Bloomington’s Got A Hot Spot for a Brewery/Winery/Distillery

Bloomington’s Got A Hot Spot for a Brewery/Winery/Distillery

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Every once in a while Indiana On Tap is approached by someone or a city that has a property that they feel would be great for a taproom or a brewery production facility. Sometimes the site has a good history, sometimes it has a good location or architecture, while other times a building’s design lends itself to a particular kind of use. And then sometimes, rarely, you find a building that has all these things.

Last week I had the good fortune to meet Kay and Rudy Fields, a couple from Bloomington who happen to have a building at 229 W. 1st Street and a vision. This particular spot is about five blocks south of the square in Bloomington, just off College Ave. and RIGHT on the B Line trail. As such, its location is prime and what’s more, it’s a block from a great coffeehouse, two blocks from Cardinal Spirits, five blocks from The Tap Brewery, less than a mile from Bryan Park, and directly between downtown and Switchyard Park.

Click for a much bigger image. It shows how many great things are going on right next to the building site. image credit: Kay and Rudy Fields

As I walked around the property and Kay and Rudy told me about the history (was a venerable 1922 Standard Oil bulk storage facility with huge above ground tanks – don’t worry, it has been fully remediated after it went offline in 2005 and has passed all inspections), I was envisioning who might be able to use this space and to what end. There’s just over 10,000 sq. ft. available, but parts of it can be used in so many ways:

Basement: This could be such a great speakeasy – just look at the crappy picture I took for the article banner. Lowish ceilings, multiple columns, high windows, there isn’t anything about this space that doesn’t scream speakeasy.

Garage: Located on the east end of the building, this 2500 sq. ft. area could serve as a great microbrewery and taproom just by itself. Two large garage doors open on to spacious front lawn that could become a great beer garden. There are high ceilings and a solid floor for trench drains. Plus, the site as a whole has a great area for parking, for one or multiple tenants.

Main Floor Space: Located above the basement space and immediately west of the garage area, the main space could be a great dining room or a spectacular bar/brewpub. The front door opens out on to a elevated deck which could be use for al fresco dining, a music stage, or both. With all the sq. footage between it and 1st Street, it could actually be expanded as a stage and be a great outdoor music venue.

The sunken pit could be a great music venue. Image credit: Walter

Sunken Pit: On the southwest end of the building is a sunken area that housed two 20,000 gallon tanks, for which the supports are still there. They could easily be used as bases for long tables, and the space as a whole would be great as an indoor music venue, with 20 ft. ceilings, a built in mosh pit of sorts, and main floor seating that overlooks the entire area.

Railroad Spur Entrance: There is a small add-on building on the northwest end that includes the old railroad unloading spot. The B Line spur came within 1 foot of the west wall of the building, and now this old building and entrance will open on the B Line Trail. The old storage facility would take almost no work at all to become a bar to serve across to B Line users.

Roof: Rudy and Kay are replacing the entire roof, and since they have an elevator shaft to the roof, they are going to reinforce the flat roof and open it up to be used for a roof top bar and beer garden with a great view of the downtown and the B Line.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see a roof top beer garden, a front deck music stage/venue, and a great brewhouse behind those garage doors. image credit: Kay and Rudy Fields

With the entire building is being rehabbed, the ability to add whatever amenities is not only possible, but is desirable. I asked them – would you put in three phase power? No problem. Can you accommodate a 2 or 3 in. water main? No problem, Can you reinforce the deck for a full-on stage and music venue? No problem. Will it be hard to accommodate fully for ADA? No problem.

Kay and Rudy would rather design and perhaps redesign for a right tenant(s) that will make good use of the space than to sell it out right to some that wants to level it for another apartment complex. They have a vision, and they want the right brewery/winery/distillery/music venue to be a part of it. The roof will go on soon, and then they want to wait for a potential tenant to weigh in on how they might use the space so the redesign can match their, and the tenant’s, vision. These are people that want to do right by the property, right by the city, and right by the occupants. You know who could use all that space – dining room, bar, music venue, roof garden and speakeasy for spirits – Hard Truth/Big Woods/Quaff On!, that’s who.

If you have interest in hearing about and seeing what great potential this property has, contact Kay and Rudy at,, or 812-327-7881, or contact Indiana On Tap at

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