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Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant

Not Rated.
Nodding Head Brewery and RestaurantNodding Head Brewery and Restaurant
Based on:
38 Beers
452 Ratings
Place Score: 87
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 

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(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 159 | Reviews: 119 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kb199
4.8/5  rDev +25.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Being a recent transplant from Philly to the west coast, I am sorely missing the convivial atmosphere and "phabulous" beer selection at Nodding Head. I came back here over the Christmas holidays, and was quickly taken on a long trip down memory lane.

Anyway, to the review; the beers here in winter are not my favorite (I tend to the Monkey Knife Fight), but the 700 level was impressive as always, along with the 60 shilling. The burgers are incredible, as always (I suspect that they come from the same place Monk's gets theirs), and the waiters were as knowledgeable and friendly as always. Overall, a great dining and beer experience that I would recommend to anyone.

Photo of Cylinsier
4.75/5  rDev +24%

Checked this place out on a recent visit to Philly, very knowledgeable staff eager to talk about beer! This combined with the interesting rotating offerings on draught made it a worthwhile visit. I didn't have a chance to try the food on this visit but will next time. Definitely worth dropping by this place if you are in the area, you won't regret it.

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 tgbljb
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Visited the establishment early on a Sunday afternoon for brunch. The restauarnt was almost empty and we were promptly seated. Our menus were delivered and our drink orders taken. The selection odf food was not extensive, but my wife and I easily found something to eat. I had the baked brie and she had an omelet. The meals were served at the proper temperature within an acceptable period of time. The food was delicious and the protions were perfect (Enough to satisfy our hunger without feeling stuffed). It was a great dining experince. I will visit again.

Photo of Jame515
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%

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 JCicero08
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%

Photo of zoso1967
4.47/5  rDev +16.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

A - very old and worn in bar that us up a narrow and steep flight of stairs. There is a decent sized bar and a nice amount of tables in a space that is not huge, but not clostraphobic either. It strikes me as being a little divey, but at the same time very comfy and enjoyable.

Q - They really brew great beers here. All very well balanced and seemed to have a lot of creativity and care put into their creation. I rarely come in here and am completely blown away by a beer, but they are consistently good across the board and to me that is more important. I think that this pub does a great job of straddling the line between polished and raw.

S - Wait staff is always very nice and attentive. We showed up a little bit before they opened on our first visit (oops) but they still sat us and served us drinks until the kitchen was open. Also to be noted, most employees are very funny and quirky, just like the overall ambiance of the pub.

SL - I LOVE the fact that they have so many session beers. Big beers are slowly taking over the world and while I love double IPA and american strong ales, it is refreshing to have so many session beers available. They do tend to load up on pale ales but every one is different and it is nice to be able to throw a few back and not worry about tumbling down the stairs when you leave.

F - Great pub food at a reasonable price for the area. Specials are always great and the types of food served pair well with the house beers. I find their frites to be tastier than Monk's.

$ - I am always shocked at how small our check is when I go here. It is especially in stark contrast to Monk's where I usually have less beer and food and and up paying much more.

Overall I cannot recommend this place highly enough. Best Brewpub in Philly hands down and a great place to have a fun time with good friends over good beer. I think a lot of people think of it as a place to visit since they are in the area for Monk's but to me it is a destination all its own.

Photo of far333
4.45/5  rDev +16.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Stopped in for lunch and a few pints while visiting the city of brotherly love for a long weekend. Upstairs location, stairs open up to a large bar area with bar on one side and booths and tables across from it. Takes its name from the vast bobblehead collection in a glass case at the top of the stairs. Additional dining areas behind the bar. Fairly open space, comfy seating, large and airy. Brewing tanks could be seen behind glass in an area across from the top of the stairs. Also could see a grain milling area toward the back corner of the dining area.

Service was excellent and very attentive. Food was cooked perfectly, came in large portions and was very tasty and satisfying.

Had about 6 beers on tap. Tried the BPA pale ale and the cask porter, and both were excellent beers. These guys make good use of a small brewing area and apparently limited capacity (T-shirts read "taking over the world 7 barrels at a time").

Great place, highly recommended.

