpful in giving us tips about the local beer scene.

The beer selection was decent, though I was expecting a few more selections on tap. What they did have wasn't exactly the normal run-of-the-mill beer styles, so what they lacked in quantity they easily made up with quality and variety. Their Grog was very good.

The food was outstanding. I kept it simple, just ordering a burger. They cooked it perfectly (medium-rare, the only way to eat a burger), and they weren't shy with the portions.

Overall, this was a great place to stop and I definitely recommend it.

04-04-2010 13:39:52 | More by krisandajt
Photo of blackie


3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$

stopped in sometime after midnight on a Friday, a long staircase leads to the second-floor of a row building on Sansom Street

sparsely populated and pretty quiet at this point, a seat at the dark bar is easy to find - current draft selections written in chalk above, the place is actually quite large, pretty sure I recall lots of booths, some dart boards, a flatscreen, and perhaps some couches and chairs; a little grungy but with a chill vibe, decor includes random paintings and a glass case with a couple hundred bobbleheads, the cartoon character brewery mascot is a little corny and/or disturbing

selection was limited, around 5 or 6 at the time of my visit - not quite the 8 listed on the brewery website, but they do seem to put out some relatively obscure/interesting styles, went with a flared snifter filled with their Belgian Chocolate Stout, which turned out to be a nice beer

the bartender was friendly and quick, but our interaction was pretty limited, giving them the benefit of the doubt here

all told not a bad spot - would like to stop by again with more time to spend

03-17-2010 02:34:04 | More by blackie
Photo of rfgetz

New Jersey

3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$

I wouldnt call myself a regular, but i go here enough, and to be honest, i have a hard time rating this place. It is so hit or miss when it comes to the selection of beer, the service and the quality.

The atmosphere is dark and has an antique feel to it. If it was not for the large plasma TV's, you may not know what decade it was.

The service is very hit or miss, the wait staff is either ultra attentive and friendly, or disapear for large chunks of minutes. The bar tenders are quick and impersonal, or slow and grumpy.

When i find a beer i like, which are usually their one-offs, they tend to be exceptional... however, they bow down a little too much to a crowd who craves lifeless beer, and thus always dedicate atleast 1/4 of their limited capacity to mild and watery beer. Another 1 or 2 of the beers always seems to be unavailable. When they do have something special, run and get it, because it wont last, or they just wont offer it, as it save it for a busier date and time. This last policy angers me greatly... if i am there on a Wednesday or Thursday, why would i not be able to purchase something that is clearly still available in quanity?

Overall, i want to love this place. As one of the few brew pubs in the heart of the city, i want to make this a go to destination. Sadly, the hit-or-miss nature of the beer and service prevents that.

The food is very good.. they have a wide variety of upper scale pub grub, with them being one of the few places to make a good muffalata in the city.

02-05-2010 14:40:41 | More by rfgetz
Photo of ocmpoma


4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$

Went to the Nodding Head for my birthday, on the advice of my brother. Definitely a good call. The bar was nice and cozy, far from the multi-TV sports-bar type of place that I strongly dislike. It's located on the second floor, and our party of five got a nice big booth to hang out in.

The food was good, the service was better, and the selection of beers was great. Everything we ordered was spot on, well made and served up exactly right. I'm actually glad that Monk's told us the wait was 90 minutes to two hours for seating, and we opted to come here instead. I will definitely go back next time I head back to Philly.

11-15-2009 02:02:57 | More by ocmpoma
Photo of Vav


4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$

In philly for Roller Derby nationals (go Windy City!) and hit this in lieu of Dock Street, which was inexplicably closed at 8:30pm on a Friday night. That's not a slight at Nodding Head, it was on my list regardless because of the positive reviews here.

It's on the second floor of a building and in typical philly fashion, the stairs up were very narrow.

First thing i noticed was it a little dark, but as my eyes adjusted noticed a lot of happy people, which is always a good sign. Bar was super crowded with one bartender, so my pal and i opted for a table.

The beer menu is limited to 6 beers, all brewed in house. All are under 6% abv, and easily sessionable...a blonde ale, a pale ale, an altbier, a brown ale, and a cask selection. The beers are, in a nutshell, fantastic. I tried 3 of them (while they do offer flights, i wanted pints). The standouts were the Altbier (ever had Uerige? Similar with a little more toastiness) and the cask ale called Anomaly, which it is...sort of a black/ruby red ale light in body with a big hop nose that would be PERFECT with Bruschetta...which it turns out it was :) My only complaint in this department was the disclaimer at the bottom of the beer menu, stating that (and i'm paraphrasing) if you don't like the beer, it's your palate, not the beer and they wont swap/refund it. While this may be true in most cases, as someone who evaluates beer professionally, if it shows up oxidized, i'm sending it back no if's, and's, or but's. Thankfully, all beers showed up fresh and flavorful with no problems.

The server was exceptional, very friendly, and attentive. She apologized when my requested sample of beer took awhile, which was fine, as it was quite busy.

Food was great and in good sized portions. I got the aforementioned Bruschetta, which was a very reasonable $6.95 and portioned well. Very flavorful with a lot of plum tomato chunks and high quality peccorino romano...good stuff.

