The short story about Cole Varga, age 25, beer manager at Kahn’s Fine Wines and Spirits Superstore at 53rd and Keystone, starts with being a regular at the Monday night beer tastings at Kahn’s old 54th and Keystone address. The LaPorte High School graduate went to Indiana University to major in psychology and criminal justice. During that time, he made Kahn’s a weekly destination.
“I started as a customer. I’d tell my friends about the craft beers. I was sort of the next link, teaching my friends about beer with character. And I was making new friends. Like Cheers, it was building relationships and having conversations.”
IU diploma in hand, Varga went off to Argentina to teach English. When his parents picked him up at the airport upon his return, they suggested stopping at Kahn’s new location, a move made during Varga’s absence.
“The people [at Kahn’s] remembered me, and as it happened, there was a position opening for beer manager and they offered it to me.”
With 1,020 beers in stock at any one time, Varga admits it’s a lot to keep up with, but he says he learns right along with the people who come Monday nights from 5-7 p.m. “I schedule craft beers for tasting that I haven’t had in a while and new beers I want to learn about.
“It’s a social gathering as a starting point at Kahn’s every Monday, and then they go off for dinner together,” Varga observes, calling the regulars “a tight-knit group, but they’re always inviting someone else so it keeps growing.”
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Bob Ostrander, keeper of www.BrewersOfIndianaGuild.com, Indiana’s premier craft beer Web site, where you can learn about weekly tastings and monthly tappings at area brewpubs, concurs that tastings are a good way to gain knowledge about craft beer styles and brands, as well as a great way to bring people together in a neighborhood.