Openings: Big Lug and more 

Big Lug Canteen opened in Nora, Switchyard Brewing is breaking ground in Bloomington, and the Brewers of Indiana Guild announced four new state-wide openings. Great Fermentations celebrates 20 years of service to homebrewers, BRBP is counting down to their 25th celebration on Nov. 14, and fall seasonals are appearing everywhere. Here are the deets:


Bright colors and curved table corners create a distinctive look for Big Lug Canteen

Big Lug Canteen’s distinctive diner décor, and locally-sourced menu matching a full-flavored-easy-to-drink beer lineup is a neighborhood gathering place with a beer garden alongside the Monon, and bar and dining areas at street and upper floor levels [so you can watch Chris Ellis at work in his snug brewery]. The upstairs patio overlooks the Monon and Kroger’s—a call for a Big Car partnership with Big Lug Canteen CoDo design team and Kroger’s for sprucing up the parking lot and upping the aesthetic ante for grocery stores?

NUVO visited the 21-and-older site at 1435B E. 86th St. on Oct. 14, tasted eight finely balanced beers and chatted with Big Lug founders Ed Sahm and Scott Ellis. The adjacent Rockstone Pizzeria & Pub is family friendly with a bar to serve Big Lug brews on tap. Sahm, owner of the local Sahm’s chain serving greater Indianapolis since 1986, opened his first Rockstone in 2014 in Fishers and this past June opened a second Rockstone next to Sahm’s Tavern in the historic Gibson Building at 433 N. Capital Ave.

Opening a brewery was a logical next step, said Sahm. Big Lug beers will be served at all Sahm locations, as is their signature breads.

Ellis brings a similar wide range of experiences with his brewing genealogy. NUVO's Beer Buzz has been following him since he started under Omar Castrellon at Thr3e Wise Men, moved to Great Fermentations, then next door to Bier, south to Oaken Barrel and downtown Indy as head brewer at The RAM before teaming up with Sahm.

It just so happened that this conversation was taking place when the FLIX brewing team was paying a friendly visit. FLIX head brewer Chris Knott interjected that Ellis’ rambling is destined to stop with Big Lug. After all, when you get to design your own brewery that’s the pinnacle.

Ellis hustled to get eight beers on tap for the Oct. 12 opening. Starting with the on-target crisp, clean Kolsch, the American wheat added a spicy taste, the English Brown appropriately shared toffee/coffee notes, the American Oatmeal Pale balanced citrus, piney and floral hops with a full bodied malt, whereas the IPA [part of Big Lug’s signature rotating series] is securely hops-forward. The Oatmeal Stout is all you want for Fall/Winter with a silky mouthfeel leading to a hearty body and clean finish. Wildflower Ridge Honey from Anderson sparks the mild sweet floral aroma and balances layered malt and biscuit Honey Amber flavors, as a perfect segue to the grand opening brew—Pilgrimage, VT Farmhouse DIPA. This inspired brew is Ellis’ and Sahm’s coups, with a singular story surrounding a first annual road trip. More on that to come; for now, don’t miss it because it, like the IPAs might be up and not likely to return.

We’re told coming up are a Light Blonde Lager, a PawPaw Porter, Spiced Holiday Ale and an ESB. Beer names have personality and historic references.

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From the ground up, Switchyard Brewing connects with Bloomington history

Homebrewers Kurtis Cummings and Michael Korus, acting on the belief that “business can be a catalyst for positive change in our community,” are breaking ground on Oct. 21 for a Switchyard Brewing Company in Bloomington’s historic southside neighborhood at the former RCA/Thompson site at 1320 S. Rogers St. During a telephone interview Cummings said the estimated $4 million brewpub project is expected to open in mid-2016 and in addition to serving artisan food and beer in a family-friendly ambiance, also will provide a unique outreach experience with co-work and special event spaces, an indoor stage for live music, and a large, park-like patio that will overlook the newly projected Bloomington City Park. Cummings described the area, known as McDoel Gardens, as a thriving industrial community with factories such as Showers Brothers Kitchen Cabinet Plant and limestone mills and home of the Monon Rail Yard and the Gentry Brothers Circus.
Michael Korus announced a Kickstarter campaign, #ShareOurCraft. "We want to be the brewery that the community built." Visit for details.

More growing

International news highlights mega companies wrestling for dominance. At home, it’s a growth towards quality of life says Brewers of Indiana Guild in welcoming four new craft beer locations. Head South to Schnitz Brewery & Pub at 2031 Newton St. in Jasper; Floyd County Brewing Co. at 129 W. Main St. in New Albany; and Pour Haus at 706 Humboldt St. in Tell City; head North to Goshen Brewing Co. at 315 W. Washington St. in Goshen.


Great Fermentations celebrates 20 years with giving to those in need

“Grateful for 20 years, Great Fermentations gives 20,000 meals,” reads the news release from owner Anita Johnson. Great Fermentations is partnering with Pack Away Hunger to provide 20,000 meals throughout Central Indiana.

Oct. 24 Volunteers will kick off the anniversary celebration with meal packaging shifts at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at 5127 East 65th Street

The party, starting at 3 p.m., features live music from The Indiana Boys, beer and wine, giveaways and introduces a special line of Great Fermentations beer ingredient kits.

