It’s been several years in the planning but Indiana’s newest brewery officially opens today, Thursday, October 20th. After some searching, Round Town Brewery finally found a home that would stick in the Biltwell Event Center on the southwest side of downtown.
Most appropriate that it is, history might repeat itself, leaving the circle unbroken.
Round Town will slip underneath the south end of the nearly 100 year-old brick building that formerly housed the Biltwell windows and door manufacturing facility. The Biltwell Event Center has re-imagined itself as a cool reception arena that will help shine a new light on the area.
In a largely industrial, blue-collar area, Round Town is just on the southwest lip of downtown, an almost direct-angle, one-mile field goal from Lucas Oil Stadium. Mostly negligent of renewed energy, this area is showing signs of a rebirth as an amphitheater on a former GM plant nearby is planned. And, most importantly, it’s an area that has been thirsty for a brewery.
Co-Founder and Head Brewer Jerry Sutherlin has brewed professionally in the Indianapolis area for twenty years, most notably at Rock Bottom Restaurant for the last ten years. Coming from a corporate but independent brewing atmosphere, Jerry emphasized that Rock Bottom perfectly prepared him to lead the brewery.
So, let’s have Jerry tell us about his brewing philosophy and Round Town’s “consistent” beer list:
Sutherlin says he most often brews stylistically correct beers but with an added twist here and there, drawing much from his recipe book of about 100 beers. He told me, “One thing, I’m not an organized person but I’m really good about notes and things like that on my brew logs. I’ll write down exactly what happened, if something turns out good or bad I can go back and track that down. Most of these are recipes I basically already had that I just tweaked a little bit.”
More from Jerry. “‘The Lager’ is loosely based on a Vienna style but then I tweaked it to what I wanted it to end up as. I don’t think it has quite the hint of roast that a lot of them have. I didn’t want that on purpose so I wouldn’t say it’s a Vienna. I really wanted the nice Vienna malt flavor to come through but I didn’t want to bring any of the roasty character through. I don’t call it a Vienna, it’s just my…it’s a ‘Jerry Lager (laughs)!’”
“The (Happy Face) Pale Ale is, well…pale ales are not a whole lot to them. It’s just what and how you use your hops. It’s got a nice, subtle caramel malt in the background and basically brewed to the parameters, and used some nice Pacific Northwest hops in it. I think it turned out pretty well.”
“The O’Reilly’s Irish Red (sold exclusively at O’Reilly’s Irish Pub in Indy and Ft. Wayne, and in the taproom)…I have never done an Irish Red before so I went back and just kind of read on research. I’ve done some Scottish Ales so I just used those as templates. I like pretty well the way it came out.”
Round Town teamed up with Liz Laughlin at Limelight Coffee Roasters to produce Irish Coffee, and also available is the Stray Monk Belgian Ale.
Round Town’s beer, “But wait!”, you are compelled to interrupt. “Are you saying that they don’t have an IPA?!” Well, yes, that’s true. Sort of.
Jerry explains that brewing hoppy beers are in his “wheelhouse” and that an IPA recipe is prepared, but a contract for a specific hop variety is not sealed in. He’s reluctant to spot buy or trade for hops and not be able to replicate the beer, so he isn’t yet willing to present it to the public. It’ll come soon.
It’s almost as if Round Town was doing us a favor by not having an IPA available just yet and did this on purpose. Think of it this way. Not having an IPA on board is sort of like forcing you to make acquaintances with lesser-known neighbors while your best friends are out of town. You just might have some new favorites.
The finishing touches of the eclectically-grungy, industrial taproom are still being made, with a nip and a tuck needed here and there. Not to worry though. The beer is ready to show itself off, with numerous accounts already rolling out throughout the city.
Marketing Director, Casey Parmalee, said that Round Town will also promote the work of local artists by having them prominently displayed throughout the taproom. (She is a great artist in her own right). And a yet-to-be constructed 34-foot silo outside the brewery with a large Round Town logo, will be visible from the highway, serving as a beacon.
Co-owner Max Schenk coined the brewery’s name from an obvious take of the Indianapolis “Circle City” moniker, with an additional nod to getting a round of beer. “I think it fits”, she says.
Sitting inside the Round Town taproom, you can’t help but look around at the exposed brick, wood, and an original elevator (I think) in the ceiling, and wonder about the past. It’s also a great time to relax, drink some great beer and circle your thoughts back to the future.
Visit Round Town Brewing tonight at 5:00, at 950 S. White River Pkwy. W. Dr., Indianapolis.