Passport leading to area breweries

August 3rd, 2018

By Amy Oberlin | KPC Media - The Herald Republican

The Northern Indiana Beer Trail took a step forward this week with a multibrewery collaboration.

Blaine Stuckey of Jimmerson Lake, the father of Mad Anthony Brewing Company, Jerod Agler and Casey Dazey of Chapman’s Brewing Company in Angola and Josh Metcalf, who will open Auburn Brewing Company in October, were among around 15 people from nine northern Indiana breweries collaborating at Hop River Brewing Company Tuesday.

“It was so fun,” said Stuckey, smiling as he strolled out of Hop River Tuesday afternoon carrying a box filled with beer, T-shirts and other swag.

Brewers brought samples from their companies, including the yet-to-open Fortlandia nanobrewery and Auburn Brewing. They had a potluck, sampled each other’s products and made a hoppy wheat beer that will be released at Brewed IN the Fort Sept. 8 at Headwaters Park in Fort Wayne.

“This beer will serve to fund the cost of printing passports and purchasing the swag items that we will be giving out,” said Josh Brames, co-owner of LaOtto Brewing Company.

The passports will lead beer lovers throughout a wide swath of the northern part of the state.

“It’s not just Fort Wayne, it’s northern Indiana,” said Mary Corinne Lowenstein, director of marketing at Hop River. She said the owners of the 2-year-old Hop River, Paris McFarthing and Ben Jackson, along with Mad Anthony wholesaler Neil Davey saw a need to put a spotlight on northern Indiana beers.

“We want people to know we have really great beer happening here,” said Lowenstein. “Breweries are a huge incentive for people to visit the area.”

A committee of area brewers have been planning the Northern Indiana Beer Trail, which includes the formation of the Northern Indiana Brewer’s Association, still in process.

Passports to the Beer Trail will start being available at Brewed IN the Fort and at member breweries. They include businesses as far west as Goshen, as far south as Plymouth and north to Chapman’s in Angola.

Along with supporting its members, the association will provide education to the public and create relationships among those in the craft beer business. Lowenstein said Tuesday’s brew day was a “major milestone” toward fruition of the multifaceted project.

Bryan Corey, brewer at Evil Czech in Mishawaka, said he is glad to be “a part of the mix.”

For Metcalf, its an opportunity to ride the Beer Trail wave as Auburn Brewing Co. makes it debut at 309 N. Main St., Auburn, in a former service station.

When he decided to start his venture, Metcalf reached out Brames for support and information. He said he contacted Stuckey, whose Auburn Munchie Emporium is just a block or so away from the soon-to-open brewery. He’s also been working with the recently opened 2Toms Brewery in Fort Wayne. Metcalf said he has been greeted with open arms and hopes to offer a unique, car-themed business that plays off the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival the city has become nationally known for.

Metcalf bought his brewing equipment from Colorado and plans to buy American-made items as much as possible. The maple syrup he used for a sweet maple brown beer demo he took to the Tuesday collaboration came from Avilla.

Metcalf would like to give 10 percent of his proceeds to charities. At this time, he expects two of those beneficiaries to be Big Brothers Big Sisters and St. Martin’s Healthcare in Garrett.

Many of those at the collaboration are relatively new to the business. Corey said he has been collaborating with brewers at Burn ‘Em Brewing in Michigan City, both in the business for about four years. For the sampling Tuesday, Corey took a gose made with kiwi, pomegranate and salt from the Dead Sea.

The Northern Indiana Brewer’s Association will promote brewers’ interest as well as those in affiliated industries. Lowenstein said it was for “beer experimenters to beer enthusiasts.”

“The sky’s the limit,” she said.

NIBA will be comprised of member breweries with a five-person board, elected every two years. The primary focus at this time is to promote local craft beer and educate consumers.

The Northern Indiana Beer Trail will be a passport program that incentivizes people to visit all the breweries on the trail. Passports will be available at member breweries, which will have special stamps to mark a card-holder’s visit.

Participating breweries currently include 2Toms, Auburn, Bare Hands Brewery, Chapman’s, Evil Czech, Goshen Brewing Company, GuessWork Brewing Company, HopLore Brewing, Hop River, Junk Ditch Brewing Company, LaOtto, Mad Anthony, Orthocity Brewing, Summit City Brewerks and Trubble Brewing.

Lowenstein said there will be legs of the passport journey that will allow people to win brewery swag and other prizes as they make their way through the entire trail.

Safe travels will be encouraged, she said. Brewhound bus tours in Fort Wayne is an example of a way to brewery hop responsibly.

Details about Brewhound are on Facebook. The Beer Trail also has a Facebook page at NortherINBeerTrail.