What’s It Like Running A Brewery In Small-Town Indiana? Part 2

What’s It Like Running A Brewery In Small-Town Indiana? Part 2

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By Writing & Reporting Community Member Stephanie Rich

This is part two of a two-part feature. Check here for part one! 

What negatives have you encountered?
Elizabeth Eaken, brewer/co-owner at Twisted Crew Brewing Company: Owning a small business is very much like caring for a needy child at times. That there are four of us seriously committed to Twisted Crew makes it much easier though.
Josh Lakins, co-owner of Twisted Crew Brewery, oversees sales and events: Not a lot negatives. Just being a tap room and only open Fri-Sun it hard to get the people from Indy and Louisville to stop in.
Leah Huelsebusch, Co-Owner, COO of Retail Operations at Taxman Brewing CompanyOpening a restaurant and brewery with no previous experience running either has been a challenge and we have certainly learned a lot in the last two years. We quickly realized that the kitchen in our restaurant is way too small and have plans to renovate and expand it in early 2016.
Christopher Fast, Owner/Operation of Route 2 Brews LLC: After months of construction set backs, gas leaks and several other frustrations we opened our doors Nov 29th, 2014. We opened with two beers on tap-Psychotic Blonde Ale and Leg Spreader ESB. We quickly added our American IPA Munkey Junk. More soon followed.
Spencer Coleman, Sales Manager at 450 North Brewing Company: It has been a bit of a process getting the brewery up and running. In this industry, hurry up and wait is the name of the game. Whether it’s cans or equipment, it seems to take a while to get the gears in motion. It’s really been a very positive experience for us overall.
Kurt Sundling Owner, Wooden Bear Brewing: Not too many negatives outside of just running a small business. There is just never enough time in the day.

How is your brewery supporting other small town breweries?
Elizabeth: There is a strong spirit of support and collaboration in the local brewing community. The brewer at Power House, Ritch Mettert, has been great to Twisted Crew and to me! We did a collaboration brew at Twisted Crew over the summer (Cherry Bomb Cherry Saison) and then I got to observe/assist while he brewed Pink Houses Hibiscus Wheat on the Power House system. I definitely have some paying it forward to do.
Josh: We teamed up with Power House in Columbus and made a beer (Cherry Bomb) a few months back (not the last time). We always push events and support other breweries on fb and twitter. We are all less than 1% in the beer game. It’s a brother/sisterhood that helps us all grow. I love to visit and drink other beers and see what’s new. The last place I got to check out was Indiana City. That’s a cool group of guys/ladies with some good beer. We would love to team up with another brewery again and make a wonderful beer. We have been buying our hops from local Indiana Hop Farms (Sugar Creek Hop) and talking to a few others like High Bine Hop Yard and 812 hop farm.
Leah: The Indianapolis brewing community is very supportive of one another. We frequently share information and collaborate on different projects. We recently worked with Scarlet Lane Brewing in McCordsville on a Heaven & Hell collaborative beer project. This year, their team brewed Heaven with us at our brew house and we brewed Hell with them at their brew house.
Chris: We support the other breweries by promoting them. One brewery by us makes fantastic sours, another is a master at porters. We all try to promote the area in general.
Spencer: All of the breweries in our area really go out of their way to support each other. Whether it’s borrowing a couple bags of malt, collaborating on brews, or just sending customers to the other guy’s brewpubs to try some other great local brews, the breweries in this area are always trying to build each other up. It’s good for the area as a whole if we can say, “Come to Columbus for three great breweries before heading out to enjoy the changing leaves in Brown County, and don’t forget to stop in at Quaff On! too.”
Kurt: We have worked with a few other small breweries by having their beer on tap and also spend time collaborating and sharing information whenever possible.


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Not a bad road trip, eh?
Best beer you make?
Elizabeth: For me, it’s the amber–a very smooth, balanced beer.
Josh: My all time fav is our Amber! 2nd would be Super Fly Rye, a nice summer beer clean and crisp, 3rd would be our Stout. I have taken this beer and made beer jelly out of it. The friends and co-workers that have had it loved it! 
Leah: Hard to say, we like them all! Qualified recently won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival, but it really depends on what you are eating and the season. A 9.5% Belgian strong ale is great on a cool fall day, but it is hard to beat our petite saison, De Minimis, on a sunny summer day. 
Chris: I like them all, but my go to is Munkey Junk IPA.
Spencer: The best beer that we make really depends on what you have a hankering for at the moment, but it’s almost Barn Yeti season, so I think that’s where I’ll have to cast my vote.
Kurt: Of course everyone can have a different opinion of what is the best beer but my personal favorites are our Russian Imperial Stout in the Fall and Winter times and our Hoppy Summer Wheat in the Spring and Summer months.

Favorite beer from someone else?
Elizabeth: Ah geeze…that’s tough. It varies, but right now, probably Power House’s Jack the Bum Amber. It is also a very smooth, delicious beer.
Josh: That’s a hard one, once you start thinking about it. With Indiana having over 100 breweries and trying so many beers over the years… I love ALL of Indiana beer! I have been able to drink now for 10 years. I started with Upland and Oaken Barrel. That is what was in my local beer store, and I still buy to this day. When I am out dropping off kegs I like to stop and pick up a new beer or stop in and check out a new brewery.
Leah: We are very proud to be part of a vibrant beer scene in Indiana. Our gastropub generally features 10 to 12 taps from other breweries around the state. Right now we are featuring beers from Bare HandsBurn’ EmSun KingThree Floyds, Indiana CityCentral State and Scarlet Lane.
Chris: Favorite beer from someone else, depends on the time of year, mood, etc. However – I’m a big fan of Three Floyds Zombie Dust.
Spencer: I had a Pliny the Elder a while back that rocked my socks off, but I really enjoy Mac Fanny Baw, a smoked Rauchbier, from Against the Grain as well.
Kurt: I like a lot of the beers from Lagunitas Brewing Company and Rogue Ales but I always have time for a good hand-crafted beer.

Favorite drunk snack?
Elizabeth: Everything! A great burger, pretzels and spicy cheese, Pizza, Taco Bell, etc.
Josh: I think you can’t go wrong with homemade cookies (any kind) and beer.
Leah: Sober or slightly buzzed, the fromage bleu burger in our gastropub is one of our go-to snacks. It is a 1/2 pound Fischer Farms’ beef patty, topped with local blue cheese, house made barbecue sauce, on a bun from Amelia’s bakery. It is delicious and will help sober you up.
Chris: As far as favorite drunk snack………depends on the beer I’m drinking.
Spencer: Hummus and pretzel chips. Or chili. Love me some Chili.
Kurt: The Haystack (coined by my good friend of mine) – polenta topped with pulled pork topped with red cabbage slaw topped with hash brown potatoes

As you can see, the Indiana brewing community is much like a small town. Everyone works together, knows each other, and wants everyone to succeed. Everyone is invested in the success of their fellow brewery, whether it’s down the street, or on the other side of the state.


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