Go West Young Brewmaster

Go West Young Brewmaster


By Indiana On Tap Senior Editor Donovan Wheeler

(Editors Note: This editorial from Donovan reflects his own personal views and not the views of Indiana On Tap)

Last week, Greencastle’s Chris Weeks of Wasser Beer Company announced that he’d finalized a deal on a downtown location, marking the start of the first significant brewery west of the Greater Indianapolis area.  For those of us living more than a 40-minute drive west of the nearest craft beer operation, this is a  big deal.  And given that I’m writing this on a Sunday…it’s actually a much bigger deal.

If you are not aware, the liquor store lobby appears to have so successfully saddled the most recent legislation legalizing Sunday sales with so many inconvenient loopholes and conditions that the very entities supporting a change the law—the Walmart’s and Kroger’s of the area—now oppose it.  I’m conflicted on all of this.  On the one hand, this is great for the craft beer industry, which maintains a huge sales advantage on the “day of rest,” and it’s also a nice little black eye in the faces of those big-box behemoths which progressive-natured people like me despise.

But it’s also a f***ing Sunday, and I live almost an hour from the nearest flowing spigot.  Of course, on the rare occasions I vent about this on Facebook, one of my smartass friends (I call them “Rental Car Heroes” after the St. Louis dude in Planes, Trains, & Automobiles who smugly told Steve Martin to “get a plane ticket”) will tell me I should just “plan ahead.”


Planning ahead is easy if you live alone and have zero commitments.  If you share a house with at least one other human being, especially children, and if you have this thing called a job, then planning ahead is such a fantasy that, on the few times you can actually do it successfully, it rivals an orgasm.  Sometimes, I can grab a couple sixers of Barley Island and Fountain Square during a dead spot in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.  Often, however, I’m up to my eyeballs in one project or another.  Sometimes it’s related to my day job, sometimes I’m working on the freelance gig, and other times Wendi wants the toilets cleaned and the floors swept.  You don’t put that off…trust me.  The next thing I know, it’s a Saturday night and I’m out with friends until late, and making a stop at the liquor store just before closing…? I just want to go home and collapse in bed.  So…please, take the “plan ahead” arguments and stash them in your unused mash-tun barrel.

Consequently, I have a tiny, small, miniscule, minute request to all those would-be breweries looking for a good location inside the 465 loop:  STOP!

Please.  I beg you.  Don’t build your brewery in or near downtown Indy.  There’s plenty there already, and if you do build there, you’ll just be one more brew pub that I’ll end up reading about more often than I’ll actually visit.  I simply don’t have the time to drive an hour to your place.  Then, once I’m there, I’ll end up being the dude who passes on the good beer, opting instead for Diet Cokes…I’m always that guy in my group.  Your catchy paraphernalia and décor is cool and all, but it would have a lot cooler if you weren’t so damn far away.

Taxman is thriving by building a local body of customers in little town populated by quiet railroad tracks and grain bins.  Both Anderson and Vincennes are aggressively seeking brewers to set up shop in their towns, and meanwhile—west of Plainfield to the Illinois state line—there’s nothing…nada.


Taxman Brewing Co. of Bargersville is thriving in their small town of just 6,400 people.
Some people in Greencastle have expressed doubts about Weeks’ chances of success, but these are all almost exclusively Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light water-cooler drinkers.  They’re becoming more outnumbered by the week, and Chris has put himself in a position to do very well (which, barring some crazy decision on his part to serve peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches instead of burgers with his beer—I believe he will).  Most importantly, when Sunday rolls around, I’ll grab one of my Wasser growlers and head two minutes from my house for a much cheaper fill-up than what I’d pay after a round trip to Plainfield and back.

So, if you’re a new and emerging brewery, don’t think downtown Indy.  Don’t model yourself after dreams of becoming the next Sun King or Three Floyds.

Think Sundays…small towns…cornered markets…Taxman…serving local communities.  Untapped markets await—pun intended—and only the brilliant will survive.  If you’ll excuse me, now I’m going to head down to the basement fridge and dig out an 11-month old bottle of Leinenkugel something-or-other.

I hate Sundays.

Residing in Greencastle, Indiana, Donovan Wheeler is a Senior Editor with Indiana On Tap. You can contact him at donovan@indianaontap.com.

No Comments
  • Cory
    Posted at 12:28h, 15 February Reply

    Well said! I love this Donovan. Give the little guys something to rally around.

  • Beth
    Posted at 13:12h, 16 February Reply

    Well said. I laughed out loud several times and still after almost 12 years in Indiana can’t figure out how to plan ahead for Sunday.

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