HopLore finds its niche in Leesburg

September 12th, 2018

By David Slone | Times-Union

Since opening Memorial Day weekend in 2017, HopLore Brewery & Restaurant has not only continued to grow its customer reach but also has evolved the craft beers it offers.

“It’s a lot of work. It’s definitely growing. It’s a lot of learning,” co-owner Joseph Hull said. 

“We’re in the process of looking at some new equipment, some bigger equipment to continue to grow. We do distribution as well, so that side will grow more,” said co-owner Stefan King.

All brewing of HopLore craft beer is done at the Leesburg business at 100 S. Old 15.

“We hit the highest amount of beer produced here in one month this last month at 22 barrels,” Hull said.

HopLore craft beer can be found on tap at Danny’s Sports Bar, Spike’s Beach Bar & Grill and periodically at The Downtown. There also are places in Fort Wayne and South Bend that have it on tap.

Another thing the brewery is expanding is releasing its beers at its Leesburg location. At its Oct. 6 Barrel Aged Birthday event, King said, “We’ll have bottles that we’ll be releasing of those barrel-aged beers. We do a lot of canning. … Moving forward, we’ll be doing a lot more of those can releases as well.”

The brewing takes place in the bar area of the brewery. “That’s something that’s kind of unique, is that our bar room is our brewing room ...” King said. 

“You’re actually sitting on our brewing floor when you’re sitting in there having a pint.”

All About Taste 

Hull said the brewery has taking different directions with the beers it offers. “We’re on a different pathway now of using a lot of fruits and adjuncts, where we were more of a traditional-style brewery at the beginning.”

The Dreamsicle Series has been popular so far, King said. “We did an Orange Dreamsicle with orange peel. Raspberry Dreamsicle … we have one in fermentation right now, which is a Strawberry Passion Fruit Dreamsicle, and people ask what the beer tastes like, and the beer literally tastes like that popsicle you got from the ice cream truck when you were little with vanilla and fruit and everything.” 

One craft beer – for a limited time only – used doughnuts from Rise ’N Roll Bakery, also known as “Amish crack.” 

“We actually put 13 dozen Rise ’N Roll doughnuts in that beer,” King said, adding they also had a Blueberry Doughnut beer. “A lot of experimentation with different things. We have a Mango Milkshake IPA, which is kind of a little different take on IPA.”

Hull said he and King both come up with ideas for the beers, many for a limited time. 

“The Imperial version of the Amish Crack, we put out for International Doughnut Day. So the next year you can expect Imperial Amish Crack to be released on International Doughnut Day,” King said. 

Cool Beginnings

King said he and Hull opened HopLore for the “love of craft beer. We felt like this was an area that really needed to be serviced. ... We were the first brewpub in Kosciusko County at that time.”

Their choice of location, the old grain mill in Leesburg, is “a pretty cool place,”?King said. “It has a lot of history for the area and, in addition, we thought it was a little ironic that we come in here because over 100 years ago they built this place to mill grain to feed livestock; now we’re milling grain to produce beer in this exact same location. We felt that was a very cool aspect.”

The mill was available at the time because the previous business there had closed.

“We walked through it and it just had so much history, so much character, we just loved the building,” King said.

Changing Menu

HopLore has eight employees between bartenders and cooks, and the restaurant menu the cooks work off reflects the craft beers being offered, to some degree.

“It is more of a craft-type menu to go along with the craft beer,” King said, calling it “eclectic barbecue.”

“We do some unique tacos, from Korean barbecue tacos to brisket taco with a blue cheese sauce and pickled red onions. We do a pulled pork PB&J taco. Those are ones that people think are out of left field, but ... everyone loves them,” King said.

The menu changes seasonally.

Hull said the Strawberry Passion Fruit is coming in the fall, as is the Mango Milkshake and the house favorite Fly Trap IIPA. “It was released when we first opened, and I only made it the one time, but I’ve finally made it again,” Hull said. The Chocolate Milk Stout is also in the pipeline.

Community Happenings

HopLore hosts a number of events throughout the year.

Hull said Barrel Aged Birthday is Oct. 6, starting at noon. 

Nov. 3 is Soviet Occupation Day. “It’s the release of our Russian Imperial Stout,” Hull said, as well as variations of that stout. “One will have coconut, coffee beans and vanilla. Others to be announced,” he said.

At 7 p.m. Thursdays is Local Music Thursday. “We have a rotation of about four different artists that are all within the town limits. They literally could walk here to play on Thursday night,” King said, noting they play for about two hours. 

HopLore also gets many regional acts, King said. “We’ve had people, so far, as far as Omaha, Neb., that are just coming through, doing a tour, and they’ll hit here.” 

One band he said they are pretty excited about performing at HopLore is Zolopht, from Grand Junction, Colo. The band will perform Nov. 3.

He said they try to do as much for and with the community as possible. HopLore’s second annual Cruise In for the North Webster Food Pantry is Sept. 15. There will be a raffle with donations from area businesses and a silent auction. 

HopLore will open at noon Sept. 15, with cars beginning to cruise in around 1 p.m. A band will play from 4 to 7 p.m. on the deck, weather permitting. 

Another way HopLore gives back to the community is through a beer on tap called Selfless Grab. “We did that in conjunction with the county firefighters,” King said. “Fifty cents of every pint goes into the fund for the Hoosier Burn Camp and to help get some Baby Drop Boxes here in the county to place at fire departments,” King said.

Music isn’t the only form of art King and Hull support. They encourage local artists to bring in their work to hang on the walls.

“We actually sell them out of here for them as well. We don’t take any commission, whatsoever. We just appreciate them sharing their artwork with us and giving people an opportunity to enjoy them,” King said.

Last week HopLore started a movie night on Fridays beginning at 8 p.m. The movie shown Aug. 31 was “The Breakfast Club,” and “The Big Lebowski” will be shown this Friday.

“We have 130-inch projector,” King said. “... It’s a pretty neat addition, which just got added a few months ago.”

More information about HopLore’s events can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media, which King said they use frequently.

Make sure to check out Hoplore on BeerAdvocate, RateBeer, and Untappd for the full effect.

Mug Club

King said enrollment for HopLore’s Mug Club is coming back around. It has over 100 members, including some from Elkhart and South Bend. With summer residents, there’s club members from Fishers and beyond.

HopLore T-shirts, hats, glassware “and all the swag” also are available for purchase. 

Hours Of Operation

HopLore is operating on its summer hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and noon to midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The latest those hours will change will be after Halloween.

Brewery data

Click here for craft beer sales and production statistics for Indiana from the Brewers Association. The economic impact of Indiana craft breweries in 2016 was $1.3 billion. The number of Indiana craft breweries nearly tripled between 2011 and 2017.

Click here for more information about brewery employment and wages at the state level from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.