When he started brewing, Sun King co-founder Clay Robinson never dreamed he’d be taking days off from bottling to suit up and lobby the Statehouse. But these days, he’s dusting off his bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and fighting to raise the production cap for Indiana’s breweries.
As smaller, independent breweries have steadily chipped away at the market share held by larger national or multinational competition, they’ve also found ways to move into spaces formerly controlled by Big Beer—like Major League stadiums.
When The Heorot opened 20 years ago in Muncie, Ind., not a bar in the county even had Guinness on draft. Owner Stan Stephens was sick of campus bars with $5 covers and quarter drafts of domestic lagers.
Although there were a small handful of microbreweries, like the Oaken Barrel, during Indianapolis’ darker days, it wasn’t until Sun King tapped its first kegs in 2009 that craft beer exploded in the city.
Even in the midst of the craft beer boom, it’s still easy to separate the suits from the brewers. The guys behind Indianapolis’ Bier Brewery are brewers—a little rough around the edges and fiercely independent—and, surprise: They don’t care who knows it.
Nick Davidson didn’t leave his beloved robots out of the equation when he opened a brewery in his native Evansville, Ind. Tin Man Brewing Company, named after one of Davidson’s first toy robots, occupies a three-story, gray-painted brick building in the historic Lamasco neighborhood.
Out of brewing school and in need of a job, Caleb Staton cold-called Upland and parlayed a chimp joke into a job washing kegs and cleaning tanks. He worked his way up the ranks and is now head brewer at the Bloomington, Ind., brewery.
Churchkey Can Company ressurrects the flat-top steel can; interstate brewery expansions loom; study finds two drinks a day could be a life saver; Heineken bans branding of local brews during London 2012 Olympics; and new beer laws passed in Indiana and Georgia.
Illinois breweries fighting to keep right to distribute; Goose Island acquired by A-B InBev; Surly campaigns to change law and build brewery/restaurant; Mexican brewery unveils world’s first beers for the LGBT community; and Indiana state laws may stifle breweries’ growth.