Photo of BeerDetective
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I like this place a lot, the bartenders have gotten to know me over the years that I have been coming, and I love the 60 Schilling and the All Night Ale, which is as close to Brains Dark as I can find in the states. The atmosphere is a little close, and it is not very big and can get crowded at times which will slow up service, but it is worth the wait if they have the Oatmeal Stout on cask. The food is slightly above average for most places in Philly, and the brunch on Sundays with the live jazz trio is unique to any brewpub I have been too.

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

The one thing that comes to mind when thinking of Nodding Head is comfortable. to me this is a comfortable place to visit. I prefer west coast beer styles but the DBL IPA ant the 60 Schilling will keep me happy. To me the food is many notches above pub fare and the servers are very happy to discuss the menu items or the different beers with great knowledge. A bit of Nodding Head trivia, as this is a second floor location and a busy place at that all of the food and beer related stuff and then trash has to be carried up and down the stairs by hand, wow, thats a lot of work.

Remember; If you are a first time visitor, find the oyster house and next to it is a stairway, this will lead to Nodding Head, enjoy!!

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 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 Nipitato
4.36/5  rDev +13.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Was in Philly for a professional conference and one of the after conference events was being held here.

Nodding Head is a short cab ride from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, though I am sure it is walkable as well. We were located on the second floor. Not surprisingly the place has a pretty kick ass collection of nodding head figures. The place had a nice dark, woody, old feel to it - much like the city. The bar upstairs was an old wood carved number very cool.

Quality and service were both good. The bartenders kept the beers flowing. I had the Monkey Knife Fight, Grog, and Boho Pils. All were fresh and tasty.

Selection was ok I had the aforementioned beers but was let down when the bartender informed me that they didn't have anything on cask.

The food I had was catered buffet stuff. I can't really comment because I didn't eat much and what I did had been sitting for some time.

My overall impression is that Philadelphia is a better place with a Nodding Head Brewery. Would love the chance to go back.

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 PittBeerGirl
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

My impression of this place is that it is rather small and up a flight of stairs on the 2nd floor of a building on an alley-like street near the Ritz. The cool thing about it is the display of bobble head dolls.

As for the beer- my personal tastes were pretty spoiled. 6 beers on tap including- a saison, a berliner, AND A RYE IPA with BELGIAN YEAST. Score!

We sat at the bar-and the bartender was very helpful and knowledgeable about beer. He gave some good reccomendations for other places to go around Philly for an out of towner like me.

The Food- a very unique menu with some vegetarian options and other burger type stuff. But really, I had the best chicken fingers of my life there.

Overall- I think this place really gets easily overlooked

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.31/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Well after we went to monk's we decided hey nodding head is right up the street. We walked up the step's to a wide open space.( Now if Monk's had this much space I would have been in heaven) The bar is to your back left,ladies room to the right down the hallway,men's bathroom to the right down the hallway were it lead to the kitchen along the journey to the men's room there is see through glass of all the tanks and equipment. We sat at the end of the boor toward's the window's. My cousin and I had a sampler. We noticed the alcohol content was low but with that low ABV the gave you a seven oz glass sampler. Which can be a bit much. A very solid lineup of brew's indeed.We played a couple song's grabbed a pint glass and headed home.

Photo of joeebbs
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Went here yesterday (5/19/09) at around 4 pm for "lunch". There was a small jazz ensemble playing which I beliVery nice beer selection with all brewed-on-premises beers. I started off with the Grog which was in the cask. Very tasty beer. Looked over the food menu and there were lots of nice looking dishes to be had. Plenty that I wanted to choose from which is nice for a repeat trip. After the Grog I had the Monkey Knife Fight which has a Ginger and Lemongrass flavor. This was a surprisingly good beer that would go perfect with some sushi. The bartender was very knowledgeable and defintely knew his stuff.

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

The restaurant sits atop a flight of narrow, steep stairs that I would hate to walk down after a long night with their delicious beers. The place has real character. It's dark, it's old, the tables have been gouged by patrons over the years and its even a bit smoky (which I'm not sure is legal!) The bathrooms only hold one at a time, there are few "bar" qualities, and yet its somewhere I would want to spend many nights should I be lucky enough to live nearby.

The baked brie with mango chutney is simply one of the best two or three items of food I have ever put in my mouth. It's creamy, its offset by the sweetness of the chutney, and served with warm, freshly baked pita wedges. I could eat this every day of my life and never be sick of it. The mufaletta sandwich is very tasty, although slightly overpowered by the herbal pesto generously applied to the fresh bread. Combined with the roasted red peppers and sun dried tomatos, and it is difficult to pick up the ham and pepperoni inside. My friend's jerk chicken was likewise lost amongst other flavors and it tasted little more than chicken. The fries were crispy and very, very, very delicious.

