When Scott Wise was thinking about a name for what ended up being his Scotty's Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company in Broad Ripple, he turned to a favorite point of reference, his family. "I'm very deep into my family," says the man behind the Scotty's Brewhouse empire, Indiana's 2009 Restaurateur of the Year. "From a naming standpoint, I wanted it to mean something."
Wise has two sons. Counting himself, that makes three Wise, er, men. Never mind that the boys are currently seven and four. And if a third Wise guy should come along? "The meaning will change to be named after myself, my grandfather and my father," chuckles Wise.
Wise opened the first Scotty's Brewhouse in Muncie in 1996. The runaway success of that venture led to successful spin-offs in Bloomington, Lafayette and Indianapolis. A burger-centric variation, featuring locally sourced, organic ingredients, Scotty's Lakehouse, has taken hold in Fishers-Geist.
From the beginning, Wise says, his goal was to brew his own beer. "I knew I was going to open a brewpub at some point. I knew I would have a production facility where we would do all our own beer for our restaurants exclusively."
Scotty's Thr3e Wise Men turns this goal into a reality. When Wise was introduced to the former Sunflower Market facility in Broad Ripple, he recognized the right place to begin producing his own line of craft brews. The building not only has the capacity to serve as a brewpub, but it also acts as a distribution center for the other Scotty's restaurants, houses a commissary kitchen to produce selected items for those restaurants and provides office space for Scotty's 18-member executive team.
Scotty's Thr3e Wise Men is starting off with eight varieties of beer, including Nap Town Nut Brown featuring northern brewer hops, Hubbard and Cravens Porter with coffee from the local vendor, Two Lucys Blackberry Wheat (named for Wise's wife and daughter), made with Oregon blackberries (Wise says he wants to use locally grown berries come summer) with Amarillo hops, and, Wise's personal favorite, Centennial Martyr Double IPA, a brew made with clover honey from Hunter's Honey Farm in Martinsville and Amarillo hops.
"I want to do big American beers," says Wise, who takes his inspiration from West Coast craft styles. "I want to give Indy a good, West Coast quality craft."
In addition to their own brews, Thr3e Wise Men also offers a variety of craft bottled beers, including Barley Island's Flat Top Wheat, Upland's Wheat, Sun King Osiris Pale Ale, Three Floyd's Pride and Joy, and Mishawaka 7 Mules Kick Ass Ale, to name just a few.
Wise is thrilled to be in Broad Ripple. "I love the energy of youth and art shops and the mix of restaurants." He prefers to locate his businesses in smaller neighborhoods that have "vitality, youth and people who want to go out and walk and drink and eat. That's the beauty of Broad Ripple."
The more the merrier
But Wise is quick to differentiate Thr3e Wise Men from Broad Ripple's booming – and what many people consider its overcrowded – bar scene. "There was a concern that this would be another bar," says Wise of his initial meetings with the Broad Ripple Village Association. "I had to ease everybody's tension. We've never been 'another' bar. We put millions of dollars in our projects. We don't serve dollar shots. I'm not in the business of cleaning up puke and fights. I like running restaurants and I think we're going to give another edge to Broad Ripple."
Wise adds that his restaurants cater to cross-generational group of people: "We're not just a young, student-driven business. Our ages go from 22 to 55, 60."
Wise sees his new venture as becoming part of Broad Ripple's distinctive craft beer scene. "Broad Ripple is becoming a cultural trail of craft beer," he says. "You've got Barley Island up the street and, of course, the Broad Ripple Brewpub and Brugge."
From Wise's perspective, the more the merrier. "I've never worried about competition. I think there's enough pie for everybody." Wise believes that a constellation of quality establishments creates synergy. "It brings attention," he says, to neighboring restaurants.
Unlike the Scotty's restaurants, with their encyclopedic menus, Scotty's Thr3e Wise Men offers minimal, highly focused fare, centered on pizza, selected appetizers and a tableside chopped salad. "I believe Indy is one of the most underrated pizza markets in the country," says Wise, whose pizza consists of a thin crust made with his Golden Zoe IPA and rolled out on a cookie tray with homemade marinara cut with Scotty's tangy Mofo sauce and mozzarella cheese from Swissland Cheese Co. in Berne, Ind. Customers choose their own toppings, including bacon and sausages from the Moody family's Lone Pine Farms.
Using locally sourced and grown ingredients is a keynote in Wise's restaurants. "Going local, sustainable, recyclable are all big trends in our industry," he says. "I've noticed over the past three years, people are smarter. They're smarter diners, smarter eaters, smarter drinkers. They want their money to go to somebody that's giving back to the community."
(Slideshow) Thr3e Wise Men
A gallery of photos from opening weekend at Indy's latest microbrewery, Thr3e Wise Men.