The Philadelphia brewing boom continues with March 8's opening of Evil Genius Beer Co.'s tasting room beneath the Market-Frankford El at 1727 N. Front St. in Fishtown, just up the street from Front Street Cafe and Wm. Mulherin's Sons and a long block south of the Berks Street station.
The new Evil Genius' grand scale and reclaimed-industrial motif are reminiscent of Philadelphia Distilling Co.'s new spot nearby, next to the Fillmore.
Evil Geniuses/owners Luke Bowen and Trevor Hayward started with a derelict late-19th-century building, likely once used as a rail-car factory, on Front Street between Palmer and Columbia. They kept its pulley system (actually using it during renovation) and added a roof with skylights. It's also now completely energy-efficient, Bowen explains. Radiant heat has been installed in the all-new floor, and he says the bill from the LED lighting would be $2 a day even if all were left on 24 hours a day.
One side of the space is the tasting room, which starts out as a cute lounge with a TV/hi-fi console equipped with an '80s-style Sega Genesis game and comfy furniture. Behind that are tables, chairs, and a long, concrete bar. The side yard, site of a beer garden last summer, will be set up in the coming months.
Evil Genius' 10-tap system passes through the wall, directly into the 15-bbl brewery, domain of brewmaster Jon Defibaugh (formerly of Earth Bread + Brewery and Tired Hands Brewing).
Eight varieties were available for the opening, most brewed offsite for now. A crowler machine will allow 32-ouncers to go.
The space does not have a hood for cooking. Selections include a deconstructed Italian hoagie, charcuterie and cheese plates, sloppy Joe sliders, panini, popcorn, and for dessert, waffle nachos, which are Belgian waffles covered in whipped cream and toppings.
Unlike most of today's upstart breweries, Evil Genius is not a new name on the scene. Bowen and Hayward met while studying for their MBAs at Villanova in 2008. The iffy job market prompted them to go the entrepreneurship route. They set up Evil Genius in an arrangement in which a brewer makes the beer from specs and Bowen and Heyward handle the branding and marketing.
Evil Genius hit shelves in 2011, getting a name not only for its drinkable beers but its goofy names, such as: "Ma. The Meatloaf," "This One Time at Band Camp," and "Stacy's Mom."
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.