21 Sep Bier Brewery Collaboration “Small Town Hero” is a Forward Pass for Noblesville Teacher Jason Seaman’s Foundation
by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap
In life, things happen around us and things happen to us, but the only thing that matters is what we make happen next. Opportunities are born from crisis as well as fortune, and these are the moments where we can choose to make the world a better place. Noblesville West Middle School teacher Jason Seaman and those people that both know and respect him are supporting this ethos via a beer collaboration called “Small Town Hero.” Bier Brewery in Indianapolis and J.T. Walker’s Brewery in Illinois are joining forces to brew and sell an American IPA as a tribute beer for Jason and his efforts.
The brew day was accomplished in early September, with Justin Taylor from J.T. Walker’s making the trip over from Illinois. The brew teams were also joined by the father of Ella Whistler, a student at Noblesville West Middle School. Jason couldn’t make the brew day himself, prompting Bier Brewery owner Jerry Connor to joke, “He couldn’t get a hall pass.”
A release party for Small Town Hero is scheduled for October 4th at Bier Brewery from 5-9pm with all the proceeds raised from the event and the beer sales going to help the foundation that Jason is in the midst of forming (to support charities of Jason’s choosing, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Noblesville). Small Town Hero and the Jason’s foundation are not intended as mechanisms of looking back on what happened, but as ways of moving forward positively.
After the events in Noblesville in May of 2018, J.T. Walker’s in Jason’s hometown of Mahomet, IL, brewed the original Small Town Hero tribute beer initially to help defray Ella Whistler’s hospital bills, with proceeds now going to Jason’s foundation. This is a palpable example of how the Small Town Hero beer has helped to move forward from a bad situation to help make the future brighter.
Jason lived there all through his childhood, he played high school football there, and he still has family there. Jason was a standout athlete and student at Mahomet-Seymour High school, playing football, track and field, and basketball. He won all state honors on the football field and held the school’s shot put record while attending the school from 2003-2007.
After high school Jason played defensive end and studied elementary education at Southern Illinois University, where he wore number #91. The label of the tribute beer has #91 on the jersey in honor of Jason’s football identity, and #NOBstrong to acknowledge the coming together and solidarity of the Noblesville and central Indiana communities after the event. #NOBstrong has been a rallying cry for the community. One of the tenets of Jason’s life, acknowledge that which you have received and pay it forward to help others, has been adopted by the #NOBstrong movement. As an example of this philosophy of paying things forward, Jason now coaches 7th grade football at Noblesville West.
Both of Jason’s parents worked for the Mahomet-Seymour school district and the family as a whole was, and still is, known for their humble attitudes and community focus. So it is no surprise that Justin and J.T. Walker’s, a 4th generation Mahomet resident himself, wanted to honor Jason in some way. They brewed a version of his favorite style of beer, and American IPA, as way to acknowledge Jason’s actions and to help him spark a positive change in the world.
Made with Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic hops, Small Town Hero was a pub favorite and all ten barrels of the beer went quickly, both on tap and in cans. Justin Taylor said of the beer, “It’s really tasty, it’s gone over really well. We’ve gotten really good feed back on it, and most importantly, Jason likes it and that’s what we wanted.” The proceeds of that first batch went to help Jason, help the community move forward, and help student Ella Whistler recover fully and completely.
In fact, they had calls from surrounding areas in Illinois and from the Noblesville area asking how they could purchase beer. J.T. Walker’s does not distribute in Indiana, but gave Justin the idea for a collaboration in central Indiana to brew the beer again and get it to those people who have been asking for it. Justin has Colts season tickets and visits Indianapolis regularly, with Bier Brewery as a must stop on every trip. Therefore, when it came to choosing a brewery in central Indiana for this collaboration, Justin knew who was his first choice.
Bier Brewery owners Jerry and Darren Connor were immediately on board with the project. The Connor family is from Westfield, IN and the children attended school there, so the family is very involved in supporting the small towns of central Indiana. The Connors and everyone at Bier knew that this project was a must. In recent weeks, Jerry has come to know Jason and it has increased his enthusiasm for this project even more.
To keep the cost down and the donations via sales as high as possible, some of Bier Brewery’s suppliers are contributing to the project. This is just another sign of the craft beer industry’s commitment to community involvement. Bier Brewery is also hoping that the accounts that buy and sell Small Town Hero will pay it forward as well.
The collaboration brewed at Bier is a full forty-barrel batch of beer, (that’s over 9000 pints) and more batches will be put on the schedule as needed to keep this effort going. Small Town Hero will be available in the Bier Taproom, both on draft and in cans, and the Bier sales team is out in full force to get this important product on the shelves of central Indiana beer stores and on the taps of restaurants and bars. Demand will be high, so they are starting with on site and off site outlets in Noblesville and will then expand to Indianapolis and surrounding towns.
The craft beer industry holds quality, integrity, dedication, community, and hard work in high regard. It takes these qualities to succeed in brewing and breweries recognize and celebrate these same qualities when they see them in the community. The beer called Small Town Hero is a way to acknowledge Jason Seaman and the #NOBstrong movement for the work they are doing. But even more indicative of the righteousness of this collaboration, Jason is adamant that this is not about him – this beer, this event, this publicity is about an opportunity to build positive change in and around Noblesville. When things happen, you have a choice as to which you want to focus on, the past or the future. It is a tribute to all involved that this beer collaboration is a conscious choice to focus on the future.
banner image credit: Andy Hart of JT Walker’s Brewery