Redemption Alewerks Muncie is About To Revolutionize Your Search For Craft Beer

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Craft beer is currently available to us fans in several different formats. We can go to the brewery or an offsite taproom. We can buy cans and bottles at the local spirits beer store. We can attend one of the numerous beer festivals, or relax in a restaurant or craft beer bar for a good brew. Soon, Redemption Alewerks and Washington Prime Group will have a new way for you to soak up your suds. It makes so much sense, you wonder why it hasn’t been done before.

Consider captive audiences for a moment – you intend to visit the in-laws halfway across the country, but your flight is delayed. You have already passed through TSA, so what do you do? You look for the nearest craft beer bar to commiserate with other passengers and people watch over a craft beer.

In similar fashion, those baseball tickets cost you a pretty penny, but the game’s been in a rain delay for the past forty-five minutes. Where can you be found if they decide to finish up? In the beer garden, hopefully finding an array of fine local indie craft beer.

Established in 2014 on 96th Street in Indianapolis, Redemptions Alewerks is known for their head brewer/model Dan Gohr, their great beer, and some sensational smoked meats. Image credit: Redemption Alewerks

Come late fall, we can add another captive audience to the list of people for whom indie craft beer will be available. The spouses and significant others of those who just have to spend some quality hours at the mall. Just how many shoe stores can she browse in one afternoon anyway? How many times is he going to change his mind from the plasma screen to the quantum dot technology and back again?

Well, while they fritter away the hours lugging packages and lamenting prices, you can sit down at the nation’s first craft beer kiosk bar – right inside the Muncie Mall. The mall’s property management company, Washington Prime Group, has a CEO named Lou Conforti who is a passionate craft beer fan, and this is his pet project.

In the past, Redemption Alewerks has worked closely with Conforti’s company to bring their indie craft beer to many events at Washington Prime’s Clay Terrace “retail lifestyle center.” The success of these events and Mr. Conforti’s love of craft beer turned into an idea that could change the look, and perhaps the fortunes, of America’s retail malls.

Washington Prime has contracted with Redemption Alewerks to own and run a craft beer bar located inside the atrium promenade just in front of the Macy’s anchor store. While Redemption Alewerks Muncie might be considered a free standing kiosk in a mall, it will be unlike any other kiosk you have heard of. There will be six draft taps behind a bar with eight bar stools. A standing rail behind for people to rest their beers will allow them to lounge and watch the televisions above the bar. And a family friendly seating center with 22 additional seats around eight to ten tables will be just the other side of the rail.

The kiosk, set to open before the weather drives everyone indoors, will be a slightly warmer version of Redemption’s industrial interior design at the home brewery. So, while the wife or the husband is off making unwarranted impulse buys, you can sit down with the kids to a well-reasoned decision between an Atonement Pale Ale, a Salvation Orange Blossom Honey Wheat, or one of the other Redemption beers on tap. This is different than going to a bar – these are the people who involved in making the beer. They are going to bring their love of craft beer to you while you shop, and you can sit down and have a good craft beer conversation.

Airport bars have slowly moved toward being airport craft beer taprooms. This is the Stone taproom in Terminal 2 at San Diego International Airport. Photo credit: Brew York, New York

But, if you don’t have time to sit down and relax, Redemption will have you covered there as well. Cans of Redemption beers will be available from the refrigerated case, as will newly filled and sealed crowlers (32 ounce cans of seasonal and on off beers) will be delivered from the home brewery in Indianapolis on almost a daily basis. You will be able to enjoy your beer and take some home for later. Even I could get into the shopping spirit with these kinds of choices.

The kids will be taken care of as well. There will be soft drinks and wines (for the older of us kids), and Redemption food too. The food option is an added bonus and will create a much more complete experience for individuals and families. Washington Prime wanted the kiosk to run exactly like a taproom or small brewpub, including having the food options called for by Indiana law. Breweries often have coffee and milk, as well as a hot sandwich and lunch in order to meet the state guidelines, but Redemption and Washington Prime have bested that by a long shot.

Josh Smith, co-owner of Redemption Alewerks, approached Victoria Brewer of Muncie’s Once Upon A Plate Catering to provide Redemption’s food, and some of her own, for the craft beer kiosk – in a prepackaged form. Josh knows he will not have room for a kitchen in the kiosk, so this is an ingenious way to offer Redemption’s popular sombrero salad, Greek feta and hummus dips, as well as a cold pressed Cuban ham sandwich with house made beer mustard to weary shoppers. And to be inviting to all visitors, food from the three other vendors in the mall will be welcome at the Redemption kiosk; their menus will even be posted at the bar.

Here is an artist’s rendering of the Redemption craft beer kiosk in the Muncie Mall. Look for an opening in time for holiday shopping. image credit: Washington Prime Group

The Muncie Mall was an attractive target for this initial craft beer kiosk. The mall is new remodeled, has four solid anchor tenants, and is constructing now a Ball State University extension which will bring in a population more likely to already appreciate craft beer. The hours of the mall will serve as the hours for Redemption Alewerks Muncie, but they do plan to stay open one or two nights a week after the mall closes, just so the weary employees of the stores can have a craft beer before going home. This is a nice way to become part of the mall, and Muncie, communities.

The late fall premiere will also be fortuitous, as the weather starting to cool will bring more people to the mall, and this is just before the start of the holiday shopping season. However, the timing of the opening was not intended. As with any new concept, there were many hoops to jump through, including getting the OK from Macy’s to obscure more than 30% of their storefront. There was little chance that they wouldn’t agree, since this will undoubtedly place more people in front of their store for longer periods of time, but this and other permissions and legal wranglings has carried the project now for more than six months. Just this week have all the “i’s” been dotted and the “t’s” been crossed, so now everyone is ready to start the build out.

Amazing, isn’t it, to be able to get food at a craft brewery taproom kiosk in the middle of a mall? It sounds different because it is different, nothing like this has been attempted before. With this example in hand, Washington Prime Group is planning on additional craft beer kiosks in malls they manage in other cities across the USA, including in good craft beer states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio. But it’s all going to start in Muncie.

 
 

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