D.L. After celebrating your 4th Anniversary, you are opening the first Evil Genius brewery in Philadelphia! We are so happy to have you here, but why did you choose Philly?
L.B. We live here, we went to school here… this is our home. We wanted to be in Philadelphia so badly, but we had to find the right spot. We decided on Fishtown because we wanted to be a part of the revitalization that’s happening in Northern Liberties and Fishtown. The area has seen such a renaissance in a very short time. The residents are great, the bars are great and the area has a ton of history. Our building is over 100 years old and has always been used as a manufacturing facility. Being affiliated with a beer city as great as Philadelphia will be a huge boost for our brand, and hopefully it will get us recognized outside of our home market.
D.L. Why did you initially brew with Thomas Hook Brewery instead of opening your own brewery right away?
T.H. We were broke 20-somethings when we started, and no one was going to give us $5 million to build a brewery. Starting our company this way allowed us to pump out tens of thousands of cases on a regular basis with a low startup cost.
D.L. What about the new brewery excites you the most?
L.B. The new brewery will allow us to create more specialty beers like sours, lagers and unfiltered IPAs that we just can’t make in our current situation. That is what I am most excited about. But I also want people to come and experience who we are and what we’re about. I think that everyone will be blown away when they see what we’re building here.
D.L. Will we see any new beers from Evil Genius this year?
T.H. Yes! For starters we will release two more versions of This One Time At Band Camp. Also, we’re working on an Almost IPA due out this summer. And because we are turning five this year, we will be releasing an Anniversary Ale.
D.L. You recently hired Brewmaster Jon Defibaugh. What does he add to the Evil Genius team?
L.B. Jon is a great addition. He was the head brewer at Tired Hands Brewing Co. before working with us. He’s an awesome person with a lot of creative ideas. Part of the new brewery will be solely in his hands. We want him to experiment and get creative. That’s why he’s here, and we’re excited to see what he comes up with.
D.L. Who chooses the names of your beers? They are hysterical!
L.B. Everyone on our team, and even some people who don’t work for Evil Genius have named our beers. If it doesn’t make us laugh, then we don’t use it. It’s as simple as that.
D.L. Which Evil Genius beer is your favorite to brew? Which is most difficult?
L.B. Trick or Treat Chocolate Pumpkin Porter is my favorite. That beer really got us noticed early on. I would say that it’s also the most difficult to brew because we use real pumpkin, spices and natural chocolate. There’s a lot to juggle. But people go crazy for it.
T.H. My favorite beer to brew is our farmhouse IPA. We use all of the “sexy” hops in that one… Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra. The brewery just smells awesome on those brew days. Like Luke said, developing a recipe for beers that have the specific flavors we want, like chocolate and peanut butter, can be a challenge.
D.L. Which ingredient are the hardest to brew with?
L.B. Have you ever burned butter on the stove? That’s what it tastes like when you burn peanut butter or hazelnut oil. While we obviously don’t dump a jar of Skippy in the beer, we do use all natural ingredients when brewing, so it’s hard to brew with ingredients like that and still have the beer taste like beer.
D.L. What is it about your Purple Monkey Dishwasher Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter that people go crazy for?
L.B. People often order it because the name is so out there. But once they try it, they got nuts for the flavor. It isn’t too sweet, too heavy or artificial tasting. We’re very proud of that beer and we sell a ton of it.
D.L. Each release of your new year-round beer, This One Time at Band Camp, is made with different hops. How did you come up with this idea and how often will a different version be released?
L.B. We came up with the idea because we really like brewing with different combinations of hops. It gives us the chance to release a beer with the same malt bill, but a different hop blend, to really accent the differences between them. We plan on releasing this beer three times a year with a different select hop bill. Our first edition was Simcoe, but we have a ton of fun stuff in the works!
D.L. One of your spring seasonals, Shut Up, Meg! is a dry-hopped farmhouse IPA. Where did the idea for this unique style come from?
L.B. Jon has a ton of experience brewing IPAs and saisons, so we just let him go nuts. He really honed in on something special with that beer. It also has a great name. I get a ton of people asking where they can find it because their wife or girlfriend is named Meg.
D.L. What do you see being the next big trend in craft beer?
T.H. As much as people want to say IPAs are over, they’re not. IPAs will always dominate, but I see more breweries getting into pilsners and goses. Most of my friends like to drink craft beer, but they don’t want to drink two 10% IPAs. They would rather drink four or five beers with ABVs under 5%, so I think session beers are the future of the industry.
D.L. If you were stuck on desert island, which three beers would you want with you?
L.B. Great Question! Well, if I’m on a desert island then I’m going to be very thirsty, so definitely Allagash White because I can drink that all day. I’d also want something hoppy, so cans of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would be perfect. That is the first craft beer I fell in love with – it’s my go-to. Finally, I’ll definitely want something dark, and I couldn’t live without our chocolate peanut butter porter, Purple Monkey Dishwasher. I love that beer so much and it’s the one I’m most proud of.
T.H. I’m gonna go with beers that’ll help quench my thirst. Our mango wit ale, Ma! The Meatloaf! has to be my number one choice. It’s so easy to drink and very refreshing. As for my 2nd and 3rd choices I would go with 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat and Harpoon’s UFO Raspberry. All three of these would make even the worst desert island a paradise!
D.L. Lastly, how did you guys come up with the name Evil Genius?
L.B. It came to us during a long night of “research” at a local pub. We were totally overthinking it. Once we relaxed and let our creative juices flow, Evil Genius just popped out. We were unsure about using the name at first. It has the word EVIL in it and we wondered if people would get the wrong impression. Thankfully we dismissed that idea pretty quickly. I get emails and calls daily from people saying that they love the name or they have a friend that they call The Evil Genius.