To Have a Brewery That Starts with “R” in Indiana, You Gotta Be Special

To Have a Brewery That Starts with “R” in Indiana, You Gotta Be Special

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

As I’ve said a hundred times, there are as many reasons for a brewery closing as there are breweries that have closed. The corollary to that rule would go like this: there are as many reasons to give a brewery a certain name as there are breweries. With all the breweries there are and have been, you’d figure that motifs and stories would even out for most issues, a few of each type over a large number – yet every once in a while you find a pattern that you wouldn’t expect. The problem then is to discern whether the pattern is coincidence or something more (hint: it’s almost always coincidence).

I was running through a list of breweries in Indiana that I invite to festivals the other day, and it occurred to me that there weren’t many breweries that start with the letter “R.” In fact, I could only think of one, Ruhe Brewing in Nappanee. True, that one example is a stellar brewery, with lots of things to offer in terms of food, atmosphere, spirits, and fun.

Ruhe Brewing is located inside Ruhe 152, a great restaurant in Napannee. It is one of two breweries in the state that feature sushi along with their beer. Ruhe also has a distillery producing white spirits and aging whiskey right now, to go alongside their 13 taps of Ruhe beer. Brewer/distiller David Michaels is cranking out great options all the time, and having this establishment in Napannee is a plus for alcohol tourism because of everything nearby.

But still – over 190 breweries in the state and only one that starts with a popular letter like “R?” In fact, the letter “R” is about the sixth most common letter with which to start a company name (“S” and “C” are numbers 1 and 2), yet only two open or coming breweries/cideries/meaderies in Indiana begin with that letter. In contrast, there are 23 establishments that start with the letter “B,” 18 with the letter “T,” 17 with the letter “F,”, and 14 with the letter “S.” Surprisingly, there are only four letters (J, Q, X, and Y) with fewer breweries/cideries/meaderies that start with those letters as compared to the letter “R.”

Some branding experts believe that you should start a business name with “A, B, or C” so that the business would come early in a list, while others believe that uncommon letter (J, K, Q, X or Z) should be used to help with memory retention. Clearly, Indiana does not hold that latter belief dear. I’m trying to think of a reason why some many alcohol producers in Indiana start with the letter B……I got nothing…. maybe it’s the early in a list reason. I wondered about this, so I googled it. I came across an interesting article that stated that the best business letter is, in fact, “B.” They had numbers to back it up, and opined that “B” is seen as a trustworthy and dependable letter, and that it is explosive out of the mouth so it is memorable. Take from it what you will, but here’s a link to the article (here).

Then it occurred to me that I am currently communicating with an owner/brewer in Madison who is in the middle of bringing us a new brewery that starts with the letter “R,” Righteous Brewing. I talked to owner/brewer Dylan Rose recently, and even though it’s going to be a few months before we get a Righteous opening, I want people to be looking forward to this brewery just steps from the Ohio River.

Dylan has been an integral part of the Rhinegeist brewing team for years, and now is looking to open his own brewery. He has a beautiful 150 year old factory in the midst of a buildout, and will feature things like a restaurant, 2 event spaces, a family friendly taproom with a 21+ secluded den with fireplace. The food is designed to go well with the beer – street tacos and BBQ, along with other items. Dylan states that he is a to-style brewer who can go wild at times – you have to know the rules before you can figure out how to bend them. Look for a few core beers and then many one-offs and seasonal offerings. We’ll have much more to say about Righteous Brewing as the opening date nears, including just how it got the name Righteous – is it because it started with “R?”

So, Indiana has one open brewery that starts with “R” and a coming “R” brewery. Is that the end of the story – nope, there’s an interesting factoid on the other side too. It turns out that more “R” Indiana breweries/cideries/meaderies that have closed as compared to any letter other than “B.” It’s not surprising that a few breweries that start with the letter “B” have closed since it is by far the most popular first letter for Indiana alcohol producers (23 open or coming, 11 closed).

For the letter “R,” there have ten breweries that have closed since the craft beer era began (2 open or coming, 10 closed). Only one other letter is under water in terms of openings/closings and that’s the letter “O” (3 open or coming, 6 closed), although as many “W” breweries have closed as have opened (7 each).

Which breweries have closed that began with the letter “R”- do you remember Rad Brewing in Indy, Raintree Brewing in New Harmony, Ram Brewing in Indy, Ram Brewing in Fishers, Redemption Alewerks in Indy, Red Foot Brewing in Jeffersonville, Riverfront Taproom in Shelbyville, Rock Bottom Brewing in Indy, Round Town Brewing in Indy, and Route 2 Brews in Lowell?

It’s neither here or there in the grand scheme of things, but it did strike me as odd that so few breweries/cideries/meaderies start with the letter “R” when it is such a popular letter, and that 5 times as many breweries/cideries/meaderies that start with “R” have closed as compared to those open or coming. I don’t think for a inute that the letter is cursed, and I cite the quality of Ruhe and the promise of Righteous as evidence. I liked Rock Bottom, Redemption, and Round Town very much, and wish they were still open, but it wasn’t in the cards.

Let’s see what happens in the coming months and years. Do the same patterns hold – are we still going to have huge numbers of opening breweries that start with “B?”  Will J, K, Q, X, and Z see an uptick based on the idea of unusualness, or will A, B, C maintain the lead by coming early in the alphabet (40, or more than 20%, of current or coming breweries/cideries/meaderies start with those first three letters). The overarching point – get out there and learn about, know, and enjoy your local breweries – no matter what their name starts with.

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