A resurgence of suds

Local breweries creating new legacies

Sidewinder Farms hops, photography by Neal Bruns
Mad Anthony Brewing Company’s Jeff Neels, Blaine Stuckey, Todd Grantham, phogoraphy by Neal Bruns
Mad Anthony Brewing Company’s Olde Fort Blonde Lager, photography by Neal Bruns
Junk Ditch Brewing Company’s Camelote Dry Saison, photography by Neal Bruns
Jack May of Junk Ditch Brewing Company, photography by Neal Bruns
Trubble Brewing’s Bad Ash, photography by Neal Bruns
Pouring Mosaic Dragon at Summit City Brewerks, photography by Neal Bruns
David Long standing in the new brewing area at Summit City Brewerks, photography by Neal Bruns
The 40 taps (20 House drafts) available at Summit City Brewerks, photography by Neal Bruns
Ben Thompson of Birdboy Brewing Company, photography by Theresa Thompson

When Mad Anthony Brewing Co. opened its taps in 1998, Fort Wayne supported its local brewery. This embrace continues, and the long-standing question of “What’s next for Fort Wayne’s suds-loving fans?” has at last been answered.

Raise that pint, because a surge is on. Our cravings for locally crafted brews – successors to the beers Fort Wayne used to be known for – are being met by a new group of beer and food entrepreneurs in Fort Wayne and in towns such as Angola and LaOtto.


Mad Anthony Brewing Company

Now celebrating close to 19 years in business, Mad Anthony Brewing is looking forward to new faces and brews. Co-owner and brew master Todd Grantham was not available, but partners Blaine Stuckey and Jeff Neels sat in the brewpub’s eclectic surroundings and talked a little about the past and a lot about the future.

“We now have four locations and a total of 54 taps serving customers in Fort Wayne, Auburn, Warsaw and Angola,” said Stuckey, who has handled sales and marketing duties since day one.

Neels takes care of creating the wide range of offerings on the menu.

As brewery plans moved forward in 1998, Neels was approached by Grantham and Stuckey to oversee all restaurant operations. Another offspring under his guidance is Shigs In Pit, a multi-awarded competitive BBQ team which has turned into a store and full-time catering service.

Growth has included additional dry and cold storage to complement added brewing capacity for retail sales and the four locations. All brews are made at the Fort Wayne location, which features a 22-barrel system.

The expansion has made it a little bit easier to keep up with popular offerings such as Good Karma IPA, gold medal winning Auburn Lager and newly renamed Olde Fort Blonde Lager, formerly Gabby Blonde. One-half of the Fort Wayne pub was completely remodeled and the partners also purchased a large storage building and additional land for parking.

As far as new breweries popping up, both are enthusiastic. “It’s great to have company in town,” Stuckey said.

“We think it’s good for everyone that likes beer,” Neels added.


Junk Ditch Brewing Company

At the end of West Main Street, Junk Ditch Brewing has set up shop featuring a spectacular wood-paneled entranceway and beautiful tables, all from storm-downed trees in the West Central neighborhoods. The building was undergoing full renovation at the time.

With saws buzzing and work continuing below, co-owner Jack May talked in an upstairs office last June.

May is a partner with Dan Campbell and Andrew Smith. The three already have a huge following with their food truck Affine (Ah-fee-nay) and are venturing into a full-service brewery and restaurant.

All three started home-brewing, but it was the food truck business that set the three friends down a path that has led to the new brewery.

“We have a six-barrel system,” May said, “and we’ll have some house beers such as an American Pale Ale, an India Pale Ale, an ESB with a malty profile, a stout and a porter.

“The only one we have a definite name for is St. Jerome Porter, named after our super maintenance guy Jerome who takes care of just about everything on the food truck,” he said.

Another feature at Junk Ditch is a separate area for GK Baked Goods. May’s wife, Grace Kelly, already was providing breads and such to the truck as well as Trubble Brewing. Now patrons will be able to visit Kelly’s retail bakery.


Trubble Brewing

Otto Peters’ old drug store at the curve on Broadway in Fort Wayne has a few stories to tell.

You could get a five-cent Coke there in the 1920s. A Fort Wayne favorite, Chappells Seafood Market, offered outstanding food with flair and atmosphere in the mid- to late ’80s and on before moving to southwest Fort Wayne. Now, the beautiful brick building is home to Trubble Brewing.

