“Compliment Collector”, Scarlet Lane Brewing appeals to all

It didn’t take Scarlet Lane Brewing very long to have an impact on the Indianapolis craft beer scene. From their May, 2014 entry into the market, growth has been strong and measured, resulting in unanimous satisfaction.

I had my first samples of their beer at the Beer for Birds festival in the end of May, shortly after they launched their beer. I first tried Vivian, a red IPA (which are personal favorites) before enjoying  Dorian Coconut Stout. When SLB’s tasting room opened to the public, I walked away with a growler of Vivian. And, at the Indy Microbrewfest in July, I was overwhelmed by Dorian with coffee from Hubbard and Cravens.

SLB’s success was quick and demand was plenty so in August of 2014, the brewery entered into a partnership with family owned Zink Distributing (Indy’s southside-go Rebels!), further enhancing their craft beer portfolio. At an unrelated appearance at Zink a couple of days after their announcement, a Zink representative told me that Scarlet Lane “had one of best business plans I’d ever seen.”

 I heard the Elvis Costello lyrics, “Compliment Collector” in my head (song “Opportunity”).

Additionally, SLB was voted this fall as the #2 Best New Brewery by Indianapolis Monthly magazine. Together with this, comments from friends and strangers alike, and the glowing words from Zink,  I heard the Elvis Costello lyrics, “Compliment Collector” in my head (song “Opportunity“).

SLB co-founder and brewer Eilise Lane, brought her west coast influences back home to Indiana,  making SLB only one of a few female owned brewery in Indiana. There are only several female brewers in the area, as well as throughout Indiana, putting us behind states like Michigan, where an actual female trade group exists.  However, groups like Indy Girls Pint Out, work to educate and bring women together who enjoy craft beer.

Scarlet Lane-carSLB Chief Operating Officer Doug Sheets sat down with me recently and we discussed a variety of topics regarding the business. The brewery had originally planned to open in  Noblesville and just as those plans were about to be finalized, the building owner pulled the rug out from under them. The 7-9 month-long process of planning and fitting brewery equipment was down the drain.

Not to be deterred, Scarlet Lane found a building in McCordsville, In. (don’t let the gangster history of Capone and Dillinger scare you off), which sits about halfway between Indianapolis and Muncie. It is their philosophy to not only be a community partner, but to be an anchor for business development and job growth in McCordsville.

Many studies have reported a positive economic impact of breweries in small towns across the country, and according to Gallup, entreneurship exceeds innovation in spurring job creation. Small businesses are the best vehicle for this growth. (For example, take a look at what Black Acre Brewing has done to help resurrect historic Irvington.)

Gallup also reported that male owned businesses employ 41 million people while female owned businesses employ just 8 million. It is felt that gender diversity is essential to improve diverse thinking, creativity and innovation, making Scarlet Lane a perfect fit for the McCordsville community.

So, more about Scarlet Lane. Vivian Red IPA is SLB’s answer to a brewery’s need in offering an IPA, but also allowing them to distinguish themselves from others. And that they did with Vivian, using hop varieties of Columbus, Cascade, Chinook, Nugget and Apollo.

Though Vivian comes in at 80 IBU’s, hop heads should not expect a significant hop punch since Vivian is created in perfect balance against the sweet malt backbone of 2-row barley. Vivian is an excellent choice for their flagship beer and Doug allowed that the recipe had recently been tweaked, no doubt making it even more delicious.

Dorian Coconut Stout-a nice, chewy and creamy stout with hints of coconut-was brewed in homage to a beer Eilise Lane tasted in Bend, Oregon, and thus began her circuitous route of assisting at local breweries, returning to Indiana, and completing education at the American Brewers Guild. Plans were quickly made and Eilise ( with Doug and husband Nick) was ready to open her own brewery.

Doug Sheets says that Dorian will take on different personalities as the seasons change, and will once again offer it with coffee from another Indy coffee business. Saison de Silas had been the third beer in the lineup but that is being retired in place of the new Lenore Pale Ale.

Scarlet Lane hopes to grow carefully and gain solid footing from the inside out, rather than trying to grow too fast and sacrifice quality. A recent split with former brewer Chris Knott forced the crew to double their duties but they did so without a hiccup.

SLB has just announced that Simon Sothras from the well-known and respected Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene, Oregon, is tapped as the new Head Brewer!

When we met, Doug hinted at having a new head brewer in place but he was not yet ready to disclose that. However, SLB  soon announced that Simon Sothras from the well-known and respected Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene, Oregon, has been tapped as the new Head Brewer! This proves to be a huge shot in the arm for SLB.

Scarlet Lane 1-2Doug said that expansion from their 30 bbl. system can easily be done in the brewhouse, where there is plenty of room for the tanks and fermenters (affectionately named for SLB loved ones) to be moved forward. Bottling is anticipated but only when the time is right.

In “cultivating wisdom and friendship”, I expect to see Eilise and SLB  attract and inspire more women towards the brewing business, and I can also envision them working with local like-minded charities.

With their new Lenore Pale Ale in the lineup, it’s time for Scarlet Lane Brewing to collect some more compliments.

Scarlet Lane Brewing is located at 7724 Depot St., McCordsville, In.

Cheers!

Rick

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