Why Twin Archer Brewpub Should Get A Pass For Not Making Beer… For Now.

Why Twin Archer Brewpub Should Get A Pass For Not Making Beer… For Now.

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Making beer is an art and a science, and it isn’t easy. If you make beer and sell it to the public, you should shout it from the rooftops to make sure people find you. People who enjoy craft beer want very much to talk to brewers, see the brew house, taste beers they can’t get anywhere else – it’s all part of the experience. But what happens when you show up at a brewery and find out they don’t make beer?

It may be unusual, but it does happen. And when people get sucked in, the feeling can be deflating. It happened to Walter and I once in northern Indiana, and it made an impression on us. New Paradigm Brewing Co. in Elkhart opened in June of 2015 and they did make beer at that time. However, the last new beer they entered into Untappd was in November of that same year.

When Walter and I visited New Paradigm in July of 2016, they weren’t making beer and hadn’t for a while. In fact, the owner said they had no plans to brew again. Yet they were still called New Paradigm Brewing Co. When we arrived, we completely expected to be drinking their beer. When we found out that no beer was made on the premises or even off premises by their company, it was a let down. We did buy a beer each, so we did spend money there, but we didn’t feel good about it.

image credit: New Paradigm Burger and Brew House

Luckily, Walter and I never travel with the idea of hitting just one place, so we moved on to Iechyd Da, Bare Hands and Evil Czech, but the damage was done. I wouldn’t say we felt tricked…. but it was close to that.

The story has a good ending. New Paradigm Brewing Co. changed their name to New Paradigm Burger and Brew House in 2017. This is a great name, because they do have a number of taps from which they pour great beers, and the burgers at New Paradigm are fantastic. If you’re in the area, definitely visit New Paradigm for a hamburger and a beer…. or four. The only thing that makes it even remotely difficult is that their website url still says newparadigmbrewing.com; I suppose if you didn’t pay attention you might think they make beer, but changing domains is so expensive.

The other glaring example in Indiana was Bent Rail Brewing in Indianapolis. When they opened in 2015, Bent Rail didn’t have a brew house. That’s OK, many places open to sell guest beers and food to make money and stop the menace that is the carrying cost on a business loan before they start to make their own beer. Again, Walter and I visited after they opened only to find out that they didn’t have any of their own beer.

And that was the way things went on for two years. The brew house did arrive at some point, and a good-sized brew house it was, but there was still no brewer. At least one deal with a brewer (probably two) fell through, so it wasn’t until May of 2017 that Bent Rail Brewery actually made beer. They brought in Shawn Byrnes from Lexington Avenue Brewing in Asheville (and before that Taxman and others locally) and he made some great beer.

However, Shawn’s beer was only around for a few months. Bent Rail was purchased by the Sahm family, of Sahm restaurants and Big Lug Canteen fame, in late 2017. The system and space is going to be used for a Bavarian themed restaurant and beer bar in 2018. I feel bad for Shawn, but on the other hand, Walter and I are really looking forward to the Bavarian restaurant. We may just put up cots in the back and live there.

image credit: Bent Rail Brewery & Restaurant

That brings me to a current example of a brewery that doesn’t have their own beer, although their name says they do. In this case, it’s a brewpub, Twin Archer Brewpub in Muncie, but I will say right now that I am cutting them some slack for their situation and I will explain why below. Opened in 2016 by friends Jake Baldwin, Shane Roberts and Scott Limbird, Twin Archer Brewpub asks people to “Drink Local” on its website. They do feature many locally brewed beers on their 16 taps and their 30-35 packaged beer offerings….. but that isn’t exactly the same as being a brewpub.

I understand that some of you might be saying, “Well, they don’t call themselves a brewery, just a brewpub.” This is true, but the definition of a brewpub is a restaurant that makes and serves their own beer in addition to food. Technically, a brewery makes beer, while a taproom room serves beer, usually of their own making, but not necessarily brewed on site. A bar serves liquor and beer but doesn’t make it, a restaurant serves food and might serve alcohol they don’t make, but a brewpub serves food and beer they themselves make.

The lines sometimes get blurred, a brewery might serve food but not include it in their name, and a brewpub might call themselves just a brewery even though they sell food. It’s OK to omit some aspect of your business in your name, although I don’t know why you would. But it isn’t normally OK to include something in your name when you don’t actually fulfill that promise to the potential customers.

Perhaps this is a beer purist’s argument, because I couldn’t find any Yelp! or other reviewer that stated they were upset that they were called a brewpub but didn’t have their own beer. Of course, 95% of the reviews dealt only with food anyway, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising.

photo credit: Visit Indiana

The casual fan’s argument may be that most people don’t know that “brewpub” implies making beer, so there isn’t a problem. But many people do know what “brewpub” actually means, and they shouldn’t be penalized for knowing more.

I stopped in at a Muncie brewery recently and the beerslinger and I spoke about Twin Archer. This person said that it was a bit annoying, from a beer snob’s view, that they would call themselves a brewpub even though they don’t make beer. However, my source was quick to point out that Twin Archer does serve local beer, have good food, and does invite breweries in for beer-dinner pairings.

In fact, the stuation couldn’t have been too big a deal for this bartender, because they suggested Twin Archer to a patron looking for a meal as I sat there at the bar. This person also told me that Twin Archer intended make beer when they were developing their business plan, and even sent one of the owners to learn how to brew, but for some reason, it hasn’t come to fruition yet. That caused me to slow my roll a bit when condemning Twin Archer for their name.

image credit: Twin Archer Brewpub

To get more of the story, I talked to co-owner Scott Limbird on the phone. What I found out is that it was Twin Archer’s intention, and still is, to produce their own craft beer. They just got ahead of themselves with the name. At the point in time that everything was set legally for branding, they were planning on brewing from day one, then the capital ran out. Scott said they opened with the intention of raising the needed capital for the brew house build out and system, and that they are making progress.

Unfortunately, they are still a chunk of change short and have found that the building will need to structural and flooring work before a brew house can be installed. In the mean time, my discussion with Scott convinced me that they are definitely part of the craft beer community, with a love and respect for Muncie and Indiana beer. They have collaborated with local breweries on beers, are dedicated to selling local product, and promote craft beer every day. I respect that and wish them quick success in building the capital to get their brewing system in and heated up.

I don’t really have a solution for their name problem right now. I want Twin Archer to live up to their name, but I also want them to have the time they need to make their capital. I haven’t heard of anyone making a big issue of the name, so perhaps this is creating a problem where one doesn’t exist. I guess the best thing that we as craft drinkers can do is to patronize Twin Archer, eat good food, drink local beer, and help them reach their goal of getting that brewing system they have always intended to have. It’s a good goal but the question still remains, at what point does an establishment either start making beer, or change their name?

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