Black Acre seeking to increase beer production

December 5, 2013
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The Black Acre Brewing Co. is looking to expand its beer-brewing operations in Irvington.
Black Acre 225pxBut to do that it needs a zoning variance for 5,000 square feet of space that it’s leased at 5543 Bonna Ave. That’s two blocks south of East Washington Street, where the micro-brewery and pub is located, and near the Pennsy Trail.

Black Acre opened at 5632 E. Washington St. in February 2012.

The space on Bonna Ave. where Black Acre wants to expand is zoned for commercial use, but needs an industrial classification to accommodate the brewery. Black Acre plans to maintain its current brewpub with its expansion.

Brewery owners signed a lease and began moving equipment into the space, but were stopped when the Department of Code Enforcement refused to grant them permits for interior work because they didn’t have proper zoning, according to an Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission staff report.

Black Acre wants the additional space because its small brewery at its pub produces just three barrels, or 93 gallons, at a time. The additional space would increase capacity fivefold, to 15 barrels, said Justin Miller, one of Black Acre's five owners.

"We need more production and we might possibly do a little bit of distribution," he said.

Black Acre’s request for the zoning change was on the commission’s Wednesday agenda. But owners asked for, and received, a continuance until Jan. 2 “to present the strongest case possible,” they said on Facebook.

A commission staff comment included in the agency’s report reads: “An industrial brewery use has the potential to create smells, pests and possibly combustion concerns. The grain that is delivered to the site is a combustible material and does attract rodents and other pests.”

Still, Miller remains hopeful.

"We want to try to keep it in Irvington if possible," he said. "It's the ideal spot because it's only a couple of blocks away [from the current location]."


  • code vs cops
    If we just had as many cops as we do code enforcement folks, the City would be in really good shape to fight crime. Good luck to Black Acre!
    • Code vs Cops
      Love the comment, Kent. Unfortunately, it's pretty accurate.
      • Code vs cops
        Disappointing. It's not a question of manpower, but one of focus. IMPD and DCE both focus on the wrong people. Apparently, neither department head got the memos on "great urbanism" or "world class cities."
      • Love To See Black Acre Expand
        Black Acre is an OUTSTANDING addition to Indianapolis's craft beer purveyors. I, like many others would welcome an opportunity to enjoy Black Acre Brews in a larger location as well as perhaps in bars and liquor stores. Black Acre is one of the couple of handfuls of establishments that make visiting Irvington even desirable. There are plenty of places around the Indy Metro area they could locate if they have to and perhaps even get a larger share of the craft beer clientel.
      • More fresh local artisinal organic fair trade craft beer news?
        I am growing very tired of reading about, hearing about, and being force fed Indianapolis's low grade brand of craft beer (also known as fresh, local, organic, artisinal, fair trade, micro-nano-brewed, hophead IPA craft beer). Some cities are good at some things... Chicago makes great hot dogs. Key West makes great pie. Colorado makes exceptional beer. Some cities are bad at some things. Cincinnati makes horrifying chili. Indianapolis's bacterial municipal water is unfit for human consumption, and combined with inexperienced law students results in horrific unbalanced beer. Stop it, Indiana. Just stop it.
        • Wow comments are funny!
          It's amazing what some people say. Irvington is an incredible part of this city. Things like this help to progress the area and make it an even more desirable place to live and visit. Any opposition to this is just plain shortsighted.
        • Black Acre is an attraction for Irvington
          Love Black Acre. It has been a high recommendation from us. Great food. Good beer. Good atmosphere. Irvington should WANT to keep this, and keep it going well. That's only going to employ more people.
        • Sad
          It sounds like this brewery is a positive for Irvington. It is to bad that DCE makes it at burden to do business in Indianapolis. I have had much the same experience with an unresolved issue with this branch of government as is disheartening to say the least...and in my view unfair.... I understand business can't be a detriment to residential areas....but c'mon....sounds like this project will be a positive for the area.
        • Team Irvington
          As a local real estate broker I support this growth opportunity for Black Acre and the community of Irvington as a whole. This is a positive and hope the January 2nd hearing will be in favor of the variance!
        • Black Acre
        • Why is DCE to Blame?
          Why are we blaming DCE? Black Acre should have checked the zoning rules like many other businesses do on a daily basis. DCE is there to enforce the ordiance and that's what they are doing. This area is hitoric for a reason. If you want someone to blame, blame black acre.
          • Isn't it ironic, don't you think?
            I like Black Acre, but one does have to acknowledge the irony of a bunch of former law students not knowing to check the zoning regulations...
          • FYI
            When they signed the lease to their warehouse, they were told that the space was zoned for industrial use and it stated so in the lease. It was after the lease had been signed and the equipment purchase that they learned otherwise.
            • C'mon
              "They were told"??? It literally takes a minute or so to look up/check zoning for any site in Marion County using online resources. That said...the IHPC staff comment is absurd. Brewing produces an odor similar to bread baking, something done in very high volume two miles away at the Kroger bakery.
            • Black Acre
              When the Dairy Queen in Irv. Plaza wanted to replace their sign, that had been knocked down by a truck, they had to go to court of and on for a year, and fight the ridiculus code enforcement laws. One would think that the city administration would be a little more open to small business, and their problems, than to create more.
            • Hey Fred
              THat must be what they call a nonconforming sign, because it doesn't conform to the zoning code. Thus, when it falls over, gets knocked down, or whatever, it can't legally be permitted. Most people don't want to live in an urban environment chock full of large signs on poles. It's unattractive and reinforces a cars first, pedestrians second environment. I don't know all the details of that particular case, but if the code wouldn't permit another freestanding sign, DQ probably could've worked with the owner of the property to have a panel on the Irvington Plaza sign like every other business located there. Regarding Black Acre, it is sad or laughable if it's true that law students or degree holders relied on the word of a real estate broker (paid when transactions close) that the property was zoned properly.
            • Good Luck
              Black Acre is a terrific part of Irvington and I wish them the best.
            • Black Acre & Irvington
              Tired of Irvington wanting special treatment because of historical status and the desire to be like Broad Ripple. Zoning, codes and COA's are in place so, following the rules. Tears from whining should be the drink of choice of Irvingtonias.

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