Hawthornes Bier Café

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Hawthornes Bier CaféHawthornes Bier Café
53 Ratings
Hawthornes Bier CaféHawthornes Bier Café

Type: Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

738 S 11th St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19147-2651
United States

(215) 627-3012 | map

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Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-19-2009

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Ratings: 53 |  Reviews: 35
Photo of tim9887
4.16/5  rDev -1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

I've only ever been here to buy takeout beer so I can't really comment on the food or service. However, the beer selection is top-notch - definitely up there with the Foodery (the prices are similar too, it can get expensive). The 10% discount on mix-a-six pack is nice though. Great selection of American crafts & imports. Only gripe is the lack of pricing on the beers, again like the Foodery. I understand pricing every single beer is tough but there's got to be some efficient way of letting us know how much we're going to pay for each beer. The growler selection is always great too - always really good and rare stuff on tap. I'll have to edit this review once I come back here for a bite to eat.

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Photo of deapokid
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Right when I walked into Hawthornes (a new cafe/six pack store from the guys behind Bella Vista), the cozy atmosphere and overall good vibes sunk in immediately. Imagine buying and enjoying craft beer in one of those English manor libraries that Vincent Price sulked around in endless 70's horror films.

That might be a slight exaggeration, but the always lit fireplace, sweet smell of smoke and warm armchairs and sofas definitely give off a relaxed and elegant ambiance.

The staff also added to the experience; the manager basically walked me through the ins-and-outs of the entire shop. He gave me a rundown of all the new beer in stock, showed off the pressure-sealed growler fill station (15 taps, prices range from $15 to $35) and talked beer for a solid 30 minutes.

The warm bottles are conveniently placed on wooden shelves in the middle of the shop and many rarities were prominently featured. BrewDog's Dogma, Bullfrog's farmhouse ale, Scaldis Bush de Nuits and Sculpin caught my eye. The cold beer is split by country/region in 10 coolers and prices were on par for Philadelphia proper.

I was so taken by the place that I decided to sit down with a beer and one of their homemade sandwiches. I grabbed a Hop Slam and the "Change Order 2500," an absolutely delicious mixture of gouda cheese, ham and tapenade on an onion roll. The food and brew were well worth the $15 and I definitely plan on enjoying this grilled delight many more times, if I'm not swayed by an amazing dinner menu featuring mussels, braised pork and steak.

All in all, this is a top notch beer store/cafe and I definitely think it's a great contender for The Foodery's Center City crown.

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Photo of mbudner
4.65/5  rDev +10.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

A- I really like the way it's laid out and the vibe it gives off. There is a fireplace with a fire roaring at all times and couches and armchairs. I'm always a fan of the no-TV beer bars (Monk's, Brick Store, Tria all have that going on just to name a few other great bars/restaurants that have taken this approach.) Very open and airy with a lot of natural light coming through. You almost feel as if you are in someone's house (that's a good thing.) Another notable feature is the lack of pretension with the best example being the mason jar glasses. Chris actually explained to me where he got the idea and showed me the back of an empty bottle of Blind Pig that discusses just that. He also showed me how mason jars naturally lend themselves to great beer drinking. I am not saying that nice glassware is a bad thing, but the 500 different glass approach is sometimes a little much.

Q- Overall, the quality seems great and, while it is new, there are no 4 month old IPAs sitting on the shelf under the illusion of "freshness." The growlers are also a major player in the high quality score. I know that people are pissed that they are $15 and not swing top (threads, other reviews, etc.) but the fact that they are more than willing to fill ANY growler with the same size opening (pretty much anything other than swing tops) makes up for it in my opinion. Chris created this counterpressure filling system to offer the best possible on tap experience and I'd rather pay a premium for that instead of cheaper growlers with massive oxygen exposure (i.e. worse from the second they are poured.) I have picked up a few growlers, but never held onto any for more than a week; carbonation and mouthfeel were great and I will probably pick one up to hold onto to put Chris' 9-month guarantee to the test.

S- The food service was great and people are very attentive to help out with beers selections. Like pretty much every bottle shop I've been to, there are some employees who clearly know a lot more than others, but one great thing: none of them lie to you. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone trying to help me select beer and say something absurd, a lie, make something up out of the blue, etc. simply because they are afraid to say "I don't know." All of the employees seem to at least have tried many of the beers, which is always nice. All in all, very solid service.

