When is A Taproom Not Just A Taproom? When It’s Indianapolis’ “A Taproom”

When is A Taproom Not Just A Taproom? When It’s Indianapolis’ “A Taproom”

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

When you make a trip to a brewery’s taproom, it’s likely that you will be drinking their beer and learning a lot about their story. This is how they build a regular customer. If you’re at a beer bar, then you’ll have the opportunity to drink beer from several different breweries, but in that kin of experience you don’t get the story of the beer or the story of the brewery. What if you could get the best of both worlds? A place with different beers, but a solid connection to the breweries, almost an extension of their own taprooms?

It sounds good, but how would one accomplish that? Well, a coming taproom in Indianapolis is going to show you how to do it. They’ll be a lifeline between your local watering hole and the the best breweries around. A Taproom, located on North Delaware Street in the old digs of The Koelschip, is going to bring you a new brewery taproom each month. Every 30 days it will be like you are walking into a satellite taproom for a different Indiana, regional, or national brewery.

The stop for A Taproom has good bones in The Koelschip, it was once named the best taproom in Indiana. image credit: beerandbrewing.com

Eight or nine taps will be dedicated to the beer of the featured brewery, along with their packaged beer, merchandise, and swag. More important, the staff will be able to talk that beer and brewery as if they were long-time employees. The story of the brewery, their philosophy/feel will be primary in the experience. And then next month, you get to experience a new brewery.

The concept is even reflected in their name and logo. This is not a taproom that works to convince you that they themselves are great, rather this will be “A Taproom by Bare Hands Brewery” and then “A Taproom by Streetside Brewing,” and then “A Taproom by Narrow Gauge Brewing,” etc. Get it? The satellite in their logo brings home the point that they seek to actually be a satellite taproom for that particular brewery for that month.

The featured breweries for 2021 have been mostly worked out, with Bare Hands Brewery leading the way in April (see below for a tentative list). Here’s the planned modus operandi for each month. 1) The employees will undergo extensive education on the beers and story of the next featured brewery so that they can talk to you about the brewery in detail and give the patron the feeling of actually being at their brewery. 2) There will often be special releases from the featured brewery that will be on draft ONLY at A Taproom. 3) Collaboration beers between A Taproom and the featured breweries will be regular items, showing that this location is a special place to be.

Additionally, 4) whenever possible, staff, brewers, and owners of the featured brewery will be invited to come hang out, pour beer, and talk up their brewery. 5) The owners say, “The beers on tap WILL NOT end up being run of the mill beers you can always get from chain places. We are wanting to focus on small independent places who have or want little to no distribution.”

At A Taproom you won’t just get a brewery’s beer, you’ll be able to buy the featured brewery’s merchandise too. Image credit: pintrest

Then, 6) at the beginning of the new month, everything will change and a new brewery will be featured. 7) Look for a wingding of an anniversary party each year, featuring at least one keg from each of the featured breweries of the previous 12 months – as they will be sure to keep something special back from each monthly “tenant.”

In addition to that novel concept, there will be several other special features to A Taproom. A) There will always be 3-4 lines of Bare Hands beer on tap and Bare Hands beer in package. B) Space out back that will be converted to a patio with tables; everybody likes to have a beer in the garden.

C) The wives of the owners are nurses, so each month will have days where they open from 7-11 am to offer medical third shift workers a quality craft experience. D) Unlike many beverage service businesses, A Taproom will offer 401k options with employer matching, profit sharing after specific employment periods, quarterly employee team building retreats to breweries and theme parks. The owners say, “Don’t be alarmed when you see us post and put a ‘closed for fun sign’ on the door a few times a year so we can reward our staff.”

The new look helps a different brewery feel at home each month. They are the focus, not A Taproom. image credit: A Taproom

In an effort present the beers at their best, the draft system is being reworked by Proper Pour so that beer flows well and will stay that way. And with great beer you need great food – A Taproom will have you covered there as well. Goose the Market with their award-winning food is next door, and A Taproom has a mechanism by which patrons can order food from Goose in A Taproom and have it delivered. Additionally, look for pop up kitchens from places like Rooster and Rusted Silo, along with other food trucks. Finally, prices will include tax and will be rounded to the closest dollar – no change will be used at A Taproom since it is high contact and scarce right now.

The minds behind A Taproom are Xavier Randall and his dedicated team. Xavier is well known to central Indiana beer makers and drinkers, even though he wasn’t a fan of craft at the beginning. It was his brother Tyler who started trying craft beers first and convinced Xavier to try Winterfest with him in 2014. He tried many things, but the post-festival stop at Black Acre for a wit beer with tea (Earl Grey infused Vertical Sun) that he found something to love.

Hundreds of brewery trips and festivals across the country followed, teaching Xavier much about what people like and don’t like in a taproom, as did a stint as a server and then manager at Black Acre. Xavier wanted to translate this knowledge into something of his own. “Opening a business has always been something I’ve wanted to do and the opportunity arose for me to start one up. Hopefully, we’ll show that the concept of a rotating taproom is a practical one.”

Narrow Gauge from St. Louis will be one of the featured breweries at A Taproom. image credit: Narrow Gauge Brewing

Xavier and partners had been talking about the idea of a rotating featured brewery taproom for more than a year when The Koeslchip closed. Knowing that this was a space that craft fans already new, was in an exciting, growing part of town with good walk up traffic, and offered the kind of space they were looking for, they went after it fast.

Now that the plans and buildout are finishing up, Xavier and partners are looking for late March dates for “Friends and Family” and Industry nights, with a public opening targeted for April 8. And no, I haven’t forgotten that I promised a list of tentative breweries – here they are, although they are subject to change based on timing.


image credit: Streetside Brewery

Bare Hands Brewery from Granger in April, Windmill Brewing from Dyer in May,  2Toms Brewing from Fort Wayne in June, Streetside Brewing from Cincinnati in July, Listermann Brewing from Cincinnati in August, Narrow Gauge Brewing from St. Louis in October, and Perennial Artisan Ales in November (more to come).

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