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Re-opening craft breweries June 2020: recalling Prohibition 100 years ago

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Re-opening craft breweries June 2020: recalling Prohibition 100 years ago

Craft beer breweries and brewpubs around greater Indianapolis are safely opening on-site, as of June 1, at 50% capacity for outdoor and indoor seating, in accordance with stage three, along with continuing their carryout and delivery services. Many, nevertheless, continue their stage two carryout, curbside and delivery options as their main thrust. 

The Brewers of Indiana Guild website lists “Indiana Craft Breweries currently open for Carry-out and/delivery.” Click here for daily updates of who is  serving on-site, within the parameters of phase one for food and beverage sites, with the caveat, “We do recommend that you give your brewery a call or check their social media to confirm hours and times as things may change day today.” Anticipate BIG also listing 50% seating openings.

Re-opening has meaningful echoes to what happened after a dozen years of Prohibition, which also centered around restoring the neighborhood gathering spots and their role in bringing people together to share ideas, develop empowering civic activities, open across-generation interaction, help grow agricultural capacity through increased use of locally grown grains, hops and all the other ingredients that deepen and broaden flavors, enhance enterprise including the manufacture of the containers that bring craft beer to shelves, and celebrate the work of artists, wordsmiths and printers, who collectively bring outer beauty to the inner culinary enjoyment, among a myriad of other connecting economic, social, cultural, intellectual uplifts, not the least of which is presenting live music by soloists and small ensembles.

Craft brewing’s beginnings as a civilizing agent are traced to the dawning of humanity across what we now name as continents, cultures, creative enterprise. In 1820, when the John and James McCormick families traveled the Whetzel Trail northward from their homes in the Whitewater Settlement, to carve out a holding on the east bank of the White River in the newly designated Indiana capital city, they built their double cabin to accommodate a tavern — a welcoming space with food, drink, lodging. John Hawkins arrived within a short time, and built his cabin as the second tavern. He was closely followed by Thomas Carter, whose ‘hostelry’ was grander and larger. Indianapolis initially opened with an enduring sense of hospitality.

John H. B. Nowland, in his “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis,” describes sign painter Samuel S. Rooker, who arrived in Fall of 1821 and soon thereafter painted signs for the “Rosebush” and “Eagle Tavern,” for which Mr. Rooker painted a turkey, perhaps making a statement on behalf of Benjamin Franklin, who favored the turkey over the eagle as the emblem of the newly created nation.  Nowland notes Mr. Rooker’s career was filled with pictorial Malaprops, which somehow amused rather than irritated the populace. 

It’s a natural progression to the current connectivity between visual artists and craft brewpubs and brewery tasting rooms — though excellence does take the upper hand. While some people may never frequent a gallery or a visual art museum, they do a chance to see and comment upon what’s on exhibit at a brewpub or tasting room. Aesthetics is an everyday event.

What’s happening now? As of June 1, I tallied 35 greater Indianapolis breweries serving their neighborhoods at varying levels. 

David Waldman’s email, announcing Triton Brewing Company’s  re-opening of their Tasting Room on June 3, reported, “Even at 50% capacity inside and out, we are excited to be taking another step toward regular operations.” 

As a test run, Triton opened their outside Beer Garden at 50% capacity, at the end of May.  “[It] was good practice for what we will need to do to keep our guests and team safe, particularly as we add more seating,” said Waldman. “Tables are limited to no more than 6 people. In order to promote social distancing, there are many fewer tables, and they cannot be moved.”

Waldman said a major challenge for guests might be a longer wait to be seated because of increased cleaning and sanitizing between guests.

“Sometimes it is hard to feel welcoming with our team in PPE, but having guests being able to join us on premises beats being exclusively carryout and drive through!,” emphasized Waldman. “Our goal remains to provide the safest possible environment for our team and our guests, and at the same time be able to provide an enjoyable atmosphere.”

