By Sam Newhouse
Attic Brewing Company in Germantown opened with some impromptu dinner theater. The brewery celebrated the 100th anniversary of prohibition at their new taproom in the Wayne Junction area on Jan.16, inviting neighbors, craft-beer lovers, and the 300-odd investors who crowd-funded Attic into reality via Instagram. At the end of the night’s festivities, friends dressed up as 1920s federal prohibition enforcement officers and staged a raid of the place, taking co-owners Todd and Laura Lacy down.
Attic Brewing Company’s 6,000-square foot brewery and taproom at 137 W. Berkley Street officially opened for business on Jan. 17, but they had several soft openings in the weeks leading up to opening day, and say they’ve already had a steady flow of customers.
“Neighbors, people who love craft beer, neighbors who have never tried craft beer before,” said co-owner Laura Lacy, summarizing the early turnout. Laura, 37, and her husband and co-owner Todd, 39, have been bringing their brews to community events around Northwest Philly for years, including the Juneteenth Festival at Germantown’s Johnson House (with profits going back to the house), as a way to taste-test their beers on the public and meet more of the community.
“’I’ve had their beer, I know them, I belong here,’” Laura said, phrasing how she hopes customers feel after attending one of their frequent pop-ups around the community.
It seems to be working. On their first Monday in business, customers trickled in shortly after opening and the taproom was half-filled within the hour, hosting a diverse crowd that reflects Germantown.
New Brew in Wayne Junction
Attic is one of the earliest businesses to open within a $12 mil alion adaptive reuse plan that developer Ken Weinstein has led in the neighborhood near SEPTA’s Wayne Junction Regional Rail station (Weinstein’s Philly Office Retail is a partner in Attic’s new taproom and brewery). Attic, the first tenant that could draw visitors and more interest to the area, is located inside the former Blaisdell Paper Pencil Company, which is part of the Wayne Junction Historic District. The building was used for textiles before it went to a private owner who used it as a garage and for occasional parties, according to neighbors.
Laura Lacy said the brewery side of the business is small-scale, focused on providing good beer for their customers rather than large production. They have the capacity to produce about 2,000 barrels of beer a year. In the next few months, the plan is to start offering kegs for sale.
The brewery’s freshly renovated interior is a comfortable and unpretentious space with exposed brick walls and refinished wood beams from the original structure. Most light fixtures are reused century-old lamps and behind the 40-foot bar is a beautifully carved wooden back bar from the 1890s that Attic picked up from a local antiques dealer.
One corner of the taproom is a living room-style space with comfy couches and a wall of local artists’ work, all of which is for sale without any commission paid to the brewery.
The art isn’t up for sale as a profit stream, Laura said, but as part of the brewery’s vision of “shared prosperity,” using a business to spread as much benefit as possible around the neighborhood.
“We’re really trying not to be just another brewery,” Laura said.
The staff is mostly local to the neighborhood, down to the contractors taking care of plumbing and electric, and the bar-backs are trained to welcome non-craft beer drinkers and introduce them to the unique flavors of small-batch brews, Laura said.
As for the beers, they taste great – not too flashy, but a nice range for different palates. The Bloodhound Brown Ale and Illiado Cream Ale have full flavor profiles that are not too showy, while their Hazy Pale Ale, oatmeal porter and double IPA all hit the spot. Some of these beers have been under refinement for years, and Attic is currently working with brewer Bogdan Lisachenko.
While things are just getting started for Attic, they are hoping that future customers might stop by for a drink on their commutes on one of the six Regional Rail lines that run through Wayne Junction SEPTA station (itself renovated in 2015 to the tune of $31.5 million), or on bike rides up to sites in the Wissahickon Park or historic Germantown.
Philly Office Retail’s broader project in the neighborhood around Wayne Junction (known to some as Wayne’s World), includes apartments and more business space, and its own offices are sharing space in the refurbished former Charles Schaeffer School at 4701 Germantown Ave. with co-working offices and JumpStart Germantown, their real estate development training program.
(Plans for a new trolley car diner near Wayne Junction are on hold pending a new location – its planned destination was found to be on unstable ground, reportedly, due to the city demolishing an old structure there and leaving behind several feet of unstable rubble.)
With all this development going on, Laura and Todd are focused on taking things slow. They live four blocks from the brewery and want it to be a welcoming place for all their neighbors. Laura said people from the block have been walking up to them to thank them for bringing some life back to an abandoned stretch of town, and Weinstein has solicited input from local civic organizations over the past years.
“People that live here deserve amenities like every other neighborhood,” Laura said.
Lovers of Beer
The Lacys were living in Germantown when they started brewing beer for fun (in the attic, of course), moved to Delaware County, but missed their adopted neighborhood and came back. Todd, a Colorado native, was a National Parks Service ranger and Laura, originally from the Chicago area, was working for retailer H&M when figured they’d take their chance on running their own business.
“When we decided to open the brewery, we said, ‘We’re going to stay,'” said Laura.
In the near future, Attic hopes to start offering food plates. They’ve hosted live music and have spoken to neighbors about hosting stand-up comedy shows. They want to hang a projection screen so they can show customers weird movies and are starting some regular theme nights like Metal Mondays.
Visit atticbrewing.com to learn more.