08 Jan South Bend Brew Werks Creates (and Re-Creates) a Lot of History in First Three Months
Commitment to city, devotion to local history, and a laser-sharp focus on quality describe South Bend Brew Werks’ philosophy and the commitment of Andrew Elegante, its managing partner. From the choice of location, décor, and its crowdfunding campaign, South Bend Brew Werks has been a love letter to the City of South Bend and its residents. Let me welcome you to South Bend Brew Werks …
The Location, Décor, and Menu
South Bend Brew Werks is located in downtown South Bend in the front of the State Theatre, a historic former movie house first constructed in 1921. Its location, the heart of South Bend, is purposeful – to both drive customers back to South Bend’s downtown and to showcase South Bend Brew Werks’ commitment to South Bend and its history.
The interior highlights South Bend history through the adaptive reuse of former Saint Joseph High School school desk chairs as seating, desk-tops as flight trays, former Beacon Bowl lanes as bar-tops and tables, pipes from the basement of the State Theatre serve as table-bases, pallets from a former Ward Baking facility as bar-fronts, as well as pallet banding used as the bar’s footrest and door-knobs reused as purse hooks under the bar. Aside from the furnishings, artists’ work from the South Bend area line the walls, a commitment to both the old and the new South Bend. A mural by Chris Stackowicz on the floor depicts the process of brewing in a distorted perspective. Another feature of the South Bend Brew Werks is the Founders’ Wall, a place where those who joined the first Mug Club and other supporters are featured on plaques with their names and sayings commemorating South Bend Brew Werks’ opening.
One particularly unique feature of the South Bend Brew Werks is their crowdfunding campaign which helped to fund the brewery’s development and opening. The crowdfunding campaign included opportunities for patrons to join the first Mug Club or purchase the rights to design one of five beers and three different menu items. These items, which were made in the month of November 2014, were only available a week at a time, with the largest sales of each category earning a spot in January 2015’s menu lineup, along with a $50 gift card to South Bend Brew Werks and a donation to their charity of choice. Aside from the normal menu offerings, a Sunday brunch is offered with varying types of waffles and toppings. With the success of the first beer and menu item competition, the South Bend Brew Werks hopes to hold another event with an ‘Iron Chef” type list of ingredients to further encourage the creativity of its patrons.
Open less than three months and already a staple in this downtown” – Andrew Elegante
Although the adaptive re-use of so much of South Bend’s history is an integral part of what is South Bend Brew Werks, perhaps more compelling is the commitment to the City’s nonprofit sector through cash donations. Next to the bar is an architectural column which features posters discussing three non-profits in the South Bend area: La Casa De Amistad, Neighborhood Resources Connection, and The Music Village. Each of these nonprofits serve the City of South Bend as a whole and are committed to improving the City. Below each of the posters are three jars, placed prominently. The jars are offered as a way for both South Bend Brew Werks and its patrons to connect to the nonprofits supported – each beer poured, from growler to tasting, merits a donation from one dollar to ten cents. The patrons of South Bend Brew Werks receive a colored token with each beer purchased and are encouraged to choose the nonprofit which it will benefit. In the first three and a half months since opening, South Bend Brew Werks has given nearly $7,800 to these nonprofits. The funds from South Bend Brew Werks have afforded both field trips and general expenses for these nonprofits and their beneficiaries.
While I’ve spent much time discussing the history, the décor, the dedication to the City of South Bend, the beer made by South Bend Brew Werks is more than worthy on its own. With five standard house beers and a rotating cast of five more, the South Bend Brew Werks offers beers for every palate. Beers range in price from $2 for a tasting to up to $25 for a growler refill. Keeping in mind the devotion to the history of South Bend, the beers are often named accordingly. The five “house” beers are as follows:
9 Aye: a 7.4% ABV Black IPA. Named after the vote of the South Bend Common Council which afforded South Bend Brew Werks the right to brew beer. With 9 Ayes, the Council passed the resolution unanimously.
1865 Amber: a 4.8% ABV Amber named for the year that the City of South Bend was incorporated. Look for special 150th year celebration beers in 2015 to commemorate South Bend’s founding.
Colonel Eddy: a 5.1% ABV Oatmeal Stout named after an early founder of the City of South Bend.
Cascading Wheat: a 5.3% ABV wheat beer named after the cascading rapids of the East Race, a local landmark.
Mr. Elegante: a 5.9% ABV smoky porter named after Andrew Elegante, managing partner of South Bend Brew Werks. While not a South Bend native, Andrew has adopted South Bend as his own after arriving at Notre Dame for his MBA.
The rotating beers on tap as of this writing are:
Stargazer: A 6.8% ABV IPA inspired by Crowdfunder Mark McKenna. This showcase winner has huge citrus hop aroma with hints of bready and grainy malts.
Imperial Stout: This 11% stout carries the characteristics of a barrel aged beer .Aromas of coffee, chocolate, and dark pitted fruits dominates, with subtle hints of earthy and spicy hop.
Disinhibited: A 9.5% ABV Double IPA with a mouth-watering 146.1 IBU. Inspired by Crowdfunder Matt Teters, frontman of the band Phineas Gage.
Brain Surgery: A 7.2% ABV malt forward IPA. After a very positive reception in November this beer is back on tap for a limited time.
Saison #001: A 6.8% ABV farmhouse ale with light fruit tones. They refer to this one as the “True Champagne of Beers”
SB150 IPA: This 7.6% IPA is the unofficial IPA of the year-long celebration of South Bend’s Sesquicentennial. Other beers in an SB150 series will be released monthly.
Upcoming beers include a Rye Stout and some barrel-aged beers, including sours. As of the current writing, South Bend Brew Werks beers can only be purchased at the brewery or at The Brick, an event space in South Bend.
On Other Hoosier Breweries
When asked about other Hoosier Breweries, Andrew noted that he is excited for the opening of the Crooked Ewe, a new brewery slated for opening in early 2015. Chip and Summer of Iechyd Da in Elkhart and Chris at Bare Hands Brewing in Granger were both cited as sources for information about expectations, expenses, ideas, and how-to when opening a brewery. A visit to Drew Fox at 18th Street Brewery in Gary and to Burn’em Brewing in Michigan City afforded an opportunity to learn more about the brewery business.