Indiana Brewery Names By The Numbers, Part 2

Indiana Brewery Names By The Numbers, Part 2

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

This is the continuation of a story we started a couple of weeks back about how important choosing a brewery name can be, and the personal relationship between brewery and patron being strengthened by people knowing the story behind brewery name. It gives customers an insight into the people making their beer, and helps turn them into regulars.

Last time we started to look at breweries that have numbers in their names. There were personal stories, differentiators that separated them from other breweries, like the police code built into 10-56 Brewing’s name or why 18th Street Brewery is located in two towns, neither of which has an 18th Street. Let’s continue today with more breweries that have a number or numeral in their name.

Figure Ei8ht Brewing in Valparaiso Tom Uban is an interesting guy. He’s a rock climbing, beer brewing, engineer from Valparaiso. After home brewing for more than 25 years and working in engineering for almost the same amount of time, Tom decided one day that he could open a brewery, but what about a name and theme.

Tom has been rock climbing since 2004, with climbs in dozens of states and in the UK. He told me that he liked rock climbing because it was personal, a matter of problem solving, and involved a really close knit group of people – sounds like craft beer to me.

When it came time to make his dream of a brewery a reality, he decided that he could incorporate his love of climbing with its name and philosophy. Rock climbers are self sufficient, and as an engineer self-financing a brewery, Tom needed to be a problem solver and a risk taker. He had to do most of the build out himself to make his brewery come true.

If a rock climber only knows how to tie one knot, it should be the figure eight. This is the knot that secures the climber’s harness to the rope on the wall, rock face, passing plane, etc. As such, the precision that one ties this knot largely determines whether he/she will make it home safely.

Being an engineer, precision is also part of Tom’s make-up, so this knot and it’s importance to rock climbing was a good parallel to his opening a brewery. Not the safety issue so much – there’s nothing safe about deciding to open a craft brewery (or deciding to move to a much larger space, as Tom did in 2012). The knot represents the idea of making something as risky as rock climbing as precise and managed as possible. Figure Ei8ht’s beers are on the edge, but the precision with which they are made insures that they are well anchored and don’t fall down.

2Toms Brewing in Fort Wayne – It’s so true that brewers and brewery owners are very busy people and get pulled in many different directions. Some people who open breweries know brewing, but don’t know business. Others know business and have to learn brewing. But most agree that there aren’t enough hours in the day to learn and do everything needed to keep a brewery running efficiently. This was amplified when Tom Carpenter decided to add brewing to his long list of activities.

Tom is a bigwig at Waste Management and directs more than 400 employees in the US and Canada. He’s also an endurance athlete, having competed in triathlons at every level from local to the 2014 World Championships. Both of those activities are 40 hr./wk. or more jobs, but he doesn’t stop there. His dedication to the Chicago Cubs borders on obsessive, and in the early 2010s he started home brewing, after being given a one-gallon kit by his wife Stacie. Something had to give.

He was completely hooked on brewing after drinking the results of that first kit, but Stacie said he was going to have to give up some other hobby if he was going to keep brewing. Tom stopped competing at the highest levels of triathlon in 2014 and cut back his training hours considerably just so he could start brewing in 2015 – and the idea of opening a brewery started to foment in his mind. After all, if he was going to give up racing, he needed to take this brewing idea as far as it could go.

He was again back to having more activities than hours to do them in. Stacie had said that if this was to keep up with all these activities, he was going to need to clone himself; only two Toms could pull off all this work. And the name was born. He registered on UnTappd as a home brewer with that name and started to develop a following. He wrote the business plan, recruited investors, developed recipes, got the SBA loan, supervised the build – the brewery took just as many or more hours that he used to devote to brewing.

The 2Toms brewery opened in July, 2018 with much anticipation and fanfare. Now Tom also handles payroll, taxes, social media, brewing, his corporate job, following the Cubs, etc., etc. Stacie and the taproom staff are very helpful, but Tom keeps thinking that it might be necessary to have three or four Toms, not just 2Toms.

Flat12 Bierwerks in Indianapolis – When Sean O’Connor and partners opened a brewery in the Holy Cross neighborhood of Indianapolis, they wanted to incorporate part of the fell and tradition of the city in their name. They could go with basketball, or one of the famous people from the state, or they could go with auto racing. Auto racing it was.

This is where the story gets a bit murky. The website for Flat12 states that the name is based on the flathead 12 engine “that revolutionized racing in the great state of Indiana.” I Googled the flathead 12 engine, because that’s where I keep all my knowledge on car engines, and it said that the flathead 12 was used on production autos from Lincoln-Zephyr from 1936-1948. But it made no mention of the engine being used in racing cars. If I were to go any further, I was going to need help. Doug Goins, a craft beer veteran in Central Indiana and a guide at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, had more information for me.

There was a “flat 12” engine in addition to the “flathead 12” engine, according to Doug. Porsche developed this engine with two sets of six pistons the move back and forth in their cylinders instead of up and down as in a V-12 or V-8. Penske racing turbocharged a flat 12 engine in the 1971-1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am racer.

Mark Donohue (from New Jersey) drove the Penske Can-Am car in 1973. He won almost every race that season, and took the season long championship. The car was so fast that the engine was outlawed the next year – like Speed Racer’s GRX engine that flung him into the next dimension. However, none of the 1973 Can-Am races were held in Indiana, and Mark Donohue wasn’t from Indiana. So even this engine, while important to racing, wasn’t important Indiana racing as far as Doug or I can tell.

