McGillin's Old Ale House

Not Rated.
McGillin's Old Ale HouseMcGillin's Old Ale House
very good

54 Ratings
Ratings: 54
Reviews: 38
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: n/a
Taps: 36
Bottles: 8
Cask: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1310 Drury Ln
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107-4520
United States
phone: (215) 735-5562

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @mcgillins

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Ratings: 54 | Reviews: 38
Reviews by donniecuffs:
Photo of donniecuffs
3.66/5  rDev -0.8%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

I've seen a whole lotta hoopla about this place over the last few years, so we decided to finally hit it. The first thing that hit me was the smell. I've been in some dives that looked like toilets, but didn't smell like them; this place was the reverse..laid-back decor but a rancid smell that may have originated from the four dumpsters in the nearby alley. As for the patrons, it was a mixture of tourists, local fratboys/sorority girls, and wedding parties from local hotels. Super loud. It didn't exactly make me want to sit down for a session.

Once we got accustomed to the smell, I noticed an above average selection on the chalkboard, including most of the good PA breweries..Troegs, Yards, SlyFox, Stoudts, well as some rarities from outside the box, like Brooklyn Sorachi Ace Ale, but they could've had a little more of the latter. I did notice that they had three of their own beers (contract brewed by Stoudts), which I then proceeded to sample. The Lager and the Ale were average at best, but the 1860 IPA was impressive in that the hop flavor hit you at the finish, and left you with a pleasant aftertaste, as opposed to most modern day examples which overwhelm you at the start and fizzle out at the finish. Well done, McGillan's/Stoudt's.

We didn't have any of the food, but the prices were cheap, and the service was amazingly friendly. I say amazing, because it was impressive, given how crowded the bar was. That alone would make me want to come back to this place.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Sludgeman
3.82/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.25

McGillen’s - Philly
Visited on a Saturday morning. Arrive just before 11am (they had just opened).

Vibe – An old bar, with an old smell. Old concrete, old wood, but a mix of patrons and staff. A classic irish bar. Not what I would call a place where you spend a bunch of time sniffing your beer. 3.75

Sel – A little better than average. Some interesting local brews and the house beers should be considered. But the other beers on the menu were relatively forgettable. 3.25

Ser - It was early and no one was there, nevertheless the service, attention and friendliness of the staff were great! – 4.5

Q – They serve their beers in the small (less than a pint) nonic glasses (-). No cleanliness issues noticed. Temperature seemed fine. – 3.75

Food – N/A

Price - $$

Photo of maseww22
3.96/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3 | food: 4.25

Always a favorite. Great sandwiches with free soup at lunch. Has the best bartender, John Doyle.

Photo of beer-fan-1
4.19/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Had a Lancaster double chocolate milk stout. Nitro beer and it was outstanding. Mild with good initial flavor that does not linger. Will not interfere with or kverpower food choice. To enjoy with eat and drink! Good compliment to RB McGillin's roast beef sandwich.

Photo of tkdchampxi
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%

Beer selection is disappointing, and I feel like it is always too crowded here

Photo of smartassboiler
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

My coworkers and I stopped in while wandering through downtown Philly.

Atmosphere - I really enjoyed the atmosphere. It's a quaint little bar with an old, European vibe, which is exactly what it's going for.

Quality - Nothing to complain about, nothing to get excited about either.

Service - Received a cheerful, helpful waitress who was prompt with everything.

Selection - The Selection was OK. I was pretty happy they had Nugget Nectar on tap, but nothing else they offered at that time really stood out.

Food - did not eat here.

Value - Solid value here - no complaints.

Very cool atmosphere, and if they had a better selection of beer, I would make this a regular visitation. As such, I'd still enjoy coming here again for a beer.

Photo of JRak
2.93/5  rDev -20.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5

Descent beer selection but nothing to write home about. My biggest gripe was I ordered the "Local Beer Sampler" but wasn't told all the beers that were in it. The generic sampler diagram listed 3 of the beers by name but for the others just listed the name of the brewery and in one case just "seasonal selection". I tried to match the beers up to the local draft list but they didn't seem to mesh. Overall rather disapointing.

Photo of johnnnniee
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75

Stopped in here for a couple of beers after a long quest for cheese steak. Wed night around 9 pm down the alley way past the neon sign and the place was packed with 20 somethings singing karaoke. Downstairs is a big open room with lots of wood around the tightly backed bar off on the right side wall. Certainly a college dive bar vibe here, but there's never anything wrong with that. Decent taps maybe 20 deep with a focus on local the reminded my of how VT respects their homegrown. Lots of beer I hadn't heard of and enough the keep me interested. I sat at the bar and had bouts of chit chat with a busy barista. I didn't have any food while I was here but it seemed to skew towards the pub grub variety. Pricing was pretty good and the bar is kind of cool, I'd head back for a pop if I was in town again.

