1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant

Not Rated.
Nodding Head Brewery and RestaurantNodding Head Brewery and Restaurant
Based on:
35 Beers
451 Ratings
Place Score: 86
Ratings: 160
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

No notes at this time.
Place: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 160 | Reviews: 119
Photo of slander
4/5  rDev +4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I was feeling great discombobulatableishness. What, what? Up them stairs? What goes there? What what what?!?! Hey, what's this, what's this?
The staircase to the 2nd floor dumps you out in front of a large display case of all sorts of bobbing head dolls, from a New York Yankee to the Fat Heads guy. The rest of the room is couches along one wall with pictures of people angels, some nicely inked, over them, a doctor's office scale, there's a few dart boards, that golf video game, the bar, some bar tables, and some tables to the rear on one side. On the other is a hallway with brewing vessels behind a glass wall. They've also got a side dining room with about 20 tables with what look like church pew benches. It's surprisingly comfortable here.
We came here after lunch a few hours before the Friday the Firkinteenth event. They had a handful of beers on. The 3C IPA was outstanding (Cascade, Chinook, Centenial hops), it was crazily sweet, very fresh, just great. The Downtown Brown was also nicely hoppy, the 60 Shilling is a pleasant Scottish amber and the Table beer is an unfiltered slightly spicy Belgian. Didn't get to try the Grog, an English style Brown Ale but hopefully next time.
Liked the place enough to head back here a dozen hours later, in the wee hours after the Firkins had long kicked.

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

Who would have thought Center City Philadelphia had a brewery? On a second floor of a nondescript building on a nondescript stretch of Sansom Street? Well, here it is.

Go up the (steep) stairs and, voila, welcome to Nodding Head. Brewery tanks and a bar to the left, tables galore to the right and silly bubbleheads and other toys right in front of you by the hostess station.

The wife and I first sat at a high-top table but quickly realized the place was jammed and understaffed so we switched to the bar. They had six house beers on tap during our visit: Summer Nights Sour Brown, George’s Fault Belgian Ale, Goldihops, Black Party Rye Pale ale and a cask stout (plus Allagash White just because)

The food menu is classic bar grub. For some reason I thought they had pizza here but I was mistaken- it was Dock Street that does it. Mac and cheese, wings, rings, quesadillas… you name it. The hummus was great, though!

Service at the bar was fine, but as I said the rest of the place was understaffed. Would I go back? I’m not in a hurry, but maybe once or twice to check out new beers.

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 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 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 Gavage
3.46/5  rDev -9.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

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.

Photo of GJ40
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

I visit the Noddinghead regularly whenever I'm in town on business. It's got a nice, comfortable pub style atmosphere. The collection of bobbleheads is pretty impressive. They've also got dart boards and TVs for entertainment.

My enjoyment for any given visit really comes down to the beer selection. I seem to hit them often when there's no IPA on tap. When that's the case, it's usually a quick stop. Most of their regular beers favor malt over hops. But on this last visit, I hit the jackpot... their Wet Chinook Double IPA. This beer was as good as I've had in a long time. The hop filled aroma and flavor was just perfect. It's truly a hop heads dream.

We always sit at the bar and the bartenders are typically outgoing and very helpful. I've never eaten there so I can't comment on the food.

Noddinghead is a definite stop on any Philly pub crawl. Check it out.

Photo of Rifugium
2.4/5  rDev -37.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 2 | food: 2.5

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.

Photo of InspectorBob
4/5  rDev +4.4%

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

In the city to take the family to the Franklin Institute's Star Wars exhibit and Nodding Head is the only brewpub in the area (about a mile away).

Atmosphere: The entrance is a stenciled door leading upstairs. We missed it and were seated at the Sansom St. Oyster House (I think that is the name). Took us a few minutes to realize it before we hightailed it to the proper entrance. The second floor is quaint, with bobbleheads galore adorning the area. The brewing equipment sits to the left at the top of the stairs, along with a bar and two separate seating areas. Nice pub feel.

Quality: I am very impressed. Gordon has hard at work brewing Spring ale but still took a few minutes to chat (I think that he was under the mistaken impression that I owed the General Sutter, long story). Service was friendly, beers were great.

Service: Our waiter was prompt and around often, ensuring pints stayed full. He made excellent meal recommendations and was friendly with our boys.

Selection: Six beers on tap. A little low but quality trumps quantity. All told, the table had all six. I personally went with BPA, Oatmeal Stout and 3C. Each was enjoyable and I wouldn't hesitate to get any again.

Food: I had the Rasta Man special, a chicken sandwich with plantains. Very good! The pairing of the spicy jerk chicken and 3C was quite nice.

Nodding Head was often an afterthought for me but that is no longer the case. Having had five of their beers over the past two days, I am very impressed with what is coming out of that small brewpub.

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 RblWthACoz
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

First impressions mean something. Walking up the stairs, I knew this was going to have a good interesting factor to it. A bit gritty and unpolished. This is the type of place that is less concerned with asthetics. You've gotta love the bobbing head dolls. I am giving a 4.5 on selection because of the unique beers they are pouring here. They tend to tackle styles that a lot of people rarely get into. Not the usual suspects you'd find in a brewpub. Good service. (Brendan is an asset to the place) Real people. Whenever I am in Philly, I hit up Nodding Head. The only downfall to the place is that a sampler of 6 beers is $13.20?! Seems a weee bit much.

