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The Hop Stops on Philly2Philly.com-Race Street Cafe, Charlie's Pub and Sugar Mom's

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Want to stop for some tasty hops in Philly? Check out this week’s latest listing of bars with delicious brews. This week, The Hop Stops takes you to three bars all within a block or two of each other in the Old City/Society Hill area North of Market Street.

Race Street Cafe

208 Race Street

(215) 627-6181

www.racestreetcafe.net

Take the advice of a friend of mine -- a guy who knows and LOVES beer and who has been a frequent customer of the Race Street Cafe. He says the Race Street stop is THE most under-rated place to get a great beer and a great dinner, perhaps in the entire city. You be the judge. With a view of the Ben's blue glow at night, the Race Street Cafe is in the Old City section and a great spot to start off the night. Inside, the decor is mostly wooden with an L-shaped bar, art on the walls, street-post lighting, and high and low-top tables. Dinners are moderately priced with offerings like steak salad with gorgonzola, scrumptious sandwiches like a corned beef reuben or buffalo chicken (the hot sauce is pretty tasty), and pork chops or crab cakes to name a few. But dinner isn't complete without a high ABV brew to wash it all down. There's about a dozen or more taps to choose from and they're always changing. Here's a sample of what was on tap most recently: Brooklyn Brewers Reserve, Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin, Sly Fox Abbey Extra, Stoudt's Scarlet Lady, Terrapin Pale Ale, Lost Abbey Devotion and on the hand pump, Sly Fox Route 113 Ale. Beers you'll almost always find at Race Street include Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Sly Fox, 3 Floyds, Stone, Great Divide, Yards, North Coast, Brewers Art, and Leffe among others. Bottled brews include Corsendonk ales, Duvel, Chimay, Atlantic Coal Porter, a few fruitier "beers" like Strongbow and Woodchuck ciders Lindemans Lambics and Framboise. And if you're more of a sweet liquor drinker, there's specialty cocktails like a Kiwi Kamikaze or a Mango Margarita. On the warmer days, they're also outside tables with a view of the bridge and the bar owners don't seem to mind if you bring your dog with you. I've often seen a doggie water dish right by the door. Just be careful of big crowds on the first Friday of the month.

Charlie's Pub

114 N 3rd St.

(215) 627-3354

On long walks home through the city to crash at a friend's place, Charlie's has been a last stop before last call and a chance to grab some take out before heading home. But Charlie's would be a good spot to stop on any pub crawl. The word "pub" is a little misleading. The interior is dressed up more than a pub, but that doesn't mean the clientele has to be. Even though it's Old City, there's no reason to feel the need to put on a pair of black heels and skinny jeans or a blazer and a t-shirt to come here. Causal works just fine, but you could get away with either. The inside is long and can feel rather narrow when crowded with patrons. Crescent shaped booths with high backs are on the left-hand side across from the bar creating a more private sitting area for those who can find a seat. If you can make your way through the front, grab a beer -- there's eight on draft -- then head to the back where it opens up with more room and two pool tables. And there's plenty of big screen TVs to watch whatever game is on. Their most recent draft selection offered a few Victory brews, Magic Hat #9, a seasonal from Long Trail, Hoegarden, Guinness, Stella, Yuengling and Franziskaner Weissbier. While some may cringe at the price of brews compared to, say, Sugar Moms (between $5 and $6 for a Guinness or Long Trail), just remember you're paying for quality. They also offer up many cocktails, some of which are rotating specials, and many wines and other liquors. The huge wall behind the bar displays them all.

Sugar Mom's

225 Church Street

(215) 925-8219

www.myspace.com/sugarmoms

"We're a fun, cheap basement bar in Old City" is how Sugar Mom's bills itself on its Myspace page. Yep, that's about right. Tucked away down a cobblestone alley off Second Street, Sugar Mom's is easy to miss if you've already been pre-gaming on a First Friday. And if you try to hit it up Sunday through Tuesday, you'll be out of luck -- they're only open noon to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday. I've learned from experience. They do have food -- mostly great post-drinking snacks to grease your stomach lining like waffle fries, deep-fried apps, basic sandwiches and an extensive veggie friendly menu. But I can't say I'd make a point out of going here to dine. The PBR is where it's at. You want a can? One dollar. (On weekends from 7 - 11 at night). "When in Rome," is how a friend and fellow occasional Pabst drinker puts it. The beer list is rather domestic for my ever-evolving palette that's geared toward more micro-brews and hoppy IPAs, but cheap and fun is what Sugar Mom's is about. Bottled offerings include the basics like Yuengling, Bud, Heineken, Amstel, Corona, and Sierra Nevada but also Blue Moon, Magic Hat, Chimay and Duvel. What makes Sugar Moms a fun place to get saucy is its decor. Similar to Tattooed Mom's on South (they're related), most of the seating is made up of old bumper cars or '70s-colored couches that look like they may have been found curbside. The walls are brick and the lighting is dark and there's games galore like pinball, pool, and foosball, and a jukebox to control if you get in line. They also run other specials like 50 center pierogies on Wednesdays, and $3 burger Thursdays.