Evansville-based Tin Man Brewing is set to pull into Kokomo’s Historic Train Depot in late November as part of Kokomo’s Historic Nickel Plate Rail Road Trail.
“Because of how long it takes to get a brewing license these days, the plan is to open the tasting room first [in November] and ship beer from Evansville up to Kokomo,” emailed owner/brewer Nick Davidson. “Then as soon as we get our license we’ll start brewing in Kokomo, too.”
After following Tin Man’s progress to Kokomo since early summer, this is happy news. I’ve been following the Train Depot story for two years, since the City of Kokomo purchased the much-neglected building with the intention of restoring it and attracting someone to help develop it as a destination place. Mayor Greg Goodnight has been promoting a rejuvenation of downtown Kokomo and the Depot District. The Kokomo-Evansville Clover Leaf District as part of the Indiana rail system goes back to 1870.
Built around 1910 in the then-popular Craftsman architectural style, the Kokomo Depot has been part of the rich railroading history criss-crossing the continent, the most colorful being The Nickel Plate Road lines snaking every which way around Indiana in its links between Buffalo to Chicago and Buffalo to St. Louis. If you’ve got time on your hands, find a copy of Taylor Hampton’s engrossing history of “The Nickel Plate Road.” Otherwise enjoy this engrossing story of Indiana’s railroading connections.
The Depot, sitting along North Buckeye Street between Jefferson and Jackson Streets, had been central to Kokomo’s civic and commercial life until railroading generally went into decline nationwide. Now the Depot is part of Kokomo’s Industrial Heritage Trail, which has attracted housing development, restaurants and specialty shops.
When Tin Man founders Andy Davidson, Nick Davidson and Sara Davidson opened in Evansville in 2012, in a century-old building in a neighborhood ripe for rejuvenation, their business plan was to use ’earth-friendly techniques’ that attracted wide-spread attention. Their roster of six-year-round beers and six seasonals, each sharing an engrossing story along with layers of flavors, quickly gained a following. Over the past almost five years they’ve had some exciting collaborations. In Kokomo, Tin Man joins Half Moon Brewery and Restaurant, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2017.
Here’s NUVO’s email interview with owner/brewer Nick Davidson.
NUVO: Why did you choose to move to Kokomo?
The Kokomo opportunity happened at the perfect time. We had been looking for ways to better get our product to central and northern Indiana and had planned on a satellite brewery from some time. Kokomo had been actively looking for ways to grow its downtown and the two goals just aligned at the exact right time. When we visited the train depot it became clear that we had to do this. The aesthetic was too perfect to pass up and there is plenty of room to do exactly what we want equipment-wise. When we walked in we immediately could see exactly how it was going to look.
NUVO: What do you plan to do with the roughly 5,000-square-foot space?
We have everything basically laid out already for the brewery. We know exactly what pieces of brewing equipment we are getting; how many fermenters, how many brite tanks, and the size of the brewhouse. We’re working on the tasting room layout right now. The main goal though, is to keep the same basic look of what we worked so hard to create here in Evansville. The building that houses our original brewery is over 100 years old, and when we started designing the original tasting room we always operated off of the notion that we were creating a mad scientists laboratory where he built robots to do his bidding. We wanted it to look used and worked in, because what’s the point of having an over 100-year-old building if you cover everything up and it looks like a piece of contemporary architecture. We have that same mantra going into the design of the Kokomo space. It’s beautiful, what they’ve done to the depot! We won’t have to do too much to it really.
NUVO: Will you unveil any new beers in Kokomo? Or will you have the same lineup as in Evansville?
We have a new recipe for Kokomo in development right now that we will brew at the Kokomo location. We will of course have our core lineup available in Kokomo, but we also want to use the new brewery to experiment and do some unique beers as well.
NUVO: What will be the food setup?
Food will be made available through local outside establishments; we will not have a kitchen ourselves. We will have menus from the surrounding restaurants and customers will be able to bring their own food in.
Tin Man 2016 Awards:
Bronze Medal- Barrel-aged Fruit Sour Ale, Indiana Brewers' Cup 2016
Gold Medal- Damascene Apricot Sour Ale, Can Can Awards 2016
Best In Show- Axis Rose Abbey-style Quad aged in Four Roses Bourbon Barrels, Derby City Brew Fest 2016