Visiting St. Joseph Brewery & Public House
A trio of entrepreneurs was lured into returning the 1879 St. Joseph Parish Church to its original status as a neighborhood locus. The way co-owner Daniel Jones tells it, it was a siren call.
It all started when Jones and his other two partners, Jim Ailes and David Pentzien decided they wanted to add a third enterprise to their already well-established almost side-by-side endeavors, Chatham Tap at 719 Mass Ave. and Ralston’s Draft House at 635.
St. Joseph Brewery and Public House at 540 College Ave. creates a perfect triangle.
“Yes, we can walk from one place to the other,” laughed Jones as we chatted at the newly opened site. “We think it’s a vibrant district with all the new housing going up. We all have lived within sight of this old church.”
Around the turn of 2013-2014, after considering other possibilities, Jones said they decided to look at the interior of the shuttered church. What they found could have daunted further consideration, but something called out to them and they were drawn to envision an ambiance beyond the neighborhood English pub atmosphere of Chatham Tap [named for the 1836 working class neighborhood] and the eclectic array of 40 brews at Ralston’s (named for Alexander Ralston who created the city of Indianapolis plan in 1821).
Jones, who admits to a penchant for connecting with historic Indianapolis, describes feeling the old church was calling out for something different than a restaurant with a remarkable cuisine and a beer menu culled from other breweries.
And that’s when a visit to Pittsburgh was recalled, with a stop at Church Brew Works, winner of the 2012 GABF Large Brewpub of the Year award. In 1996 Church Brew Works opened in the 1902 St. John the Baptist Church with three flagship brews and a menu of specials and seasonals.
Parallel possibilities resonated and by May 2014 the course was set. St. Joseph Church would be refurbished to house a 15 bbl brewery and take on the mantle of a public house showcasing the history of the building and the neighborhood across its 180 years.
“One of the things that drew us here,” said Jones with a wide sweep of his arms, “is the number of residential options going up—apartments, condos, single houses. People are moving out of the suburbs to be part of our urban environment. People are recognizing the vitality of living downtown. We want St. Joseph to be their place to come to meet their neighbors, friends, family. Be comfortable.”
With its official opening on May 12, 2015, as something close to the 100th operating Indiana craft brewery, what Jones feels will draw a steady patron base to St. Joseph is its status as a gastropub with the house beers integrated into the ingredients and as pairings.
Brewer Alan Simon joined us at a table that, like all the other tables and the bar, has been handcrafted from the floorboards removed from the nave to house the brewery operation.
“I want to make beer I like to drink,” offers Simon, correctly apprising that there are a lot of other people who also like approachable, easy to drink craft brews with layers of flavor. Simon refers to the St. Joseph niche as “American Craft beer” meaning a brewer creates a unique recipe within the framework of traditional styles. Simon’s passion leans toward crisp, clean, refreshing taste and balance between hops and malt from first taste to last swallow. The alcohol range is between 5-6.3%.
The golden Cornerstone Kolsch has a sparkling effervescence that lasts through a conversation. Sanctuary Saison has a playful spicy yeast character. Noble Pale Ale’s feel of melon trumps tangerine and grapefruit, whereas citrus dominates Confessional IPA giving this brew the most prominent hops character. The coffee from Greenwood-based Strange Brew Coffee House immediately meets your nose and maintains a strong presence throughout the drinking of the malt-rich Bohlen’s Brown Ale. Chocolate is the dominant force with Dowd’s Stout, bordering on a smoke beer imparted by dark roasted grains. They are styles we recognize, but Simon’s execution imbues each with a quality you won’t find anyplace else. The historically based names are described on the beverage menu.
Executive Chef Scott Reifenberger follows suit with the food menu, pointing to the open-face bison meatloaf sandwich with Yukon mashed potatoes, black pepper-porter gravy and fried farm egg on Texas toast. While it might resemble something you’ve had elsewhere, the combination here is unique, as is the “Reifen”Burger with its Beer B-Q sauce. starters & small plates, salad dressings and entrees with specialty beer sauces equally set the menu apart.
However, the unifying factor is the distinctive ambiance and what front-of-house Manager Karl S. Mann refers to as a partnership between well-versed servers and bar tenders and the brewery and kitchen. Mann’s origins from Bavaria, Germany, are well suited for being part of Indiana’s active beer culture.
Jones anticipates serving only house beers at St. Joseph, with one or two on tap at Chatham and Ralston’s where each has a roster of Indiana craft brews and good connections with other brewers.
“We thought the best way to set St. Joseph apart is to make our beer and sell here.” While St. Joseph will fill growlers and 32 oz. bullets for carry out, Jones does not anticipate bottling or canning.
St. Joseph opens at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday until midnight Tues.-Thurs.; 1 a.m. Fri. & Sat.; 11 p.m. Sun; closed Monday.
For more history see: http://indianacatholic.mwweb.org/icath/?p=2566
For Sarah Murrell’s impressions see: “A Sinner’s First Prayer at St. Joseph’s."