Photo of BillRoth
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of blackie
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
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

Photo of seanchai
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of jmdrpi
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4

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.

Photo of Slatetank
3.84/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

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

Visiting Philadelphia on a recent trip to see King Tut (Don't Call Me Boy King), I stopped here for a few brews. As the other BAs have noted, NHB sits above the Sansom Street Oyster House; in fact, this location used to be home to the Sam Adams Brewhouse - I guess Sam is associated with Boston rather than Philadelphia. Anyway, you climb a worn staircase and find yourself in the middle of a narrowish room: to the right, a dining area; on the left is a small, rather ornate wooden bar with unusual stained glass decorations looking over the tipplers. There is a large case of bobble-head dolls, to the left, through a doorway is another space. The brewery is off to the side. You pass it on the way to the very small bathroom - very small.

During my visit (March 2007) NHB offered 7 draughts: "Doc' Blonde Ale, BPA (Bill's Pale Ale), Boho Pils, "Gordo" Oatmeal Stout and a very malty Scottish Ale, the latter being on cask. [Update - 9/1/07 Current taps: Gordo's Oatmeal Stout, Berliner Weisse, Fat Boy Porter, Monkey Knife Fight, Prudence Pale Ale and Brewer's Gold Double IPA.]

I enjoyed this place; the many locals seemed to be enjoying themselves. Stayed long enough for some lunch - then off to McGillin's. (See Review)

Photo of orangesol
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75

I have stopped in here a bunch of times now, figured it was time to write up a review. Heading up the stairs you are not really sure what you are going to find but it is much larger than it appears. Small bar with tons of tables and booths all over the room. I have been here when I am the only person in the place and also when it has been packed with people for a PBW event. Service has been all over the place on my visits. When they aren't busy it is quite good but on my recent visit we had to wait over a half hour for service, twice. I still haven't eaten here but I have heard some good things, maybe next time. Quality always seemed to be pretty good. Selection has been pretty good on my visits, I usually just order the Berliner as it is one of the best around. Prices are on par with all of the other places in the area. Overall a nice brewpub in the heart of the city.

Photo of corby112
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

Photo of champ103
3.79/5  rDev -1%
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.

Photo of msubulldog25
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Visited for about an hour; lunchtime 9/13/10

Following a morning spent cramming as many historical sites as possible into about three hours, I'd worked up a mighty good thirst. A few rail stops westward on Market whisked me a couple centuries through time.

After a Sunday dinner at Eulogy to quietly celebrate a friend's life cut short, Nodding Head was my second 'must' stop - a place Russ wanted to take me whenever I made it to Philly. Easy enough to find, it's midblock along a fairly scruffy stretch of Sansom Street, a floor above a pretty nice looking oyster bar. Passage is through a barely marked red door and up a slightly leaning flight of creaky, musty-smelling stairs. A wide-open room ends the ascent, daylit through bay windows and skylights. The place has an old-timey 'parlor' or 'saloon' feel: worn wood and upholstery, faded fabric-patterned walls, copper-wrapped columns, adorned with quirky caricatures and hung beer trays. I grabbed a stool at a breezy windowside table, the one in the photo above just left of the blue placard.

Did I mention bobbleheads? Yeah, there's a kajillion of 'em in a couple huge cases...all those creepy little faces staring me and the handful of other patrons down as we sipped and noshed. It took a while, but the 'aha' moment came when I realized 'Nodding Head' may not refer to an inebriated sleepiness nor a moment of reverence, but rather to the scads of annoying head-nodding figurines...maybe?

Service was quick, menus/beers brought by friendly Kate (continuing the 'who does my server look like?' game: Carrie-Anne Moss?). Parched, I knew right away to start with a refreshing (Ich bin ein) Berlinerweiss, served mit Schuss (grün). Tasty, and a good version of the style. I passed on the urge to eat, knowing I had a destination ahead that I couldn't fill up before. I read the paper and surfed a bit, gradually finishing my first before requesting another (a pint of the seasonal 'Festbier'). Others not sampled: Biere de Garde, 3C, 700 Level, Goldihops, Lead Pipe. 7 choices - not an amazing selection, but a pretty good range of styles. My tab was a reasonable $11, including that pesky 10% liquor tax.

Before leaving, I wandered back further, exploring the smaller side dining rooms, marveling at how the brewing equipment couldn't be contained in its glass enclosure, but spilled out awkwardly into the rear of one room. I also was taken aback by the lone restroom I found; a mere broom closet of a space with undersized fixtures that still barely fit. Let the portly be damned, not to mention the disabled.

Sleepy on a lazy Monday, I'm sure more raucous in the evenings or on weekends. A likable enough stop, but not a 'must' for my next trip. Still, I'm glad I went and had another chance to toast a friend...this time with a nuclear green goo-filled brew.

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.

Photo of mltobin
4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

A short walk up a flight of stairs will lead you to the Nodding Head. Right away, you a greeted by a glass case, filled with bobble heads. The space is fairly big and would work well if you are going with a larger group. All the beer served here is their own and it is good. From the Grog, an English style brown ale to an IPA or even a Berliner Weisse, they have quite a few styles covered. Food looked good and was moderately priced. The staff was friendly and helpful. Helped out with directions of the local area for us visitors. We would certainly stop by again.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA
86 out of 100 based on 160 ratings.