25 Jan Ledgeview Brewing and Success in Warsaw – It All Adds Up
You didn’t expect any math involved with being a craft beer fan, but here’s a problem for you to work out. Take St. Louis + Goshen + a homebrew kit + culinary school (x2) + Boston + Chicago + a defunct brewery. What does that equal? A BBQ brewery in Warsaw, Indiana, of course.
If we break this equation down to understand its terms a little better, what we find is a couple from Goshen (her) and Rhode Island (him) who both went to culinary school and worked in the industry all over New England and the Midwest. While she (Abby) was in school at Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island, he (Craig) was working in the kitchen of the hotel in which Abby was interning. Guess what happened….yep, they’re married.
They started a family and moved several times for work (always too far from either her family or his), including stints in St. Louis and Boston with him running kitchens and her in kitchens or managing restaurants. From St. Louis they caught the BBQ bug, and in Boston Craig received a home brew kit from Abby to help him take his mind off his executive chef positions.
Less than a year later he won a medal at a home brew competition and both Abby and Craig started talking about finding a place where they could be their own bosses, make the food they loved, and brew some beer. A timely phone call from friends back in Indiana made them aware of a recently closed BBQ restaurant and brewery (OrthoCity, 975 Warren St.). A couple of conversations, a quick overnight trip to Warsaw, and a few lawyers later, Craig and Abby McLaren owned a building that could again be a BBQ restaurant and brewery.
Ledgeview Brewing Company opened right before Christmas of 2020 for carryout, while the dining room opened in the first week of January. I asked Craig what the BBQ at Ledgeview is like, and he revels in the idea that the food is (just like their travels) all over the map – Kansas City, St. Louis, Texas, Memphis, with multiple types of sauces and those special sides that round out chicken, pork, beef brisket, and ribs.
Craig also plans to regularly have something a bit more upscale, a surprise within the comfort food, and there’s even a smoked beet pastrami option for the vegans out there. This may be a former brewery and BBQ place, but the Ledgeview recipes for both food and beer are all their own.
As far as Ledgeview beer goes, a Blichmann Pro Series 3.5 BBL system is in house and being hooked up. Craig hopes to be making beer in early March, with a light lager called ‘Merica, the TTT Irish Red, an NE IPA called Not All Tracks Lead Home, the Dominatrix – a Belgian Dark Strong, and a grapefruit wheat called The Abigail after his better half. At least four core beers will be accompanied by several seasonals, and he has a can filler and seamer, so we’ll get some to-go beer as well. In general, brewer Craig is in favor of traditional styles, but that isn’t to say he doesn’t like innovation. As we talked, he got excited at the prospect of an all Indiana ingredient beer, especially a dessert stout that might use Hoosier hickory syrup.
Craig lived in New England long enough to latch on to the hazy IPA craze, so look for a few of those on tap, but he most definitely likes a good west coast IPA as well. As a motto for the food and beer, Abby and Craig say, “Quality is the key, but quality located just a little bit outside the norm.” If there’s an envelope to be found, Abby and Craig are going to give it a little push.
Food and beer that are great and yet approachable need a space that is both great and approachable. The old OrthoCity space was rustic and that worked for that establishment; Ledgeview will still be rustic, but with a slight nudge toward a more finished look. Abby and Craig have been putting in plenty of sweat equity for the remodel, from Indiana barn wood ceilings, to a natural edge wooden food counter. Ledgeview will have both an all ages are and a 21+ space, so bring the family down for the food and beer (if age appropriate).
They thought about doing a big garage door as an homage to Craig’s homebrew brand – Ledgeview Garage Brewery – but it was a bit pricey. The Ledgeview part of the name comes from the street they lived on in Massachusetts when Craig started homebrewing – so home and comfort play a big role in how they intend Ledgeview to feel.
Craig and Abby have already started integrating into the community of Warsaw and the community of breweries. Craig has brewed with David Michaels at Ruhe 152 and wants to learn more about the local breweries, especially with HopLore Brewing coming to Warsaw this year. Abby will be running the front of house and taking the general manager duties, while Craig is in the kitchen and brewhouse, so they can use all the help they can get. To get that help and also build relationships, they have turned to the vocational Blue Apron Program through Warsaw Community Schools. They have one intern now, and will take on a new one each semester.
As Ledgeview Brewing gets settled in and the weather turns warm, look for the patio to open up with cornhole and Adirondack chairs so that their food and beer can be enjoyed outside. A Ledgeview Brewing mug club is in the design stages now, offering patrons the chance for new beers first and providing some other perks exclusive to club members. Even further out, the idea of hosting beer dinners is in play. Craig has extensive experience with this, having done some 350 person beer dinners for Sam Adams in Boston.
All in all, this sounds like a very promising venture involving people who have the knowledge and passion to carry it off. Warsaw is a good beer and food town, so they will recognize what they have; heck, Ledgeview already has repeat customers. We can’t wait to try the beer – we’ll let you know when it is on tap. Cheers Ledgeview Brewing and welcome to Indiana craft beer.
Some information and the first image came from the timesuniononline.com (here) by Amanda Bridgman