Photo of JerseyKirk
4.38/5  rDev +18.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This is the best bar in Philadelphia. It was established in 1860 and is the longest continuously operating bar in Philly. This is the place to go to see a Phillies, Eagles or Flyers game. They turn on the game's sound and play great music during commercials. Everyone's a sports fan so go early to ensure a table spot.

The food and beer selection are great. This place isn't fancy so expect your typical irish pub fare along with wings and cheesesteaks. I personally like their open face roast beer sandwiches with gravy and mashed potatoes. As for beer this place has a ton. They serve over 15 beers on tap many of them local craft beers. In fact they have their own beer brand which is contract brewed by Stoudt's.

Music and nightlife is good here too but the best time to go is during a sports game. It gets crowded at night but the pitchers of beer are cheap. Great place with tons of character. Good bang for your buck too.

Photo of Rifugium
2.28/5  rDev -38.2%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

A few words about this "reputable" place. It's pretty terrible overall. There is a somewhat decent selection of good beer to be found here. But it's a loud, noisy joint that also serves a lot of macros and otherwise bad beer to obnoxious people who don't appreciate good beer. It's not the kind of place you can go to relax, enjoy a rare brew, and maybe chat about it with your bartender. It's more of a hipster/d-bag joint that incidentally serves some good brews. The food is actually really pretty good, and I'd go back just for the sake of exploring the menu a bit more. But I'd much rather go to Monk's a few blocks away, or pretty much any bar in the general vicinity.

If you think Applebee's is a good restaurant, and/or you're an annoying Philly sports fan, you'll probably think McGillan's is the greatest bar ever.

Not recommended, at least not for any serious beer drinker. Total hipster/d-bag joint / tourist trap / non-beer destination.

Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This place was awesome-went there twice with some old classmates while in Philly over the weekend.

The bar has a very revolutionary feel to it. You know like the countried founding fathers sitting around drinking and writing the constitution. Old wooden floors and dark wood all around. Its two floors of awesome history.

This place has 30some beers on tap. It does have the standard BMC and InBev offerings but it also has a lot of local craft brews from PA as well as 3 beers made just for McGillan's by Stoudts.

If you are looking for somewhere local, and cool where you can share a few local beers with friends-then this is the place. If you are out to find the rarest available in Philly-this is not the place.

I really like this place-the atmosphere is unbeatable and it really does have a good draft list. I'd love to stop here again my next trip to Philly.

Photo of corby112
3.23/5  rDev -12.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2 | food: 4

This place is famous for being one of the oldest bars in the city so it can be slightly touristy but it's still a fun place to hang out with a group of friends. There's something for everyone, even your non-craft drinking friends and the food is very good.

The place is actually pretty big, especially for a bar in that neighborhood. There's an upstairs that I've never been to but the main space is open with lots of seating and a long bar. It can get crowded, especially when there is a karaoke night. Also, the people who go to this night take the singing way to seriously. My friends and I like to get hammered and scream CCR songs, pissing off the douchebags singing Sinatra for the 1,000th time.

Not the best selection but they usually have a few local crafts in addition to Guinness, Murphy's, Stella and BMC. They make up for this with atmosphere and very good food. They make your basic pub fare but everything is of the highest quality. Amazing burgers and possibly the best wings in the city. Definitely in the running.

Photo of CuriousMonk
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

McGillin's Old Ale House is tucked away in an alley and the entrance is in a darkish small street. It's all part of the strange character. The beer selection is good. Two of us got the local beer sampler, which is six samples of local beers. Some of the beers were good, some not so much. It depends on your personal taste. The seasonal sampler is only $8 and it includes six full glasses of beer. It's ideal for sharing between 2 or 3 people. The downsides of this place is that it can get too packed over the weekends and that there aren't those "rare or hard to find" beers. Yet, this is a historical landmark/institution. Everything is quite old and authentic here. They have pictures all over the place especialy if you go up the stairs to the second floor. I had their steak special for like $12.99 and it was quite decent. Good times here!

Photo of stephadelphia
3.63/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Have been here a few times, and enjoyed my experiences. Their beer selection offers something for everyone, and the atmosphere is great - especially on weekends. It's fun to catch a game here, too.

Though the place tends to get busy, the bartenders are always friendly and food comes out pretty quickly. Typical barfare - nothing gourmet, but nothing inedible, either. If you're hungry, you'll be able to find something to chow down on.

McGillin's is what you'd expect of an Irish pub, and gives great life to the little alleyway where it sits. The bar crowd is typically friendly (and a bit rowdy) and if you're celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the city, this place is a MUST to stop in at.

