27 Aug People’s Brewing Co. to Become First Microbrewery in Lebanon
A growing trend, at least here in Indiana, is the revitalization of small towns. When you look around, towns like Anderson, Franklin, and Lebanon are putting time and money into modernizing themselves with the hopes of attracting new businesses and residents. Breweries are just one form of business these small towns proposition, and Lebanon just landed their first one.
When Matthew Gentry become the mayor of Lebanon, he was aware there was a brewery interested but didn’t know which one specifically. He told me he only knew them by their rather fitting code name, “Project Cheers”.
“Economic Development Corporations use code names to protect businesses in case they don’t want it made public that they may be relocating or expanding,” said Gentry.
It wasn’t until Gentry and the Boone County Economic Development Corp. sat down with “Project Cheers” that he officially learned it was Lafayette-based People’s Brewing Co. They were interested in opening a second location and Lebanon officials did a good job on selling them on the city.
“We really tried to sell them on the benefits of Lebanon and that Lebanon was going to be a great up and coming community for them to be a part of,” Gentry said of the meeting. “A big thing we sold them on is a significant trail project we are investing in, which will actually run right in front of the property they purchased.”
When asked, Johnson echoed Gentry’s answer, adding they were also excited that the city was investing in the community. That investment will also attract young people and their families to Lebanon, which is the core craft beer demographic. This selling point was not lost on Gentry, who is 27-years-old.
“All communities around Indianapolis are trying to attract young families,” Gentry said. “And being a younger mayor, I’m definitely very attuned with the craft beer space. I see the benefits. [Craft Beer] is a very popular trend statewide and I think we just wanted to open that door and take that first step to having an amenity like that and I really hope people give it a chance. I know it’s going to be a little different than their Bud Light or Miller Light, but I think once they try it they are going to realize why this is such a popular trend in Indiana.”
The forward thinking seems to match Gentry perfectly. A lot of small towns are pushing for breweries to either open or expand in their city, but Gentry saw a brewery as a necessary step forward in improving his city.
“My theory, when it comes to community development, is the way the economy is changing with people buying more things online, the retail space isn’t maybe the safest bet as it once was on downtown squares. But, people have to eat, right? So I’m trying to create things for people to do; unique restaurants and experiences that people can enjoy on our downtown square.”
People’s Brewing Co. purchased a 6,000-square-foot property, located on Lebanon’s downtown square, that once housed Bijou, a French restaurant. The current plan is to open the taproom in October of this year, have a limited food menu available, and then install a five-barrel small batch brewing system by the end of the year.
The taproom will have 36 beer taps, and some of those will be reserved for guest Indiana breweries. But, if Johnson has his way, they will be “fun” beers and not just standard house beers.
“It’s a good location,” said Johnson. “A lot of those things played in and we think we’re going to see Lebanon grow into a modern town, with good amenities and we want to be a part of it.”