18 Oct Local resident sees ‘untapped market’ for craft brewery in downtown Greenfield
GREENFIELD — Something good’s brewing for Hancock County craft beer aficionados as a new microbrewery sets its sights on a spring opening in Greenfield.Wooden Bear Brewing Co. will occupy the 6,000-square-foot historic building at 21 W. North St. in Greenfield that was home to the city’s first opera house in the 1800s.
Greenfield resident Dan Noah and three home-brewing friends from Indianapolis decided to take their love of craft brews to the next level, and with no less than a half dozen beer brewers in Indianapolis, they felt moving just down the road a piece might be an excellent business move for a new venture.
“We just moved to Greenfield in June, and we really like the community,” Noah said. “There’s nothing like this in Hancock County, and we felt like it was an untapped market.”
Once it maneuvers through the phalanx of permits and applications and gets construction completed, Wooden Bear will initially offer a limited line of ales and expand its offerings as the market develops.
“We’ll start with four house beers and see what works for people,” Noah said. “Of course, we’ll have many more as we get going.”
The brewery will have a bar setup and also sell its ale in pints and growlers, but Noah said broader distribution and marketing will not be a part of the company’s strategy until a wider market becomes viable.
Aside from the cheery prospect of taking home a half-gallon of fresh brew once the weather thaws next year, downtown supporters and shop owners say Wooden Bear’s arrival will also be a boon to everyone’s business.
Rebecca Teeguarden, who owns the Nutty Mutt pet boutique just across North Street from the future brewery, said she has been hoping to bring a sense of vibrancy to that section of town for some time and thinks a beer-brewing bear might just be the ticket.
“North Street has so much potential,” Teeguarden said Thursday. “I’m very excited about anything to help grow this area.”
Around the corner at SoupHerb on West Main Street, owner/chef Suzanne Kosovich was also pleased to hear about a new enterprise coming to town.
“I think it’s great,” Kosovich said. “The more business we have downtown, the more people come to downtown.”
The addition of an eclectic retail outlet like a microbrewery could also be a catalyst for future growth, business owners say.
“It becomes a destination,” Teeguarden said. “And once you get three or four of them, then you’ve got something.”
From a longer perspective, city planning director Joanie Fitzwater said bagging the Wooden Bear could help lead the way to a revitalized downtown, something that is prominent on the city’s radar after adopting a comprehensive revitalization plan earlier this year.
“I think it’s perfect timing,” Fitzwater said. “I’m so happy they landed there.”
In addition to fitting into the city’s future vision, the brewery might also transition the downtown business district from a predominantly 9-to-5 environment to one that embraces after-hours activity.
“We have some pioneers downtown like Hometown Pizza and New York Little Italy (Pizza Café),” Fitzwater said, “but this might give critical mass to some night life synergy.”