By ELIZABETH BEILMAN
Just weeks after Flat 12 Bierwerks announced it would open a taproom in Jeffersonville, the company decided to expand operations to include a fully functioning brewery on site.
Sean O’Connor, CEO of Flat 12, said the brewery will make “more than a couple” beer varieties, many that will be unique to Southern Indiana. The facility will have the capacity to brew at least 40,000 barrels of beer per year, which could be more than the amount made at the Indianapolis brewery. For most brewers, a barrel is equal to two kegs, or 31 gallons.
One of the reasons Flat 12 chose to expand in Jeffersonville is that the warehouse-style building at 130 W. Riverside Drive is suitable to house a brewery. O’Connor also said Jeffersonville is an ideal location to make more beer.
“I love the vibe of what’s going on in Jeffersonville. The city is really doing a great job in revitalization,” O’Connor said. “The whole atmosphere down there on the Ohio River is a lot of fun. We’re real excited about being a part of it.”
He also said the proximity to Kentucky and Tennessee will allow distributions to reach farther south.
O’Connor said his first priority is to get the taproom — complete with an outdoor patio section — open by summertime, but he said he hopes to get the brewery going soon after. Right now, Flat 12 is getting together a layout and design for facility.
“We’re just starting that process,” he said.
Although the Indianapolis location is only open Thursday through Sunday, the Jeffersonville taproom will have a “more robust hour schedule.”
Flat 12’s beer lineup “pays proper respect to the traditions of American craft brewing with its flagship beers” and offers seasonal specialties, according to the company’s website. The beers are described as “balanced, clean and flavorful, with a unique twist.”
Core offerings include a porter, amber ale, blonde, IPA and pale ale.
Flat 12 made the announcement in late January of the establishment its first satellite location in Jeffersonville. The business will be in the warehouse attached to The Olive Leaf restaurant, which is soon to open downtown. The taproom also will have a limited menu along with its beer offerings.
WHAT ELSE IS BREWING?
The taproom and brewery will join New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany and soon, Red Yeti Brewing Co. in Jeffersonville.
Red Yeti owner Brandi Ronau said that she does not view Flat 12 — located just blocks away — as competition but rather welcomes its arrival.
“The more businesses that come down here, the more people that come down here, the better it is for everyone,” Ronau said.
Though Red Yeti was originally slated to open in October, Ronau said the taproom side will definitely be open by Thunder over Louisville on April 13. Because they are still waiting on brewing equipment to be delivered, Red Yeti will only be serving other craft beers for the first few months of operation.
Indiana has been up-and-coming on the craft beer scene. In the past two years, Indiana has increased its number of breweries from 39 to 82.
Lee Smith, executive director of the Brewers of Indiana Guild, said brewery representation in Southern Indiana has traditionally been sparse, but is obviously picking up.
“I think there’s certainly going to be a market,” Smith said. “The greater Louisville and Southern Indiana area is very interested in craft beer already, so it sounds like a smart move [by Flat 12] to me.”
Smith said the brewery opening will undoubtedly be good for the local economy.
“In general, certainly it adds jobs in the neighborhood,” she said. “[These brewers] are always looking for local ingredients whenever they can, so it sort of spills over in agriculture and local businesses that are providing wholesale ingredients. Most of those dollars stay in Indiana if they’re buying Indiana beer.”
Even those who aren’t avid beer drinkers can enjoy what a taproom has to offer.
“There’s a beer for everyone,” Smith said. “There’s something for every taste and often times what you start out not particularly liking, you develop a taste for.”
Smith said having the opportunity to talk to one of the brewers while trying different beers is comparable to going to a bakery and getting recommendations from a baker.
“Most of the people who go [to breweries] really aren’t [die-hard] fans,” she said. “They’re drawn to a tradition that’s as old as colonial America. It really is about community.”