Creatures of Habit Brewing Joins Collaboration to Support Anderson Neighborhood

Creatures of Habit Brewing Joins Collaboration to Support Anderson Neighborhood

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Craft breweries often join with other entities in the community to promote something for the public good. This week we have an example of a brewery working with two coffee companies, one a few blocks from them and the other 50 miles from them, to aid a historic neighborhood in which none of them are located (although two are close).

Jackrabbit Coffee of Anderson has teamed with Utopian Coffee of Fort Wayne to produce the West Central blend coffee, the sales of which will benefit the West Central District in Anderson. In association with this project and to help bring attention to it, Creatures of Habit Brewing will be releasing the West Central Blend Coffee Porter on Friday, Dec. 13, from 6- 10pm at the Creatures of Habit taproom.

Creatures of Habit and the West Central Coffee Porter. Dan and Dave Hiles and Dan Stachowiak opened Creatures of Habit in April of 2019, and their popularity has grown ever since. Creatures has attended many festivals since they opened and their beers have been gaining popularity every month. The taproom (1031 Meridian Street) has at least 16 beers on tap each day, and they have some of the best snack items and flatbreads around.

It wasn’t that long ago that Creatures opened up and was doing their first festival in Anderson. image credit: Creatures of Habit Brewing

Creatures is located one block eat of the east end of the West Central district and just a block from the historic Paramount Theatre, so working with Jackrabbit on this community-based beer was a no brainer. The beer itself is a porter infused with an espresso from Jackrabbit Coffee. Dan tells me that, “The process the coffee goes through to make espresso makes it thicker with a higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids. The espresso is added after primary fermentation. This thicker more concentrated style off coffee developed better flavors and mouth feel in the finished beer.”

They experimented with several methods for adding the coffee to the base porter – cold brew, coffee, whole beans, etc. – before deciding on the espresso blend. It tended to give the better body and just a bit of bite from the coffee. Overall, the beer has, “Aromas of roasted coffee and drk roasted barley with notes of chocolate. The taste is coffee forward with notes of chocolate. The mouthfeel is medium with mild acidity.”

Josh told me about how  Creatures of Habit joined the effort by say, “The collaboration with Creatures of Habit came about over  casual conversations with Dan Stachowiak sitting at the bar at Creatures. Creatures is right down the street from my house, so its become a favorite place to hit when I need an evening beer. Dan had mentioned he wanted to try a coffee beer but with espresso vs. traditional ground coffee. It was amazing how well the espresso paired with a wide range of beers. The porter however won the day.The naming it West Central Porter was really just a move of solidarity on Dan’s part to give added attention to our neighborhood. Creatures has been, from the beginning, all about connecting beer names to local traditions, locations, stories, etc. So though the porter is not made with our West Central Blend, the name is bringing attention to the development we are working towards in the neighborhood.”

The party for the release of the coffee blend and the beer will be at the taproom this Friday, with the beer on draft only for now (but who knows if package might come later). But buying the beer and coffee aren’t the only attractions for the evening, there will also be music and food for the party. Payne’s famous Fish & Chips Truck will be there starting at 5pm, and Ed Paul Fry will be playing from 7:30 until his voice gives out. The Jackrabbit Team will be there selling our West Central Blend Beans, our new West Central T-shirts, and other merchandise. The release party starts at 6pm, but the beer release will come at 6:30pm, giving everyone time to get into the mood. Just when the party winds down is up to you all, Dan will keep going as long as you can. Dan says, “It is an espresso beer, after all.”

The West Central Blend and Utopian Coffee. The long distance collaborator for this project is Utopian Coffee from the downtown area of Fort Wayne. But it isn’t all that far fetched for them to be involved with a West Central Blend coffee since they are located just feet from the West Central District of that town. Josh from Jackrabbit talked about how the collaboration got started. “The collaboration with Utopian coffee in a way started almost 2 years ago. Our primary connection with Utopian is through Levi McClish, former roaster at The Abbey Coffee Co. in Marion, IN. Levi had become a friend, was excited about what we were building. Because he knew that our efforts were primarily on building a neighborhood “brand” he pitched us the idea doing a “West Central Blend” specifically for our clientele. Though not the first time this had been suggested, when he approached me again at the beginning of the year he sweetened the offer by suggesting our own branded bags giving homage to the neighborhood we hold so dear. We loved the idea so much we immediately started moving forward collaborating about taste profile/design/color/etc. We are absolutely thrilled with the end product.”

The West Central District of Anderson is full of many different styles of houses. image credit: Anderson Downtown Neighborhoods Association

Utopian was opened by Brendon Maxwell in 2012, but they weren’t a coffee house when they opened. They started out as a production roaster that sold coffee online, in stores, and to restaurants, and just getting ready to open their first restaurant at the Landing in Fort Wayne. They pride themselves on responsibly harvested beans and building direct relationships with farmers all over the world.

The coffee for the West Central Blend is a medium roast. Its smooth, tastes of chocolate, with nutty finish. The Varietal is Washed Castillo, Bourbon, Typica – which is way beyond my coffee knowledge. It will be available for purchase at Jackrabbit, as well as at the release party at Creatures of Habit. What’s more, there will be a limited supply of special edition collab. coffee mugs for sale at the release party. Walter (my wife) never met a coffee mug she didn’t want to collect. We have about 400 logo pint glasses, but they are dwarfed by her coffee mug collection – and now we’ll have one more.

Jack Rabbit Coffee and the West Central District. – Ben Orcutt started Jackrabbit Coffee as a bicycle cart business a few years back, and then moved it to his bike shop a couple of years later. This is when Josh Stafford became a regular and bought in as co-owner. Just a short time later, they moved to their own location at 525 W. 11th St, just half a block from the west edge of the West Central District of Anderson.

image credit: Jackrabbit coffee

Josh is a moving force in the West Central District part of the Anderson Neighborhood Association, and this is where the idea for the coffee and beer collaborations began. Designated as a national historical district in 1985, the origins of the West Central District goes back to the mid to late 1800s, with new structures built well into the early 20th century. This is primarily a residential district and the long history of development means that there are houses of many varied styles, add to its appeal.

The West Central District webpage says, “Unlike many historic neighborhoods across the country that exhibit a more similar continuity of style, many of the homes in our district display characteristics of several styles, although several examples of pure architectural styles are present. There are less than 200 structures within this district, which represent significant Italianate styles, Bungalow, Dutch Colonial, American Foursquare, and Shingle, just to mention a few.”

Jackrabbit’s connection to the West Central District is strong, and Ben and Josh use their business position to aid the district in garnering both needed funds and needed attention. Ben told the Anderson Herald Bulletin in 2017, “The point is to work together to grow this neighborhood. People drink coffee every day, so when they come here they can be thinking: ‘Who am I going to run into, who can I meet …’ we want to create the space that creates a routine.” Josh echoed this sentiment, “Our primary concern in all of our endeavors is to revitalize the neighborhood we both call home, and the neighborhood in which we operate our businesses. The West Central District.”

Ben and Josh summed it up by saying, “Especially in Anderson where neighborhoods have lost their identity – I just want to resist that. Let’s drive business down here and see if the residents will follow.” Congratulations to all the participants for playing their role in community development so well. Now it’s our turn to do our part – visit the release event and get your coffee and beer.

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