Craft Beer Returns to Anderson After 150 Years in form of C.T. Doxey Brewing

Craft Beer Returns to Anderson After 150 Years in form of C.T. Doxey Brewing

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

What do you know – Anderson is finally getting a craft brewery! With a population of over 60,000 in the city and surrounding area, it’s amazing that it has taken this long to bring local made craft beer back to town. Indianapolis has one craft brewery for about every 19,000 people; heck, Muncie has a brewery for every 15,000, and that doesn’t count the three taprooms for breweries that make beer elsewhere.

Anderson has a had a craft distillery for almost four years now (Oakley Brothers Distillery in Edgewood) and there might as many as three more breweries on the horizon, but the big news right now is the newly available craft beer from C.T. Doxey Brewing at 718 Jackson St. in downtown Anderson. The territory may be new for craft beer, but the brewery has got some big time talent.

The mention of Oakley Brothers Distillery above was on purpose, because Oakley Brothers moved downtown from Edgewood and are sharing space with C.T. Doxey. This partnership means more than just splitting housing costs, Oakley’s tasting room is the first place we can get C.T. Doxey beer, since mid-January. After establishing themselves and building a devoted clientele, C.T. Doxey will open it’s own taproom around the corner (yet in the same building) within weeks of this publication.

Look for C.T. Doxey beer at the Oakley Brothers Distillery tasting room as early as December, 2017. image credit: C.T. Doxey Brewing

Jerrad and Jason Oakley were trekking to Machu Picchu in 2012 when they decided that, despite making beer and wine for several years, it was liquor that they wanted to produce on a professional level. On Dec. 18, 2017 they started serving moonshine, apple pie moonshine, limoncello, Flyover Whiskey, and Oakley’s Reserve Microcast Oated Bourbon, with other spirits to follow in their downtown tasting room. Starting in Edgewood, their success required the move downtown, with more room for equipment and barrels. Interestingly, these barrels represent a link to brewing as well, since 1) there are so many barrel-aged beers nowadays, and 2) because all beer was stored in barrels the last time there was a brewery in Anderson.

In those olden days, the first brewery in Anderson (1865) was owned by a fellow named Charles Taylor Doxey. This eclectic individual was born near Lafayette in 1841 and traveled extensively before moving to Anderson. Right after the Civil War, he first built the Doxley/Craycraft Brewery with his father-in-law. It burned in 1866, but that didn’t stop him from becoming Anderson’s premier businessman and later, a politician. He owned the Doxey Hotel, an opera house, a music hall, a barrel stave factory, a handle factory, and was president of the Alexandria Plate Glass Works.

Unfortunately – every one of those businesses (with the exception of the hotel) burned down. These setbacks aside, Doxey was probably the single most important businessman in early Anderson. He served in the Indiana state Senate, the US House of Representatives, was a candidate for Governor, and had numerous posts and camps named for him. He died in 1898 at the age of 51, so who knows what he might have accomplished for Anderson had he lived a long life. As a symbol of his contributions, Doxey again has his name over a brewery.

Dale van Deraa is getting a NE IPA ready for C.T. Doxey. Notice how he has become part of the Indiana brewing community. Photo credit: C.T. Doxey

The beer at C.T. Doxey is the product of founding brewer Dale Van Deraa, a former and once again inhabitant of central Indiana. Dale was born in Arizona, but spent summers in South Bend working at the summer camp his uncle directed from the time he was eleven. Dale spent some time at Ball State before pursuing jobs as a youth minister. But importantly, he learned about beer while in Muncie by hanging out at the Heorot. Stan Stephen’s place most definitely fostered his love of craft beer.

Dale worked with children in Chicago and other places before moving to Colorado and deciding that beer should be his vocation, not merely his avocation. He toiled at Breckenridge’s Ale House (before they sold out) and River North before they were evicted and found their stunning new home. And it was while in Colorado that Dale met his wife, who just happened to be the sister of one of his co-workers in Chicago.

After this first stint in CO, Dale moved back to Arizona and worked with San Tan and Arizona Wilderness breweries – he was building up quite a brewery resume. After going back to River North for a short period, he and his new bride landed in Portland, a brewing capital to be sure.

