This is the second installment in a series of posts that will highlight the people and breweries participating in Indiana’s Next Hop Model on Apr. 30, 2016.
For Holly Miller, one of the five founders of the Black Acre Brewing Co., home brewing has always been a part of her life.
She remembers being five-years-old and the smell of beer from her father’s latest brew coming from the basement.
When Holly turned 21, she asked her dad if she could take his home-brewing system back with her to school in Bloomington. There, she started making her own beer for fun with her husband, Justin Miller.
After graduation, the pair moved to Indianapolis, where they met fellow home-brewing enthusiasts Jordan Gleason and Matt Johnson. The four became fast friends, and soon began brewing double-batches a couple times every week.
“Every time we brewed it was like, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be better if we were just doing this instead of whatever the hell else we’re going to do?’” Holly said.
Their dream became a reality when members of the Southeast Neighborhood Development Inc. approached them and asked if they would be interested in opening a brewhouse in a vacant building in Fountain Square. Even though Holly and her friends didn’t accept the offer, they realized that their desire to start their own brewing business wasn’t as far-fetched as they thought.
Soon after, business plans were made for a pub-style brewery that would be located in Irvington, Indiana. The process went slower than expected, mostly due to Indianapolis hosting Super Bowl XLVI. Holly said there were several times when doubt crept in over if they could pull this off with no previous business experience.
The people of Irvington, however, believed in Black Acre and came out to show their support.
“The [Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission] said that we had more people for something than they had ever seen before,” Holly said. “Usually no one shows up to those meetings except the people who are trying to get something passed. We filled up the whole room –Standing room only.”
That support continued when Black Acre opened in Feb. 2012.
“When we first opened, we were so busy we didn’t know what to do,” Hollly said. “It was baptism by fire.”
Since opening the bar at 5632 E Washington St., Black Acre has added a warehouse, where the majority of its brewing is done.
The whole process still seems surreal to Holly.
“We’re just kids who like beer,” she said. “It kind of fell into our lap.”
Fun Facts about Black Acre Brewing Co.
1) Stephen Ruby is the fifth founding member of Black Acre.
2) Black Acre started on a three-barrel system that only brewed 100 gallons at a time.
3) There are no televisions in the bar in an attempt to create a more friendly, conversational atmosphere.
4) Indianapolis Monthly ranked Black Acre Brewing Co. as the No. 1 new brewery in Indianapolis in 2014.
5) Monarch World Class distributes Black Acre's beer.