“Great Fermentations started as a homebrewer’s hobby that became a passion and then a business,” said Johnson, who has been contributing to Indiana’s craft beer industry through innovation and inclusion, from early outreach to civic organizations to helping develop the State Fair Brewer’s Cup Competition and Big Brew Day events, and sponsoring programs to assist potential brewery owners build secure business models. Growing from a cozy shop into two locations— Indianapolis and Avon— GF serves homebrewers statewide with an on-site education center, a website and 20 staff members who guide novices and experienced homebrewers to the next level. For over two dozen homebrewers former GF employees, it’s been toward a career in professional brewing and certified judging. More at

Oct. 24 is United Nations Day—born on Oct 24, 1945—2015 is UN's 70th anniversary year. GF offers a perfect salute with "Pack Away Hunger.”


New brews and news

BRBP shared a taste of their 25th Anniversary celebratory brew during a visit on Oct. 12 and to our delight, even a month away from the Nov. 14 big event, this 25x25 brew is awesome. In case you missed the backstory—25 brewers each brought 25 pounds of malt to BRBP—“all different,” says brewer Jonathon Mullens who, with a representative group of fellow brewers, created a recipe. The dark-hued blend is warming and hearty—just right for the season. On tap now is a sparkling amber Oktoberfest and a refreshing Summer Pale Ale. “Stop in everyday for something special happening,” says manager Billy Hannon.
Three Floyds told us congrats are in order for 3F Zombie Dust label artist Tim Seeley. Seeley’s Hack/Slash pilot is getting serious attention. We wonder, will 3Floyds highly hopped undead Pale Ale finds its way into the plot?

Blind Owl announced Peoples Gourdon Pumkin Ale and Tin Man Damascene Apricot Sour are on tap.
Oaken Barrel released Apple Buzz on tap and in bottles. Kwang Casey says the flavor profile changes every year because Spring and Summer weather affects the flavor of locally sourced apples for OB’s seasonal brew.

Bloomington Brewing Co./Lennie’s Persimmon Ale is a deep-bronze hued Blonde Ale with fresh persimmon pulp from Twin Tykes in Orleans, Ind., and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon and nutmeg with Cascade hops balancing aroma and just the right tinge of bitterness.

Upland says Cauldron Sour Ale is on tap at the Bloomington Brew Pub. Visit their site for much more new brews news.

Triton announces, “O’Rye-N Galaxy Pale Ale is on (64oz) growler special for $8 until it’s gone,” and reports, “We visited the manufacturer making our new craft cans to see the prototypes and proof them to be sure they are perfect for our products. The first brands to go into cans will be the Railsplitter IPA and the Hometown Hero Golden Ale, to be followed by the Sly Boogie Session IPA. Our cans will be 16oz and sold in four packs.”

TwoDEEP wrote: “A malty thank you to all who came out to our 2nd Annual Cheers for Charity fundraiser! With your help we raised over $16,000 for the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation.”

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Scotty’s Flagship Brewhouse Grand Re-Opening at 3905 E. 96th St. specials until Oct. 22 include: $3 Thr3e Wise Men Pints and $5 Carryout Crowlers.

Oct. 21: Girls Pint Out Beer Education: The Magic of Sours at Deviate Brewing, 6 p.m., with brewers Greg Ortwein and Greg Orkey. Historic note: In 2006 when Caleb Staton brewed Upland’s first Lambic, he was one of a handful of U.S. brewers even trying the style. This past May Upland brought us their 2nd Sour+ Wild+Funk Fest with over 20 breweries bringing over 50 beers. The sold-out event in downtown Indy draws visitors from throughout the Midwest.

Louisville’s Falls City, long a good neighbor brew in Southern Indiana, is making a visit to Indianapolis. Oct 22 Master Brewer Dylan Greenwood hosts at HopCat starting at 6 p.m., and Oct. 23 visits Big Red Liquors in Broad Ripple for a beer tasting 5-7 p.m.

Oct. 24: Upland special Tasting, 7 p.m., at Upland’s West Side Beer Bar at 4060 Profile Pkwy, Bloomington. The invite reads: “Back in March of 2015 we headed south to Nashville and joined forces with Brandon Jones, lead brewer for Yazoo Brewing Co’s Embrace the Funk to create two unique sour ales.The beers are ready and you’re invited to a side by side tasting of Three Degrees North and Three Degrees South.

Oct. 27 is American Craft Beer Day. “Choice of hops,” was the ready reply from Indiana Brewers last week when I asked, “What makes a beer American?” But long before the modern craft beer surge early New World settlers adapted Old World recipes to brew with available ingredients. If you really want an overview find a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beer Tasting and turn to Chapter 7 [Kohn, Alpha Books, 2013], and toast 20th Century American homebrewers and American entrepreneurs, including Fritz Maytag’s original Anchor Liberty Ale, Jack McAuliffe’s New Albion Ale, Bert Grant’s Yakima Brewing and Sierra Nevada for titling the balance to American hops.
Oct. 27: Sahm’s in Fishers pours five malty TwoDEEP brews during Trivia Night.

Oops time: Sun King DID NOT make Pink Power t-shirts this year. “We are ONLY doing Sun King Pink Koozies and donating $1 per koozies to the Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Foundation,” reads the update.

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About The Author

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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