Located on the second floor of a red brick building in an active Philadelphia neighborhood, the Nodding Head brewpub was previously the city's Sam Adams brewpub. The long set of stairs lead to the center of the operation. At its heart lies a great wooden full bar and mirrored bar-back imported from Britain. Overhead, carved wood and stained glass surround the primary drinking area. An impressive collection of "nodding head" dolls keep watch over the bar patrons. The nearby lounge area features tall wooden tables and chairs, with upholstered bench seating along the right-hand gray textured wall. Two silent TVs look down from above, while a CD jukebox, a golf video game and two authentic horse-hair dartboards stand against the street-side wall. The hardwood floors create a rugged and unpretentious atmosphere. Behind the bar, in the left half of the room, is the non-smoking dining room, with small tables covered by white linen tablecloths. Subdued lighting and flower print wall paper create a more elegant but still comfortable setting. The business end of the brewpub occupies the center rear of the room. The custom seven-barrel brewhouse is visible behind the glass walls along the hallway. Four fermenters feed three serving tanks, resulting in the need for good planning and vigilance to keep the most popular brews on-line.
The Fools Gold ale is gold in color, with a medium body, pale malt character, flavor balance toward the hoppy side, and a bitter finish. The Grog is dark brown, with a malty flavor balance and light body. The taste begins with an early hop bitterness but then turns toward a mildly sweet dark-malt flavor. The Old Willy's Ghost is a clear amber with a very smooth mouthfeel, with light early hops followed by a smooth and big malty flavor. The Sledwrecker Holiday Ale comes in at 9.5% and represents a pale barleywine. Medium-bodied, it hits you with well-blended flavors of malt and rum-soaked raisins. The mellow spiciness allows this one to go down dangerously easy. The Bill Payer APA is a deep amber color with an early hop aroma followed by a pronounced hop bitterness. Medium-bodied, the hop bitterness dominates well into the finish.
A new addition is the Sunday hours with a brunch and a Jazz quartet starting at 11 a.m. The brunch menu runs $7 to $13 and includes Quiches, Omelets, Egg dishes and Hotcakes. The Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes are incredibly light and tasty, the perfect accompaniament for that first Sunday brew or Bloody Mary. The beer engine supplies a fresh cask-conditioned house beer on Fridays. Regardless of the day of your visit, the friendly and knowledgable staff of Nodding Head will certainly provide a flavorful and memorable experience to any Philadelphia resident or visitor who appreciates fresh craft beer. Just two block south of the City Hall stop on the Market Street subway line, it's easy to get home even after sampling the winter-strength brews.Nodding Head
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri -