Craft-beer guru planning taproom in Greenwood with ax-throwing hook

A new taproom slated to open later this year in Greenwood will feature on-site ax-throwing, as well as a distilling and brewing operation.

Tap & Axe, 147 S. Madison Ave., is expected to open in late spring. Its local investors include Brian Nentrup, founder of Hoosier Brewing Co., which will use some of the space to continue brewing its signature craft beers.

The 6,000-square-foot building near Madison Avenue’s intersection with Main Street, was formerly home to The Blind Pig bar and grill, which closed in 2017 after a 17-year run. The 109-year-old property was purchased for $350,000 in March 2018 by Matt Crawford and Mike Crowder, who are partners in the Tap & Axe development.

“The historic value of the building made this a perfect choice," Crowder said in a media release. "Behind the plaster covered brick walls and multiple drop ceilings, we found a gem of a building. Our goal is to transform this location into a showpiece for craft beverages."

Nentrup, who started Hoosier Brewing Co. in 2015, operated the Hoosier Brewhouse in Franklin before closing the business in early 2018 due to a significant decline in sales and construction-related road closures, he said.

“It was a hard decision to close our taproom and restaurant in Franklin," he said. "We tried hard to have a seamless transition with the incoming
brewery that has since taken the space, but could not hold on long enough."

Greenfield-based Wooden Bear Brewing is close to opening an outpost in the Franklin location at 157 Holiday Place.

He said the former Blind Pig location would be a good fit for a drink-focused venue, and that ax-throwing could draw a younger crowd.

“I think this is going to be a great opportunity for people to try something new,” he said. “Right now, there aren’t a lot of places that offer the ax-throwing component. We want to be part of that, but more importantly, we want to do that well.”

Tap & Axe has a three-way liquor license. Nentrup said there are plans to produce bourbons, whiskeys and gins in the distilling area of the facility. The investors are willing to experiment with different methods of production, including accelerated aging.

The investors, who also include Mike Rincker and a silent partner, are spending about $200,000 on rehabbing and retooling the building. The venue eventually could have a rooftop lounge or bar, but the investment group is “focused on one thing at a time for now," Nentrup said.

The rehab will include new doors and windows, a new HVAC system and floor repairs. The price tag also includes installation of the brewing and distilling operations.

An exact opening date has not yet been set. Nentrup said permits for the distilling and brewing processes could be delayed further if there's another government shutdown.

“We’ve already been delayed some due to the first one,” he said. “We’ll have to see what happens.”

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