28 Aug Four Fathers Brewing Celebrates Five Years, New Digs, and More Medals
by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap
People like to say that organic growth for a brewery is the best. I don’t really know what that means, but I interpret it to be like a molting arthropod; you grow within your skin, and then you expand and get rid of the old coat and build a new, larger shell. Expanding in beer could mean adding product lines or floor space, or even pushing product further out. But first you sell and earn and save, and then you get bigger.
The thinking that a business must to “grow or perish” is a philosophy that has many proponents, but I don’t think it applies to breweries (or much of anything else for that matter). Grow when growing is warranted and just be a strong presence until it’s time to grow again. This is the path that Four Fathers Brewing in Valparaiso has taken for the last five years, and now it’s time to grow.
In fact, this has been a rather fertile growth season for owners Jason and Beth Lacny, but that growth has most certainly been rooted in earned bona fides and good management decisions. Now they take the next steps. The first of those steps was the made earlier this summer with the arrival of their shipping container turned mobile taproom – The Bomb Shelter.
Now it’s time to take another, the grand opening of their new and larger taproom at 3705 Bowman Drive, just a few miles east of the old taproom on Lincolnway. That first taproom did its job from the time they opened their doors in 2014; the space was first just big enough, and grew to be too small. Yes, that’s the best way to do it.
Jason started home brewing in 2009, but both he and Beth knew soon after that they were going to try to make a brewery work. They formed an LLC in 2012, and then took two years to get it right and know their model. They have always prized their seasonal beers, creating an ever-changing beer board – something that is very popular, but they were doing it back in 2014-15.
They earned their success by making great beer, expanding slowly into releases and distribution, and then winning awards for their barrel-aged and other beers. They connected to their community and helped people understand and buy in to their story. The grand opening of the new taproom on Bowman is a direct result of all that hard work. Now they will celebrate for a day and then get back to work. But what a celebration it will be.
The build out for the new location has taken a short while, but now the new mugs for the mug club or in place and Saturday, August 31st will be both a party for their fifth anniversary and an unveiling of the new space. A bigger taproom, a bigger brew house with more room for barrels and perhaps a packaging line – yes they have expanded, and Four Fathers will show it with a big party.
Starting at noon, the beer will flow, the music will roll, and the food will be smokin’. Prime Smoked Meats will be serving BBQ (cash only), but don’t ask for a hot dog. The dogs are going to be provided by Lakeshore PAWS. They will have many puppies that are up for adoption in the taproom from 12-6pm to help push home the point that the taproom is dog friendly – plus it will help find homes for some of man’s best friends.
On the music side, brewery favorite Robert Rolfe Feddersen gets things started at noon, with Zach and Scott from The Blues Project following at 2:30pm and The Positive Vibe Technicians batting clean up from 5-7pm. Tickets are just $5 (available here) and this is an all ages event with kids under 12 getting in for free. There will even be non-alcoholic beverages available for those underaged or if they desire them. Come get some of the beer that’s still the first and best reason that Four Fathers has expanded to a mobile second taproom and now to a new mothership and expanded brewhouse.
Let’s hope there’s some Double Barrel Wheelhouse on tap for the Grand Opening, that coffee BB stout that took a medal at the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers last November. But there are new medals to celebrate as well. Maybe we’ll have a chance to try some Viking Funeral or Stone Ship too. These beers are responsible for three most recent Four Fathers medals.
This week the National Honey Board awarded medals for the 2019 Honey Beer Competition, and Four Fathers had sweet success. Beer Judge Certification Program judges worked through 295 entries in 15 categories plus best in show winners. The judging was based on BJCP guidelines plus an assessment of the use of honey in the beer.
For the porter/stout category, the Viking Funeral RIS with lots of malts, cocoa nibs, lactose, honey, and a bit of smoke took a third place medal in its group. In the Braggot category, the Four Fathers collaboration beer with Misbeehavin’ Meads called Stone Ship took gold. This beer has a Viking Funeral base with a bunch more honey added to the wort before fermentation.
Furthermore, Stone Ship won the silver medal as the second best beer in the competition, behind only the Chomolungma Honey Nut Brown from Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery in Athens, OH. Other great breweries were also represented at the competition, including The Alchemist, Indeed Brewing, Cascade Brewing, Wild Minds Artisan Ales, Breakside Brewery, and Fretboard Brewing from Cincinnati.
Winning medals isn’t the only way to show patrons you’re making great beer, but winning medals is a way to get feedback and keep improving your beer. Plus, it means you’re doing something right. It’s earned recognition – just one way to earn your way into growth. Four Fathers could have reaped the benefits of their earned success by taking the profits home, but instead they have chosen to reinvest that success in the brewery. A mobile taproom, a new brewhouse and taproom, and starting a sixth year of business – they’re all the result of Four Fathers’ hard work and dedication – and a loyal following. I’m betting that this growth will lead to more medals, more loyal followers – and when the time is right – more growth.