Alcohol sales and Bars/Taverns and Restaurants and Retail and Real Estate & Retail

Indy entrepreneurs draft plans for 3 microbreweries

June 8, 2010

Three new local microbreweries—Triton Brewing Co., Bier Brewery & Taproom and Flat 12 Bierwerks—are planning to open in the next few months in a rush inspired in part by the runaway success of homegrown Sun King Brewing Co.

“We think it’s great,” said Omar Robinson, Sun King’s president. “The more good breweries serving good craft beer, the more people get exposed to it, the more we all do well.”

There's plenty of room for growth in Indiana's craft-beer market. Craft brews make up only about 1.25 percent of the beer sold in Indiana, compared to about 20 percent in Oregon and roughly 10 percent in Colorado and California.

The demand for local beer has followed the demand for local produce, local meat, local just about everything, said entrepreneur Mike DeWeese, who is working on one of the proposed new breweries.

“This was a natural progression,” DeWeese said. “Indiana has been so far behind, particularly Michigan, in the number of micros opening up."

The planned new breweries:

Triton Brewing Co., a new production brewer named for the Greek god of water, is looking for space along the Binford Boulevard corridor.

The owners—DeWeese, Jon Lang and David Waldman—hope to open the brewery and a tap room by October. Tastings would be held Friday nights and all day Saturday.

Triton has purchased most of what it needs to open, including equipment from the now-closed Warbird Brewing Co. of Fort Wayne, giving it a 20,000-barrel capacity. The owners plan to raise $1 million for the venture, and they already have landed a bottling contract with Oaken Barrel of Greenwood.

The brewery name is a reference to beer’s largest ingredient, water. Triton beers will be made with reverse-osmosis-treated water fortified with minerals appropriate for each type of beer. For example, stouts will be made with water formulated to match that of Dublin, Ireland; and IPAs will be made with London-formulated water.

“It’s an extra 7 cents per gallon of cost, but that’s minute when you think of how much better the beer will taste,” DeWeese said. “You’ll taste things in our beer you can’t taste at any other brewery because there will be nothing to mask the ingredients.”

The plan is to start selling in Indiana and expand to the Chicago area within a year.

The three Triton partners earlier had planned to team up with restaurateur Scott Wise on a microbrewery in the former Sunflower Market space in Broad Ripple, but they couldn't come to terms with Wise on pricing and financing.

Wise, who runs the Scotty's Brewhouse chain, now plans to go solo on his own microbrewery and tap room pub, which will serve dill chips, wings, hummus and pizzas. He hopes to start construction in the next two months and open the spot, dubbed Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., in the fall.

Bier Brewery & Taproom, the brainchild of veteran brewer Darren Connor, is set to take 4,000 square feet in an industrial building at 5127 E. 65th St.

Connor, the longtime manager of the nearby beer-and-wine-making supplies retailer Great Fermentations, plans to use about half the space for beer production and the other half for a tasting room and to sell beer and merchandise.

A hearing for zoning approval is scheduled for Tuesday, and Connor hopes to open by the end of summer.

He plans to focus on small batches, particularly seasonals, and sell in-house only, rather than recruiting outside accounts like Sun King does.

“The more people that get to know craft beer, the better,” said Connor, a former assistant brewer at Bloomington Brewing Co. “That’s great, as long as they make good beer. There still are a lot of Bud-Miller-Coors drinkers out there. Beer should taste good—it’s not an acquired taste.”

Flat 12 Bierwerks was inspired by Indy native Sean O’Connor’s experience living in Europe, where he fell in love with craft beer.

Now his new neighbors in the Holy Cross and Cottage Home neighborhoods are falling in love with the concept of O'Connor's new microbrewery.

O’Connor and his two partners have won zoning approval to open the brewery in a roughly 10,000-square-foot industrial building at 402 Dorman St., between Vermont and Michigan streets, a few blocks east of Interstates 65 and 70.

The owners are lining up equipment and other permits required for beer brewing, and hope to open in the late summer or early fall. Most of the space would be used for production, but they hope to maintain a small tasting room with an outdoor seating area.

The plan is to brew six to nine beers, with a focus on distribution in Indianapolis, O’Connor said. They may need to add a second story to the building to accommodate the required equipment.

“We’re excited about what it will mean to the neighborhood,” O’Connor said.

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