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Philly2Philly Hop Stops visits Institute Bar and Prohibition Taproom

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The Loft district section of the city is definitely lacking when it comes to watering holes for the lushes. Luckily, the bars this barren section of the city DOES have are worth paying plenty of visits to. This week, the Hops Stops pops into The Institute Bar and Prohibition Taproom. Prohibition Taproom

Prohibition Taproom

501 North 13th Street

(215) 238-1818

Wandering around the side streets south of Spring Garden, it could be hard to find this corner pub. Thankfully, the owners opted to put a giant neon sign out front with the word BAR and an arrow aimed directly at the door.

This corner stop was reincarnated as the Prohibition Taproom in November 2008 after having gone through quite a few names and owners with no long-lasting success. This place, however, looks like it may stand a chance.

Once past the iron-gate door, it’s obvious that the focus of this pub is the brews, rather than the food. The gigantic bar takes up more than half the room, with two islands jetting out offering optimal seating for parties who want to face each other rather than stare at the taps. There are 24 seats in all at the bar, so you may be hard-pressed NOT to find a seat.

About eight butcher-block style tables for mostly two guests line the far left wall when you walk in, set underneath the windows.

The list of beers and pub-style food was scrawled on a chalkboard above the bar wall, and the bartenders were happy to offer tastes or suggestions for the indecisive patrons.

On tap most recently were: Dark Horse Cream Stout, Terrapin Sunray Wheat, Coronado Red Devil, Heavy Seas Below Decks, Great Divide Yeti, Heavy Seas Holy Sheet and Boulder Mojo Rising.

Food is grouped in easy to understand small and large plates with common staples like wings in a hoisin BBQ sauce, and mussels cooked in wine or beer, pulled pork sandwich or a pub burger.

Some items that stood out were the beer battered green beans, French onion soup made with Sly Fox’s O’Reilly Stout, and rissotto crab and shrimp cakes.

Specials include Monday - Friday Happy Hour from 5 - 7 p.m. with $2 PBRs and $1 off draft and well drinks. Late night Happy Hour is Monday-Thursday from 10 to midnight. The Institute Bar

The Institute Bar

549 N. 12th Street

267-972-5016

Judging on the seating alone, The Institute has the opposite feel of Prohibition Taproom - mostly tables and a bar that’s one-fourth the size of the massive 24-seater at the Taproom.

But that’s not meant to deter you, because the beer selection is well worth a visit to this bar on the corner of 12th and Green.

They boast to be serious about both their beer and their food, having revealed a new menu with a new chef who “takes his food as seriously as we take our beer.”

The walls were a deep burgundy/purple color, contrasted with light wooden and rustic floors, with exposed brick and blood red curtains. About 10 or so tables are scattered throughout the first floor, giving optimal seating for parties who just want to sit, chat and drink – or eat.

The bar is way off in the corner offering just six seats with wrought iron backs and suede cushions. Blue lights keep the wooden bar-top glowing, and a flat screen is centered above the bar, playing some old school movies during our visit. The Institute Bar

They had 12 rotating beers on tap, with a great winter selection: Bells Java Stout, Weyerbacher Hotel Imperial Porter, Weyerbacher Heresy Oak Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, Rogue Chocolate Stout, Allagash Curieux, Founders Backwood Bastard (a bourbon-aged scotchale), Russian River Damnation, and Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Porter (Mmmmmmm!)

They also had a firkin of Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout on our visit. The menu includes appetizer offerings like stuffed mushrooms, wings, salt cod fritters, handcut fries with a dark beer gravy, fried plantains.

For heartier plates there’s Old Rasputin Chili, a curry chicken salad, maple braised pork, hanger steak, and a pumpkin mac and cheese.

Hungover? Go for their cure - fries, fried mozz, chicken fingers, and a chicken cheese steak on a roll. Can anyone say Rutgers grease trucks??

If all that doesn’t keep you coming back, maybe the specials will: Happy hour here is Monday through Friday 5p.m. until 7 p.m. with half of drafts, $2 off apps. The same deal is offered on weekends from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesdays mean 30 percent off the food bill after 7 p.m., and 40 percent off large plates after 8 p.m. on Fridays.

Contact Jessica Beym at jessicabeym@gmail.com