Getting to know…
As Indiana’s craft breweries proliferate there has been a growth in support staff personnel. From time to time we’ll share their stories.
June 20, 2013 Beer Buzz received a message from Tiffany Cox: “Hello Ms. Kohn, My name is Tiffany Cox and I am the Communications Intern for the Brewers of Indiana Guild.”
Tiffany proceeded to tell me all about the Brewers Guild Beer Festival set for July 20, 2013 and why I should promote it and attend.
April 3, 2014, an email from Tiffany Cox read: “ Hello Rita,
I hope this email finds you well! My name is Tiffany Cox and I am currently a Marketing Assistant at Mad Anthony Brewing Company.”
Within a short time emails from Tiffany identified her as marketing coordinator at MABC. Here’s her story:
NUVO: What do you do as Marketing Coordinator at Mad Anthony Brewing Company?
Tiffany Cox: As the Marketing Coordinator for Mad Anthony Brewing Company, I wear many hats but at my position’s core I am responsible for all communication on behalf or our brewery; whether it be visual, written or spoken.
My duties vary on the daily basis based upon the needs of the company or our consumer but my typical duties include:
- Developing promotions and designing all supporting collateral.
- Writing press releases and handling interviews on behalf of the company.
- Creating and implementing creative content for social media and e-blasts.
- Updating, managing and designing materials for our website.
- Designing, ordering and managing all retail merchandise.
- Organizing our festival calendar and creating promotional signage.
- Attending craft beer festivals to further promote our brand.
- Handling all communication, design, staffing and PR for our annual OktoBEERfest.
NUVO: What led you to choose MABC?
Cox: I chose to work for Mad Anthony Brewing Company because I wanted to be a part of an organization that was dedicated to their local community and to actively promoting the craft beer industry within our state.
It was also very important for me to work for an organization that valued my perspective and treated me like part of the team; from my first day with the company, I have always known that my advice and opinion were truly appreciated.
NUVO: What's the most fun?
Cox: I love being able to work on a project from concept to completion; it is an absolutely fulfilling process. To see what started as a little doodle in your sketchbook come to life and have your consumer-base embrace it because you hit the mark; that is every designer/marketer/creatives’ dream.
NUVO: What are the challenges?
Cox: With so many great things happening in craft beer, not only in our state but nationwide, it is hard sometimes to not be in awe of what other people are accomplishing and to sometimes lose sight of the importance of your own distinct voice.
We succeed because we are different, and sometimes that’s the hardest thing to remember.
NUVO: What's special about MABC that everyone in Indiana should know?
Cox: Something special about Mad Anthony Brewing Company that not everyone might know is that we have four brewpub locations in downtown locations across Northern Indiana: Fort Wayne, Auburn, Warsaw and Angola.
We also have a championship winning BBQ establishment called Shigs in Pit Barbeque located just down the street from our original brewpub in Fort Wayne.
NUVO: How do you work with other marketing specialists in other craft breweries?
Cox: With craft beer being such a close-knit industry our events are successful not only due to attendance but due to industry collaboration as well. I know that I can rely on other brewery marketing staff to advocate for my event because when it comes time for theirs, I will gladly do the same.
Outside of events, I know that if I ever encounter a situation that I am not familiar with all I have to do is pick-up the phone and someone will be happy to spitball ideas with me on how to address it.
NUVO: What does MABC branding [name & art] and slogan tell us about MadBrew's philosophy?
Cox: Our brand is all about community and making quality off-the-wall beers fun and accessible for every type of beer consumer: from the craft beer novice to the complete hop-head. We choose playful beer names and are moving towards a bright, bold, colorful visual aesthetic. This visual transition aligns well with our new slogan, “Craft Beer should be a Little Mad.” We want people to expect more from their beer and be willing to step-outside their comfort zone to try new craft beer styles.
Our name, Mad Anthony Brewing Company, was born out of the desire to be well integrated into our local community. We were named after “Mad” Anthony Wayne the U.S. Army officer and statesman who oversaw the construction of Fort Wayne in 1794. Plus, with a sobriquet like “Mad Anthony,” our consumers knew from the start that our brewpub would be the source of uniquely crafted beer and cuisine.
NUVO: For American Craft Beer Week earlier in May MABC announced release of Summer Daze Wheat in 16 oz cans. Why start to can?
Cox: We offer bottles of our Gabby Blonde Lager, Auburn Lager, Good Karma IPA and Ol’Woody Pale Ale; so canning a seasonal Madbrew just seemed like a natural transition. Cans offer a portability that glass cannot compete with and with a summer beer, portability is something that our consumers crave. This is especially true, with us having brewpubs in two lakeside communities (Warsaw & Angola).
Outside of portability, canning also allowed us the flexibility to test the market for this beer without committing to producing additional packaging. The 4-pack cans conveniently fit within our MABC bottle cases; so outside of the beer, the only thing we had to produce were the labels for the cans.
NUVO: What did you have to consider for choice of art, text matter for the beer can?
