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Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant

Not Rated.
Nodding Head Brewery and RestaurantNodding Head Brewery and Restaurant
very good

159 Ratings
Ratings: 159
Reviews: 119
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.49%
Active Beers: 38
Beer Ratings: 450
Beer Avg: 3.76
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
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 beernut7
2.31/5  rDev -39.7%

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.

beernut7, May 01, 2006
Photo of Rifugium
2.4/5  rDev -37.3%

In my opinion, this is one of the most overrated places in the city of Philadelphia. It's nice to have a microbrewery/brewpub IN the city itself, but my business is definitely best taken elsewhere.

The atmosphere is actually nice in their defense. A nice 2nd floor layout with a quasi-British pub feel to it. A very small bar that seats maybe 10 people, but plenty of tables, a dining room, and a standing area. The service has always been pretty accommodating...not much more to say there. As for the beer...a lot of people praise Nodding Head beer. I am not one of them. I haven't had all they have to offer admittedly, but those that I have had, have not inspired me to come back for more. They generally keep a modest draught selection, maybe 6 or 7 brews on tap at a time. But the most appealing beers from the list, were very tame and flavorless. I speak of the Grog (a brown ale) and the 60 Shilling (a faux Scottish ale)...both the only seemingly appealing choices to me, the others being light beers, blonde ales and the like. The food menu is very limited and unimpressive.

In short, Nodding Head tries, but fails. They have a reputation, but not in my book. And with so many great pubs in the area, and even within walking distance, there's really no point in going here.

Rifugium, May 22, 2011
Photo of blitheringidiot
2.6/5  rDev -32.1%

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.

blitheringidiot, Jul 08, 2004
Photo of krukster
2.7/5  rDev -29.5%

Went here on 8/9 during my latest trip to Philly. This place is average at best, and i wasn't all that impressed with their beers. They had a sour wheat beer which was very blah, bu their porter did seem to be pretty good. Service was fine in regards to getting a beer, but some of the waitresses were doing shots and drinking on the job. Seemed pretty unprofessional, and the place itself did not impress me.
There are a ton of other breweries / brew pubs/ bars in Philly worth seeing over this place. Not the worst, but probably would not stop here again.

krukster, Aug 10, 2014
Photo of mszuch
2.75/5  rDev -28.2%

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.

mszuch, Nov 10, 2009
Photo of PotlandOR
2.75/5  rDev -28.2%

Sorry i had to see this place on it's way out. Fun space.

PotlandOR, Oct 28, 2014
Photo of jbphoto88
2.8/5  rDev -26.9%

Kind of a dingy place with not great beer and equally not great food. They had some ok choices but I felt the selection was limited and all the beer tasted like homebrew and unfortunately not the good kind.

The food falls into the same boat. A decent selection of menu items but it all tasted too salty and kind of boring. The service and the humus was the best part. Our server was very attentive but not very knowledgeable about the beer. Maybe a better informed server could have steered us in a better direction for food and suds.

Worth checking out if your stuck in the rain and need a place to hunker down. Other then that I woud pass on this one. The price is right but better joints are just around the corner.

jbphoto88, Aug 20, 2010
Photo of elmocoso
2.83/5  rDev -26.1%

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.

elmocoso, May 10, 2006
Photo of bpfishback
2.88/5  rDev -24.8%

Stopped in during happy hour for some beers and appetizers.

The decor is nice and inviting, nodding head has a fairly open layout which makes it seem nice and spacious. The small bar was full so we ended up at a table.

The happy hour prices were decent with two beers and some apps at happy hour prices.

The beer selection was a little disappointing, they had six beers with one served on cask. Only tried two of the beers but the list in general was pretty uninteresting, the beers were different but not that enticing. The beers we had were good to ok. Their berliner wiess was ok but was not nearly as tart as I expected it to be.

The happy hour food items were good, but the mussels we ordered were completely overcooked.

Service was fine, relatively quick and friendly.

I'm not sure if i would return in the future to give it a second chance.

bpfishback, Jul 09, 2011
Photo of Abita45
2.98/5  rDev -22.2%

I ended up at the Nodding Head after a friend and I decided that we didn't want to wait thirty minutes for a table at Monk's Cafe.

