Rock Bottom's impact on Indy's brewing scene 

Tracing Indy’s brewing history from a single source

Rock Bottom is Downtown Indy’s oldest microbrewery. The breadth and depth of connections between brewers and breweries becomes evident through a survey of Rock Bottom’s 20-year brewer story.

With help from home brewer Paul Edwards and long-time Jerry Sutherlln we have ‘an almost accurate’ Rock Bottom Downtown’s history:

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1996:
Will Gafney is head brewer with Dave Chichura as assistant brewer.


Dave Chichura becomes head brewer when Gafney leaves to brew at RB Chicago, then at Bell’s in Michigan, Mountain Sun Brewery in Boulder, and Oskar Blues until 2013. Chichura currently is with Melvin Brewing in Alpine, Wyoming.

When Chichura leaves, Bill Smith comes on as head brewer. At the same time, Clayton Robinson joins as assistant brewer.

Clayton Robinson follows Bill Smith as head brewer. In 2003 Robinson leaves RB and takes a sabbatical from brewing, don’t worry he comes back in a big way.

2003: Tim Marshall is head brewer but leaves in 2004 to brew at RB Chicago.

2004: Dustin Boyer replaces Marshall until he leaves to manage a tavern, after which Boyer went to Sun King when it opened in 2009.

click to enlarge Sun King co-founders and brewers Dave Colt (left) and Clay Robinson celebrate a NUVO Best of Indy win in 2010. - STEPHEN SIMONETTO
  • Sun King co-founders and brewers Dave Colt (left) and Clay Robinson celebrate a NUVO Best of Indy win in 2010.
  • Stephen Simonetto

2005:
Jerry Sutherlin replaces Dustin Boyer, Sutherlin will be the head brewer for the next decade; Jon Simmons joins Jerry as assistant. In mid-2006 Jon goes to RAM as assistant to Dave Colt, replacing Clayton Robinson, who had returned from his sabbatical and had joined Colt as assistant brewer.
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Simmons becmes the RAM head brewer when Dave Colt and Clayton Robinson leave and open Sun King; 2010 Simmons leaves to brew at Sun King; Andrew Castner became head brewer at RAM (coming from Oaken Barrel) and then opened MashCraft in Greenwood.

2006: Adrian Ball comes on as Sutherlin’s assistant at RB; then moves to RAM as Jon Simmons’ assistant, and then moves to Sun King where he now is head brewer.

2014-2015: Joe Carrol comes on as assistant brewer; Joe goes on to work with Alan Simons at the newly-opened St. Joseph's. He has since left the industry.

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Dec. 2015: After 10 years as head brewer, Jerry leaves Rock Bottom Downtown to open his own brewery, Round Town Brewery with Max Schenk. Nathan Scruggs takes over as RB head brewer.

In its twenty years in our city, Rock Bottom has produced many top quality brewers that are still making big things happen everyday in the brewing scene. So we say, Happy Anniversary to them. Celebrate with them on June 17 during their 20th Anniversary Celebration — Good Times & Great Beers from 5-8 p.m.

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About The Author

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Bio:
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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