It could have been that the name Flat12 just sounded cool, and that’s fine. It congers automotive images, and the automotive and racing history of Indiana, and that works well for the brewery. It also coincides with Flat12’s “same spirit of ingenuity with every beer we create.” However, Flat12 was correct in telling me that the IMS was originally not just a race track, but also a proving ground for new automotive technology, and the flathead 12 for Lincoln-Zephyr was one of the technologies that was incubated at the IMS. As far as the Bierwerks part of the name, this is a tribute to the German heritage neighborhood (along with Italian and Irish) where the Flat12 taproom is located in Indianapolis.

Four Fathers Brewing in Valparaiso – Jason and Beth Lacny the doors of Four Fathers Brewing in 2014, but their name harkens from a much earlier age – with a beer twist. Four Fathers Brewing makes no secret of their love of country; they sponsor families of American military each year during the holidays. Therefore, one interpretation of the brewery name is “forefathers,” a tribute to the founders of this country.

The other meaning uses the number four, representing the “four fathers of beer,” water, yeast, hops, and barley. This parallel of fathers and four was made apparent early in the days of Jason’s home brewing, and the couple carried over their loves of country and beer when they decided to open a brewery.

Four Fathers specializes in seasonal beers, with an ever changing board and many styles. To this has been added a good use of barrels for aged beers. With their recent medal at the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers, Four Fathers may need to change their number to five: water, barley, hops, yeast, and bourbon barrels.

Four Day Ray in Fishers – This brewpub came on to the scene in 2016, but the story behind its name is much older. One of the first railroads in early Indiana was the Peru & Indianapolis, running from the capital to Michigan City. This road was purchased later by the Nickel Plate, which secured the growth of Fishers and the ultimate downfall of the small town of Allison, IN.

The Nickel Plate was a large road with four districts by the 1900s. It had hundreds of employees, but only one was know as Four Day Ray. It seems that Ray could only make it to work for most of the work-week. I don’t know if he thought his lifestyle required a three-day weekend every week, it might not have always been a Monday or Friday that he didn’t feel the need to report to his post. But somehow, Ray only managed to work four days each week.

Ray’s legend, or maybe it was hutzpah, led to his nickname – Four Day Ray. Brewery owner Brian Graham takes at least part of Ray’s philosophy to heart. When he opened FDR in the Nickel Plate District of Fishers, he wanted to work hard so that he could also play hard. In his words, “We strive mightly, so that we can celebrate heartily.”

TwoDEEP Brewing in Indianapolis – People come to craft beer in different ways. In Andy Meyer’s case, it took exactly one evening at the Map Room in Chicago. Andy discovered that craft beers had flavor and depth, differences and commonalities, and he was hooked. The German beers of the Map Room captured his heart, and he has been a malt guy ever since.

After that first night, Andy would chase down beers at liquors stores, try different styles, and basically buy too much beer. He thought to himself, “I’m getting into this way too deep.” Just months later, he saw an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats where the host was brewing beer. He took notes, and then bought books, and then decided to brew for himself. Meyer discovered online brewing stores, and set up to brew two individual batches as his first effort. This was getting him way too deep into beer way too fast.

Fortunately for us, his English Brown and American mild (whatever that is) were good. If they had been flops, he might have given up, but the successes were an emotional buzz, way beyond the alcohol in the beer. And that was it, he was in too deep, and the only way to go was forward.

After meeting the young lady who would later become his wife, a trip to California wine country helped solidify the growing image of his owning his own brewer and taproom. The particular winery they visited in the off season was not too busy, so Andy asked the proprietor what it was like at the height of the season. The old man said that the crowd was usually “two deep” around the bar. That did it, it was the vision Andy had for his brewery.

His now wife knew he was in too deep, and so they worked together to make the brewery a reality. Working with a graphic artist friend, Andy worked out the logo and the spelling to be catchy and reflect Indiana (rounded out with sweat ring from a beer – have you noticed that?). The brewery opened, the beers flowed, and then the canning and distribution started. And with every step, Andy knows that he’s in TwoDEEP to get out now.

Twenty Below Brewing in Indianapolis – Kevin Matalucci began brewing at John Hill’s Broad Ripple Brewpub in 1994, just after Ted Miller left to open Brugge Brasserie. He remained in that position until 2013, which was more than a year and a half after he opened Twenty Tap with his wife Tracy.

While he began with the idea of opening a nano-brewery doing real ales, he soon decided that with all the people he knew in the industry, friends he made as brewer at BRBP, what was needed was a place to serve the beer that his brewer friends were making. So they opened as Twenty Tap, with twenty tap lines for Indiana and regional/national beer and an eclectic kitchen.

Even though Kevin said he had no immediate plans to brew at Twenty Tap, soon after he left BRBP for good he started brewing at Twenty Tap (by this time they actually had 38 taps, but why mess with the name). Kevin made English style ales to begin with, and made them on the premises of the taproom. Any one who has visited Twenty Tap knows that the taproom doesn’t have a lot of extra room, and the kitchen in so busy that no space could be given up there – so where does he brew?

There was the basement, so he set up there. The next question, what to call the brewery? The beer is at Twenty Tap and is brewed in the basement. Beer is served cold, so how about a play on words with 1) temperature, 2) the name of the business, and 3) the place in the business where the beer is made – Twenty Below. This is a clever, clever name, and one of my personal favorites in the state.

There are six breweries with numbers or numerals in their name that we haven’t talked about yet. These include several that aren’t even open yet, but are ready to get their story out to the craft beer drinking public. We’ll talk about all these next week.


banner image credit:  Startup Front

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