I've been to Nodding Head in the past and found it decent, but as a local brewpub, I'm inclined to give it extra opportunities.I ordered the Berliner Weisse and my friend ordered the Monkey Knife Fight.

When my beer arrived, we both laughed out loud. The beer was green, which I didn't expect. When I ordered, I had anticipated some sweetness due to the added syrup, however, I imagined it would have been slightly more subtle. This beer tasted like a carbonated appletini with a hint of beer. It was terrible. I would like to taste the beer without the syrup additive, especially on a humid evening like tonight. That they felt compelled to pump up the beer with sour apple or whatever it was, makes me wonder how good the foundation is. Similarly, my friend was unimpressed with the Monkey Knife Fight which was also overly sweet, overpowering the beer.

I audibled into their American Pale Ale, but not before requesting a sample. The APA was solid. We had the waitress clear the other beers.

When I expressed to the waitress that the Berliner Weisse was considerably sweeter than expected and that I didn't like it, I was met with an eyeroll...granted, the phrase "this may be the worst beer I've ever had" might have escaped me, but I was pretty thrown by this green concoction and was not trying to be malicious.

I had a very good pulled barbeque pork sandwich, my friend ordered a burger at medium, it arrived well done.

Pretty much a disappointing night, but their wait staff was excellent, and understanding that I didn't like my beer. They did not charge us for them, which was a nice gesture.

They care about their beer, and even though I didn't like my first choice, I can respect what they're doing as a brewery.

Full Disclosure: a Nodding Head rep emailed me after I posted my mostly negative review of their Berliner. He addressed some the negative aspects of my review and offered up some additional information on the style. I appreciate that NH is willing to take the time to contact a customer about their experiences with them. They seem to genuinely care about their customers' opinions, and because of that, I'm sure I'll find my way into NH some time in the future.

Abita45, Jul 13, 2006
Photo of scfatallis
3/5  rDev -21.7%

scfatallis, Dec 19, 2013
Photo of StoutHearted
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%

I've had a good time at this bar, and I've had a bad time... but I will try to be fair to this place.

The very good: They brew some fantastic beer here. Their Berliner Weisse is something that must be tried. Also very enjoyable is their All Night Ale and their Grog. Their selection covers a lot of different styles, with some very creative names, like their "Vibrator."

The very bad: The service of their waitstaff. I can't drag the bartenders into this because a bartender who waited on me in on a busy night did so without crankiness. But when I went there for lunch on a day when it was not crowded, I was treated very poorly. Basically got a "F you" attitude from the waitress when I mentioned that a bowl of mussels brought out didn't have half the shells opened.

Everything else: The atmophere is comfortable even when the place is packed. The old carved bar stands out among the shiny wood, though. Place attracts mostly a young, polite crowd. The bobblehead collection is an interesting touch.

I wouldn't pick this place to eat over its sister bar Monks' (at least at Monks you expect pretentious service), but it's well worth stumbling upon when you just want to belly up to the bar for an interesting brew.

StoutHearted, Mar 18, 2008
Photo of Navysqurl
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%

Navysqurl, Aug 20, 2014
Photo of ecoboy
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%

I noted another review for this place that labelled it "bizarre." I label it "offbeat."

Arrived fifteen minutes before the trivia contest started, with a young Irish-American hollering questions to tables full of folks clutching paper and scribbling. So much for the jukebox; the bartender was playing some real old-school punk on the CD player behind the bar during the question breaks. Everybody ignored the football game on the TV. The cigarette smoke was chokingly thick.

Sat in a window table setting and had to order from the bar at first. The Grog brown was decent, but not outstanding. The food servers were either swamped or overtired. It took forever to get the food order in.

The food got out of the kitchen promptly though, and the hot wings were all they werre advertised: super spicy with lots of nuances beyond being just "hot."