S- Up there with the Foodery (northern liberties) as one of the best bottle shops in Philadelphia. It sounds like Chris is working hard to get new breweries into the area and in that respect it seems like Hawthornes has everything the foodery has and a little bit more. Being the only place in Philadelphia (that I know of) to offer counter pressure fills and of rare beers, at that, makes this place really standout.

F- I only ate here one time, but I had a slider with onion rings on the side. Both were great, and I will definitely have to make a point of eating a full meal at Hawthornes another time.

$$$- I can't really give anything in Philly less than three dollar signs, but that says something about the asinine distribution laws and not the place itself. As far as relative pricing, I have seen some bottles here that are more expensive than its competitors and some than are less. I'm assuming that has to do with how much they buy from a particular brewery. It is definitely not higher across the board. In downtown Philadelphia, its only real comparison is the Foodery and I would say they are both around the same. The other thing is that some of the bottles I see that are priced higher than I might expect (Bullfrog, for instance) are not available anywhere else in the city, so comparing isn't really even fair. The other thing is the growlers. There are a few bars that fill growlers, but those are open tap fills and usually pretty expensive. The fact that Hawthornes fills growlers and counter pressures them makes any comparison unfair. There are some beers that I have opted not to purchase because of high price, but that doesn't mean high relative to bottle or competitor prices, that just means high. One example, they had Marshal Zhukovs on tap and I decided not to, but that was partially because I wasn't ready to commit to 64oz of RIS. I have no problem paying $20 (sometimes less, sometimes more) for a quality growler fill.

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Photo of Joeynocturnum
4.45/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Just discovered this place two weeks ago and stopped in to pick up some Terrapin to finish off a trade. They have a great selection and seem to have an advantage being owned by Bella Vista Beverage across the street. I was in there again yesterday and picked up some Big Black Voodoo Daddy 22's for $13/bottle which I thought was good pricing. They also had Ballast Point Sea Monster, which I passed on. They have Growler fills, whic I didn't dig into yet, maybe on the next visit. The pricing on their sinlge were a little pricey, but everything else was priced well. They are going to be stocking Alesmith soon which is exciting...Speedway and Wee Heavy with out having to trade would be nice. Also have some RR, offering Damnation and Consecration. For my money I find this place a better stop than the Foodery, pricing is more competitive because they have the distributor across the street.

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Photo of wunderbeer
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Living in Philly, options for single bottle takeout is pretty limited, so I was psyched to hear of Hawthornes. The store is well organized, good ambiance and broad selection - with Consecration and a few other hard to find selections offered. I didn't try the growler station on my first visit, but selection looked excellent.

While the bottle selection and service was great, I know I will not be back except to poach the rarest of brews that I can't find anywhere else. It is not a place I drop by to pick up my usual beer stash. Prices are much higher than what you can pay elsewhere. While Foodery tends to be pretty steep, this place won't compete if pricing isn't adjusted - maybe that's why it was completely empty at dinnertime.

EDIT: Chris, the manager, is an upstanding guy - he contacted me about a pricing that was incorrect and offered a refund, which I put toward a liquid asset. The place is comfortable on a cold winter day, and was pretty packed when I re-visited. I look forward to trying the food on my next visit.

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Photo of Deuane
4.14/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Well....finally got to stop in at this place that is in the old Bella Vista location. I was impressed with the transformation to a pleasant, inviting, bistro style interior considering the old BV location was basically a garage with cases of beer in it!

Quality and selection was solid with plenty of bottles to choose from. But I would hope so as the owners family own and run Bella Vista just across the street! One knock on the bottles though...some are marked with price stickers but many are not. It would be helpful to know what the cost is before hitting the register.

I have to give a 4 for selection for two reasons....my usual 0.5 knock for no cask and also a 0.5 deduction for no draft available on site. Sure they have a GREAT selection to put in a growler but... I was told, by Chris, the owner, that this will be changing and in house draft will be available shortly. An adjustment to score will be forthcoming.

I am not totally down with the "special" growler thing though...maybe I need it explained to me but $15 seems a bit steep for a standard jug style growler. If this was a German flip-top fine, but, it is not. I fully understand the $1.50 cap charge for other growlers as they use those fancy oxygen barrier caps. I am glad they will fill any jug style growler.

Chris, as always, was a fine host and even though he was busy he found a few minutes to chat with us. He and his brother are class acts for sure!

