It started in Broad Ripple in 1990, spread to Mishawaka and Lafayette by 1992, and Bloomington and Greenwood in 1994; then to downtown Indianapolis in 1995 and in 1996 to Evansville, Hammond/Munster, and LaPorte. By 2000 "it" was in every corner of the state and by 2012 in nearly every Indianapolis neighborhood.
"It" is the craft beer movement begun at Broad Ripple Brew Pub by John Hill in British brewpub tradition as a neighborhood gathering place: family friendly, featuring good food and craft-brewed ales served on the premises.
1990 was before Indiana allowed brewing and serving in the same location, so Broad Ripple Brew Pub's 842 E. 65th St. location actually has two doors: one for the brewery and another for the restaurant.
Lafayette Brewing Company, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013, was the first Indiana brewpub to open with "one door." LBC is Indiana's second oldest continuously operating brewpub.
Mishawaka Brewing Company closed on April 19, 2011 when founder/brewer Tom Schmidt retired, nineteen years after opening with the then requisite separate entrances.
From 1990-2007 one, two or three new breweries opened and while most have prospered, some closed. Then in 2008, statewide openings multiplied and the trend has continued to mark an amazing 20 new production breweries and brewpubs between 2012 and projected throughout 2013.
Purpose and place
Set to open soon is a production brewery with a connected restaurant that is paving a different path, linking the craft beer and artisan culinary industries.
Describing their enterprise as a totally contemporary experience based upon an 18th century French cuisine model, master brewer Ted Miller (Brugge) and master chef Greg Hardesty (Recess and Room Four) are breaking new ground within the Chatham Arch and Massachusetts Historic District.
Going beyond the current concept of pairing food with beer or beer with food for the occasional "beer dinner," Hardesty and Miller refer to partnering food and beer ingredients every day in the tradition of Vincent La Chapelle, who invented "cuisine a la beer," while serving as chef to heads of state across Europe. La Chapelle, through his benchmark cookbook, The Modern Cook (1742), based in part on the earlier New Royal Cook and Bourgeois by François Massialot, championed recipes with beer to be integrated into daily meals as a unified entity.
Miller and Hardesty enthuse about "purpose and place," in daily eating experiences.
"The purpose is harmony and pleasure," they say in tandem. "Each ingredient has a place, providing balance and strength," for a satisfying and nutritious meal.
"The body is being served," explains Hardesty.
"The mind and the body are connected," expands Miller.
"It's about the overall nourishment of mind and body. You slow down and linger during an over-all experience of eating and drinking pleasurably," adds Hardesty. "This is a different enterprise from Recess and Room Four. Most of my food has been for wine pairing. Recess is 95 percent wine. I'm not bringing anything preconceived about beers - I am bringing a naïve perspective. I'm looking for a new challenge."
Having already earned James Beard culinary award status, Hardesty is in sync with new challenges also sought by Miller, whose prestigious craft beer awards adorn the walls of Brugge Brasserie.
Hardesty will not be cooking per se at the new restaurant, The Owner's Wife. Rather, he and Miller will confer on recipes and Hardesty will oversee culinary operations with the resident head chef.
"I don't pretend to be a chef," says Miller. "I do know about beer, so Greg and I are going to create this together. When people now pair drink and food together it's with two already existing things. We want to do hands-on with each other so they [beer and food] can talk to each other. Greg will come into the brewery and tell us, 'Six months from now we'll have these ingredients fresh from local farmers.'"
"And Ted will brew according to the ingredients," intercedes Hardesty. "It will be fruits and vegetables during spring and summer."
"And it will be fun to make beers to stand up to winter cuisine," adds Miller.
"It's a new experience," says Hardesty. "It's caring about food and beverage on a higher level. At The Owner's Wife, we can satisfy all the way from chicken wings to rack of lamb."
"It's not snobbery," emphasizes Miller. "We won't get rich doing this, but it's what excites us and what we love to do. At the end of the day, it's about beer and food as a unity. We're not into brash and rude. You'll never find an ingredient in my beer on a whim. Every beer ingredient has to have a purpose with food it partners."
"The more subtle the ingredients, the more I strive to bring them forward; the more abrasive an ingredient is, I try to tone it down," reflects Hardesty. "The versatility of beer invites invention."
"It's an overall experience of balance between nutrition, calories, digestion, taste. Greg's trick will be to coax out every potentiality," says Miller.
Miller's team will occupy 602 N. Park Street to focus on their craft brewing. Hardesty's artisan cuisine team will occupy 608 N. Park St. From Miller's point of view, "The essence of what we are doing is making them inseparable for the customer's experience. People coming to the restaurant will be able to look through the doors to see the brewery in operation. We want them to experience what it's all about."
Hops will harmonize
Julia Herz, the Brewers Association craft beer program director, applauds this partnering approach. She advocates "raising the experience" beyond sampling beer or food on their own to "get the food and beer to work together."
Herz, based in Boulder, CO, says consumers should know the function of each ingredient of beer and how each acts to complement, contrast or cleanse/cut any particular food. She points out that the roasted flavors of malt will harmonize with grilled, roasted and smoked foods as well as "soothe heat and calm salt and sweetness."
Alcohol, points out Herz, opens the pores of the tongue. Thus, lower alcohol beers soothe heat while higher alcohol content can tone down overly sweet foods. The bitterness of hops, by cutting through rich foods leads one more fully to enjoy the next bite by slowing us down to enjoy ranges of flavors. On the other hand, aromatic hops complement and thus heighten herbed foods.
Herz, an award-winning homebrewer who is part of the new generation embracing craft beer and artisan cuisine, learned from her parents who took her and her brother to restaurants where craft beer was served with a meal. Observing from an early age their judicious pairing and drinking habits, she equally advocates responsible use of beer and food as an instructive family-centric event whether eating out or at home.
"Because flavor and diversity are part of life, we don't just want the same thing all the time." Herz assesses more people are turning to neighborhood brewpubs and small craft breweries to bring quality experiences to their lives. "It's interesting, intriguing, satisfying and rewarding to support local businesses that are integral to the growth of community."
The Owner's Wife, 608 N. Park Ave., is expected to open late spring and will offer a daily prix fixe "beer dinner" with that morning's locally sourced ingredients and beer brewed toward that season's projected availability of food ingredients. In addition there will be a "static menu" with suggested beer pairings. Expect some items to be a la minute; that is, made to order just for you.
At 602 N. Park Ave., Outliers Brewing Company's increased space allows for production of Brugge's regular line up and new Belgian-inspired brews along with adding a new line of American-style beers. The Vinegar Room will bring out a brand of beer vinegars intimately designed by Miller and Hardesty for public purchase.
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