There's lots of brewpubs in SE Penn. I'd suggest this one especially for my ClashBlackFlagReverendHortonHeatMinistry friends. Others might be put off.

ecoboy, Jun 19, 2003
Photo of JKWBMH
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%

JKWBMH, Feb 22, 2014
Photo of DrJay
3.28/5  rDev -14.4%

We stopped in for dinner during our first beer trip to Philly. The dining area on Saturday around 6pm was quite full (and not very large compared to the bar area), but the bar wasn't very busy so it wasn't very smokey during our visit. Not a bad location or space, but there wasn't much to set it apart from any other bar/restaurant. Six beers were available: 60 Shilling, BPA, Berliner Weisse, Grog, Monkey Knife Fight, and Hoptimus Prime. The three I tried were decent for the most part, but not exceptional. My wife and I agreed that the food was good (I tried the rack of lamb) and the portion sizes were quite generous. I didn't mind my visit, but I'm not in a hurry to go back. There are more places for me to try in Philly and Nodding Head didn't quite make it to the "must visit" level for me. A decent stop though if you're in the area.

DrJay, Jul 12, 2006
Photo of edskirk3
3.29/5  rDev -14.1%

Had a few here yesterday.

I didn't try any food, but the two beers I tried (All Night Ale and 60 Shilling) were quite delicious. Friendly staff, fair pricing, and an overall welcoming atmosphere.

Decor dominated by brick walls and bobbleheads. Plenty of big screen TVs. Small bar but a lot of tables and booths. The brewery part of the establishment is sectioned off by glass and is visible to the public.

From what I saw there seemed to be 4 or 5 beers on tap at a time. And at first I asked for a Fat Boy Porter because it was on the draft list but I was told it had run out.

I'd go back. Try more of their beers, see what the food is like, etc.

edskirk3, Oct 01, 2007
Photo of jmdrpi
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%

the pub/restaurante is on the second floor, with a bar on one side, and some wooden booths and couches with tables on the other. the booths may very well be former church pews. one of our group noted, "they've managed to replicate the smell of a British pub".

beer selection was I believe 6 draft selections, with one on cask. Our group was pleased with all of our beers except the 60 Shilling on cask that I had. Seemed like it was past it's prime, a bit stale and flat tasting.

Service was okay, and the food was good. Diverse menu.

jmdrpi, Jul 25, 2011
Photo of Metalmonk
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%

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.

Metalmonk, Apr 05, 2010
Photo of porter17
3.41/5  rDev -11%

First trip to Nodding Head was a decent experience. Walking upstairs was not the way you figure to enter a fine establishment and the place did proove to be a little worn but still, there was a band playing some good jazz (Sunday brunch time). The quality was pretty good, the menu was a notch above your typical pub grub (though I didn't sample any). Average selection, 6 beers, with the 700 Ale, 60 Shilling Ale, Grog, Berliner Weisse, Spring Ale and Whipper Snapper. The Grog, an English brown ale, was best with the Whipper Snapper (their "summer" IPA) not far behind. The rest were decent. I was very impressed with the service, the waitress and bartender were very attentive to my needs--though the fact that the place was lightly populated may have been a factor. Overall, a fair experience, though the lack of availability of the Chocolate Stout was a bit of a letdown. I would go back if in the area but I don't think I would not go out of my way to get there.

porter17, May 26, 2003
Photo of joeyspit
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%

This is my kind of place - dark, dingy and serves good beer. They have one of the best French Dip sandwiches I've ever had. The Grog is one of my favorite beers as well so I try to get here as often as possible.
My only complaint is that unless you're sitting at the bar, service is questionable.
They do get a good crowd in there but it is never overcrowded and uncomfortable. People are friendly as well.
I also like the case full of bobble heads - Nice Touch.

Overall, I really enjoy heading out to Nodding Head and and recommend it to anyone passing through Philly. It is in a good location as well in that it is centrally located to many other good beer bars in town.

joeyspit, Aug 30, 2008
Photo of tigg924
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%

This bar has the feel of going back in time. As was previously mentioned, you need to go up an old wooden stair case to get there. Once up you see wooden floors and you get forties type of atmosphere. This place looks as though it was smoked it, but with none of the smell. There were about seven original beers on tap. Most of which were good, not great. The IPA and scotch ale stood out and they did manage to cover several styles. The food was tasty and moderately priced. I had a crab cake sandwich with fries, my buddies tuna and a burger. We all thought it was like the bar--above average. The waitress I had there seemed to have a bit of an attitude and was not as good as what I am used to. Next time I am in Philly I will most likely head straight for the bar and sample a drink.

tigg924, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of Gavage
3.46/5  rDev -9.7%

Just upstairs from the Sansom Oyster House, there is a large open room fitted with tables, large couches, TVs, dart boards, and a very tiny (seat wise) bar. There is an adjacent room behind the bar with more tables for dinner. The place was packed with college age kids and only a few older adults. They had 6 different style on tap, including a weisse, amber, pale ale, kolsch, brown, and imperial IPA.

