This is the third installment in a series of posts that will highlight the people and breweries participating in Indiana’s Next Hop Model on Apr. 30, 2016.
When Jason Wuerfel, the president of Books & Brews, was about 12 years old, his family worked in the hotel industry. His parents had started to sell their smaller hotels with the hope of turning around and building a larger one.
Worried about the possible financial hardships his family might endure if the venture failed, Wuerfel approached his dad and expressed his concerns.
“If this doesn’t work, are we going to be broke?”
His dad looked at him, and, as only one’s Father can do, comforted his son with a single sentence.
“It’s not going to fail, because I’m not going to let it,” he said.
More than two decades later, Wuerfel found himself recalling his dad’s words as he attempted to open his own business amidst uncertainty and distrust.
“Honestly, landlords just didn’t want to rent to me,” Wuerfel said. “They look at you as a start-up company, and they see big risk in terms of being able to pay rent. On top of that, everyone shies away from breweries … That was the most naive part of this whole process for me. I thought, ‘I have money. I have a business model. I just need to find an empty space.’ And that’s not true, man. You have to have a landlord that really wants you in order for it to work out.”
After a year of being denied by landlords, Wuerfel was finally able to find one that believed in him and a building just off of 96th St. in Indianapolis that worked for his vision for Books & Brews.
It was important to Wuerfel that his brewery catered to more than just drinkers. As an english major in college, Wuerfel developed a love for books, reading and writing. It was only natural for him to combine these passions into his business model. He also wanted to appeal to the creative community. On Thursdays, Books & Brews hosts an open-mic night, with a stage that Wuerfel built himself. “Gamer night” is on Wednesdays.
Even when people told him that they felt his plan wasn’t the best idea, Wuerfal stayed true to his vision.
“When I was making the place, one of my friends said ‘you can’t be all things to all people,’” Wuerfel said. “I’m not trying to be all things. I’m just trying to be something to somebody.”
Fun Facts about Books & Brews
1. Raised $17,000 on Kickstarter
2. Jason made all the furniture in the building
3. Have brewed more than 200 different craft beers.
4. One of the smallest breweries in Indiana.
5. Books & Brews offers a new beer every Friday.