More Breweries on the Edges of Indiana: Can We Build a Bridge?

More Breweries on the Edges of Indiana: Can We Build a Bridge?

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Moving around Indiana to visit breweries puts one awfully close to some great beer that isn’t technically in Indiana. A trip to the Fort Wayne area puts you in close proximity to nearly a dozen Indiana breweries, but as we saw last week, it also puts you close to three breweries just across the line into Ohio. Being even more blatant, a trip to Jeffersonville or New Albany makes a trip across the bridge into Louisville almost an imperative. But why do people refer only to Indiana breweries or Kentucky breweries when talking beer in that area?

I asked a resident craft beer guru in Kentuckiana about this. Booney Holland told me that the river is a definite division in craft beer of the region. How much it has to do with city or state loyalty is variable, but he says that it is very hard to get Kentuckians to travel into Indiana for craft beer and vice versa. Booney does travel to both sides and probably drinks in Kentucky more than in his home of Jeffersonville, but getting others to do this has been difficult because Hoosiers seem to be rabidly loyal to their local watering holes.

I inquired, might there be something that brewers could do to reduce the division? After all, the brewers on both sides of the river seem to get along just fine. Booney suggested that perhaps the gap between KY and IN could be reduced if Louisville and New Albany/Jeffersonville did more collaborations; his specific choice was a Cumberland Brewing/Floyd County Brewing Co. beer. This information makes the present two article series naming honorary Indiana breweries even more timely. If we can encourage more people to think of Kentuckiana beer rather than KY beer or IN beer, then everyone benefits. Look for Booney to have more to say on this subject soon.

Click for a bigger image of Illinois breweries close to Indiana.

We still have two border states left in our tour of honorary Indiana breweries around the edges of our state, so let’s look at the craft breweries that are within 10 miles of the Indiana border with Illinois or Michigan. In Illinois, we have a longer border than for the other three states, and with Michigan, I think we have already developed a very nice working and drinking relationship across the border.

Illinois: I would have thought with Illinois’ reputation for beer (for the most part earned), there would have been more breweries close to the border with Indiana. They have a long border with Indiana that spans urban, suburban and rural districts, but I guess we’re looking at mostly farmland as we travel south to north. Hey, Indiana’s got farmland too, but we’ve managed to put 15 breweries near the Illinois border, why can’t they reciprocate?

Lot 50 Brewing in Paris. This brewery is located just 15 miles west of Big Leaf Brewing in West Terre Haute. We haven’t visited yet, but the scores on UnTappd have been impressive (but only 257 total ratings) since their opening in June of 2018.

Big Thorn Farm & Brewery in Georgetown. I love this brewery; all solar powered and wind and completely off the grid. Everything is locally sourced, and they get all their malt from Caleb and Sugar Creek Malt Co. If you like Scratch Brewing, you’re going to like Big Thorn. The closest Indiana brewery may be 33 miles away (Shaggy Ass in Clinton), but the drive is more than worth your time. Walter and I visited on the day they opened their winter taproom (a plastic walled greenhouse). In the summer, the taproom is an open air treehouse. This is one of our best finds in recent years and we encourage everyone to visit.

Evil Horse Brewing in Crete. About nine miles due west of St. John Malt Brothers, Evil Horse opened in 2016. The brewpub is housed in a 1911-built building on the main street of town. Go soon to make sure and get some of their Russian imperial stout and scotch ale, but their 17 taps always have something interesting.

Border Town Pub Brewery & Eatery in Momence. This is a brewery added to an established restaurant just 19 miles from the Old Lowell Watering Hole Brewery in Lowell, IN. They brew on a 1/2 barrel system, so look for a quite variable beer list.

image credit: Big Thorn Farm & Brewery

One Trick Pony in Lansing. This is one of Walter’s and my favorite breweries just outside Indiana. If we make a trip to the region, we almost always sneak across the border for a Warlander or a Cocoa Butter Kisses. One Trick Pony is only six miles west of Three Floyds Brewpub in Munster, the contrasts between these breweries make for a nice afternoon or evening double tap.

Rabid Brewing in Homewood. Located directly west of Lansing, Rabid suffers from being just further west than One Trick Pony. It’s only 3.5 miles away from One Trick Pony, yet we’ve never been there because we always stop in Lansing.

Argus Brewing in Pullman, Chicago. This is mostly a production and contract brewery until a license becomes available in the neighborhood. I think it is only open to the public on Saturdays as of now, for tours.


Michigan: It surprised me to find how few breweries are located just north of the Indiana border in Michigan. Given that Michigan has more than 345 craft breweries in total, you’d think more than a few might be within 10 miles of Indiana.  However, I have only been made aware of five, with two of those not even open yet.

Beer Church Brewing in New Buffalo. Walter and I have visited. It’s an interesting venue, and we really like the new outdoor patio.

Lehman’s Orchard Brewery & Farmhouse in Buchanan. Don’t go expecting a farm brewery, the taproom is located in downtown Buchanan. However, it has a nice country feel and the fruit beers make you think of a farm. Make sure to try the ciders.

River St. Joe Organic Brewery outside Buchanan. A brewery that hopes to open by mid 2019, River St. Joe will be a farm-to-table organic restaurant and brewery. There is a full farm, a hop yard, and a nice view on site, so this will be a definite destination for us after they open.

Niles Brewing Co. in Niles. This is the brewery of Brandon Townsley, the brewery that got Studebaker up and running to then immediately find out that his own brewery’s permit had been approved. Look for Niles Brewing to open in 2019, but for now you can hang out at Bare Hands in Granger, IN. Say hi to Mark Alstott, you’ll definitely see him in both towns. Along with the breweries in nearby South Bend and Granger, these three breweries in close proximity to each other in southern Michigan (Lehman’s, River St. Joe, and Niles) will make for a nice taproom crawl.

The round barn of Round Barn Brewery is all Hoosier, it’s from Rochester. image credit: The City Lane

Constantine Brewing Co. in Constantine. They advertise themselves as Michigan’s southernmost brewery, as if they were asking for honorary Indiana status. But the southernmost thing might be disputed by Beer Church.


Other honorary Indiana breweries: There’s a few last breweries that I would add to the list, not based on location but on some other Indiana connection. Round Barn Brewery in Baroda, MI is about 25 miles north of Indiana, just outside our limit. But the round barn itself is from Indiana, so I think that makes them an honorary Indiana brewery. Another brewery is much farther away, Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, CA. The president and founder of Anderson Valley, Trey White, is a Hoosier, so that automatically gets his brewery honorary Indian status.

War Water Brewery in St. Clair, MI is another Indiana-owned establishment. Kevin Paul of Danny Boy Beer Works, Danny Boy Distilling Works, and Brockway Pub owns War Water with his brother Kris. They are in the middle of a large expansion, up to 10,000 bbls a year. The final brewery I know of with a distinct Indiana connection is the farthest away of all. Frenchtown Brewing’s owner is Hoosier Kevin Brown, who home brewed in Indiana and consulted with the likes of Ted Miller of Brugge Brasserie and Kevin Mattaluci of Twenty Tap. Where is Frenchtown Brewery located? St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands.

If you know of other breweries near Indiana borders that we didn’t mention, or breweries that have distinct Indiana connections, please let Indiana On Tap know. We’d love to expand our list further.

banner image credit: Vincent Lighting Systems

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