Founder/brewer Bradley Hawkins created Salt Creek, a relaxed-atmosphere brewpub with a gorgeous view from its back patio in 2012. If the view and his approachable brews don’t bring first-timers back, the whimsy will.
“Salt Creek Brewery ... is Lawrence County's first and only craft brewery,” announces the website. “This state of the art brewery was once a popular service garage. The former 'alignment pit' at Salt Creek Brewery now serves as what may be the only open pit brewery in the U.S.”
The sense of whimsy hinted at online can be found throughout brewpub, from the Group Therapy t-shirt that features a flight of Salt Creek brews, to the 32 oz “barker” (a smaller version of the 64-ounce growler - get it?) to the saucy poster announcing the State Fair Brewers’ Cup award-winning Damn Blonde Ale, to the NAPA sign to the left of the front door and automotive repair gear as décor. “Get in touch” cards replace the standard “Contact us” invitation.
NUVO did indeed ‘get in touch’ with Brad Hawkins just as Salt Creek Brewery brews are coming northward from limestone country to greater Indianapolis locations. Patrons at Hooters in Greenwood and Castleton recently “voted” for Damn Blonde Ale as a to-go selection on tap. Twenty Tap is serving Salt Creek Float Trip Cream Ale.
(Both of these Salt Creek brews can be found at the Indiana State Fair Craft Beer & Wine Exhibition Aug. 22-23, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.in the Grand Hall.)
NUVO: Salt Creek Brewery is the leader for Southern Indiana "small town" brewpubs. What inspired you to make this leap in Bedford?
Brad Hawkins: I am the only one STUPID enough to open a brewery in Lawrence County. Our local leaders and people that are supposed to build up a city and county are my biggest hassle although the brewery has a 1/2 million dollar impact on the city. I already owned the building so out of financial consideration I had to go here. I would have preferred Bloomington but since I had to be in Bedford I wanted to create more than a brewery I wanted to create a Destination—a place to be at and go to for travelers; an off-the-wall business style and location. The out of the Norm, the Off the Beaten Path where you can sit outside and not hear the noise of town traffic; some nights you can watch the deer feed in the grassy lot, you can put a blanket under the tree in the 1-acre beer patio. It’s a relaxed make-yourself-at-home feeling for men who used to go to the Garage and work on cars and drink a beer; for some men it was, and still is, the man cave.
NUVO: What inspired this new outreach?
Hawkins: It’s nice to be sharing. We have regular (semi-permanent) Taps at Hooters in Greenwood and Indianapolis, Ember Urban Eatery, Sinking Ship, Twenty Tap, 317 Burger, Aristocrat, Tin Roof and Woodstock Country Club in Indy; A Stone's Throw in Brownsburg; Brown County Inn in Nashville. I’d like you to ask for us where ever you drink at and tell them you want Salt Creek Beer on Tap.
We have added a 15 bbl fermenter to our line, a larger cooler and more kegs. We are really excited about the Indy market; it has been so great to talk with all the different bar owners and tap rooms and writers and contributors of websites and magazines such as NUVO.
NUVO: What is Salt Creek's brew niche?
Hawkins: "Beer that everyone can drink." You don't have to be a beer expert to drink our beer. Meaning, we brew good traditional style beers; we are not going after extreme Hops or high gravity, we're not here to re-invent the wheel.
NUVO: What, from your point of view, has been the significance of Salt Creek Brewery's presence in Bedford?
Hawkins: Made them get their head out of their ass. When we opened, we would have the locals say, "Didn't know you could do that," "I thought you had to be big like Budweiser." Everyone thought we were a Bud Lite bar, and a lot of narrow-minded still do. A group of us would always go out to dinner at Outback or O’Charley’s after church. Those same people from church tell me they can't come to OUR place because we are a "brewery" and serve alcohol. They think its ok to go to a chain restaurant like Outback even though they serve alcohol too. I tell them to think about what they are saying. With that being said, most of our business is coming from outside the county. “Tourists” as defined by the state are people from outside of a 60-mile radius. The only other entity that brings more business to Lawrence County than Salt Creek Brewpub is Spring Mill State Park
Salt Creek is not the biggest brewery in the State, we're not the oldest brewery in the State, we're not the newest, we're not the smallest, WE ARE THE MOST UNIQUE in INDIANA. One beer writer said we’re one of the most unique in the world from what and where he had traveled. And one patron said, "Salt Creek Brewery has brought us into the 21st Century.”
As you know down here we are a decade-plus behind.
Learn more here.
Salt Creek Brewery, 466 Old State Rd 37 N, Bedford, IN 47421 (at the corner of Old Hwy. 37 & Trogdon Ln. Look for the roadway sign pointing to the upcoming turn).
State Fair Beer & Wine Exhibition in the Grand Hall: Aug. 12-18 Update
New this year is a line up of music entertainment and educational programming in addition to tasting brews from breweries Statewide.
(if not designated otherwise at first mention, what follows are breweries in Indianapolis.)
New Day Meadery samples are on every day.
Breweries: Powerhouse (Columbus), Grand Junction, Daredevil, Taxman (Bargersville)
Music by Fan the Flame, 6-8 p.m.
Education Station noon-4 p.m.: Metazoa brewer Aaron Koerner talking about Indiana Beer Agriculture and Beer 101
Education Station 6-8 p.m. Brad Newbold touting Indy Eleven’s beer tasting events;
Featured Farmer: Jason McClure
Breweries: Chapmans (Angola), Noble Order, Bier, Taxman
Music by Tad Armstrong & Stasia Demos, 6-8 p.m.
Educational Program noon- 5 p.m. Tia Agnew at the New Day Meadery booth talking about Meads and Ciders
Breweries: Chapmans, Upland (Bloomington), Bier, Taxman, Carsons
Music by Bubbles Brown, 6-8 p.
Breweries: Thr3e Wisemen, Upland, People’s (Lafayette), TwoDEEP
Breweries: Thr3e Wisemen, Upland, Bloomington, TwoDEEP
Music by Sister Threadgoode, 6-8 p.m.
Breweries: Chilly Water, Upland, Triton, TwoDEEP
Breweries: Tow Yard, Rock Bottom, People’s, Chilly Water
Indiana’s new Bloomington Ale Trail takes you to Bloomington Brewing Company, Function, QuaffON! Bloomington, Scotty’s Brewhouse and Upland (in any order) to enjoy their respective beers; pick up a “passport” to validate at each and after you’ve visited all five you claim a prize. More information here.
Ten Indiana breweries presented brews at the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin Aug. 8-9. The invitational event sponsored by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild annually draws nationwide attendance. Representing Indiana were: Flat12, Lafayette Brewing Company, Mad Anthony, People’s, Shoreline, Sun King, Three Floyds, Triton, Upland and Zwanzigz. More here.See NUVO's Food & Drink Events page for all upcoming sudsy events!