Dog & Bull: Bringing craft beer to nearby Croydon

  • The Dog & Bull, at 810 Bristol Pike in Croydon, offers craft beers from around the world. JACK FIRNENO / TIMES PHOTOS

  • The Dog & Bull, at 810 Bristol Pike in Croydon, offers craft beers from around the world. JACK FIRNENO / TIMES PHOTOS

  • The Dog & Bull, at 810 Bristol Pike in Croydon, offers craft beers from around the world. JACK FIRNENO / TIMES PHOTOS

You could go all the way down to Cen­ter City, fight­ing traffic, lack of park­ing and high prices, to drink craft beer and eat freshly cooked food while listen­ing to great live mu­sic in an in­tim­ate at­mo­sphere. 

Or, you could just swing by Croy­don. De­pend­ing on where you live, you may not even need to get in your car.

Situ­ated right next to the Croy­don train sta­tion with its hanging wrought-iron sign and stately beige stucco walls, the Dog & Bull stands out amongst the strip malls and older facades on the strip. 

“We’re try­ing to be a little dif­fer­ent for the area — a little hip, without hav­ing to wear skinny jeans,” laughs gen­er­al man­ager Andy Wells. 

Wells may have the thick beard and tat­toos of a hip­ster, but he’s no kid try­ing to fol­low the latest trends. The 42-year-old was 16 when he star­ted wait­ing tables and per­form­ing in bars. By his 20s, he was al­tern­at­ing between bar­tend­ing and tour­ing with a band.

His rock star days may be long be­hind him, but Wells’ cur­rent oc­cu­pa­tion lets him in­dulge his mu­sic­al side along with the bar busi­ness — and, for Croy­don, those two make great bed­fel­lows. 

“I’ve been for­tu­nate to be in the busi­ness for years,” he said. 

A spot like the Dog & Bull, then, is an ideal place for him to use his know­ledge — and try out some new ideas.

“I’m a weirdo, and they let me do what I want,” he laughs. 

And, it seems, Wells and the own­ers are on to something. The first Monday of every oth­er month, for in­stance, draws an “ec­lect­ic” Sushi and Kung Fu Night. “Yes, I know it’s a con­tra­dic­tion,” laughs Wells, ac­know­ledging the food from Ja­pan be­ing paired with the Chinese mar­tial arts movies play­ing si­lently on the bar’s TVs while a live band per­forms. 

But it’s a hit, much like the Dog & Bull’s ci­gar night, held on op­pos­ite first Mondays on the back patio. As the weath­er gets chilly, the reg­u­lars lov­ingly refer to it as The Po­lar Bull Beer Drink­ing Club, but the bar has space heat­ers to keep the ci­gar afi­cion­ados warm — and plenty of prime rib to keep them full.  

The idea came from ci­gar and whis­key din­ners, only Wells dis­patches steak cuts in­stead of bour­bon. “We’re start­ing to see the trend of good food be­ing com­pared to good beer,” he said. 

And, both of those are in abund­ance at the Dog & Bull. Wells is proud to say that there’s neither a fridge nor a mi­crowave at the es­tab­lish­ment — “Everything’s made fresh every day, even the french fries. I don’t know how he does it all,” said Wells of the chef, Max Schind­ler — and not a single do­mest­ic brew on tap.

“It’s amaz­ing,” said Wells. “I went from bars selling 50 cases of Miller or Yuengling a week to maybe three here.” 

In­stead, the Dog & Bull fo­cuses on well-known craft brews from around the world along with loc­al gems. “Ne­sham­iny Creek Brew­ing is right around the corner so we have them here 24/7,” he offered.

But if the heart and soul of the Dog & Bull isn’t in its pat­ron’s stom­achs, it’s on the stage. Wells ad­mits it can be chal­len­ging to book great acts in a place so small it fits only 12 bar stools. The best bands want to play big­ger places for more money, but, he points out, the at­mo­sphere draws great per­formers who are will­ing to trade a big­ger pay­out for an in­tim­ate vibe.

He rattles off great bands that come through: jazz artists like Kelly Vale and Mis­cha Machez, and rock and acous­tic-based acts like Pop Fic­tion and Mike Es­tabrook. 

“It doesn’t get too loud here, you can still have a con­ver­sa­tion in the back,” poin­ted out Wells. “It’s got a homey feel, like hanging out with your bud­dies.”

The Dog & Bull is loc­ated at 810 Bris­tol Pike in Croy­don. For in­form­a­tion, call 215-788-2855 or vis­it www.dogand­bull­••

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