03 Jun Four Fathers Brewing Is On The Move in Valparaiso – In More Ways Than One
Four Fathers Brewing in Valparaiso has experienced great successes since their opening in 2014. A popular, if small, brewery and taproom to the west of downtown has been the source of beers that have won medals at FOBAB and the Indiana Brewer’s Cup, are now distributed in all of northwest Indiana, Muncie, Lafayette and Indianapolis, and are carried by the national beer shipping company, Tavour.
These successes are now translating into a need and desire to expand the Four Fathers operation through a series of moves taking place over the course of this summer. There’s 1) a new brewery/taproom location in the works, 2) instead of investing in a second permanent location, Four Fathers has selected a unique mobile taproom, and 3) their mobility has already led to a unique partnership opportunity in Valparaiso. I talked to Four Fathers about all the big changes underway.
New Taproom/Brewery. Owners Jason and Beth Lacny are moving Four Fathers to bigger digs this summer. The new brewery and taproom will be located in an mildly industrial space at 3705 Bowman Drive on the east side of Valpo, four miles east of the current location at 1555 W. Lincolnway. This new spot will put Four Fathers just two miles from Ironwood Brewing and three miles from Misbeehavin’ Meads and Figure Eight Brewing.
The timeline is for the new brewery and taproom to be open by the end of the summer but Jason admits that they are somewhat at the mercy of the state and federal governments and how quick they can approve the transfer of the permits. The move will bring an expansion of the overall space from 1400 sq. ft. at present to over 5000 sq. ft. Of that new space, 3700 sq. ft. will be used for brewing and storage. They will start with their same 3.5 bbl system at the new place, but will have a better configuration and more room – plus, they will have room to grow as demand dictates.
The four fermenters and two brite tanks they have at present will be sufficient when they move; by staying small for now and growing organically, it will allow Four Fathers to remain flexible in terms of numbers and styles of beers they make. However, the increased space will help them radically increase their barrel aging program and will allow for rapid production increase when needed.
The taproom will also be bigger at the new place, 1300 sq. ft. as opposed to the 350 sq. ft. at the Lincolnway location. Jason told me, “We also wanted to expand our taproom but at the same time stay relatively small enough to keep the Cheers-style feel our customers have come to know.” The larger taproom won’t have a full kitchen, but Beth and Jason did intend to expand the menu a bit. They will have more shareable items with some sandwiches and a changing special or two, but the pork fat popcorn will remain of course – it’s a fan favorite.
As for the transition to the new location, Jason said, “We will remain open at our current location while we are working on the new space. We do have some leeway as far as when we have to end production where we are and when we start new. We are hoping for this to be seamless and not have to shut down or stop serving at all during this time.”
Mobile Taproom. Technically called a BoxPop (where the “pop” stands for “point of purchase”), Britten, Inc. of Traverse City, MI is building Four Fathers a second location that can change location. It’s a repurposed shipping container that comes with tilt trailer so Jason and Beth can haul the taproom to wherever the beer drinkers are. It’s like one of those pop-up taprooms that have become all the rage lately, but more substantial and faster to move from place to place (just a matter of hours). It’s the brewery equivalent of a food truck.
“We feel this is an innovative way to have a secondary location without having to plant roots,” Beth said, noting that this is something unique to the state of Indiana. The 10 x 20 modified container has four taps via kegerator and is a canvas for Britten’s large printing talents to show off the Four Fathers logo and name (see banner image above). There will also be a merchandise cooler for the sale of crowlers, four-paks, and bottles to go.
The BoxPop is part of the reason the new production brewery is so large, they need the space to store the mobile taproom when it isn’t being used. However, it might not spend much time in storage after they pick it up on June 21st and take it to its debut on July 18th for the first Summer Concert on Central Park Plaza. Valparaiso Events has partnered with Four Fathers to make them the sole craft beer purveyor for the Summer Concert series and some of their other events, and beyond that, the BoxPop will be rented for private events when not otherwise booked. No price schedule for rental has been set yet by Four Fathers.
Both the mobile taproom and the craft beer supplier partnership with Valpo Events are firsts for Indiana, although a few other locations have container taprooms and there are contracted sole beer suppliers for other venues across the country. Smog City Brewing in Los Angeles built a taproom from a shipping container, but it is bolted to the ground, while Denver has BeerCan Mobile Bar from RoxBox and is actually mobile.
Conclusion. Jason and Beth stated that they love their current team, so for now they will be manning the brewery and the mobile taproom with their existing staff and extended family. But if things keep growing the way they have been, Four Fathers will eventually need to expand the work force to match the new spaces and production needs.
For me, the crucial issue is what to nickname the BoxPop mobile taproom. Rusted Silo Southern BBQ & Brewhouse has their food truck called Rolling Silo and we at Indiana On Tap have our brew bus with taps called Ale Force One (which can also now be rented) – so what should Jason and Beth call their taproom on the move? I have some suggestions off the top of my head that are just bad enough to encourage you to think of some of your own – just so they don’t pick one of mine – Four on the Floor, Far Fathers, Tour Fathers, Four Farther – you see how your input is needed in order to prevent a tragedy. Help out Jason and Beth if you have a good idea; they’ve got a lot going on right now.
banner image credit: Four Fathers Brewing