Wildrose Brewing Company Hitting Its Stride In Griffith

Wildrose Brewing Company Hitting Its Stride In Griffith


By Writing & Reporting Community Member Lance Ryskamp

What began as a group of homebrewers from Wildrose Lane in Northwest Indiana three and half plus years later, with the help of a welcoming community, a cooperative landlord and countless hours of owner’s “sweat equity,” has become Wildrose Brewing Company.

Wildrose opened in March, as one of a trio of new breweries in the Town of Griffith, in Northwest Indiana.

The first thing you notice about Wildrose, upon visiting, is its size. This is not a store-front, shoe-string starter operation at all. The brewery is housed in a 6,000 plus square foot former refractory business. The brewpub, which is approximately 2,000 square feet, has a capacity for a hundred patrons. The walls feature brightly painted murals, and as is fitting with Northwest Indiana’s proud steel industry tradition, steel and metal accents throughout. The brewpub features seating at the bar, tables and chairs throughout, as well as a comfortable lounge area. The east side of the brewpub opens out into a covered outdoor patio, perfect for warm weather seating and music.

One of Wildrose’s five owners, David De Jong, works full-time at the brewery, with help from co-owners Karen De Jong, Ed Halajcsik, Tony Nicola and Kevin Krippel. When asked what the brewery’s biggest challenge has been since opening, De Jong said that it was the logistics of establishing a brewing schedule, as the owners’ transition from the needs of homebrewing to maintaining a constant available supply of beer. As first-time brewery operators, De Jong said he is pleased and somewhat surprised at how well the brewery has been received in the area.

He added that during the next several months, the brewery will continue to build the infrastructure in order to create additional brewing capacity for packaging and wholesale. Currently using a seven barrel brewing system, the brewery has about 4,000 square feet of available production area to expand into. When asked about Wildrose’s long-term goals, De Jong said he would like to see Wildrose expand as the house beer of a franchise of restaurants, similar to the relationship that Indianapolis-based Three Wisemen Brewing Company has with the chain of Scotty’s Brewhouses throughout Indiana.

Because Wildrose opened in the wintery weather of March, De Jong said that the brewery is in the process of planning a “Grand Opening” event later this summer. He also said they would be launching their new Coaster Club Discount promotion to reward their loyal customers. Rather than a brewpub “glass” loyalty program, which can be limiting, due to the types of glasses the brewery serves it’s various beers in, this promotion will allow loyal patrons to have their own personalized coasters to use for discounts during the visits to Wildrose.

During my visit with De Jong, I had the pleasure of sampling a flight of Wildrose’s beers. These included Red Rye’dr, a red rye pale ale, and Mad Cow, a coconut milk stout. Mad Cow, according to De Jong, is the brewery’s highest rated beer. While both of these were enjoyable and well-made, the IPA and coffee lover in me was drawn to the other three flight samplings: Big Sexy, a Citra-hop IPA; Mornin James, an Imperial Coffee Stout; and, Ale Mary, a Double IPA. Ale Mary, along with another Wildrose house selection, LOIPA, are flavor creations that were originally owner-brewing experiments using “leftover’ ingredients that were on hand.

All three of these beers were excellent, and choosing one to purchase a growler of at the end of my visit was a tough choice (I eventually chose Big Sexy). De Jong said that Big Sexy has been Wildrose’s most popular beer, and I can certainly see why.

Along with craft beer, Wildrose offers a selection of wine and currently has a caterer supplying food onsite. T&S Catering offers a nice selection of appetizers, pizza, and sandwiches for those who want to enjoy food with their beer. While I was there, I enjoyed a pastrami panini, with Havarti/ Jalapeno cheese and side of cole slaw. The sandwich was a perfect complement to the beer I was enjoying. De Jong said that the owners will begin also grilling hot dogs and hamburgers onsite, particularly on Tuesdays, when the catering service is not available.

Wildrose Brewing Company is located at 1104 E. Main Street, in Griffith, Indiana. The brewpub’s hours are as follows: Sunday, Noon to 8pm; Tuesdays- Thursdays, Noon to 10pm; and Friday/ Saturday, Noon to 11pm. De Jong said that a Wildrose website is currently under construction, but for more information about Wildrose Brewing, go to their Facebook page and Twitter feed (@WildroseBrewing).

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