Photo of zoso1967
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

McGillin's holds the distinction of being the oldest continually operating bar in Philly, and they even have the nasty old liquor license to prove it.

The bar is pretty impressive in size given its center city location. It has two floors and can really back in a crowd. I found it sort of hard to review this bar because it is sort of two things at once.

It is at one time your run of the mill sort of fake Irish pub/sports bar with BMC and greasy food. On the other hand, they have a fairly decent selection of craft offerings, including pretty decent house beers that are brewed by Stoudts.

The beer selection is not as good as a place like City Tap House, and the food is not as good as a place like Sidecar, and when it is busy the charming worn in building can get a bit crazy, but I still really dig this place.

The prices tend to be reasonable, and if you are on a budget or with none beer enthusiast friends you can always get some pretty darn cheap pitchers of Yuengling. All in all I think it is a worthwhile place to stop in for a few pints and watch a game with some friends.

Photo of VegasBill
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

I stayed at the Marriott two blocks away so I stopped here three times in my two days in Philly. The previous reviews are spot on, this place is loud, very loud, rough service, busy all of the time.
But for some positives the beer selection is very good, food is good and well priced for the area and somehow there always seems to be at least one empty stool at the bar.
I drank the McGillin's 1860 IPA, with a nice hoppy taste and the McGillin's Lager, very refreshing considering the temperature was 87 while I was there.
I had a chance to meet Chris, one of the owners and Christopher, I guess a nephew or grandson, both very nice people.
For me along with Monk's and a few dive bars this is a must stop when visiting Philly.

Photo of rfgetz
3.2/5  rDev -13.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2.5

Have been there many times over my life, most as a young collge lad. Ended up there recently and gave it the once over, for old times sake.

Decently sized back alley saloon with old timey Philly nostalgia decor and modern plasma TVs on the walls. The clientelle is the loud an dfrequently obnoxious college crowd, recent graduates, tourists and non-city residents from the area. The beers focus on local micro brews, but not necessarily the good ones. They cater to the BMC crowd and justly feature mostly less creative offerings from the local brewers. The food is below average pub grub - ok if you like your food from the freezer. Service is generally good, except in large crowds. A big meh from me. Its saving grace is its history.

Photo of Umbra
3.48/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

The atmosphere and quality have been well described by previous posters. Most days, the music downstairs appears to be set on 11 for some reason, so if you're looking for talking to people, it would be suggested to try upstairs. The service is quick and affable. Instead of telling you "we have everything" they actually point you towards their beer menu (which has always been up to date). Selection includes the usuals and at least a half dozen local good brews. Victory, Sly Fox, and others always appear to be on tap.
The food is pub grub, well done and with a good price.
Overall: I've been here during several occassions, both during quiet nights, long-drown out benders, holidays, etc. and always had a good time. It is an old, well worn, dive bar with a good mix of local brews and won't hurt your wallet. When in the area, it is a must stop.

Photo of ajr24
3.48/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Nice and quaint location along 13th street, this place has a great atmosphere (oldest bar in Philadelphia, technically or something like that)- lots of cool paraphanilia along the walls, you can tell this place has traveled through the ages. their selection is pretty good, I was happy to see Beamish on tap and General Washington Porter, and they use imperial style pint glasses (if only they were imperial pints...)
their food was very decent and almost anything on their menu will compliment a few beers, i recommend their mini pizzas. very affordable, too

Photo of NolanGTI
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

This place is more bar than beer bar destination. They have a handful of locals on tap (Victory, DFH, Yard's, Weyerbacher) and also cater to the BMC crowd. This is a non-chain 'tons of crazy crap on the walls' type place. Dark and open interior that frequently hosts loud music, karaoke and the like. Also a smaller upstairs bar with a bit quieter atmosphere.

Food is cheap and tasty for the price. Burgers - 4.99. Solid. Servers are generally pretty good unless overwhelmed with crowds. Not a destination place, but a fine place to drink at with friends, esp at their food and beer prices.

My only gripe is that the place is kind of dirty (think ketchup stained menus). I don't even want to think of what the back of the house looks like.

Photo of Gavage
3.66/5  rDev -0.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Located on one of Philly's back alley type streets, McGillin's is one of those places you need to hit every now and again for a pint and a laugh at the people. This time we walked past two guys smoking a doobie and a couple fighting just outside the place. Typical old interior you would expect from such an old establishment, more of a family style type of place. The bar was quite crowded this day that I visited as all but 2 stools were occupied.

There are about 20 beers on tap, and a big sign stated Extreme Beer month. Well the list only had a beer or two that I would consider extreme but all in all there are some noteworthy beers here. DFH 120 and Black & Blue tops the list, along with a Stoudts APA, Yards Jefferson Porter, and Paulaner. Typical Coors Lite and Millers are available on draft too.

