Local Heroes Beverage Artisan: Dock Street Brewery
Dock Street Brewing is a Philly institution. They helped birth the craft-beer movement in the city in 1985, protested foreign tariffs on American beer in the nineties, and opened their West Philly brewery in 2007. At the beginning of it all, their simple mission was to elevate the status of beer. “We believed that beer didn’t have the respect it deserved,” says Dock Street co-founder Rosemarie Certo.
Back when most Americans were praising beers like Heineken, Dock Street built its first brewery on 18th and Cherry Streets—the first post- Prohibition craft brewpub in Philadelphia. “We started making beers the way they were made in the old country, and then we made them better,” Certo says. “We had no tradition to hold us back.”
That attitude has carried through the years, prompting the creation of oddball beers like the Walker (made with goat brains and cranberries at the peak of Walking Dead hype), or Ain’t Nothing to Funk With (a brew that vibrated to a six-month Wu-Tang playlist). They’re currently making a beer with wild yeast they’ve collected in West Philly, and plan to roll out a prickly-pear gose—which will be gluten-free—this spring. “We’re all alchemists,” says Certo. “Experimenting is all about making something different, something better.”
Dock Street is beloved for its classic beers, too, like the Rye IPA and Bohemian Pilsner, which it distributes across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The brewpub continues to serve as a gathering place for grad students, professors and longtime West Philadelphians. “This is a great local neighborhood hangout,” Certo says. “It really defines what the whole craft culture is about and the roots that it started in”—like making a quality product, supporting a sizeable staff (more than 30, and growing), and creating an environment where people can connect over great food and drink.
Dock Street also supports the community with benefits like Rare Beers for School Supplies. Each month, Certo taps a special beer to give away in exchange for paper, pencils and notebooks, which Dock Street donates to West Philadelphia schools.
With a cannery and second bar in the works next door, Dock Street will continue to be a neighborhood hub. It’ll also keep pushing craft beer to the forefront with the Philly spirit and spunk that makes it a local hero.
Dock Street Brewery
701 S. 50th St.