A brewery of his own in Vancouver didn’t quite work out, which has boded out well for all of us, because they then moved to Anderson to near his wife’s family. There were a couple of brewery possibilities, but it wasn’t until he met Jason Oakley that he learned that the Oakley brothers were going to open a brewery downtown when they moved their distillery from Edgewood that he went all in.

Dale has built himself his own semi-automatic keg cleaner for about $200. He might branch out to build them for other small breweries as well. Photo credit: C.T. Doxey Brewing

Now Dale is ready to let us drink in the lessons he has learned throughout his adventure. Dale’s philosophy of beer – keep it simple. He learned this from River North and has taken it to heart. It isn’t that additions and innovation are bad, just make sure the base beer is something worth having on its own. Dale wants to do a few beers (8-10), do them very well, and then branch out in style and additions every once in a while.

First on a 100 gallon electric system and later on a 10 bbl system that is planned, Dale wants to make a great pilsner (a style that demonstrates you know what you’re doing). But at heart he’s a hophead, so he will always have an IPA on. He really didn’t want to like the NEIPAs, but dang it, they taste good too.

Dale’s simplicity extends to his recipes too. He doesn’t feel the need to get down to the 0.2 lb of this or that hop or malt; if its 48 pounds, then just add a 50 lb bag. This doesn’t mean that his recipes aren’t reproducible, he keeps great notes and respects being able to exactly duplicate a recipe. It’s just that he wants to keep beer accessible for everyone, from the flavors all the way down to the measurements. It’s an attitude that will serve him well in translating his core values and philosophy to an Anderson audience. Anderson may have a history in beer, but there will definitely be a learning curve for craft beer in this community.

The 1919 building in Anderson will house both Oakley Brothers (right end) and C.T. Doxey (far left end). Photo credit: C.T. Doxey Brewing

C.T. Doxey and Oakley Brothers have their permits and producing product in the large downtown building that is now home to both. There are several breweries that include wineries, and a few have a distillery too, but they have always followed the plan of brewery first, then build a distillery. In this case the distillery is up and running, and that means that there are plenty of barrels just waiting for some beer, and distillation apparatus that could distill beers into whiskeys. This is going to be a great combination.

This brings up an elegant part of the Oakley/C.T. Doxey collaboration. Indiana law allows for a brewery and a distillery to occupy parts of the same building, as long as they have different addresses. Since Oakley Brothers has a W. 8th Street address and C.T. Doxey Brewing has a Jackson St. address, they can both take up residence in the two-story edifice that resides on the northeast corner where those two streets cross. The building is one of the best parts of both enterprises. It was built in 1919 as an automobile garage, perhaps one of the first in Anderson, as it has GARAGE carved into the original stonework at the top of the south façade.

The building also served as an auto livery (storage and rental), as a car parts store and later as several different businesses at the same time. The south end (where Oakley Brothers tasting room is) was a law office for several years, while the north end was converted into apartments for a while. In a bizarre coincidence, Jerrad Oakley of Oakley Brothers lived in those apartments when he first moved back to Anderson a little over a year ago.

The Oakley distillation apparatus will be visible from the tasting room. Photo credit: Oakley Brothers Distillery

The Oakley Brothers tasting room is brick walled; a lot of sweat went into tearing off four layers of covering walls from the original brick. The bar is made with reclaimed Civil War era barn wood and there is a rustic/industrial feel to the room. Oakley Brothers spirits and C.T. Doxley beer will be served from (days and hours). The backside of the tasting room has large windows so that everyone can see the distillation apparatus.

On the opposite end, the soon-to-come brewery taproom next to the alley will be cultivated as a film noir kind of place. It will be a throwback – think single arched light over a dark alley entrance. The alley will make a great beer garden, and there are talks with the city about using that space. The taproom might have a TV, but may not have sound on most of the time.

C.T. Doxey Brewing isn’t meant to be a sports bar; there will be music, but not so loud that you can’t talk in a regular voice. This will be a place for camaraderie and conversation. It’s part of the core values that Dale wants his brewery to represent. You should get to Anderson soon to celebrate the history and future of beer in Anderson.

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