19 Feb Frozen Firkin Fest and The Barrel Room – Two Things We Greatly Anticipate From 2Toms
by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap
2Toms Brewing in Fort Wayne is one of the most popular breweries in the state, and for good reason. Their beer is great, their atmosphere is top notch as is their food, but they also know how to build anticipation for what they’ve got coming. Their timing is excellent, as they know how to key in on what people are wanting.
In the beginning, 2Toms built a patronage and a yen for their beer before they even opened. The home brewed 2Toms beer was coveted at local festivals, especially the Dark Necessity Russian Imperial Stout and its variants. This resulted in the run up to the opening of the brewery being one of the most anticipated openings in memory. Tom Carpenter and his team didn’t disappoint, and from a rabid local fan base they quickly built a rabid regional fan base.
The next thing for which we waited with bated breath was 2Toms anniversary party/festival. It took the form of a luau and was teased in advance of the tickets going on sale. 2Toms had some great breweries come in to pour beer with them as a 2019 celebration of their first year, and it was a thoroughly good time. The pandemic resulted in the 2020 version being more of an open house with 2 bands, and several guest and special release beers, so now we’re anticipating a big blow out for their 3rd anniversary luau.
That leads us to the hard time we’re having now in waiting for the latest from 2Toms. Coming first is the Frozen Firkin Festival on Saturday, the 27th of this month (click here for tickets). To say this is a wildly anticipated event is to do it a disservice. As the first festival of 2021 in Indiana it’s a more than welcome sight. A big tent, strong Covid-19 safety policies and procedures, and 7-8 great breweries on hand to serve kegs or firkins of one-off specialty beers will make for a great day. It is a tent/igloo event which will be heated and will have burn barrels for added heat, but the fest is not in the taproom, so dress appropriately.
“Appropriately” is different for different people, but no one should require bulky clothes with these hot breweries coming in to pour: 2Toms, of course, Bare Hands Brewery from Granger, 18th Street Brewery from Hammond, Harry Stuff Brewing from Wawaka, Dot & Line Brewing from Fort Wayne, HopLore Brewing from Leesburg, Viking Artisan Ales from Merrillville, Upland Brewing from Bloomington, and others.
Attendees will get a taster glass and unlimited samples from the breweries in a giant inflatable igloo. There will be two bands playing, plus hot food and drinks, so this is indeed a full-on festival. With so many people looking to get out to a festival and the attendance being limited due to Covid restrictions, you better get your tickets quickly. Lucky for you, you can still gain entry to the taproom without a ticket, you just won’t be able to sample the guest brewery beers in the igloo.
Being able to get into the taproom on the day of the Frozen Firkin Festival is especially important because it will allow you to get a peek at the final item we’re anticipating right now from 2Toms. It’s called the Barrel Room and it is going to help 2Toms in several ways. As owner/brewer Tom explained it to me, the Barrel Room will, “allow us to expand our barrel program by an additional 50 oak vessels, will be an event space for rentals and provide additional seating on busy weekends, will allow us to move and double the size of the Full Circle Grill & BBQ kitchen along with providing space for a microbiology laboratory, provide 600 more feet for production brewing and special projects, and will include a permanent outdoor patio space.”
Targeted for a late March to mid-April opening, the Barrel Room has been in the planning for quite a while. Tom started batting the notion around in 2019, with the idea picking up steam in the summer of 2020. In October they struck a deal with the landlord, and demolition started in November. In general, the project has progressed swiftly and the only issues have been in Covid related paperwork snafus in getting permit sign offs.
The space is starting to taking shape now, including the arrival of more barrels from Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, MI that will serve both decorative and functional purposes. Tom says, “The Barrel Room will have the feel of a nice winery or distillery tasting room, but with a distinct link to our existing taproom feel. We are taking inspiration from Goose Island, AleSmith Brewing, Funky Buddha and a few ideas from European breweries in the design of the room.”
He added, “The space will have the flexibility to host a number of different layouts. We anticipate its use for corporate meetings, rehearsal dinners, birthday parties and specialty beer dinners. The space will be family friendly and our new patio will be pet friendly.” The name, Barrel Room, isn’t just about décor, although the use of barrels always looks good. This will be an active aging area and will allow 2Toms to greatly expand their aged offerings, both barrel aged stouts and mixed fermentations sours – just some more things to anticipate.
Indeed, making more beer is a prime reason behind the expansion. Tom explained, “We have been fortunate throughout 2020 to have great support for our beer and brewery. We pivoted to produce more exciting beers than ever and increase our can production. Customers have not only responded to these great new and ever-changing line up of beers, they have created a demand that has necessitated the expansion of production.”
To that end, more production capability is key. Tom said, “The movement of the kitchen will free up a significant amount of power in our current space. This additional power is needed to install a larger glycol chiller which is needed for 3 x 20BBL tanks that we will install in March – this installation will triple our fermentation capacity.” This added production will also allow 2Toms to send barrel-aged beers to places farther away, like Hop Station in Mishawaka, 5s Tap House in Anderson, and The Sinkhole in Bloomington, who Tom was quick to point out have been supportive of 2Toms from the beginning (plus their upcoming stint at A Taproom in Indy).
As I often do at the end of an interview, I asked Tom if there was anything that I hadn’t asked him about that he wanted people to know. His answer was spot on for this point in time, “On behalf of all Indiana breweries, we thank the craft beer community for your continued support. We will get to the other side of this pandemic someday. Until then, there are responsible ways to continue to appreciate craft beer.” Make sure to take advantage of those responsible mechanisms for enjoying craft right now to get out to the Frozen Firkin Fest and to enjoy the Barrel Room when it opens. I know it’s hard, but they’re worth waiting for.