Local origin brewing and genre-defying recipes will be on tap this summer at a former East Passyunk Avenue garage.
As the dynamics of the neighborhood change, so do the businesses. Thus, a flight of garages just south of the “Cheesesteak Corner” at East Passyunk and Wharton have morphed into gyms, bike shops, and coming this summer, a taproom brewery. Painted a graphic dark gray, Cartesian Brewing’s exterior at at 1324-26 East Passyunk Ave. sets it apart from the other former garages on the block. With 12 taps shared between beers, ciders, coffee, and seltzer there won’t be food, tours, or tasting flights, but people will be able to try all of the beverages in in three different sized pours.
Although Cartesian has been brewing since 2015 the taproom will be an increase in scale. Brewing onsite, there will be a sales and tasting room for about 50 guests, although the number may initially be reduced for Covid-19 compliance. Thanks to a 2016 statewide law change, small scale brewers were able to jettison food sales and focus solely on beer, and given their close proximity to many restaurants Cartesian’s taproom should complement other local businesses.
When owner Evan Roth founded Cartesian in 2015 with the mission of exploring local origin beers, there were no breweries south of Chestnut street. Although beer culture is very popular in the city and South Philadelphia, with several breweries, tasting rooms, and bottle shops, when the Cartesian location opens this summer it will be the only physical brewery in the area.
Cartesian’s ethos is that the ingredients themselves should tell the story, and good beer production shouldn’t be beholden to particular styles. In Roth’s words, when he moved to Philadelphia he “grew a beard, bought a bunch of plaid shirts, and started home brewing. For the first few years I was always driven by finding unknown styles and brewing unique beers.” That has continued with Cartesian’s mission of “local origin brewing” using as many local Delaware Valley ingredients as possible to drive the flavor profiles of their brews.
With their genre-defying recipes, Roth says Cartesian brews often get the compliment that “I don’t usually like that kind of beer, but I like yours.” He has been in contact with the local brewing historian Rich Wagner, and is hoping in the future to collaborate with local organizations and possibly recreate some historic recipes. Regardless, Cartesian’s opening is eagerly anticipated by both neighbors and curious beer aficionados.