We did not sample any food. Service was so-so, as the bartender seemed to know several patrons which kept him engaged in conversation with them.

You may or not like this place, but we have always made it a point to stop by here every now and again for a change of scenery from the usual Monk's, Nodding Head, and Ludwig stops in the area.

Photo of jjboesen
4.34/5  rDev +17.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

In that they received their original liquor license - still posted behind the well-worn bar - in 1860, McGillin’s Ale House is considered to be the oldest existing tavern in Philadelphia. Not so hard to understand given that its’ Drury Street location, which is your basic alley, is well hidden among the warren of cobbled City Center side streets, secluding it from modern day.

Anyone interested in the history of a city needs to visit the local haunts, taverns and drinkerys of the wags, scoundrels, rogues and rakes who are part of this history; and McGillin’s fits this purpose – as well as providing business types, tourists and young Philadelphians with a convivial spot to stop, lunch and relax over a few pints of finely crafted regional microbrews.
And McGillin’s does this as well; this is a great place to taste such excellent quaffs like O’Reilly’s Irish Stout from Sly Fox Brewing Company in Phoenixville; the slightly hoppy Philly Pale Ale from Philadelphia’s own Yards Brewing Company and the incomparable Stoudt’s Brewery, of nearby Adamstown, which makes several of McGillin’s house beers.

Perhaps Ben Franklin, local wag and notable elbow-bender, was right when he (supposedly) remarked: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wishes us to be happy.”

Photo of Abita45
3.8/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Tough evaluation to make. I had lunch there on Friday. There was a decent, consistent crowd, including a filled up bar. I've been here in the past and in many different situations, whether a weekend night getting after it, Karaoke night, St. Patrick's Day, bachelor parties, etc. Pretty much, I've seen McGillian's under every circumstance and have always had fun. It seems to facilitate a good time for you, your friends, and fellow patrons.

Clearly, I've always liked the place. Historically, the oldest operating bar in Phila. Allegedly, the best wings in the town and good food. My turkey burger, however, wasn't good. Granted, I chanced a turkey burger, but still, it was pretty poorly done. There was redemption in the free, serve-yourself turkey noodle soup which was very good. Lots of vegatables, turkey, and good seasoning.

Service was very good, with straight from central casting "Philadelphia Irish Lady" serving me. Really nice, and left me to my beer, sandwich, and book.

A nice selection of beer, even without Guinness on tap. Instead, they've got O'Reilly's Stout. I opted for a Victory HopDevil instead of a McGillian's Ale or Lager. They carry selections from some locals, along with Stella, Hoegarten, Magic Hat, Dogfish, and PBR (the "deck building" beer of my youth is now the beer of choice for cool kids and wannabe hipsters through out the city. Places are charging $4.00 for tall-boys of PBR and $8.00 for 40's of High Life. I pray Schlitz stays under the radar).

Overall, some good food (soup), some not good food (turkey burger), good beer selection, historically cool, nice, open layout, and good service. McGillian's will always have place near and dear to my liver.

Photo of DrJay
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

We showed up at McGillin's during the world cup (USA vs. Italy), so the place was pretty full and everyone was focused on the TV's scattered around the bar. It's basically one big room with a bar along one side and rows of tables that can (sort of) be rearranged on the fly. There were plenty of smokers, but the high ceilings and open front windows helped quite a bit. On tap they had a house ale and lager (both made by Stoudt's), as well as mixed offerings from Flying Fish, Stoudt's, Troeg's, Legacy, Victory, and DFH, along with Woodchuck cider. There were also a few imports (Stella and Hoegaardet) and industrial lagers. I didn't check the bottle selection. Service was fair, even considering the moderate sized crowd. We didn't try the food, but the prices were pretty reasonable. Restrooms upstairs. This place really had a sense of history, with lots of memorabilia covering the walls - much more organic in feel than in chain pubs.

Photo of jmc44
3.95/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

McGillan's is located in center city, just a short walk from my new job. I stopped in on a Friday evening, around 6:00 and the place was already packed, standing room only. The place is dark and noisy; with all sorts of neon signs outside. Looks like its a dive, but its actually quite nice inside. Beer selection is pretty good. On tap is mostly standard, altough they had a few from Troegs and Victory. On the wall they have a list of beers on offer, probably about 15 or 20 local and regionals, including McGillans Ale and McGillans Lager, made specially for the bar by Stoudts (I believe).
Crowd was young, professional.
McGillaans is the cheapest place I've found in center city where you can get real beer. Food is also pretty good and reasonably priced.
While you're in the neighborhood, hit up Ludwigs which is basically on the rear side (off Sansom St).

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McGillin's Old Ale House in Philadelphia, PA
85 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.