06 Sep Greencastle, Indiana resident crafts local brewing company
Christmas gifts are always exciting, and there is nothing better than biting into a cherry cordial fresh from the stocking. But it’s not every day that a Christmas gift becomes a company.
That is exactly what happened in Chris Weeks’ case.
Weeks, a Greencastlian for 13 years now and teacher in Indianapolis, received a home beer-brewing kit from his in-laws one year for Christmas.
“My brother-in-law started brewing beer, and when my in-laws asked him what I would like, he suggested a ‘Mr. Beer’ brewing kit,” Weeks said. “You basically put ingredients in it, let it ferment and you have beer.”
Weeks, always a fan of cooking, decided he’d give it a try. “I used it twice, and I was hooked,” Weeks said.
He soon went on to buy larger equipment and to brew in more advanced ways, combining different ingredients to create his own unique flavors.
His small hobby soon turned into a hefty passion and eventually a company.
Arrangements are already in the works for a location for Weeks to open a bar-and-grill style restaurant, hopefully located in downtown Greencastle.
“Brewing equipment is big, so we will need a large location,” Weeks said. “Right now, I brew it at home.”
His company name and the prospective name of his restaurant is the Wasser Beer Company.
“Ninety-five percent of beer is water, so we decided to name it after the German name for water: Wasser,” Weeks said.
The tagline for his company is “More than Water.”
“Just like beer is more than water, we are more than just a brewery,” Weeks said.
Aside from brewing beer at his hopeful location, Weeks is going to donate two percent of its proceeds to the 2% for Teachers Campaign. As the charity’s name implies, companies donate two percent of their proceeds to education programs.
Weeks plans to give the restaurant a fun atmosphere so both students and townspeople alike will want to spend their time there.
“We hope to serve everyone who likes craft beer,” Weeks said.
The restaurant will also be available to minors in order to accommodate all students at DePauw.
“We are hoping for a bar-and-grill atmosphere with a very open environment,” Weeks said. “We want there to be space in the building where things are kind of funky, like a new world, old German beerhouse.”
The option of accommodating fraternities isn’t out of the question, either, according to Weeks. Weeks is a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Hanover College.
“I also had an intern over the summer who is a member of a fraternity,” Weeks said, “so I hope to have positive relationships with fraternities and other members of the community.”
Getting into the brewery business isn’t cheap, so Weeks has had to come up with certain business plans cover his needs.
He started a Kickstarter account, a website that uses crowd funding to help artists and entrepreneurs start different projects.
“The basic idea is instead of expecting one person to come forward with one large sum of money, we ask many people to pledge smaller donations,” Weeks said.
The money received from Kickstarter would be feed-money for the brewery, allowing Weeks to expand the amount of beer he creates.
“I’m hoping to raise the monetary equivalent of one piece of equipment,” Weeks said.
Kickstarter users are given a set number of days to raise a set goal. Other members pledge money to them, but if the goal isn’t pledged in full by the cut-off date, none of the money is received.
“When you set a goal, it is basically all or nothing,” Weeks said. “So if it doesn’t reach the goal, I’d get no funds.”
His goal currently has 21 days remaining.
If all goes according to plan, Weeks hopes to open the bar-and-grill soon.
“We are hoping to be open for a huge New Years Eve party this winter,” Weeks said.
Weeks would also like to get in business with other local restaurants already established with liquor licenses before his grand opening since he isn’t allowed to sell his beer without one.
“We are currently working on sampling opportunities around the community,” Weeks said, though the plans are still in the early stages.
Small brewery liquor laws allow them to sell and distribute to established businesses.
“So technically, I could sell it if they wanted it,” Weeks said, “but as for right now, we are hoping to get a benefit concert going.”
For those with a taste for craft beers, Weeks made sure and provide plenty of options.
He is excited about all of his flavors including a German Hefeweizen, a wheat beer he calls “Old Gold,” a brown ale entitled “Big Walnut,” and a dry hops coffee stout: “Hoppy Professor.”
“There’s also a double IPA (India Pale Ale) called ‘Hoptimism’,” Weeks said. “It is a very big IPA. made with Amarillo, Simcoe hops, and Cascade hops.”
While the plans for Greencastle’s soon-to-be go-to hangout have been underway for quite some time now, it is just now reaching the ears of DePauw students.
“It’s nice to see a business that I believe would be supported by the DePauw community,” senior Jack Leibovitz said. “I’m just really excited about this now.”
“As a DePauw student, I think it would bring a lot to the town. It is something we don’t have, and it would be a great edition to the community,” senior Kevin Courtade said. “Plus, I’m excited to try all the flavors of Greencastle.”
To make contributions to the project, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wasserbeer/wasser-beer-company.