Now Open for Carryout: Altered Genius Brewing in Ambridge

In lieu of a (planned) grand opening, Altered Genius has quietly soft launched in Beaver County. Here's how you can order a growler from the area's newest brewery.

by Aadam Soorma
May 12, 2020

ABV is our weekly series that highlights a different beer from a local Pittsburgh brewery every week. Check out our past picks here.

“Well, we were hoping to have our grand opening with people.” – Mike Haas, Altered Genius Brewing

After 12 years of homebrewing and scaling up their beer acumen, Mike Haas and his partners have unveiled Altered Genius – a Beaver County-based brewery which has quietly opened for carryout service.

Located at 411 Merchant St. in downtown Ambridge, Altered Genius is open for takeout every Thursday through Sunday.

Although bar service is not permitted at this time, guests visiting the new brewery can pick up pre-ordered growlers from a side patio door and get a glimpse of the new taproom.

What does Altered Genius mean?

The name – Altered Genius – actually refers to both of the brewers’ full-time careers as teachers.

“When Donnie (Cardone) and I aren’t brewing beer, we work with kids who are non-traditional students,” Haas explains. “What we do and where we come from is alternative education. These kids are very smart in their own right.”

“We see them as alternative geniuses; or altered genius.”

What Beers are Available at Altered Genius?

As Altered Genius builds their brewery brand, visitors can expect to see up to 12 beers available at a time. Per Haas, Altered Genius is leaning into four flagship beers that they plan to have on draft as year-round mainstays.

Hoptruvian: IPA, 7.2% ABV // Brewed with 7 different hop varieties for a complexity of tastes and aromas.

Peake Saison: Traditional Farmhouse Saison, 5.3% ABV // Crisp and light with a somewhat dry finish. Named after Mervyn Peake and translates to “peak season.”

Lenore: Chocolate Fudge Coffee Stout, 6% ABV // Brewed using Prestogeorge chocolate fudge roasted coffee beans that are cold brewed and then combined with the mash, this is a bold, jet black beer. Named after Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”

Wicked Smaht: New England IPA, 6.6% ABV // Hazy, New England-style IPA with pineapple and mango notes. Named after the scene in “Good Will Hunting” where the Boston southie accent is on full display.

altered genius

Working off a 10 BBL brewing system, Haas and his team had the date April 25 circled on their calendars.

“Since we had all these plans for a grand opening party, we had brewed and prepped a bunch of beer,” Haas explains. “In late March, we realized a big gathering just wouldn’t be feasible; we want to be thoughtful and safe.”

The choice to continue with a subdued, soft opening (and growler sales) came down to serving fresh beer and giving visitors a peek into the pub.

“We passed inspection and our building is in great shape. Ultimately, we’d love to have a grand opening down the road – but at least for now, folks can taste our beer while it’s fresh and get a little preview of our space.”

What Used to be in the Altered Genius building?

Folks familiar with downtown Ambridge might remember what Altered Genius’ building was best known as: a Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe.

“Until about 10 to 15 years ago, that was it,” Haas says. “After the hot dog shop, this was a barber school and we’re taking it into a brewery.”

Per Haas, the building is roughly 100 years old and carries historic, pronounced features of that era.

“The exterior walls are 14 inches thick. There are some really charming characteristics we’ve preserved in revitalizing the building into a production space and pub space.”

How Can I Buy a Growler of Altered Genius Beer?

The ordering process for Altered Genius is pretty straightforward. Hop on their website to select your beer and then schedule a pickup time for up to two days out.

If you’re already on your way to the brewery, just indicate ‘immediate pickup’ and your order will be ready within 30 minutes.

Pro Tip: To comply with social distancing and to eliminate any risk of contamination, every first purchase at Altered Genius is required to include a new growler. You can buy a plain, unlabeled 64-oz growler or a 2-liter deluxe growler with swing top cap and rubber gasket. Bring your glassware back in the future and Altered Genius will do a straight growler exchange on 64-oz growlers or a refill on the 2-liter growler.

Hours of Operation at Altered Genius (for now)

Per Haas and the team at Altered Genius, hours of operation are subject to change – especially given the uncertainty of stay-at-home orders and any statewide regulations.

For now, you can visit for growler pickups every Thursday through Sunday. If growlers should sell out, Haas says the team will make arrangements for other options (to sell their beer in a pre-packaged format).

Thursday and Friday: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Saturday: noon to 7 p.m.

Sunday: noon to 6 p.m.

Guests can expect to see local food trucks at Altered Genius as well.

Are there other Breweries Nearby?

Altered Genius is the third brewery in Beaver County. They are the first in Ambridge.

Folks looking to visit the other Beaver County breweries can connect with:

  • Petrucci Brothers
  • Beaver Brewing
altered genius
A look inside the recently completed taproom at Altered Genius Brewing in Ambridge. When it is safe to do so, the taproom will officially welcome guests looking to visit and try their in-house beers. Photo: Altered Genius Brewing

In 2012, Aadam moved to Pittsburgh. He's currently parked (sans chair) in Lawrenceville and plans to stay a while. On the weekends, you'll find him driving a small green bus (Porter Tours) as he leads tours at local breweries. Got a fun story idea? DMs are open: @asoorma.

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