When you’re looking to relax with some great beer while getting a decent massage, there’s only one place in and around Philly to go: The Baggataway Tavern in Conshohocken (@baggtavern on Twitter). An easy drive from the city or surrounding ‘burbs will have you pulling into a spacious bar with ample parking, craft beers on tap and a massage therapist in the corner on Monday evenings.
Every Monday from 7-9, a masseuse is at the bar to give free (please tip) 10-minute massages to anyone willing to get one. A beer and a massage? If it hadn’t occurred to you before (and it hadn’t occurred to me), this is a perfect combination, especially when you add a cozy wooden bar and TVs playing all the various sporting games to the mix.
When we arrived, I was skeptical about the beer. On their big back deck hung signs promoting their Coors Light and Miller specials during games. What we found inside, though, was quite a pleasant surprise. As I looked over the draft list, amidst bar standards such as Coors Light and Yuengling, were beautiful little islands in a sea of macros: Elysian’s Immortal IPA, Dark Horse’s Tres Blueberry Stout, Great Lakes’ Conway’s Irish Ale. Remembering my recent love affair with hops, I began with the Immortal IPA. If my first impressions were dashed with the beer list, they were completely crumbled when bartender (and partner/manager) Stew Keener asked if I would like the beer in a frosted glass or regular glass. Since frosted glasses are my biggest pet peeve, it was nice to be asked—and nice to find a place that catered to both ends of the spectrum.
When I noticed my next beer on the bottle list, I knew I was in the right place. My eyes fell upon Russian River Damnation and never looked back. At an oh-so-reasonable $8, I happily drank down the delicious Damnation and, before my free massage, had a taste of Blue Point’s roasty Toasted Lager. I wasn’t expecting much, but the toastiness really came through and it ended up surprisingly flavorful for a lager. Another great thing about the bar is their willingness to give tastes; as the draft list says, “Ask us for a taste—we know it’s a big decision!” Not only is it a big decision, but it’s a great way to slowly ween people onto craft beer, especially when you’ve got standards like Allagash White on tap, which is one of the true gateway beers to the craft world. “Many of our customers only started drinking craft [beer] as we began to offer it, so it’s been a learning experience that we’ve all embarked on together,” says Julie Keener, Stew’s wife and a partner in the bar as well as a server/bartender/manager.
What you won’t find, though, is a staff trying to force craft beer on you if you don’t want it. “We think that beer is for everybody,” says Julie. “It is all a matter of personal choice.” While Julie and her husband Stew both love craft beer, they also don’t want to leave anyone out. “We don’t ever want to be the type of bar that makes you feel uncool for drinking Miller Lite.”
But don’t be fooled into thinking the bar is just about the beer. “Our kitchen staff works hard to produce consistently tasty food, whether it’s our regular menu items or daily specials. We’re specifically known for our fresh soups.” Confirmed by a soup-loving friend and her sister beside us who were eager to order a bowl, Julie is not kidding around about the soup.
In addition to having the masseuse every Monday evening, the bar offers the following:
- Tuesday: Buy one/get one burgers and a selected $3 craft beer.
- Wednesday: Trivia night, $8 pitchers of Coors & Yuengling.
- Thursday: Live music, free wings with any pitcher of beer (craft or macro).
Baggataway also offers free wings weeknights from 5-7pm, which you will soon be able to enjoy on their outside deck, which is generally open from the end of April until October, with exceptions in between for particularly nice days.
In addition to their weekly specials, the gang at Baggataway are gearing up for their annual Cinco de Mayo/Kentucky Derby party, which will fall on Saturday, May 7th. Tents are put over the parking lot to make it an indoor/outdoor party complete with bands, margaritas and mint juleps, Mexican food and, of course, beer.
Whether you’re looking for craft beer, macro beer, good food or a friendly staff, Baggataway Tavern in West Conshohocken is your one-stop shop for all of the above. No matter if you’re from the city or the neighborhood, it’s worth the trip. Known as “West Conshy’s best kept secret,” do yourself a favor and stop by before the secret is out.