The Guggman’s are your typical Indiana family, complete with dogs, cats and kids, living in a quaint, quiet, neighborhood. Except they are actually two families. And soon they will be opening a brewery – Guggman Haus Brewing Co.
Derek and Courtney Guggenberger, and Ryan and Abby Gorman are behind the brewery that has been in the works for several years. Twin sisters Courtney and Abby form the link, and the families are so close that Courtney says, “Now we just call ourselves ‘The Guggman’s’. It’s easier.”
While in college Derek received a “Mr. Beer” kit and later he and Courtney moved to Germany where Derek said, “Basically you go from drinking crap beer in college, then you go to Germany where there really isn’t that option. It was really the hefeweizen that kind of got me to fall in love with beer.”
When they returned to Indianapolis about four years ago, Derek started getting into homebrewing and when the Gorman’s moved back from Denver, Co., Derek got Ryan involved in brewing with him. With experiences from both places, the love of beer for all of them only grew into the idea of opening a microbrewery.
Living just two blocks away from each other in Broad Ripple, a brewing operation was built in the Gorman’s basement.
Let me take you there: Go down a narrow staircase into the basement, oops-watch your head, and on your left is the brewing area, which are two conical fermenters and then a row of five-gallon homebrew containers. Take a step or two and turn around, and look right there. It’s probably something you have never seen. It is a cooler, I mean an actual cooler, kept chilled by a window air conditioning unit that is built into the stairwell. Inside you’ll see nearly a dozen corny kegs.
A few short steps on the other side of the stairs is the entertaining area, and on the wall you’ll spy a row of nine beer taps where the beer flows through. The area is small but not cramped, and you’re immediately impressed at the efficient use of limited space. You might not have been told that Derek is a mechanical engineer.
More than just the beer, the sisters have always found joy in hosting family and friends, and with the brewery, Courtney said, “Just the idea of what beer can do and what the craft community can do, which is bring people together and then bring in the idea of having a taproom. We’re all very passionate about beer, we love beer. Then we could actually create a space that’s going to bring the community together and give us an avenue and a platform to do what we want to do in the community.”
Some might say there is considerable risk in putting your name on the front of the business but hearing about their perseverance and sensing their passion, I don’t believe the Guggman’s feel that way. I think that “Guggman” is more than a moniker, I’d say it’s a promise.
The Guggman’s are hoping – no, willing – to have Guggman Haus Brewing be the catalyst to spark revival in a dormant neighborhood seeking new life. After looking first to open the brewery in Broad Ripple, they found a space, or maybe it found them, in a different area just off of downtown.
Ryan Gorman said that over a year ago they learned about some gentlemen wanting to restore an old, historic building and racing garage, and were wanting to put a microbrewery inside. They met with the Boyle Racing Group and then two passionate teams began working together. Courtney called it a “spirit” that exists between the two groups.
The Boyle Racing headquarters in the 1930’s and 40’s housed race cars of Indy 500 racing legend and three-time winner, Wilbur Shaw. A very cool 1930 race car hauler was dug up from a Northwest Indiana ravine and has been completely restored by the group.
Originally hoping to have opened by this past Indy 500, uncontrollable setbacks occurred. Government delays, new water lines and a required new roof design on the main building have been just some of the things that has tested the owners’ resolve. It’s not easy rebuilding and restoring an historic building but as Abby said, “We know that our patience is going to pay off, we’re very excited about everything. It just feels right to us, that’s for sure.”
Moving first into an adjacent home on the property, the brewery taproom will open later with 3,000 square feet of space with an additional 3,500 sq. feet for an outdoor event space. Brewing on a 5 bbl. system obtained from the former Three Pints brewery, the brewhouse will have 10,000 sq. feet available, large enough for the brewery to grow into. (The families gave big thanks to Scarlet Lane, MashCraft, Taxman and Carson’s breweries for providing support.)
Deciding against having an industrial look that many breweries are going for, not that there’s anything wrong with that, Guggman Haus will have what Courtney insists will be “a cozy, cabin feel.”
Upon hearing about the garage and the neighborhood, Ryan’s first thought was, “Well that’s Denver”, where an area could grow around the brewery. Helping to resuscitate the area, the City of Indianapolis is infusing $75 million in bond funding in developing a new innovation district called “16 Tech”. To be built just south of the brewery and anchored by the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, the project has received over $150 million in private funding.
Together with nearby hospitals and the businesses that dot Indiana Av., as well as the lofts of old Bush Stadium, this area seems destined to flourish.
Ah yes, the beer
Christmas parties, beer tastings and other get-togethers have allowed lucky friends to come and taste their beer. Visitors knew that the Guggman’s had talked about opening a brewery, but when they actually saw the extensive homebrew set-up, Ryan said, “They were like, ‘Oh wait, you’re serious!’” Except for the basement taproom, I can tell you that the friendly back yard among chirping birds, was a great way to experience Guggman Haus beer.
Names of the core beers are still being worked out but you’ll get to know them soon enough. I was given an opportunity to taste their five current beers: Pilsner, Hefeweizen, New England IPA, Milk Stout and Brown Ale were presented in handmade flight holders.
Using 100% German pilsner malt and American hops, the Pilsner stood out, oddly as that sounds. Underappreciated in its simplicity, my feeling is that if you can create such a delightful, straightforward beer so well, your other beers will probably follow. And that’s the case here. To say that I was blown away would be accurate.
As head brewer, Derek said, “I spend as much time as I can reading and researching, learning new techniques.” His engineering background will go a long way in the brewhouse, just like it did in the home buildout. Ryan will assist in brewing and the following morning he will start another batch. A lover of sours, he envisions a time when Guggman Haus will explore this style.
There’s nothing like family
The family atmosphere that Guggman Haus wants to create is important. Abby said, “It’s not just about the beer or just about the building, we want it to be about the whole experience you get when you come to the taproom. We want people to come back because they enjoyed their experience as a whole. We like to create a gathering place for people, which is part of who we are.”
With the team ready, the recipes in place and the building coming along, Guggman Haus Brewing will open in the fall of 2017. The brewery logo, drawn by family friend, Sheila Tomasbi, is symbolic in several ways though I’ll leave it for them to explain. Just know that this seems to represent the brewery’s core values of family, home and beer.
Every family has a history and the Guggman’s are now writing theirs, even if it is two families. Appearing unfazed by delays and setbacks, Courtney summed it up best. “It’s all going to work out. It’ll be awesome when it’s done.” Trust me on this one. It will.
Plan to see a “Weihnachtsmarkt”, a Christmas-time German street market in the courtyard with other brewers and vendors.
GHBC will distribute as early as possible and eventually will can their beer.
Guggman Haus Brewing Co. will be located at 1701 N. Gent St.