Floyd County Brewing Keeps Building on Their Successes

Floyd County Brewing Keeps Building on Their Successes

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

I don’t think it is a secret that one of Walter’s favorite breweries in Indiana is Floyd County Brewing in New Albany. What’s not to like? – great beer, English pub food, live music, and a Monty Python and the Holy Grail theme. Every trip down south for us requires a stop at FCBC, for both beer and food.

However, since we do mostly day drinking and our weekends are full of festivals, we have missed two of the great attractions that Floyd County Brewing has added in the past year, The Grain Haus and the new Biergarten. If you follow Indiana craft breweries on social media, you have probably seen the picture of the wood fired pizza from The Grain Haus (see below right), but there is so much more to these new features of FCBC.

Owner Brian Hampton has generated a great brewpub for the city of New Albany in the past three years. Initially, some people came for the beer, which was/is great. Walter is a big fan of the Zombie Kombi IPA and the Holy Hop Grenade, and I appreciate the barrel-aged beers, like Floyd County Breakfast Stout and On My Last Nirvana. Other people came to FCBC for the food. Arrowsmith Chicken, bubble and squeak, fish and chips, or some of the non-pub food, like tacos, burgers, or a smoked turkey leg.

Yes, that’s mine….so what are you going to have? image credit: Floyd County Brewing

Of course, some people loved both the food and the beer together, that’s a given. Add in the music, the decor, and the original VW bus they use at festivals and it was a recipe for success. The question for Brian then became – what to do with the resulting profits from that success? The possibilities were endless. Brian could sell FCBC to someone and take the profits or expand to a second and perhaps third location. He could invest in a production brewery and start distribution of beer, or just let the money sit in a bank and gain interest while he changed nothing with the operation – why fix what isn’t broken?

However, Brian chose another path. After each successive year since their opening, FCBC has reinvested in the brewpub by adding a new feature. In the spring and summer of 2017 they added on the deck at the back of the restaurant with a patio underneath and a six-tap bar of its own. Walter and I have enjoyed this space in previous years – we listened to some music and wondered about the VW bus that used to be partially buried in the ground back there.

In the summer of 2018, the building to the rear of the patio and deck was acquired as their new reinvestment and expansion project. The space was fully remodeled inside and out and took the name The Grain Haus, with an addition to the patio to connect it to the original space. The Grain Haus purposefully has a more casual feel than “The Brew Haus” (the 21+ bar in the brewpub with a view of the brewing system and it’s own stage) and “The Public Haus” (the all ages restaurant in the brewpub). The Grain Haus has walk up bar service and a wood fired oven for those amazing pizzas, as well as 25 taps for draft beer and 25 can/bottle choices.

About a dozen of The Grain Haus taps are dedicated to FCBC brews, which leaves many taps for guest brews, and of course they have that most popular of drinks, the adult slushy – great for the warm summer months. There are large window spaces to give an indoor/outdoor feel, and this allows for an openness that connects all part of FCBC on those crowded summer weekend nights.

The space between the Biergarten and the Grain Haus. It’s just so tranquil. image credit: FCBC

The Grain Haus has more restricted hours than The Brew Haus and Public Haus, and this is why Walter and I haven’t had the pleasure yet. You have to pay attention to avail yourself of all the amenities at FCBC. The Grain Haus opens at 4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and then closes at 10pm. There are extended hours on Friday and Saturday (4pm – midnight) and even has hours on Sundays (2pm – 8pm).

The key to part of these expansions is that FCBC is located on a hill that drops down a side street toward the Ohio River. That means that the deck off the back of the Public Haus is on the first floor as you enter the front of the brewpub, but is the second floor as you walk out onto the balcony. The patio underneath that was extended to the Grain Haus becomes the first floor again, but on the opposite side of The Grain Haus, the 2019 expansion project is located even further down the hill, so you get to look down on the new Biergarten.

Yes, the newest addition to the FCBC experience is a tree-covered biergarten with stone walls, picnic tables, and a 26′ stage of its own. Brian purchased the 50’x100’ lot with an eye to creating a new outdoor space, so now FCBC has a certain symmetry – indoor brewpub at the top of the hill, outdoor patio and deck, indoor Grain Haus halfway down the hill, and outdoor Biergarten toward the base of the hill.

The 26′ stage in the Biergarten. image credit: FCBC

The symmetry is broken only by the fact that the Biergarten, Brew Haus, Patio, and Grain Haus are all 21+ and only the Public Haus is an all ages facility. However, all the outdoor portions and the Grain Haus are animal friendly. Brian simply asks that you leave your llamas at home. I think the Biergarten is going to be a favorite spot, given that it has fire pits, lighted pingpong tables (not lights shining on the tables, l mean lights in the tables). Even the ’73 VW Bier Bus with taps is used in the Biergarten to serve on busier nights.

FCBC definitely makes use of all their space. Live music is a draw every weekend and often can be heard on Wednesdays and Thursdays as well. There’s the stages on the patio and Biergarten for nice weather shows, and a separate small space for music in the Brew Haus. That means that FCBC could personally host its own music festival, with rotating sets on the different stages – that’s an idea.

The idea of moving around the different spaces is helped by the nice way that they all fit together. It is a maximum use of space without making things feel cramped. If you want a pizza on the deck, just wander down to The Grain Haus, order one, and walk it back to the balcony. If you have a beer from the Brew Haus, close your tab and meander down to the Biergarten as the music starts. You can even get some of the Brew Haus food in the Grain Haus if pizza isn’t your thing (but if pizza isn’t your thing and it isn’t for a medical reason, we can’t be friends).

The patio and Grain Haus are rocking on weekend nights. image credit: FCBC

The new Biergarten is so pretty that FCBC has been getting requests to hold weddings out there. Brian was surprised by this, but it doesn’t amaze me at all; Lil’ Walter has already announced that her much in the future wedding is definitely going to be held at a brewery. So if it isn’t becoming a wedding venue, what’s next for FCBC? It looks like we won’t have to wait until 2020 to find out. Along with the space that is now the Biergarten, FCBC has acquired the two houses that were the only things left between them and the river. Now FCBC essentially has the entire block to themselves down to the flood wall.

The closest of the two houses is slated to be converted into a large restroom facility so that FCBC can accommodate larger concerts, plays movie nights, reunions, festivals…..and maybe a wedding or two. They are hoping that the restroom facility will be ready for the Fall Harvest Homecoming Festival. As for the second house below the Biergarten – how about a parking facility? Maybe not, you’d rather not have the view of the river spoiled by a parking lot. I guess the 2020 project will have to be procuring the YMCA across the street for the world’s largest beer yoga facility and then make use of their parking lot.

Floyd County Brewing is becoming what Brian envisioned – a destination brewery, restaurant, and entertainment venue. Why expand to other locations or go into distribution when you can bring everyone to your house? It works out well for the people in New Albany, Kentuckiana, and for the people willing to travel for the experience, but it does leave us with the desire to get their beer in Indy and have them come pour at festivals. We’ll just have to find a way to get to all that great beer in the Jeffersonville, New Albany, and Louisville area more often (Goodwood Brewhouse & Live Room, NABC, Donum Dei, Monnik, Akasha, Gravely, Mile Wide, etc) – I’m thinking high speed rail or charter flights.

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