Greek’s Pizzeria and Beer Room is a Unique New Venue for Craft Beer in Downtown Indianapolis

Greek’s Pizzeria and Beer Room is a Unique New Venue for Craft Beer in Downtown Indianapolis

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Secrets are sometimes a nice thing to have, but I’m going to spoil one here. Greek’s Pizzeria Downtown has opened at 130 N. Delaware in Indy, and it’s got a super-secret second floor craft “beer room” (well, it’s not super-secret anymore) that is as different as anything we’ve seen. All the craft beer fans among the 200,000 people that either live or work within a one-mile radius of this place are really going to need to be diligent, or else they’ll end up spending all their time here.

The new Greek’s Pizzeria is open for the working lunch crowd and for dinner, but the taproom will have restricted hours until spring. From the first floor, this looks like a typical Greek’s, with the red and white decorations and the smell of pies and breadsticks, but behind the inner door (or from the speakeasy door on the alley to the north) is a staircase which will lead patrons up to the beer room. Any one familiar with owner Josh Trisler and his Greek’s Pizzeria and Taproom in SoBro knows that the Josh has quite the flair for surprising interior design – SoBro is all done out in Fallout décor; memorabilia from the space race and the Cold War with all its nuclear war threats.

Click for a larger image. You can have a beer and watch everyone else rush around out the windows. image credit: Indiana On Tap

For downtown, Josh has gone beer crazy. The black light lit stairwell is lined with over 60,000 beer bottle caps (I‘m happy to say that Walter and I donated a full 0.33% of these). And when you reach the turn and see the top of the stairs, you get the full view of the interior decorations – more than 6,000 beer bottles line all the walls, yet that’s just where we get started. Flynn Picardal, an IU-Bloomington professor, collected all of the bottles during his travels through 49 states and more than 40 countries and over a 40-year period. When he retired and decided to move to Berlin, he looked for someone to take the bottles off his hands – all of them. All that was required was for the new owner to move them. Josh took him up on the deal, but it turned into quite the job.

Each bottle represents something Flynn himself drank, and he even replaced the caps on each after he finished. He had them sorted by country and style, but Josh and his helpers distributed them randomly across the bar. Looking at them is mesmerizing; trying to find beers you’ve had or looking for the ones with the tasteful nudes on the labels. They’re glued down to the shelves, but they could come loose, so be careful. Josh even has a sign asking you not to be “that guy.”

If you tire of looking at the bottles, there are TVs and many other things to capture your attention. The 35 tap faucets are housed in an old cabinet and set of lockers repurposed for the task. One bar and some tabletops are made from thousands of scrabble tiles – and there are words hidden in there, all sorts of words. The fireplace has a virtual fire with changing color lights behind it. The heating/air conditioning duct that runs along the center of the ceiling is literally all duct tape. I’m sure there are other things that I didn’t pick up on during my tour.

Click for bigger view. It’s fun to look at the beer bottles. image credit: Indiana On Tap

Josh has deigned this “beer room” as a very low-key, friendly atmosphere kind of place. He could have stuffed many more tables into the area, but that wasn’t what he was going for. While the pizzeria and beer room are located pretty much at the downtown terminus of Mass Ave., he wanted something that could be seen as the flip side of Mass Ave. Nothing about it would be as formal, sterile, loud, or crowded as on the avenue, a nice alternative.

The beer choices lean slightly toward Indiana products, but there are Rhinegeist beers on most of the time, as well South Tier and other regional/national craft brands. And what you get you’re beer in is unique as well. Josh scoured the area Goodwill stores for pint glasses of all types, except for beer/brewery pint glasses. Look for those decorated by someone’s grandma, given away as mementoes from some couple’s wedding in the 1970s, or from a high school reunion dance. No matter where you go, there is something to spark a conversation.

Greek’s Pizzeria downtown has been on a long soft open so they could make sure to get everything right, but Josh will never get loud about marketing this place. He wants people to discover it on their own and come to think of it as their downtown bar. The only reason he let me come in for a tour and write about it is that he knows Indiana On Tap readers will know how to appreciate the space properly and not look at it as just another Mass Ave. kind of place.

The bottle cap stairway. Click for bigger view. Image credit: Indiana On Tap

There is a big WiFi pipe so that the pizzeria and beer room could be used as a good co-working space, or an even better after work decompression spot. I’m going to enjoy sitting in the beer room having a brew and looking through the windows at people working in the adjoining buildings. Pizza and beer always taste better when you’re not working and watching someone who is – oh, wait, beer is my work.

Downtown workers can order pizza to go or get delivery from GrubHub or DoorDash for now, but the better spring weather will bring a Greek’s Pizzeria scooter or two with retrofitted baskets to do downtown deliveries themselves. Likewise, the beer room has shorter hours now as it gets discovered (M-W 4pm-7pm, Th-Sat 4pm-9pm), but the hours will be extended once spring has sprung.

For now, look for events like the Polar Bear Run downtown to have Greek’s Pizzeria as a food sponsor, and Indiana On Tap will be hosting a Tasting Society Members-only party to help celebrate the new location on January 31st with $4 pints and special pizza pairings. Otherwise, check out this truly unique craft beer and pizza venue on your own or bring some co-workers with you. You’ll be held spellbound.

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