Triton is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12-10 p.m. The Triton Bistro kitchen closes at 9 p.m. “We are continuing carry-out and on-line ordering, for those of our community that are high-risk, or that prefer to take their meals home. We continue to operate our market at Fort Ben, too. We are well-stocked with fresh eggs, ground beef, sliced ham, sliced turkey, smoked pork and beef and more. These and other sundries are on-hand and will be available, while supplies last,” said Waldman.  “A complete, real-time bodega grocery inventory and bistro menu are available on our website. Order by phone at (317) 735-2706, or on-line at 

Waldman opened his June 1 email with this statement,  that pretty much echoes what everyone else has been emailing: 

“We felt like we had to say something about what’s going on around us. There is a lot of pain and suffering in the world right now. Many people are struggling. In our own local communities, violence, racism, anger, fear, disinformation and illness have converged to create a terrible situation. We hope for a day when all people are provided opportunities based on the caliber of their character, not based on some arbitrary category over which they have no control. We look forward to the day when all people have equal rights and protections under the law. We yearn for a better world in which our children and future generations can grow and thrive. There is a lot of work to do.” 

Wabash Brewing reported they took advantage of the closure hiatus to do a makeover of the taproom, and opened for growler and crawler takeout during Phase 2. “I have cleaned and closed off most of the lines, and maintain the dispense with the bright tanks,” said headbrewer Mark Schiess during an email exchange. “Low sales volume so only 7-8 beers on tap. I am not working the taproom and am fortunate that I can schedule my brewery work when no one is there. We have volunteers that want to work (and drink) and customers that want to come in for beer. We will just have to ride out this period of low revenue.”

Wabash opens at 4 p.m. for carry out. The neighborhood continues to stop by as they originally did for a take homebrew.

Holly Miller reported their successful rebuilding at Black Acre following a neighborhood fire that spread to their Irvington site. “We're open at the Garden and ready to serve!,” enthused Miller. “Come look at all the projects we've done! Today has been amazing. THANK YOU!!! Everyone was respectful of the rules and very understanding. Faith in humanity is restored!!!”

Rad Brewing emailed, “The RAD patio is now open. Bring the pets and the kids to enjoy our spacious family-friendly patio while you enjoy a beer and an item from our new food menu. You can once again join us for a pint of beer and a delicious burger inside our tap room. 

Patrick’s Kitchen is serving at 50% seating capacity at Bier Brewery North, Tuesday through Sunday. Live trivia returns June 3 at Bier North.  Bier continues carryout and curbside pickup at both of their locations. Since I’m not venturing past my neighborhood, Amy Beers most kindly brought by a six-pack of Bier’s newly released Persephone Hefeweizen with orange peel and chamomile, representing an homage to the Greek Goddess. The daughter of Demeter, Persephone dutifully returns from her winter home with Hades, to usher in Spring on the topside of Earth. At 4.8% ABV, the brew offers a fully flavorful refreshing layering of tastes alongside just about anything you’re inclined to eat. 

During my sequestering, I’ve been inventing recipes based upon what’s on hand, and pretty much emptying the craft beer shelf in my fridge. I sit on my porch, say hello to neighbors walking by, enjoy the stillness of traffic that allows closer hearing of bird calls. 

I'm grateful that my resident chipmunk, who I named Snidely, joins me for a supper of seeds and an offering from my plate, at ?his/her? reserved top step spot.  Ducks waddle past to their lodging at the end of the back yard. I keep a wary eye on the raptors nesting in the dead tree. And happily report return of honey bees and other wingeds. No matter what, the natural world perseveres.

And, while nothing stops craft beer expert Ron Smith from adapting his very much hands-on IUPUI course, as an on-line virtual experience for yet another crop of students, neither does social distancing deter the Indiana Brewery Running Series “from running for beer; from supporting our local communities.” 

The invitation to register and join the fun for philanthropy, reads: Feel free to run any time of day, every day that you are able, from June 1-30.

Click here to join the Indiana Brewery Running Series club on Strava.

The post adds: If you don't use Strava for your runs, record every run, walk, or jog on a mobile app (Strava, Nike+, Garmin, MapMyRun, Etc.) “and you are good to go. For each run/walk that you complete, send or tag us in a post-challenge picture. We will count your daily runs, walks, and jogs toward your weekly challenge total. Tag us @inbreweryrun and @drinkindiana and use the hashtags #INBEERSTREAK  Keep an eye out for emails and social posts from us with weekly challenge stats/updates during the month.”

Ditto for NUVO. We're gearing back up with updates on craft breweries and brewpubs, again serving community-wide.

Writer Beer & Society

There is nothing that cannot be discussed and worked out over a beer. Join me as I explore local beer, breweries and how they can civilize us.

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