Overall, i enjoyed myself wholeheartedly, and if i lived here in philly, you can be damn sure i'd be there a couple times a week.

11-14-2009 16:49:45 | More by Vav
Photo of mszuch


2.75/5  rDev -28.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 2 | food: 3 | $$

Located close to hotel, and was first World Series game, so looked for a fun place to watch. Found it easily, and once upstairs, it was warm and open, maybe 20 people watching the game, but other than that it was quiet.
Service was there, nothing to write home about, looked more like they wanted to go home or chat in the kitchen than be there.
Looked at the beer menu on wall, and ordered, and were told that only items on beer menu on bar we available. I asked about the menu on wall, and was told nope.

Strike 1

Menu full of session style, english style beers. Was really looking for something hoppy and bartender mentioned the hoppy beer on the wall. what? I thought you just said not available?

Strike 2

Good, west coast style hop bomb. Erase Strike 2!
keg ran out after 2 glasses!!!!

Strike 2 again!

Order some wings and pomme frites. Neither stood out, although the pomme frite dipping sauce was exceptional!

Tried a couple of other of their standard beers and watched the Phillies win.

Even a phillies win couldnt save this place in my mind. Come to findout the Oyster House downstairs has a better selection on tap and in bottles.
Oh well, Strike 3 - sorry people, but will stick with downstairs restaurant.

11-10-2009 00:58:08 | More by mszuch
Photo of corby112


4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$

Nice brewpub in Center City that's just above the Sansom Street Oyster House.

The atmosphere is kind of strange here. The decor is nice with lots of wood and dark lighting. The bar area is nice but as soon as you walk up the steps there is a really lame glass case with a collection of bobbleheads. I know it fits in with the name of the place but it just seems kind of corny. The brewing equipment is visible near the bar which is always a plus. I hate when brewpubs hide their equipment tucked away in the back of the establishment or completely out of sight. It gives the place a brewpub feel but also has an element up upscale casual.

The food and service are both very good here. It's a little higher end than your average gastropub but the prices are reasonable. They have the traditional pub food, burgers, sandwiches, etc but they also focus on cajun NO style fare. The have a nice selection of entrees including some amazing ribs and a really good jambalaya. I've been multiple times and the service is always friendly and attentive and they are usually knowledgeable about the beers being offered.

On to the beer! The have a good selection of their own quality beers that are brewed on site. I'm not sure about a bottle list but the have about 8-10 draft with a goos selection of styles. They brew a great Grog, Sledwrecker(winter ale) and Hoptimus Prime(triple IPA) among others. All are very good. The only thing that hurts there selection is their lack of guest taps.

Overall this is a solid brewpub in Philly. I wish more brewpubs would open here and use this place as a model. Recommended.

10-16-2009 19:25:53 | More by corby112
Photo of donniecuffs

New Jersey

3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$

The atmosphere was great; laid-back patrons, who seemed to appreciate good beer. My wife loved it because it "was dark...and romantic". As for me, I liked the lowlight setting, as I believe it soothed the patrons into speaking more softly. Having a normal volume conversation in this place is not a challenge.

The quality disappointed me somewhat. I've read about all of the past awards, and cool events (Royal Stumble, et al), and it really had me licking my chops to get to this place, so I was a little surprised that of the seven beers I sampled, less than half of them I would consider ordering again. This included the BPA cask ale (A+), Berliner Weisse (A-), and the Grog brown ale (B+). The selection was above average, if only for the reason that they actually had a Berliner Weisse on the menu. I wish more breweries would give this style a shot.

The service was very friendly and attentive, but nothing to make me say 'exceptional', while the food was near exceptional. For dinner, I decided to ask the server what the popular entrees were, and decided to go with the French dip with melted cheese, since I was in fact visiting the cheesesteak capital of the country. Let's just say that I wasn't disappointed.

I would certainly like to go back to this establishment to see what it's like during one of their popular events, as it seems to attract a good crowd.

09-08-2009 05:06:32 | More by donniecuffs
Photo of champ103


3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$

I have fond memories of this place. When I was in college, I visited Philly because of a GSA meeting (Geological Society of America). The meeting was at the convention center, and within walking distance of it. There was also the Independence Brewpub attached to the convention center, but I just read that place is closed.

Anyway, my college buddies and I found this place by accident. We were part of a huge pub crawl associated with the meeting. A bar we were suppose to go to would not let anybody in because of the shear numbers. My buddies and I then saw the sign for Nodding Head and quickly ran in. We climbed the stairs, and grabbed some seats at the very small bar. I really enjoyed all the beers I tasted. Grog, the chocolate stout, and the California Common were all very good. The quality was good. All fresh beer. The atmosphere can't be beat. Dim lighting, and wood all around. I was not all that impressed with the service. Pretty slow considering we were the only three people at the bar. It was hard to get his attention when we needed anything. Anyway, overall I enjoyed this place much better than the pub crawl, and visited this place several times while I was in town. A place I would recommend.

08-31-2009 22:05:15 | More by champ103
Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA
87 out of 100 based on 133 ratings.