Owner and head brewer Chad Hankee sat within the main bar area, local art on the walls, a chess set nearby and foosball close to the bar. Hankee said he first brewed his own beer in 2004.

Hankee co-owns the brewery with his wife, Keli, and they held a grand re-opening on June 24 featuring a Trubble lineup of Mindtrap IPA3, DogJaw Peanut Butter Stout, Anti-Establishment Black IPA, Yer Bitter Special Bitter and 9 Crimes Rye Pale Ale.

While Trubble was open in late December 2015, guest beers were the main feature at the time.

Just before the June event, Hankee had four more taps installed, bringing the number to 10. A three-barrel system was in place, and a second three-barrel capacity could join the brewery by the end of 2016.

His attention to local suppliers and collaborations includes having Birdboy brewing as a regular guest tap.

“We have a real camaraderie within the brewers here,” he said. In addition, Trubble features an eclectic food menu with local breads and rolls from GK Baked Goods.


Summit City Brewerks

A bit of Fort Wayne history is found in a now-two-year-old brewery, Summit City Brewerks. Part of the old factory is now making beer and food in the same building that once housed Wayne Bun Candy Company, famous for the fabulous BUN Bar.

The brewery environment is an industrial, laid back setting with a horseshoe bar, plenty of tables and chairs and a few pool tables. Co-owners David Long and David Tomazewski, both 33, birthed the idea in 2012 and opened the taps in October 2014. Their responses came via email.

“I like to think of this as a unique interior, and most people comment on the chandeliers we have up,” Young said.

“Customers come to Summit City for great beer, conversation and socializing,” Tomazewski said. “We have only one TV because we like to have people converse with each other, play pool or choose one of the many board games.”

The brewing system is a five-barrel system, and the beers on tap are in a constant state of evolution. Regulars include Carl’s Cream Ale and an ongoing series of IPAs and other styles.

For food, Summit City features tacos, hearty soups on Thursdays and inventive hot dogs including a Provolone Bacon Dog with garlic aioli and balsamic glaze or the PBJ Dog, to which customers can add a strip of bacon.

Asked about a philosophy of brewing, Young said, “We just love beer, sharing it with customers and exploring flavor profiles.”


Chapman’s Brewing Co.

Coffee and beer are two popular beverages that seem to rule from early morning to that time after work when we kick back and relax. Downtown’s Fortezza and Angola’s Chapman’s Brewing Co. have partnered so customers get the best of both craft coffee and brews.

Sean Wang owns Fortezza, which features both his coffee and Chapman’s Brewing founder Scott Fergusson’s beers. The two met at the Latte Art Throw Down event in December 2015.

“Coffee and beer share common attributes,” Wang said. “Things like aroma, texture, tasting notes and color are often used when describing either beverage.”

“Sean and I are all about educating and moving people forward into understanding what the difference is,” Fergusson said. With 10 taps complementing Fortezza’s coffee and baked goods selections, Fergusson explained the brews to look for.

“We are brewing a regular series of beers, including Enlightened Kolsch, Valiant American Stout, Brighton Pale Ale, Englishman Southern Brown Ale, Undaunted Single Hop IPA and WRY American Imperial Red Rye Ale,” Fergusson said. “All of which will either be on tap regularly or rotate through.”


Olde School Brauhaus

This production brewery inhabits the former Instant Copy facility on Wallace Street in downtown Fort Wayne between South Calhoun and Harrison streets. While there are plans for a kitchen, dining and public areas, co-brewer and partner Mark Burton said the immediate concerns are perfecting recipes and satisfying the current accounts.

The building was still under renovation at the time, but emblazoned on one wall was a large silver OSB in foot-tall letters. Burton was busy starting a five-gallon batch of Belgian Ale and the smell of the grains wafted out of the kettle like sweet bread.

“This beer I’m making is the closest recipe we could develop to match the style Thomas Jefferson brewed,” he said.

Burton, whose journey began with a beer kit from his mother-in-law, said, “Six staples are planned. Look for beers such as English Ale, Irish or Scottish Stout, IPA, Farmhouse Ale and rotating brews on tap.”

Burton partners with Kent Schuster, Shawn Buchan and Brandon DeBaillie in the new venture.

