13 May Tin Man Evansville Closes Taproom, Focuses on Distribution
It was deju vu all over again last Friday (May 11) as the Tin Man Brewing Co. taproom in Evansville closed permanently. The first time this occurred (March, 2017), it was part of a reorganization and eventual acquisition of the company by Neace Ventures of Louisville. At that point, it was believed by many that the re-opening of the taproom and restaurant would come in short order. However, it took six months for the taproom to come back, and when it did, it returned without the restaurant.
I asked Shane Uttich, President of both Falls City Brewing Co. and Tin Man Brewing Co. on Saturday if the closing reflects changes coming for Tin Man as a whole. He told me, “We will continue to focus on distribution.” The company will be making beer, both on their own and in partnership with Falls City Beer; it was just that the taproom did not produce in the way that they believed it would.
Shane said that despite the lower cost of running a taproom without a restaurant, “At the end of the day though, there were too few customers after we re-opened. Once a brand/restaurant is “down and out” for 6 months as Tin Man was previously, turning the taproom back on was easier said than done.” In the most immediate span of time, Tin Man stated that all events scheduled for the space will be held, and that all gift cards will be reimbursed.
Local support for breweries can take several forms, from buying their beer at liquor stores, to ordering it in restaurants, to visiting the taproom. But it is only this last option that directly supports the taproom itself. Profits margins are higher when a brewery doesn’t go through the three-tier system, so a dollar spent in the taproom goes just a bit farther in helping the brewery.
In this case, the closing of the taproom may or may not reflect the state of the brewery as a whole. Uttich said, “On the distribution front, we’ll slowly refocus our efforts on a new lineup of beers. You’ll see more innovative small batch products for now. Likely a couple staples will remain, but we’ll be tweaking the portfolio a bit.” Does this mean that a new lineup is needed to bolster sales, or that tastes are changing and the brewery will be moving into the more current styles? It will remain to be seen, although a dedication to small batch innovation for distribution is could be a good sign.
This would be the end of the story if it were just Evansville to consider, but when another brewery shares your name, people will naturally wonder if the changes at one location will affect the other. Tin Man Brewing-Kokomo has separate ownership (Amanda Lewton) and produces most of the beer it serves right there in Kokomo under the direction of head brewer Jack Sramek.
Tin Man-Kokomo put out a Facebook post on Sunday (13th) stating in no uncertain terms that the events in Evansville will have no ramifications on the activities and beer production of the Kokomo brewery. They stated, “Our Kokomo taproom is unaffected by this news and will continue to be a space for all people to come and be a part of their community.”
The folks in Kokomo expressed the same sentiment that Shane Uttich intimated when announcing the Evansville closing, “We would like to take this moment to encourage those within our community to get out and support their favorite local businesses. Without your support small businesses cannot flourish. You can make a difference.” You vote with you dollars, so if you have an affinity for a brewery, please take the time to visit and support them directly.