Manahan’s return to Monticello — nestled between Lakes Shafer and Freeman in Union Township, White County — will liven things up considerably. I have to admit I least expected Sean to go back to Monticello — but on second thought, when I examine the trajectory of his brewing career, it all makes solid sense for him to choose to go home.
Manahan is in a direct (and intimate) lineage from John Hill, having started at Lafayette Brewing Company with Greg Emig (who began his brewing career at Broad Ripple Brewpub). Manahan moved on to People’s Brewing Company when Emig’s protégé, Chris Johnson, opened the production brewery. He then went on to Flat12, where Manahan trained Jonathon Mullens, who now is head brewer at BRBP. So really, why am I surprised Manahan now is opening a small brewpub in this unlikely location with a population hovering somewhat past 5,000 and a surprising enterprise?
Here’s Sean Manahan’s story:
My family owns and operates The Scoreboard in Monticello. It's a pizza and wings joint we opened in 2012. I was brewing at People's at the time and told my old man that we needed to carry craft beer at the restaurant. Back then, the craft beer boom was still relatively new and hadn't quite made it to Monticello. I wanted to share my passion with my hometown. It was slow at first, as Monticello is a Bud/Miller/Coors type of town, but interest has really grown and we now have a constant supply of rotating draught options and 20-odd bottle/cans of craft available.
I started hosting beer education and tasting events and have hosted the Art and Ales Biergarten for the past three years (a beer fest coinciding with the public library's art show to raise money for the library) which have increased interest in craft even further.
After my wife and I realized we were pregnant with our first child, we knew we wanted to move back home. I grew up on Lake Freeman and had my boating permit before I had a drivers license. Who wouldn't love to grow up in a town like that?! After brewing for seven years with big breweries and [differing] distribution models, I've gained invaluable experience and knowledge. All of which I am happy to finally bring home and share with the community that has shared so much with me.
I came up with the Kopacetic Beer Factory back in 2011. It was a full-on faux brewery I ran with my roommates while working at PBC [People’s Brewing Company]. It was fun to 'play brewery', but I knew someday I'd turn it into a reality. Initially, I thought I was planning on building a large brewery like the ones I've worked with. However, I've grown tired of big systems and expensive distribution. I have loved watching the nano brewery model grow over the years with such success stories as Bier, Burn 'Em, Books and Brews, Wabash and many more. After talking with these outfits and brewing a collaboration with Wabash, I'm certain that this is the model I want to pursue. It was great to see products I've created available throughout the state, but now I'm more interested in being a small operation brewing for my community.
We're combining The Scoreboard with the Kopacetic Taphouse for Monticello's first brewpub. My hope is to bring the area a brewery it can be proud of much like LBC and BRBP have done with outstanding success over [their] 23 and 26 years [respectively]. I'm very proud of my lineage and I talk with John, Greg, Chris, and Jon all the time. They've all been very helpful and supportive since I told them my plans.
Our small system will allow us to brew a huge variety of products based on what our patrons want or whatever we feel like doing. Small batches will also keep products rotating often ensuring the freshest beer possible.
2017 is shaping up to be one wild ride. I'm grateful to have gained so much experience and knowledge over the years to prepare me for this venture. Now, we're finishing the build out. Hopefully we can open as a craft beer bar in a few weeks, the restaurant should be moved to the new location in February, and if all goes well with [license] permitting we should be pouring KBF beers in April. I expect to have a table in Indy for Summerfest!
People can follow along with my progress at @KopaceticBeer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I can't wait to share my beer with you! Cheers! Sean Manahan
And here’s a slice of historical context for bar stool conversation when you head 90 miles northwest of Indianapolis. Historic sites abound for meaningful stops along the way:
originated as a Potawatomi village long before Europeans arrived on this continent. French explorer Rene Robert LaSalle came in 1650 as the first reported non-Indian to enter this place. Over the next three centuries British, Colonial and eventually U.S. and newly established State of Indiana interventions altered the Natives’ way of life. In 1818 the area was ceded by the Potawatomi, Delawares and Weas to the United States as part of the Treaty of St. Mary’s. Though history shows early pioneers moving into Indiana Territory lived peaceably alongside the Potawatomi, by 1832 Federal and State policies created rifts, and in 1834 White County was established with the town of Monticello as the county seat. By 1838 all Native Americans were removed westward to Indian Territory.
The Logansport, Peoria and Burlington Railroad arrived in December 1859. Local history claims, “This line would spark interest to the new line of the Monon Railroad who would base a major station out of Monticello Indiana in the 1860s.”
Today, Monticello is a north-central Indiana tourist destination, best-known for Indiana Beach Amusement Park, the Lake Shore Drive-In (one of the few surviving drive-in movie theaters in Indiana), year-round fishing, three-season golfing and boating and cross country skiing, snowmobiling and ice skating in the winter. The Madam Carroll, built in 1976, is touted as “the largest licensed U.S. Coast Guard approval vessel in Indiana.” Spring to Fall she offers scenic cruises on Lake Freeman.
The Monticello Post Office, founded in 1834, is still in operation. The Monticello Carnegie Library, James Culbertson Reynolds House and South Grade School Building are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sean Manahan is putting a spin on Robert Frost’s observation that ‘Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.’