04 Dec The Indiana Craft Beverage Community Adapts for Winter With Igloos
I saw a funny and poignant meme for our times the other day. Talking about Covid-19 and craft bars it said, “You can’t sit inside, but it’s fine to sit inside as long as the inside is outside.” It had to do with the restrictions on indoor seating in many counties and states, and the use of outdoor tents to help increase seating during winter while still trying to support social distancing and safety.
One way to get more people served in the cold is to use those igloos that starting showing up a couple of winters ago. What was at first purely a choice to give a different atmosphere and mood to a brewery or distillery visit is now an economic and safety imperative. You may not have seen the igloos yet, but it’s much more likely that you’ll run into them this winter.
The primary company that makes these private spaces is called Gardenigloo, but there are a couple of others. What’s more, craft beverage makers are generally amateur engineers and problem solvers, so it isn’t surprising that a few places are building solutions on their own.
In general, these igloos are see-through plastic geodesic domes that have a door on them and can seat 4-6 people. Most have a small heating unit and some decoration, or they may just hold a table and chairs. Different establishments can decorate them the way they wish, but in the Covid era, having fewer things inside might make it easier to sanitize them.
The advantage to them during the pandemic is that you can seat a small group (likely to be people that see each other often and are comfortable being in each other’s presence) without exposing a larger number of people like in a taproom or restaurant. They can be seated outdoors while not having to bear the brunt of the environment.
On the positive side, the mixing of air is less than in a large taproom and the cleaning/sanitizing is easier because it is a defined space and can be cleaned well between every use. Some people don’t like the idea because people will be rebreathing the same over a longer time which might be less safe, but as written above, most likely these are people that spend time together anyway. However, since they are small and do have a ventilation system, airing them out between uses is easy and quick.
Only two breweries that I know of last year used igloos – Ironwood Brewing in Valparaiso and Urban Vines Winery & Brewery in Westfield. However, I put out an inquiry for Indiana breweries, wineries, and distilleries that were going to use them this year and got a much bigger response. The answers I got show that more people are using private spaces, and the forms are quite diverse. Here’s a breakdown of the information I got, but make sure to check with all your favorite local haunts to see if they might have something similar or to suggest that they get some.
Dot & Line Brewing in Fort Wayne – Phillip and company don’t have igloos up right now, but they are considering getting 203 of them for this winter. They will be available by reservation, but Dot & Line isn’t sure if there will be a charge for a reservation yet, unless a reservation went more than an hour, and then there would probably be a fee. Each igloo would have a table and chairs, plus plenty of hand sanitizer. Heaters will be included if they can be done safely.
Ellison Brewing in Indianapolis – Kate at Ellison currently have one igloo set up and running, but they will be getting a second one very soon. Each has a heater, can seat up to six people, and are thoroughly sanitized between parties. The fee for reservation will be $20 for two hours on Monday-Thursday and $40 for two hours on Friday – Sunday. There is no minimum charge for food or beer. You can currently make reservations here.
Field Brewing in Westfield – Rian, Nik, and Greg have three greenhouses coming. They will be had by either reservation or first come first serve for open times and will cost $40 for two hours. Each greenhouse will seat 6-8 people and will be sanitized between each use. Look for reservations to start later in November for dates beginning in November.
Goshen Brewing in Goshen – Jesse and Amanda have a whopping eight igloos for which they started taking reservations a couple of weeks ago. Seven of the igloos seat up to eight people and the eighth seats up to five people. Groups need to spend a minimum of $75, but there is no charge for the reservation currently.
Hotel Tango Distillery in Indianapolis – They will be having outdoor seating this winter, called The Bunkers at Hotel Tango. There will be two that seat two people and two that seat six people, each with its own heater. Reservations will be required on Friday and Saturday, but Sunday-Thursday will be on a first come, first serve basis. Reservations are for 1.5hr blocks and cost $25 for two person bunkers and will include a choice of appetizer. The six person bunkers will be $125/reservation and will include a choice of three appetizers. Guests will be able to order their cocktails and apps on-line for our staff to deliver to them. Look for reservations to start very soon.
Ironwood Brewing in Valparaiso – Barb has an igloo again for this winter; it is already up and running or will be within a matter of days. In general, it will be available on a first come, first served basis and will have no cost to use. Barb just asks that the group drink some beer. The igloo can seat a maximum of ten people, but right now they are limiting the number to six people in accordance with the county and they ask that you limit your visit inside to 90 minutes. There is a small heater in the unit.
Mayfair Taproom in Indianapolis – Alec and Hillary built some temporary walls and partial covering for their patio with propane heaters to help keep things warm through the winter. If you look at their social media you can see some pictures of what they’ve done. Tables will still be first come first serve, with no minimum purchases.
Pax Verum Brewing in Lapel – The guys in Lapel have plans to get two igloos installed in the near future. Keep an eye on their website and social media for details coming on when they will be available and what the rules will be.
People’s Brewing in Lafayette –Different from many of the igloos, People’s Brewing is putting in one giant greenhouse over their patio (15’ x 40’). It will be heated and have socially distanced tables. Most important, the greenhouse will have filtration, with both hepa-filters and UV light filtration. They plan to have it operational by the end of the third week of November and we’ll run it all winter. Service will be first come, first served.
Three Rivers Distilling in Fort Wayne – Opened on the 17th of November, Three Rivers has six igloos, each with unique decorations, lighting, a heater, and a Bluetooth speaker. The full menu is available, plus some igloo specials on beer, wine, and spirits. Each igloo seats up to eight people and reservations are for two hours. They have a great description of the rules and procedures, including their sanitization process, on their website. Look for the future here, since most spots are booked through December. Go to www.3rdistilling.com/igloos to view the availability calendar.
Trubble Brewing in Fort Wayne – Chad and Keli have what they call “Trubble Bubbles” that will start accepting reservations on the 26th of November. A minimum of two people are needed to make a 1.5 hr. reservation and there will be a $50 deposit. Dogs and children are allowed in the bubbles and there will be a minimum spending requirement. Each bubble will be UV sanitized between reservations. Go to https://www.trubblebrewing.com/about-us/trubble-bubbles/ to reserve your bubble.
Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple – Jay and Chelsey have small, individualized units already set up on Broad Ripple Avenue. Each seats two, has a heater, and are available on a first come, first served basis. Between uses, the air, walls, ceiling, tables, and chairs will be disinfected.
Urban Vines Winery & Brewery – Noah, Amber, and Marc have three igloos this year. They’re already open and will be available for rental through February. Each fits eight people and has a heater and amenities. Sunday – Wednesday the price of rental is $30 for two hours, while Thursday – Saturday the two hour rentals are $50. Go to https://www.urban-vines.com/igloos/ to rent one.