Every community needs it. At least one thing or person or business that sparks enthusiasm and creates a certain vibe. In the Village of WestClay in Carmel, that place is Danny Boy Beer Works. Newly-built in the heart of Village Center of WestClay, Danny Boy is like the fun-guy boat on the lake that everyone else tethers up to.
WestClay was developed as kind of a stand-alone community within Carmel, which is referred to as a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND). Premiering several hundred homes that feature almost every architectural styles since the mid-1800’s, WestClay provides quaint shopping, casual dining and a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere with walking paths and public land.
Driving to Danny Boy I followed directions and was taken through a couple of neighborhoods, and as I wondered where I was being taken, the brewery suddenly appeared. This is a departure from a traditional downtown or center of town because it butts right up to the neighborhood.
For all of its positives though, WestClay still was in need of a shot of adrenaline, something to help it feel alive. That is where resident Kevin “KP” Paul and his wife, Lainie, stepped in. Owners of the popular The Brockway Public House in Carmel, “KP” had also long envisioned opening a brewery, and in 2011, he began moving forward with those plans.
Danny Boy Beer Works was soon born and they began brewing their own beer through contracts with other local breweries. This is not an unusual course for a new brewery (for example, Boston Beer Company did it for years) thereby enabling them to produce their own beer while not yet having a dedicated brewing facility.
In 2014, the Danny Boy brewery was built from the ground up on the large corner lot in Village Center at Meeting House Rd. and Rhettsbury St. Danny Boy is perhaps the largest, newly-built brewery in Central Indiana. The gorgeous 2-story brown and tan brick exterior, allows the black and gray cement banner, “Tank 13”, to stand out.
Inside the brewery, you’ll find that an old industrial feel mixes with the sleek, shiny and contemporary taproom. The fenced-in brewhouse sits naked, allowing patrons to take in the brewing and drinking experience by sitting next to the stainless tanks. A stone bar top and beer bottle light fixtures accent it perfectly. Any of the five overhead garage doors can open the brewery to the outside.
The motto set forth by KP is that Danny Boy is a brewery first, a bar second and a restaurant third. Families, groups, ball teams and receptions can use the family-friendly second floor area, which provides great views over the taproom. (those under 21 however, need to enter the brewery through a rear door).
If you prefer to sit outside, DB’s raised porch wraps around the full corner, where customers can chat with neighbors as they stroll through town. The bar features 10 Danny Boy taps with 30 additional guest taps, which begs the question-why would they do that? Because KP wanted to offer the best beer around, and also because after comparisons, they are confident that customers will prefer their own beer.
After the snow is gone and the weather breaks, you will probably find patrons arriving by foot-many led by their dogs-as well as by bicycle, skateboard and even golf cart. That’s right, golf cart. A most perfect way for carting some growlers home!
Dustin Brown and Derek Herring had been brewing the Danny Boy beer while employed at Cutters Brewing, and as their relationship with Kevin Paul grew, it seemed to be a perfect fit for them to join Danny Boy as the new brewers. If I recall correctly, I remember seeing Danny Boy at the summer Fishers On Tap in 2013, so I had long been waiting for them to open.
Head Brewer Dustin Brown’s introduction to brewing dates back eleven years to his days at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he did some marketing for a pizza shop. When he became 21, he began a seven-year stint with the Bloomington Beer Company before moving on to help establish Cutters.
Brewer Derek Herring was his dad’s little helper with his homebrew operation as a child, but later moved to California and became a park ranger in Chico. After one of his many visits to the iconic brewery, Sierra Nevada, he inquired about a job there and eventually took on a gig of washing kegs and scrubbing floors.
Derek thrills at talking about the brewpub atmosphere, where “part of brewing is giving somebody a beer and then see their face light up like, ‘aw, this is the best beer I’ve ever had in my life!'”
This whetted Derek’s appetite for brewing and eventually he landed back in Indiana, where he teamed up with Dustin at Cutters for the last few years. Derek saw Dustin’s “passion for the industry” and once he heard about the business model and saw KP’s vision for Danny Boy, he recognized the potential success.
Derek thrills at talking about the brewpub atmosphere, where “part of brewing is giving somebody a beer and then see their face light up like, ‘aw, this is the best beer I’ve ever had in my life'”!
On one such day just before Christmas, a person came in and asked when he could finally get a beer. They responded, “how about now?!”
Dustin said, “we’re focused on doing this right so that’s why we didn’t push” to open sooner like they planned. But having just officially opened on January 15, 2015, were they nervous about opening a brewery in the middle of a neighborhood? In the dead of winter? They were indeed but felt relieved when neighbors kept coming up, asking when they were opening. On one such day just before Christmas, a person came in and asked when he could finally get a beer. They responded, “how about now?!” Word of mouth took care of the rest and the brewpub soon filled with wall-to-wall people.
On this particular day as Dustin and Derek discussed their history, they looked over their “Miss Ginger Witte” beer that was being brewed. This is a ginger and coriander infused Boston style urban wheat beer, with 5% ABV.
“Mac Daddy” strong Scotch Ale is an 8.8% ABV with30-35 IBU’s and “Training Day” is a pale ale with 66 IBU’s and has a 6.5% ABV.
Specialty beers are “Danny Brau”, which is a clean, crisp “vague” style of an “Amber/Doppelweiss” beer, with dark malts and American yeast.
“Rock-N-Rolla” is a DIPA that has continuous Mosaic hop additions and three dry hop additions. This carries 99 IBU’s and about a 7.5% ABV.
The “MexiCali” lager was newly created but it already has been met with great success. It is a Mexican style lager with California hops and served with a lime wheel.
Creating a perfect marriage of a porter/stout with a solid hop profile of an IPA, this beer, for my money, is the best black IPA in the state! Yes. It’s that good!
As much as I like the other beers-particularly “Rock-N-Rolla”-I was blown away by the delicious Black IPA (7% ABV and 77 IBU’s), the fourth of their core beers. Perfectly balanced with dark, toasty malts and Centennial and Citra hops, this is not an easy beer to make well. Creating a perfect marriage of a porter/stout with a solid hop profile of an IPA, this beer, for my money, is the best black IPA in the state! Yes. It’s that good! Look for it also to be brewed with other additions such as coffee, wood chips and black raspberries, etc., and on nitro and firkins.
And if beer is not your thing (like my wife), then DB has you covered as they also serve wine and some mixed drinks, along with a limited food menu.
I didn’t ask Derek the obvious question about moving on to a head brewers job someday but he answered it anyway. He spoke about his fulfillment in brewing with Dustin because of their ability to work and brew great beer together. Being a “team” with a great owner, a great facility and a great brewing environment, Derek prefers winning this way instead.
While they are still in their infancy stage, Dustin said they have not yet had an opportunity to reach into their “pocket full of recipes”, because they are just keeping up with demand right now. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the future.
Do yourself a favor and visit Danny Boy Beer Works in the Village of WestClay, where I think you’ll be wowed by the neighborhood and amazed by the beer.
On St. Patty’s Day, Danny Boy Beer Works is hosting the “Brew Mile”, a $5 one mile run that finishes with a beer at the brewery. Tech t-shirts are available.
On May 7, DBBW will host “Pizza Palooza” with 50 pizza vendors.
Danny Boy Beer Works is located at 12702 Meeting House Rd. in the Village of WestClay, Carmel, In.
Please let me know what you think! Cheers!
You can follow Rick Burkhardt on Twitter @indybeersleuth or contact him at Indybeersleuth@gmail.com.