Cox: My first considerations with the design were TTB regulations and brand consistency. Thankfully the government is quite clear with their requirements, so the bulk of the work was updating the Summer Daze art to alight with our bold new brand aesthetic.
Since MABC had been producing this beer for years within our pubs it was important for our new design to read as the natural evolution of the previous one. We wanted our customers to be able to see the new design without the context of our pubs and instantly recognize who produced the beer and what it was. I accomplished this goal by taking significant elements, such as the sunburst pattern and psychedelic text, from the initial design and updating them to fit within our brand’s new style.
Thanks to inspiration from Jefferson Airplane, I decided that instead of utilizing a decorative font for the label the best course of action would be to hand-letter the beer name to create an active psychedelic text. Their poster artwork also helped serve as the inspiration to deviate from the original red and orange color palate and incorporate some bold greens as well.
As tribute to the old design, the original Summer Daze font serves as the header on the side of the can. So even with the bold new look, there is a piece of MABC’s history.
NUVO: What is involved with connecting MABC with philanthropic events in your area?
Cox: Surprisingly enough this is a fairly easy process. Most of the time it starts with an email, phone call, or the organization filling out of our donation request form (found on our website); from there we discuss the ways in which Mad Anthony Brewing Company can be involved. Obviously not every event fits in to our donation schedule, but we do our best to help or be involved with as many local charities or organizations as possible. Our community has always been very supportive of our business and we try to reciprocate that support in as many ways as possible.
News from Flat 12
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Flat12 Bierwerks are rallying around their IndyCar driver, James Hinchcliffe, after his involvement in a major crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Monday May 18. James is currently at IU Methodist Hospital, out of surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery. In support of motorsport safety and James’ recovery, fans can pick up a #GetWellSoonHinch t-shirt at Flat12 to show their support for James. A portion of the proceeds of the limited edition t-shirts will go back to a charity of James’ choice. Hinchtown Hammerdown, is James Hinchcliffe’s collaboration beer with Flat12.
Sun King collaborated with Cincinnati-based Rhinegeist for Emergency Hop Kit, “a beer that combines the powers of Truth IPA with Osiris Pale Ale.” Kahn’s announced the distinctive green cans are on their shelf.
Tomlinson Tap Room is introducing the Brett and Sour Beers from Sour Note Brewing, “a gypsy style side project” of Gary-based 18th Street Brewery. On tap are Blackberry Gose and Flanders Red. Tom Tap has brews from all ends of the State including: Cucumber Session IPA from Burn ‘Em in Michigan City and Bend the Knee Summer Ale Robert The Bruce Scottish Ale from Three Floyds in Munster down to Evansville for Tin Man’s MegaWit Wheat Ale.
May 29: History On Tap at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (13400 Allisonville Rd.), 6-10 p.m. Learn about craft brewing through demonstrations and meet with craft beer experts, explore Conner Prairie’s 1836 Prairietown and taste a historical beer brewed on site. All tickets include entry into Conner Prairie, tastings from all breweries, food vouchers and a commemorative glass. Event open to ages 21+. For more details or to purchase tickets see www.connerprairie.org.
May 29: Bier Brewery welcomes Jeffery Richardson, Red Velvet Harmony, to a live music night from 6:45- 8:45 p.m.; no cover; $5 pints.
May 30: Indiana Craft Brew Spring Festival with tastings from 20 breweries on the Carroll Stadium East Lawn from 5:30-7:30 p.m. prior to Indy Eleven 7:30 p.m. kickoff vs. the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Craft Brew Fest tasting passes are $15; a Brickyard Battalion game ticket and festival pass combo is also available for $25. Click on: http://craftbrew.indyeleven.com
May 30: First annual Southside Sudzfest, 4-9 p.m. features beer from four Southside breweries: Oaken Barrel, Taxman, Mashcraft, and Planetary; live music and German food.
May 30: Bier Brewery and The Coal Yard Coffeehouse Coal Yard Music Festival 2015. Featured bands and acoustic performers include Ian Smith, Joy Caroline Mills, Bryce Ernest Taylor, Emily Myren, Delta Duo, McHaLo and Backseat Animal; all ages event; doors open at 12 noon; live music 3-10 p.m. $3 admission
June 2 and 3, 6-9 p.m. PunchIN’ the Clock: An Indiana Humanities Historic Bar Crawl through downtown Indianapolis pairs adult beverages with historic tales (and re-enactments) of the city’s workers through the decades. Participants will start and end at a courtyard overlooking Meridian Street and journey to four different locations, hearing about how strikes, civil rights and economic conflicts shaped much of the city’s history. $50 (Ticket price includes food and drink at each location, as well as at the pre- and post-gatherings)
Reservations required: http://2015barcrawl.eventbrite.com
(The event is held in partnership with the Indiana Historical Society and Sun King Brewing Company and is sponsored in part by CityWay. Other partners include: The Basement, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Conrad Indianapolis, Spoke & Steele and Downtown Indy.)