This is the first installment in a series of posts that will highlight the people and breweries participating in Indiana’s Next Hop Model on Apr. 30, 2016.

In 2009, Ray Kamstra brewed his first beer – an India pale ale – on the stovetop in his small apartment in Chicago.

The batch wasn’t even all grain. Just an extract.

“It’s almost like making macaroni and cheese,” Kamstra said with a laugh.

From that moment on, Kamstra knew he wanted to become a home brewer, and he knew he wanted to bring his dream home.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Kamstra and his wife moved back to the city in the fall of 2011. A move that he never thought would happen.

“This was the city that I just wanted to move away from and have a better life somewhere else,” Kamstra said. “But, Indianapolis has changed so much over the last 10 years that it is something that we should really be proud of.”

Short on funds, Kamstra began a Kickstarter campaign in early 2012, while he also began to search for a location for his brewery.

During a tour of a shop on Shelby St., Kamstra noticed a red and brown bricked building across the street that featured a “For Sale” sign posted in the front. The building’s windows and doors were boarded up, the parking lot was a combination of weeds and gravel, and a chain link fence surrounded the perimeter.

Still, Kamstra couldn’t help but notice something about the building’s character that stood out. He called the number listed on the sign, which turned out to be a local businessman, and scheduled a meeting to see the inside of the property.

During the visit, the businessman expressed his desire to see the building filled again. It had been passed down in his family from generation to generation, but had spent the last six years idle and vacant. Kamstra also discovered that the building’s original use was also for a home brewing company aptly named the Home Brewing Co. The previous brewer’s logo of a torch also eerily resembled Kamstra’s own logo that he had designed almost a year before.

For Kamstra, it felt like destiny.

He notified the donors of his Kickstarter campaign that they had found a home and began working on renovations almost immediately. With the help of friends, local contractors and volunteers, Kamstra was able to see his dream come to fruition and in May 2013, Indiana City Brewing opened to a parking lot full of people and a line that reached from inside to the street.

“There’s a lot of support for craft beer [in Indianapolis],” Kamstra said. “When people hear there’s a new brewery, they are chomping at the bit to try the beer once it’s ready.”

Kamstra has pride in what he’s accomplished, but he appears to have more pride in where he is able to serve his product.

“[Indianapolis] is our city,” he said. “We should take pride in our city. This is the Indiana City.”

Fun Facts about Indiana City Brewing:

1) In 2012, the Kickstarter campaign raised $35,000 in 30 days.

2) Indiana City Brewing has brewed more than 30 unique beers since opening in May 2013.

3) Tribute, Shadow Boxer and Yacht Rock are the three beers Indiana City brews year round.

4) Indiana City Brewing is hosting a beer versus beer home brew tournament at the brewery on June 11. (Apr. 1, 2016 is the registration date for brewers and the public.)

5) The tournament’s winner will have his/her beer on tap at the brewery and any other location that wishes to purchase the brew.

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