No food this visit but the deli/bistro style menu looked inviting....maybe next time. A nice addition to the ever growing Philly beer scene.

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Photo of cassanoj
4.65/5  rDev +10.7%

I get so excited every time I go to Hawthorne's. It's my favorite beer land in Philadelphia for a number of reasons.

#1. Really solid selection - Sculpin IPA, Papier by Bruery, The Rochefort triplets, etc...I also picked up their last bottle of Temptation.
#2. Chris and Heather are wonderful and knowledgeable. They have a sign when you walk in that says "We love beer, food and you." Perfect!
#3. Growlers - and not just any growlers, really nice beers (Blind Pig, Mischief #3, Sculpin, whatever the hot ticket is, they've got it.)
#4. Food. Their sandwiches and soups are damn good. Asparagus Creme/ Gouda, Ham and Olive Tapenade sandwich, woof. Always a treat.
#5. Sample nights. Often on friday nights, I'll walk in and its like a party in there. People strewn about talking about the finer things in life and having a blast. Couldn't ask for a better environment. Oh ps, they have a fire place!

*The only thing strike I can give to Hawthorne's is that their prices are high. Weyerbacher Riserva for 33 dollars!!! Wowzers! But other than some shocking price tags, Hawthorne's is the new place to go in Phillly.

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Photo of wpstafford
3.3/5  rDev -21.4%

I visited on a Sunday afternoon during the transition between the brunch and regular menu.

I was impressed with:
Beer selection - A fantastic offering of Belgian and American craft brews. A strong selection from Germany also. The two bottles I selected seemed reasonably priced at $3.00 and change.

Interior - This is a warm, inviting atmosphere to eat and have a beer. They have a fireplace that would be nice to read a book next to. I was disappointed that they only had tables and no bar. I seek out places where I might strike up a conversation and tables only limits that opportunity.

Service - Friendly and attentive.

I was less than impressed with:
Menu / Food - The menu was essentially soup and sandwiches with a couple appetizers. I ordered a turkey on a baguette. It turned out to be really white bread in baguette form. I expect a baguette to be dense with a chewy crust. This roll was mostly all air with a crust that flaked away because it was so dry. The chips are homemade, which is great, except my serving must have been from the bottom of the pot because I only had about four real chips and the rest was a greasy pile of fragments.

The owner approached me about my experience and I related the above. To his credit, he was genuinely concerned about my impressions and did offer a complimentary appetizer because I wasn't very satisfied with my meal.

They do have a keg system, but only offer draft beer in growlers, which I was told was because their filler system lets beer keep longer in growlers. I collect growlers and wanted to purchase an empty one. I was shocked at the $15.00 price tag for an empty growler. I'm used to paying more in the $5.00 price range.

All in all, I'd recommend you stop in and give it a try.

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Photo of fnsweet
5/5  rDev +19%

I was at hawthornes today it's my second time back since they opened the bottle selection was great with over 750 bottles to choose from and a 16 beer draft system for growler fills the two owners Chris and Heather were extremely helpful and have great knowledge of the beer that they carry they also have a really good food menu I will be making my way back real soon oh the fireplace is a nice touch some of the beers they feature are peche mortel, petrus oak aged pale, meantime brands, alot of local beers also like sly fox ,philadelphia brewing co.,victory,troeggs,stoudts,and yards some of the food items are homemade potato chips, hand carved sandwiches what a great place to go and just hang and relax.

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Photo of Seanibus
3.85/5  rDev -8.3%

Color me not so impressed. Sure, it is clean and welcoming inside, but the selection falls short of the Foodery outlets and the price I paid - for an Exit 1 from Flying Fish: $13.85 before tax - did little to inspire my loyalty.

By Philadelphia standards, this place has a good selection, but I saw relatively little that wowed me in terms of unusual offerings. The only surprise on the shelves was the Third Eye IPA from Steamworks in Durango. There seemed to be a overdose of Bruery beers. They had a couple of mildly interesting selections from out and around, including St. Somewhere from Florida, Dark Horse from Michigan, and Terrapin from Georgia, but its not anything that you would NOT know if you're deeply rooted in the beer lists at some of the local pubs.

Bottom line is that this place is far better than most bottle shops in Philly (with the single exception of the Foodery) but it just isn't anything special by the standards of nearby states with more or less normal beer sales laws. And expect to take it in the wallet when you go to the register.

