Good Brew

One of Indy’s newest craft beer venues is expected to bring all the boys to the yard
By Clint Smith | Photos by Josh Marshall

Tow Yard Brewing Co. may be the new kid on the block, but its newbie status is mostly in sentiment, considering the experience and know-how of the folks behind the venture. A collaboration of food and drink industry veterans, Tow Yard Brewing, slotted to open in June, may give the city—and specifically Indy’s near southside Wholesale District—a refreshing lift in the craft brew scene.  

“When you put together like-minded people who can envision and share a singular goal, you will get things done,” says Jason West of Greenwood’s Grafton Peek Catering, which will be helping to supply food for the new venue. “That has been the case with Tow Yard. From the partners and managers who have worked every day in getting the 10,000 square feet of physical space operational to the investors, large and small, who share the dream, everyone played a special part to help get Tow Yard started.”

One of the driving forces behind Tow Yard is director of distribution Mike DeWeese, who has been in the food-and-beverage game for decades. DeWeese, a Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School alumnus who went on to attend Indiana University, made his way into the restaurant industry with his first Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Muncie in 1996. In the years following, DeWeese opened three more BW3 stores in Greenwood, Plainfield and downtown Indianapolis.

From 2003 to 2009, DeWeese served as a board member of the Brewer’s Guild of Indiana. Though he wasn’t a professional brewer, he’d been brewing beer at home since 1991, and he eventually helped found Triton Brewing Co. on Indy’s northeast-side. “I’ve been a part of this whole craft-brewing movement since the beginning,” he explains.

DeWeese recruited Bradley Zimmerman, a Hamilton Southeastern grad who also attended IU, to serve as Tow Yard’s head brewer. “(Zimmerman) was out in Seattle for eight years,” says DeWeese, “and he’d been getting in some unique ingredients—some hop varieties coming from New Zealand—you don’t see in the Midwest.” 

In order to acquire certain ingredients and hops, a brewery needs to have a “hop broker,” DeWeese explains. Along with his brewing creativity and experience, Zimmerman brought that designation to the Tow Yard table. 

Among the brewery’s planned offerings is a double pale ale, DeWeese says, as well as a craft concoction known as the “Shandler,” which pays tribute to the British Shandy and the German Radler. “It’s our take on a Shandy, sort of like a Leinenkugel’s, which most people are familiar with,” DeWeese says. Shandys and Radlers use a combination ratio of beer to either soda or lemonade. For the sweet-soda part of the Shandler ratio, Tow Yard will feature local, natural soda from Handcrafted Beverages.

Beyond the Tow Yard’s custom offerings, other Indiana craft beers also will be available. DeWeese says he is confident in the bonds he has secured with local beer purveyors like Tomlinson Tap Room (downtown Indianapolis) and Twenty Tap and Binkley’s Kitchen and Bar (both in Broad Ripple). 

In-house chef Tommy Thompson (formerly with Fireside Brewhouse) will work closely with West and Charles Bryant of Grafton Peek to provide for the brewery’s deli offerings. The brewery will showcase a number of unique sandwiches, salads and soups, DeWeese says. “We’re going to incorporate beer in as many items as possible and use as many local ingredients as possible.” 

On tap for the menu are Zionsville-based Trader’s Point Creamery cheeses and dairy products, and chef Thompson is working with Jessica Smith of This Old Farm in Colfax to secure local meat and produce. 

This Old Farm works with sustainable farmers to get locally produced food to the wholesale market. In the case of Tow Yard, Smith says This Old Farm will also supply malted grains to the brewery for use in its brewed beers. The plan, she explains, is that This Old Farm will later pick up the spent grains and feed them back to pastured or wood-raised hogs and then months later, return with pastured pork to be transformed into a meal. “Now that,” says Smith, “is a life cycle to talk about!”