Monday, May 20, 2013

Ale to the 'Burbs: EvenFlow Music and Spirits - Geneva, Illinois


Welcome to the Chicago Craft Beer Week edition of Ale to the 'Burbs, a monthly collaborative beer blog series. Five Chicagoland beer blogs...five communities...five suburban beer destinations...all on one day. From the hidden neighborhood gems to the well-known pillars of suburban craft beer, we've got the Chicago 'burbs covered. Links to the other four posts are listed at the end of this article. Check back next month for our next set of articles.

Downtown Geneva, Illinois, may seem like an odd place to open up a music venue, especially one that focuses on rock 'n roll and craft beer. A stroll down the west side of State Street brings you past local clothing stores, spice shops, a wide range of restaurants and bars, and the obligatory Starbucks. But Michael Knuth and Nick Mercadante felt there was a hole to be filled in the entertainment scene of Geneva. For five years they worked on a plan to fill that hole with what is now EvenFlow Music & Spirits.

The EvenFlow House Kit

The first thing you'll notice about EvenFlow is the unique building itself, an entirely transformed version of the 1906 Geneva State Bank. Murals cover the walls of all three levels with portraits and lyrics from famous bands and musicians, from the Beatles to the Who and, of course, Pearl Jam. While the main floor is home to the stage, a fully-stocked floor-length bar, and the kitchen (just behind the bank's original steel vault door), an upstairs balcony area serves as a party spot overlooking the bar and stage below. Overhead, a skylight brings natural light in during the day and early evening, then shifts to a moody light show to pair with the music at night.

Meanwhile, a trip to the basement brings one to the Vault, a dimly-lit, cozy room that includes a fireplace, a wine cellar behind an original set of bank vault bars, and an additional full bar. A perfect setting for private parties and events, the Vault's old exposed brick walls and low ceilings provide a "grotto" feel to whole the room.
Enter the Vault.
While many music venues choose to overcharge for plastic cups of cheap beer, EvenFlow has chosen to keep only craft beer on tap. In the past, some form of lite beer was always available on draft to appease anyone looking for it. But recently, co-owner Knuth proudly explains, even that tap has been reserved for craft offerings due to a complete lack of demand for lite beer. Now, the only non-craft offerings in the bar are sold in bottles.

As for the current lineup on draft, rotation is a big part of what EvenFlow tries to keep top of mind, making sure not to tap the same beer after a keg kicks. And specials, like $2 bottles on Tuesdays and even text message alerts about weekend draft discounts, keep the beer flowing and fresh. Knuth is quick to point out that local Chicago-area brews tend to sell out quickly. He also looks forward to Penrose Brewing opening nearby, bringing a new hyper-local option to the area.
"We're very lucky. It's so rich around here with small breweries that have great customer service." - Michael Knuth, Co-Owner
From the moment you walk in to EvenFlow, there's never a doubt that you're in a music venue. While some bar owners are fine with having bands as an afterthought, throwing a stage that can pull double duty for karaoke in the back of the bar, EvenFlow puts music right in the spotlight. As you enter, the stage is just to the left of the front door with the evening's band perfectly visible, and audible, to any passersby. With a house drum kit tucked in the corner, it's clear that music is the focus here.

There are very few nights when some form of music isn't being played on stage. Tuesdays feature an open jam for musicians to come in and play together, unlike a typical open mic night where each person takes a turn. Wednesdays are devoted to live music trivia, while Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are filled with original and cover bands, usually rock or blues, although you may find a local country or R&B performer from the city filling in on occasion.

EvenFlow Co-Owner Michael Knuth Sits in the Jimi Room

Live music five nights a week and a great beer menu already surpass the standards of many suburban bars, but Knuth is quick to point out that the EvenFlow kitchen is not to be ignored. Focusing on contemporary American cuisine, EvenFlow's menu provides upscale offerings that go far beyond typical "pub food." Even their snacks verge on decadent: truffle popcorn, spiced peanuts, and house chips fried in bacon oil. This week, a new summer menu will make its debut with a strong focus on small, shareable plates perfect for groups of grazers.

This trio of features - an original, upscale menu, an excellent beer and drink selection, and live music - makes EvenFlow a strong choice for an evening out with a group of friends or a unique date night. Layer on a determined focus on service that Knuth prides himself and his staff on and you have something special rarely found in the far-west suburbs - a venue with true personality.
Everybody who works here, including my kitchen staff, bartenders, cocktailers...we all bring personality to what we do and what we deliver to the floor. We don't call our waitstaff "servers." We're not just serving you. We're trying to build a relationship with you while you're here. - Michael Knuth, Co-Owner
Although EvenFlow doesn't have any events planned specifically for Chicago Craft Beer Week, they are getting into the spirit with a local beer special. All week long, selected Chicago-area beers will be featured at only $3 per pint, providing a perfect opportunity to stop in and check out EvenFlow out for yourself.

Check out more photos in the gallery.

Additional Articles in this Month's Ale to the 'Burbs Series:

Chicago Brew Werks by Blah Blah...Beer: 
Tribes Alehouse by Pourman
Standard Market by Beerdogging
Chalk by Suburban Brew