What's brewing north of Lehigh Avenue?

In this week's Think Beer…Drink Beer, Tim Pat­ton looks at the di­verse ar­ray of brewpubs loc­ated in areas north of Le­high Ave.

With great bars like The Ab­bey, Kraft­work, Johnny Brenda’s and more than a dozen oth­ers, it’s no secret that Fishtown and North­ern Liber­ties get a lot of at­ten­tion on the Philly beer scene.

Even the lower end of Kens­ing­ton and Port Rich­mond get fre­quent shout-outs be­cause of great pubs like the Mem­ph­is Tap­room and the Green Rock Tav­ern.

But travel above Le­high, and un­less you’re a loc­al, it’s hard to know where to get good craft beer. 

Luck­ily there are sev­er­al great spots that are off the radar but totally worth the trip.

First up is Three Fish Pub (2537 E. Somer­set St.). You know that the own­ers have something more in mind than the typ­ic­al neigh­bor­hood corner bar when you see the Troeg’s sign in the win­dow.

Step­ping in­side, you are re­war­ded with 10 taps of craft beer, in­clud­ing Troeg’s Hop­back Am­ber and Yard’s Love Stout. At $3 a pint, you’ll also dis­cov­er one of the best things about drink­ing in Port Rich­mond — great prices. 

The bar also serves a nice menu of pub food and the fridge is full of macro la­ger bottles, if that is your thing.

The Port Rich­mond Pour House, at 2253 E. Clear­field St., may be a tiny bar with only four taps, but it makes up for it with the at­mo­sphere, friend­li­ness and the many col­or­ful char­ac­ters who stop in some­times.

Plus, with Brook­lyn Black Chocol­ate Stout in 12-ounce glasses for $4, they may have one of the best deals in this part of the city. 

There is a heavy em­phas­is on loc­al brew­er­ies like PBC and Vic­tory, but also rar­it­ies like Ot­ter Creek and Peak Or­gan­ic. 

They have a well-stocked fridge of craft and macro beer, and cheap bar food like hot dogs and pizza. 

The neigh­bor­hood may look a little rough, but don’t judge a book by its cov­er — I’ve traveled here dozens of times via bi­cycle or car, and I’ve nev­er had any­thing but a great time with won­der­ful people.

Byrne’s Tav­ern, at 3301 Rich­mond St., has a repu­ta­tion as a good din­ing spot. But they also have a lot of good beer that of­ten gets over­looked. 

The taps rep­res­ent big brew­er­ies, with a heavy em­phas­is on Guin­ness products (in­clud­ing Harp and Smith­wicks) served in im­per­i­al pints. 

The bottle se­lec­tion is more var­ied, with some beer not seen in the oth­er nearby bars — for ex­ample, Fran­ziskan­er, An­chor Steam, Pils­ner Ur­quell and Red­bridge for those who prefer glu­ten-free beer. 

I may have also spot­ted a bottle of Chi­may Red in the fridge, but it was not lis­ted on the menu. 

The bar area has a very cozy feel. It seems like they are go­ing for a le­git­im­ate Ir­ish pub feel in­stead of the watered-down, frat-boy-cent­ric pubs that you of­ten see in Cen­ter City and the ’burbs.

Just up the street is Bonk’s Bar & Grille at 3467 Rich­mond St.  The sign out­side looks like it was put up in the 1960s, which can make new­comers wary of step­ping in­side. But open the door and you will see a clean, mod­ern in­teri­or with some good beer on tap and a com­plete food menu. 

They are big fans of the Vic­tory Brew­ing Co. here, with Golden Mon­key and Yakima Glory on tap. 

Be care­ful, though — the $4 pints of Golden Mon­key are dan­ger­ously de­li­cious. 

Luck­ily the Route 15 trol­ley runs near both of these bars to get you home safely. 

Bonk’s also has free wi-fi if you de­cide to make it a busi­ness lunch spot.

One red flag we ex­per­i­enced, though, was that a bar­tender at Bonk’s had some strong opin­ions about a few polit­ic­ally in­cor­rect top­ics (i.e., bor­der­line ra­cist) and had no prob­lems let­ting his opin­ions be known. 

If you live in the heart of the Port Rich­mond, Mick’s Inn, at 2526 E. Clear­field, is prob­ably with­in stum­bling dis­tance to your home. There’s no food here, but there are some sol­id beers on tap, in­clud­ing Har­poon UFO and Winter Warm­er.

Brew­er­ies like Yard’s, PBC, Fly­ing Fish and Si­erra are usu­ally in bottles too. 

I vis­ited on a Sunday night and the bar had a rowdy sports-bar vibe, but oth­er nights are much more low-key.

Event Alert: Har­poon tap takeover at Bar­cade (1114 Frank­ford Ave.) at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26. 

Thir­teen taps, with stand­ards like UFO and rar­it­ies such as Bar­ley­wine, Cider and a batch of IPA dry-hopped with hops grown in Port Rich­mond. ••

Tim Pat­ton is a Fishtown res­id­ent, beer afi­cion­ado and brew­er. His column is ded­ic­ated to show­cas­ing everything that is great about en­joy­ing beer in the river­wards. He can be con­tac­ted at tim@stben­jamin­brew­ing.com

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