While starting out producing small batches, Olde School will grow to a 10-barrel system in a future growth plan.

A nice feature at Olde School is its association with hop farmer Wes LaRue. LaRue and Burton have a shared interest in Sidewinder Farms with plans to supply other area brewers. The variety of hops growing includes Centennial, Kent Golding, Columbus, Mt. Hood and Hallertau.


Birdboy Brewing Company

Another production brewer is Ben Thompson, with the exception he was offering Growler Hour with fills from 5-7 p.m. Saturdays at the brewery, which is just off Collins Drive in Fort Wayne.

Thompson talked in detail as he sat in an area that was just down the hallway from the main brewing area. Birdboy has a seven-barrel system and cranks out beers for customers that included about 30 bars and restaurants at the time of the interview. He got the home-brew bug while attending college at Pittsburgh Institute of Aviation.

“I started by finding a good home brew store for ingredients and creating the mash on a stovetop,” he said. “From there my interest kept growing, and around the end of 2014 I had the plans and financing in place to start Birdboy.”

For those unfamiliar with Fort Wayne’s flying legend Art Smith, he was the original “Bird Boy.” Smith was a daring pilot who flew at night with flares attached to his wings, delighting the people below. He was also a test pilot during World War I and was one of the first to carry airmail.

Thompson’s search for adventure brings some of that daring to his beer styles as he has hiked both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. His beer styles include Tropical Stout, Bicentennial Ale, Taildragger Belgian Pale Ale, Mandatory IPA, Farmhouse Ale and The Blackout, an oatmeal stout.


LaOtto Brewing

History is also in play at LaOtto Brewing. The building was built in 1914 and sits on old Ind. 3, past Huntertown. Former lives include Old Farmers Bank, a general store, hardware store and a tool and die shop.

Head brewer Josh Brames shares ownership with fiancée Lynne Koepper and her parents, Dave and Jan Koepper. The brewery opened last December with 85 beer lovers visiting to quaff the new beers.

Sitting in the comfy bar area, Brames talked of how his dad and grandpa would make wine and he would help. The switch to beer was easy for him. “Making beer offers better control overall,” said the 29-year old.

“For a long time I have felt this would be a great business, and I always wanted my own business.

“We have a five-barrel system now and would like to expand to 20 sometime in 2017,” Brames said.

Very few beer drinkers understand the science of beer making. Brames knows the importance of such things as saccrification and conversion rates, IBUs, temperature control and fermentation.

It helps that his fiancée, Lynne, is finishing her masters in microbiology.

“You can know and control a lot from beginning to end,” Brames said. “From the first step when cracked barley mixes with hot water to create maltose (sugar water), to the final wort and hop additions, controlling the entire process makes a better beer.”

Regulars on tap include Postmaster Pale Ale, Hammonds Imperial Amber, with popular styles such as West Coast IPA and a collaboration with Old Crown Coffee Roasters for the Old Crown White Stout.


Barrel Systems

A brewery’s barrel capacity can be a direct correlation to how many styles it offers and to ensure their most popular brews are always on tap.  One barrel of beer is defined as 31 gallons, making barrel system capacities easy to figure out. Barrel Capacity x 31 Gallons = Gallons of Beer. Doing the math, Mad Anthony Brewing has a 22-barrel system and can brew 632 gallons at a time.


About beer

Beer is actually pretty simple: Water, malt, hops and yeast. While the ingredients are simple, the ability to make the best beer requires an understanding of much more.

Here’s a step by step guide for a home-brewed “all-grain” five-gallon batch of Pale Ale.

Malt: Kiln dried/roasted grains such as barley and wheat are crushed as part of creating the mash.

Mash: The crushed grains are steeped in approximately 155-degree F. water for about 60 minutes. A Gott cooler works great.

Saccrification: This phase is when the hot water turns the starches in the grain into sugar. Also called saccrification rest.

Sparging: Also called lautering, this stage is hot water covering the mash after the saccrification rest to rinse the sugars out and into the boil tank.

“text-decoration: underline;”>Wort: Pronounced “wert,” it is the product of the mash and sparge cycle. Think of it as a big pot of sugar water. The boil reduces the liquid down to about six gallons.