Be careful if you come here alone and order a sampler. You will be greeted by seven or eight glasses filled with at least six ounces of liquid. But they are very, very well done. The oatmeal stout was especially good, and the "Grog" was an excellent English-styled nut brown. But the true star was the BPA, a British Pale Ale, that was somehow not hoppy up front but explosively floral and intricate and hop taste throughout the experience. Plus it went perfectly with the brie!

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 EStreet20
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Stopped in for a couple beers during a recent Philly trip. Didn't eat as I had just had a HUGE dinner, but grabbed a few pints at the bar.

A - Pretty cool place. Digital jukebox that's not cranked up too loud. Nice crowd hanin out enjoying themselves. The "Nodding Head" logo cracks me up along with all the bobble heads.

Q - Well made brews on tap. Had the BPA "Bill Payor Ale" on tap and the chocolate stout on cask. Both were nice, BPA is basically an West Coast style pale and chocolate stout is self-explanatory. Tried a sip of my girlfriend's 60 Shilling Scottish Ale, a nice smooth malty brew.

Ser - Very good. Attentive bartender who was friendly and talked beer. When a patron who found herself in unfamiliart territory asked for Beer "XXXX Light", the bartender politely explained that they did not sell mass-produced beers but made some recommendations and allowed some samples.

Sel - Good overall. Was surprised that they had three higher ABV brews at once. The bertender explaiend that in prep for Philly Craft Beer Week they were putting a lot of their higher ABV brews on tap along with some rarer creating to showcase them.

Didn't try the food but would like to in the near future.

Overall a pretty cool place, as is most of Philly when it comes to grabbing a few beers.

Photo of Vav
4.25/5  rDev +11%
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.

Photo of paddyos
4.25/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I have been here many times without reviewing. The fact that I keep going back should say something alone.
Up a flight of stairs and staring at a glass case filled with all sorts of bobble heads. Tables and booths to the right and the bar to the left and forward. The front area has 2 dart boards, juke box and golden tee? More tables and booths in the room directly behind the bar and the beer tanks and bathrooms are to the right if you're facing the bar.
The food here is great - french dip, jambalaya, burgers...a step or two up from normal pub fare and I've yet to be disappointed or left hungry.
There are usually 7 or 8 beers on tap...I'm not really blown away by the beers, but again never disappointed and never thirsty.

Photo of ffejherb
4.25/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 5

My wife and I visited Nodding Head well over a year ago during a trip to Philly (before I was reviewing for BA), and we had both really enjoyed our visit. Yesterday, we were bored, so we decided to head down to Philly for the evening. Our evening began with a visit to Nodding Head.

I really like the atmosphere of this place. It reminds me of a cross between a 1920's hotel lobby and an old train station. Very unique, old-world vibe with plenty of seating (booths, high bar tables, an awesome antique wooden bar, tables). Decor almost has an old Victorian feel, with tin wall tiles, old wallpaper, and high ceilings. Aside from the decor, they also have a huge display case filled with bobblehead dolls that featured everyone from sports icons to TV and movie stars to musicians.

Our server was extremely friendly and knowledgeable (I think it was the same woman we had a year ago), and our dinner was delivered very quickly, even though they were fairly busy. The food here is excellent! We shared the spicy hummus platter and also a cheese and sausage plate. Both were fantastic, and they have the best hummus EVER! Food is reasonably priced, but their brews are a tad pricey ($4.50 to $5.50 for a pint). However, all of our beers were extremely fresh and tasty.

As for the selection, they only had six house brews on tap during our visit. However, all were very different stylistically, so that was nice. The had the following brews on tap: O-Tay (organic buckwheat ale); 60 Shilling (Scottish ale); All Night Ale (British-style dark mild); BPA (pale ale); 700 Level (blonde ale); and Grog (English-style brown ale). I had the BPA and O-Tay, and both were well above average.

Overall, this place is a true gem in downtown Philly. Great food, brews and service paired with a very cool vibe and tons of space. Place was fairly busy for a Saturday night, but we were seated immediately, and our food came out promptly. This will definitely be a must-hit every time we visit Philly.

Photo of kneary13
4.25/5  rDev +11%

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