Planned MIcrobreweries to tap into westfield’s railroad heritage

Planned MIcrobreweries to tap into westfield’s railroad heritage

By North of 96th of IBJ Blogs

Two microbreweries are fermenting in Westfield, the fast-growing Hamilton County suburb working to establish itself as a youth-sports mecca.

Grand Junction Brewing Co. is expected to open this spring at 110 S. Union St., in downtown space that formerly housed Keltie’s restaurant.

Four Day Ray Brewing, meanwhile, is targeting a fall opening for its production brewery and tasting room in an industrial park at 17406 Tiller Court, south of State Road 32 near Dartown Road.

Both pay homage to Westfield’s railroad heritage.

Grand Junction’s logo features a train engine, for example, and Four Day Ray’s name comes from railroad jargon referring to an employee who calls off work one day a week. Its tasting room will be called the Boiler Room.

FDR Owner Brian Graham picked his location for its proximity to the work-in-progress Midland Trace Trail, which now ends just east of the property. Like the popular Monon Trail, it is being built on an abandoned rail line (and eventually will meet the Monon).

Grand Junction got its name from the civic plaza city leaders are building across Union Street. The community gathering space is intended to highlight several local waterways and the half-dozen recreational paths that converge nearby.

Partners Charles K. Wood and Jon Knight have taken delivery of a one-barrel “pilot” brewing system they’ll use for small batches of “weird stuff,” as Wood described it, and are in the process of installing a seven-barrel system for everything else. Grand Junction will have eight beers on tap: five mainstream offerings and three rotating taps that may be used to feature beers from other local brewers.

The Grand Junction owners have day jobs, too. Wood, a resident of Fishers, is an independent IT consultant; Knight, who lives in Westfield and owns the Union Street building, runs a mortgage company.

Although Wood has decades of home-brewing experience, the partners have hired master brewer Luke Kazmierski, who honed his craft at Mickey Finn’s in Chicago. They’ll also bring on a professional manager to oversee day-to-day operations.

Both microbreweries plan to serve food and accommodate families—an important consideration given the annual influx of more than a million visitors expected to begin pouring into Westfield when its Grand Park Sports Campus opens this year.

Graham has restaurant experience, previously owning a Dick’s Bodacious Barbecue franchise and the Hot Shotz gastropub on Indianapolis’ north side. Working in software sales for the time being, he’s planning to bring back favorites such as smoked chicken wings in addition to more eclectic offerings like pot roast sliders.
A 12-year resident of Westfield and longtime home brewery, Graham has been planning Four Day Ray for more than a year. He plans to handle sales and marketing, also bringing in a professional brewer from out of state. (But he’s not ready to name names.)

Four Day Ray’s owner is looking for a used 15-barrel brewing system, and plans to distribute its beer in kegs to start. Graham said canning could follow in 18 to 24 months.

When the brewery opens, he’s planning to build buzz through a home-brewing competition. Four Day Ray will produce and sell the winning beer, Graham said.

Plans call for the Boiler Room to be equipped with iPads customers can use to learn about the different beer styles and brewing methods. Graham sees beer education as an important component of a welcome, inviting tasting room.

“We want customers to be able to consume as much information as they want,” he said. “It won’t be stuffy or standoffish. It shouldn’t be pretentious. It’s beer.”

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