I waited a while at the bar to order our drinks as the bartenders seemed to focus on the waiter pours for the tables first. I also hated the large ice bucket sitting on the bar the waitresses dug into to fill drink glasses - very loud and annoying.

We tried three of the styles, including the Imperial IPA, and they were all pretty good. The Imp IPA was a little too over the top, and the Pale and Brown were good.

This place is worth stopping in if you are in the area. This trip was my 4th, and the beers have seemed to slightly improve over the last year.

Gavage, Sep 19, 2003
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%

Stopped by here on a Saturday night with fredandboboflo.

Atmosphere: A pretty chill hangout. It wasn't very crowded for a Saturday night though. They had TVs and a dartboard. The bar was small, but we found seats easily.

Quality: An average brewpub, I didn't really care for any of their beers. It seems like some of the better beers weren't on when I was there, so maybe that was it.

Service: Service was good. No complaints.

Selection: Only 5 beers on tap, so a little lacking (they had a brown ale, pale ale, golden ale, Belgian strong ale, Scottish ale).

Food: N/A

Value: Good pricing. I don't remember exactly, but probably $4-$5.

Overall: A good visit and a nice place to check out if you're visiting, but I don't know if I'd come back again.

LilBeerDoctor, Jan 07, 2009
Photo of stakem
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%

After having visited this establishment a number more times in the past year, I find it necessary to update my review. Evidently my initial review is quite inflated and was an unusually wonderful experience compared to every visit I've had since.

My most recent visit was on 9/17/11. Arrived and there was no seats avaialble for dinner so we put our names on the waiting list and ordered drinks from the bar. 20 minutes later we were seated. It took another 45 minutes just to have our orders taken even though 4 other tables were seated after us and had already ordered and received their food.

The food was fair, appropriately portioned. What seriously pissed me off (other than being ignored by the wait staff) was a disclaimer I read on the bottom of the draft menu. Granted, I am paraphrasing here but it said something to this effect: "We do not offer refunds for our beer. It is quality, hand crafted and made to style. If you don't like our beer, it's not because it is bad, it is your taste." Normally I would think this was a fair statement for people who enter an establishment like this an ask for a BMC offering. However, at the time I was drinking one of their offerings that outright tasted stale with tin-like and metallic off flavors. If you are going to be cocky about the quality of your beer, it should live up to your claim. If it wasn't for how much I like this places Berliner weisse offering, I'd probably never visit again.

Old review: (4.5's across the board)

Visited on 6/13/10 for a Sunday brunch and a brew during the final day of Philly beer week. Enter the building and a short climb up some steps reveals a bar on the left, booth/table seating on the right and a small 3 piece band playing some soft jazzish tunes to the front of the building. Very comforting atmosphere, the air conditioning was almost applauded considering the weather.

Wait staff was prompt, attentive and interesting to talk to about beer and the general happenings in and around the whole Philly beer week, not just their brewery. Beer menu consisted of: 60 shilling, BPA, Golihops, Grog, Suzy, Zephyr and the absolute star of the show for me: Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse. There was also a guest beer left over from a previous dogfish head event - vintage red and white on draft along with a house made cask conditioned oatmeal stout that was infused with coffee (this was pretty much a no brainer to go with brunch but I simply couldn't get over how much I enjoyed the Berliner weisse.)

Fairly respectable menu for a brewpub brunch. I opted for the eggs benedict, my friend got some sort of sausage in a bun hidden beneath a mound of toppings.

Overall it was a good time with good beer, good food and great atmosphere. I intend to return shortly to try more of the beer ad see what the atmosphere is like outside of Sunday brunch.

stakem, Sep 19, 2011
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Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA
87 out of 100 based on 159 ratings.