UPDATE: Suddenly I see Steamworks beers all over the place elsewhere on the East Coast, so that seems like less of a coup for Hawthornes.

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Photo of smellody
3.95/5  rDev -6%

Having just opened and hearing good anticipated reviews and reading some great finds on the board I decided to check this place out Saturday night. It has great atmosphere, an incredible bottle selection and what looks like a fun food menu. I will definitely be going back for brunch soon.

It having been open only a few days, I'm sure they will work out the kinks and have a long a great run in the city, aka the Foodery.

The beer bottle selection was great - but no visible price list made making decisions very hard. Also, it seems that the bottles are over priced, I had a bottle of Fred and it was at least $8 - I would think more like $6 would be reasonable. I don't know yet about the bigger bottles, but I fear they will be high as well. Also, the growlers seemed high as well.

More on being overpriced, the three chesse platter for $15 didn't offer much substance. Three small samples of cheese, a few toast points and spreads. For $15 I expected a bit more chesse.

Again, I am confident that the prices will be tweaked, not onyl due to commments, but people will not buy.

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Photo of Beerisheaven
3.35/5  rDev -20.2%

Decided to give this much discussed place a try since I work in center city Philadelphia. Opened with quite a bit of fanfare.

Regarding the +'s, it has been redone nicely. A number of tables on one side of the room and some couches and chairs and a few tables on the other side of the room greet you when you arrive through the front door.

The counter for ordering food sits behind the dining area with the beer on display in the back. A number of large coolers contains the beers arranged in geographic locations and there is a large display of bomber bottles located on the floor outside of the cooler area.

I actually found the food to be reasonable and tasty. My chicken salad was quite good.

Regarding the -'s, the first would be the prices, oh my! I appreciate that this is Philadelphia, but this is essentially a beer takeout place akin to the Foodery with a small dining area for light food. The prices are high, we are talking $38 for a bottle of Temptation as an example. The growlers are interesting and offer a good selection. The empty growlers - $15. Selinsgrove and Ottos and other places offer empty growlers for $3-$4. You have to purchase a special top so the empty growler costs $16.50 before you fill it if you do not bring your own growler with you initially. You can bring your own growler but you still must purchase the top. The one real + here is that the growler fill system is top notch and should allow you to keep the growlers for an extended period of time relative to other places that simply fill growlers via the traditional tube. This is a real plus in that you can get very good beer and not be forced to drink it within a short period of time.

There are plenty of places located much closer to where I live (suburbs) that offer the same general selection at far reduced prices and fill growlers at more reasonable prices, although the fill system is not as advanced as here.

I hope this place survives but the prices will keep me from visiting on anything other than an occassional basis. Nice to see another beer place in Philly, just hope it makes it.

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Photo of Ezekiel81923
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

Just got back from Hawthornes.

Real nice looking place, lots of tables to sit and eat at, they'll let you drink whatever you buy there, and there was a wood burning fireplace and some couches. Food menu is on a chalkboard above the one counter. Appears they do lunch and brunch on weekends. I had a chicken house salad and my girlfriend had a chicken salad sandwich. Both were good.

Beer is in the back. Passed on some Pliny because of the bottled on date, same with Blind Pig, but it was nice to see someone having those in bottles. Found some RR Temptation and LA Angels Share, which I had never seen before around here. They had lots of Bruery (Papier, Hottenroth, Saison Rue, Autumn Maple, 2 Turtle Doves, Trade Winds, White Orchard, Black Orchard, Levud's) as well as Russian River, Lost Abbey, Port, Stone, Founders, Saint Somewhere etc. etc. The coolers are marked with signs showing what kind of beer is in there (mostly by country). The growler station is on the left if you're walking in the front, and the tap selection and prices are on a chalkboard. Passed on a growler of Blind Pig, i think it was $33, but they had a lot of cool stuff on tap (LA Red Barn, Bruery Mischief, Blind Pig....)

Seem pretty well staffed. I saw at least 5 people up front, all trying to help. At least 2 in the back cooking. Pretty busy, but it was lunch hour. Also gave me an itemized receipt, with prices. Never had that before at a bottle shop. Prices were not on the bottles, but I hear they are working on a price list. Most prices seemed reasonable, but some of the bottles and growlers were over $30 and $40 a piece for the rare stuff.

Definitely check it out. Great selection and the growler station is sure to be stocked with sweet kegs.

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Hawthornes Bier Café in Philadelphia, PA
Place rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 53 ratings