The owner of Fountain Square Brewing Co. says time is running out for his Indianapolis business to survive.
Customers can buy craft beer at the brewery and tap room at 1301 Barth Ave. as 2022 comes to a close, and head brewer Beppe Cuello said he wants to buy Fountain Square Brewing Co. with his wife, Dama.
But owner Daryl Starr is moving on to focus on other business interests. Starr scheduled an online auction of the brewery’s assets, including fermenters, a canning line and walk-in coolers, for Jan. 17. Starr said a conventional sale of the business could happen before the auction date.
“I am hopeful that the brand can continue to operate under new ownership,” Starr wrote in an email to the IBJ. “However, the auction deadline is approaching quickly. If someone is going to buy it as a going concern they need to move fast.”
Cuello, who became the brewery’s interim general manager this fall, said he is working on a proposal that would keep the 11-year-old company selling its Workingman’s Pilsner and other varieties of beer.
“People have reached out to me, unsolicited, who want to help save the place,” Cuello said. “Among them are two people who have the resources.”
One of four full-time employees at Fountain Square Brewing, Cuello said the company’s sense of community is worth salvaging.
“It just can’t end,” Cuello said. “It’s a wonderful almost-family of people who love working together and work well together. And connected to them is a broader community of former employees and regulars in the neighborhood. We see them all the time.”
Starr, managing partner of Lafayette-based private investment firm Little Engine Ventures, hired Krueckeberg Auction & Realty to organize the upcoming auction. The Krueckeberg listing describes the sale as a complete liquidation.
Fountain Square Brewing’s production system was purchased from Alcatraz Brewing Co. after that brewpub closed its Circle Centre location in 2011.
Cuello said Fountain Square Brewing’s financial health has been affected by the demise of New Day Craft Mead & Cider, a company Fountain Square Brewing purchased in 2019.
New Day Craft Mead & Cider ceased operations in August.
When New Day closed, Starr summarized its situation in a Facebook post: “The company began losing money in the winter of 2019 after the departure of the sellers. Then, COVID-19 decimated sales by more than 84% in one week. Despite tremendous effort by our team we could not adequately resuscitate it back to a viable business.”
Fountain Square Brewing, founded by Justin Brown, Bill Webster and Jeff Gibson, opened in an 11,000-square-foot former carburetor-repair shop in 2011. Starr became the majority owner of the company in 2018.