The Boil: The boil stage can last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the recipe. The boil is also when hops are added to promote both bittering and aroma.

Wort Chiller: This coiled device is usually made of copper and sits inside the boil pot. This placement allows the brewer to run cold water through the coils and chill the wort to around 72 degrees.

“text-decoration: underline;”>Yeast: There are many types of yeast. Depending on the style of beer, it could be dry, liquid and “smack packs.” Some brewers use the yeast from the bottom of a previous batch to achieve a really fast start on the conversion of the sugars into alcohol.

The friends I brew with prefer to keg vs. bottling for the simplicity and clean-up aspects. We force-carbonate in the keg, and – if all has gone well – we are toasting about three weeks after brew day.


For The Not-So-Adventurous, but CURIOUS

Hoppy beers are numerous, and lots of hop-heads couldn’t be happier. A standard measurement for all beers is IBUs or International Bitterness Units. The higher the IBUs, the more you get the perceived bitterness and added character, which comes from hops. Meanwhile, someone thinking about stepping up from a Coors Light (10 IBUs) doesn’t need to blast his or her taste buds. At 22 IBUs, New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale could be a good starting point. (For comparison, Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA clocks in at 90 IBU.) “I don’t like dark beer” is also a common refrain, but many “dark” beers are easy-drinking lager styles including the Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sam Adams Black Lager, Shriner Bock and Becks Dark. What these do promise is a quality malt flavor and balance overall for the taste buds.

There are many more choices these days, and experimentation is still running at full speed, both in what brewers are providing but also in giving beer drinkers a way to enhance their experiences and insights.


Types of Beers

In the world of beer, we basically drink ales and lagers.

The yeast used for each is the main distinction. Lagers use a bottom-fermenting yeast, and ales use a top-fermenting yeast. Lager yeast likes a range of 45-55 degrees F. to provide optimal fermentation. Ale yeast loves temperatures in the 62-70 degrees F. range.

These two distinct types feature many varieties and styles.

Lagers include well-known brands such as Miller, Budweiser, Pabst, Heineken and many others. Styles include American pale and red lagers, malt liquor and light lagers, German bock and pilsner. A little more adventurous would include craft lagers such as Great Lakes Brewing’s Dortmunder Gold lager or Oscar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils.

Ales seem to have no end to the styles being brewed. A quick rundown includes amber and brown ales, pale ales, India pale ales (IPA), Wheat/Wit, Porters and Stouts.

With that list, brewers have gone literally nuts with their recipes and styles. Fruit, hot peppers, coffee, herbs, bourbon-barrel aging, massive amounts of hops in certain styles and, yes, peanut butter (Trubble’s DogJaw Peanut Butter stout) are common ingredients now.

Most of the brewers in this story are brewing more ales than lagers but, as in any creative field you never know what they’ll put on tap next.


Brewed IN the Fort Craft Beer Fest

Mad Anthony Brewing Company invites us all to Jump IN (we are certain the pun is intended) to the 18th Annual Brewed IN the Fort Craft Beer Fest Sept. 10 at Headwaters Park West. A $35 general admission gives you unlimited access to tastings of beer and ciders from 47 Indiana breweries, plus a souvenir tasting glass and a festival gift. A $60 VIP admission is also available. Live music and food trucks round out the experience, which includes chances at a VIP trip for two to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.madbrew.com/ok.



Mad AnthonyBrewing Co.
2002 Broadway
(260) 426-ALES (2537)
4080 N 300W, Angola
(260) 833-2537
114 N. Main St., Auburn
(260) 927-0500
113 E. Center St., Warsaw,
(574) 268-2537

Junk Ditch Brewing Co.
1825 W. Main St.
(260) 203-4045

Summit City Brewerks
1501 E. Berry St.
(260) 420-0222

Chapman’s Brewing Co.
300 Industrial Dr., Angola
(614) 562-4554
-Fortezza Coffee
819 S. Calhoun St.
(260) 203-4103

Olde School Brauhaus
1801 S. Harrison St.
(260) 417-3155

Birdboy Brewing Co.
210 E. Collins Road
(260) 579-5508

Trubble Brewing Co.
2725 Broadway
(260) 267-6082

LaOtto Brewing
202 S. Main St.
(260) 897-3360

First appeared in the September 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.


Find more here...

Latest Articles