11 Aug Brew Link, Amidst Chaos, Finally Preparing For Opening In Plainfield
Tucked away in a far corner under the shadow of a varied array of steel tanks, Ruari Crabbe tinkers with a small piece of equipment in the place that has become his newest endeavor, a project which has faced both pleasantly (and not-so-pleasantly) unexpected setbacks. Despite the delays, Crabbe and his partner Adam Burk have finally turned the last series of corners—clearing most of the required permits and then finding a stable location. Thanks to their efforts Plainfield and the far west side can now claim its third brewery when Brew Link officially opens their facility late this summer.
What started a series of sit-down conversations between drinking buddies, Crabbe and Burk eventually raised the stakes and started what became Cartel Brewing Supply in the Fountain Square district. After a few years the partners, who still enjoyed working with home-brewers, continued to discuss production brewing. By the turn of the last decade they had agreed to expand.
“Adam’s been brewing for a long time,” Crabbe said, “and he has lots of recipes. It just made sense to do something with those.” By late 2013 the pair were preparing to open in the Plainfield area running a very small system. “But then an investor stepped in,” Crabbe explained, “so we slowed everything down and reorganized for much bigger scale.” By the next year, all indicators—including the slate of statewide brewery information posted here at Indiana on Tap—indicated that Cartel would be up and running, albeit a bit later than their initial spring 2014 launch. Then they were hit with every small business owner’s worst nightmare.
“We didn’t peg down the trademarking,” Crabbe said of the Cartel moniker. “When the tea company in Arizona [bearing the same name] contacted us, we didn’t even put up a fight. We tried to contact them directly…tried to reason with them, but they just sent us back to their lawyers. [The trademark episode] set us back because we had to physically rebrand, then get our name out all over again.”
Deep in need for a turn of luck the gang at Brew Link finally got one in what at first appeared to be yet another snag.
From that system, Brew Link will focus on one “house” beer, a citrus-laden pale dubbed Hopfanatics, and the rest of their repertoire will consist of an arrangement of standards and experiments (a brewing model successfully implemented on the east side by the crew at Bier Brewery). Eventually, Crabbe and Burk plan to open a local tasting room—they’ve found two promising locations but continue to check out the area, and once opened they also plan to continue promoting and assisting home-brewers as they market their own goods. When that opening day nears (a specific date wasn’t mentioned), Crabbe says they are “hoping for an open house when we get going.” As a production brewery, they plan to move forward with the canning process quickly, eventually adding growlers once all the remaining elements are in place.
For the Plainfield area, as Crabbe sees it, adding another brewery with a strong scale and brewing capacity is good for them and their competitors.
“When you have more than one brewery in area,” he said, “people will come because you’ve created a craft beer destination. People are a lot less likely to come here for just one, but if you have more then suddenly it’s worth the trip.” As appealing as Crabbe’s marketing logic sounds—and it does make a lot of sense—Crabbe’s more emotional reason for settling west of Indy may be its strongest selling point: “I grew up here,” said Crabbe who moved to Indiana from Scotland when he was eight years old. “This is home.”