17 Mar Popularity of St. Benedict’s Brew Works Brings Expansion to Rockport and Search for Production Brewery Facility
The Indiana trend for breweries to open up offsite taprooms has been going strong for a while, with many of the new sites coming from breweries that have been big sellers for years, like Burn ‘Em Brewing going into LaPorte, Upland and Taxman coming to downtown Indianapolis, and Chapman’s Brewing in basically everywhere in northeast Indiana.
There is a new offsite taproom coming soon, and it’s from a new player in this game. St. Benedict’s Brew Works in Ferdinand has been a local success since it opened in 2015, but has been thought of by most as a neighborhood or small town brewery. It seems they have bigger plans. Owner Vince Luecke has designs on a new restaurant and taproom in Rockport, down by the Ohio River and just north of Owensboro, KY.
The town of Rockport (population about 2200 in 2017) received a half million dollar historic preservation grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to renovate an 1880s building at 4th St. and Main Street downtown, just two blocks from the river. Along with about $250,000 of the city’s money, the building has basically been replaced on site – new roof, new brick façade, new heating and air, new plumbing. The tin ceilings were saved, so the new place will still have old elements, but Vince is seeing a nice taproom in this mostly new space by the end of summer – think August-ish.
St. Benedict’s original location is unique for Indiana, being located on the grounds of the Sisters of St. Benedict’s Monastery (see banner image).Therefore, the new location had to be amazing just to keep up the pace. There won’t be nuns at the new location to help with the work, but Vince will manage somehow. This will include managing the food service; the Ferdinand location has less food than is planned for the new spot. St. Benedict’s-Rockport will also sport a small events space on the second floor, so this really is quite an expansion for the brewery.
The menu isn’t finalized yet, but look for there to be a focus on locally sourced meats and, if you feel you need them, vegetables. Vince told me that Spencer County is replete with the best farming and livestock in the state, so it would be silly not to make use of them. Could you tell that he’s from Spencer County (New Boston)?
There is an empty lot next to the renovated building that St. Benedict’s would like to turn into a beer garden/patio, and they have installed side doors to make that possible. The residents of Rockport are looking forward to this addition with relish, as most have been driving to find nightlife and craft beverages and food. Many patrons of St. Benedict’s Ferdinand taproom actually make the 35 minute drive from Spencer County just to get the beer. The new location will draw from this town and even farther, with Owensboro, Evansville, and Booneville just a short drive away.
This is all well and good, but sometimes expanding like this can create new challenges, like how to keep a second location in beer. St. Benedict’s is on the hunt now for a production brewery location to house a larger brewing system. Currently they are on a 3 bbl system and are brewing nearly every day. It’s been a strain to provide just Ferdinand with enough beer and still send a bit out for distribution or for bottling the odd seasonal or one off.
The production brewery would be a third site for St. Benedict’s, though they don’t know yet if this site would include a taproom or not. The important part is to get a spot, locate a 12-15 barrel system, and start making a lot more beer. That size brew house would allow for more distribution, more packaging, and enough beer for whatever locations they might open. Vince said, “The response to our beers over the three-plus years has been amazing, more than we could have dreamed, so a new production brewery is the next step. That won’t change anything we are doing now at the Sisters’ location in Ferdinand.”