In the years prior to Prohibition, the Home Brewing Company, located in downtown Fountain Square, ran an annual peak capacity of 60,000 barrels. About a century later, Indiana City Brewing is set to open in Home Brewing's original bottling house.
"We found the building completely by chance," says Indiana City founding owner and brewer Ray Kamstra. "The aesthetics of the building and its location were what first piqued my interest and once I learned of its history, I knew it was meant to be. We are honored to build our brewery in this building with such rich beer history."
With his wife Leslie as co-founder, Kamstra began planning Indiana City over two years ago. "During that time I worked on perfecting several of my best recipes, developed business plans and built relationships with professionals in the brewing industry," says Kamstra. "My inspiration for Indiana City came from homebrewing, visiting microbreweries across the country and meeting brewers who have a real passion for well-crafted beer."
Kamstra launched Indiana City with a successful Kickstarter campaign, exceeding his $30,000 goal with contributors generating $35,191 in 29 days. He also connected with other local and national initiatives supporting craft brewing development through funding and networking. And he worked to get the word out on the grassroots level, bringing growlers to share at Tomlinson Tap Room during the National Beer Bloggers conference last year and continuing to make his brews available at festivals and other events for philanthropic causes. Wherever he showed up, his invitation was to follow progress on Twitter (@IndianaCityBeer) and Facebook (facebook.com/IndianaCityBeer).
Kamstra's twin interest in the arts led him to plan for the Indiana City Brewing to be "an outlet for local artists to display their work, perform, collaborate and expand local creative expression. The visual arts will be woven into every beer we brew. We understand the important role of visual arts in the craft beer experience. When you smell and taste a beer you're experiencing the artistry of the brewer who made it. The visual aesthetic of the label on the bottle or the tap handle it was poured from affects that experience, too. Done well, we believe visual art heightens that experience and leads to an even greater respect for beer." Designer Aaron Scamihorn is presently at work on a series of art concepts for the brewery's year-round brands; his design for Yacht Rock can be seen at indianacitybeer.com.
Indiana City will open as a production brewery hosting a rotating lineup of food trucks during taproom hours, filling growlers for carryout and pouring pints of beer. Currently distribution is limited to craft beer bars, including Red Lion Grog House, Tomlinson Tap Room and Twenty Tap.
With assistant brewer Dustin Dahl, Kamstra is offering three flagship brews and six seasonals. Yacht Rock is a light-bodied, crisp, slightly tart and lightly hopped Belgian-style wheat ale. Shadow Boxer is a full-bodied ale with mild roasted grain aroma, coffee flavor and moderate spicy hop bitterness. Beyond the Pale, a well-balanced ale, offers high hop flavor and citrusy-pine aroma. Seasonals include Jaw Tap Double IPA, Mimi's Tabernacle Breakfast Stout, Devil's Due American Pale Ale, Hoovillain Kolsch-style Ale, Smithy Porter and Cratchit's Holiday Ale.
"Our small-batch, hand-crafted approach celebrates the art and tradition of brewing," Kamstra explains. "Starting on the foundation of traditional styles, we take it up a notch with specialty spices, aromatic hops and increased alcohol [to] create big ales. The name Indiana City is the literal definition of "Indianapolis;" it highlights a sentiment of mine. I take great pride in Indy's growing arts scene and beer culture. I want Indiana City to grow in this community as the community grows along with it, one pint at a time."