18th Street Brewery

Hand-crafting big and small beers from Gary, Indiana. We Live and Love what we do.

18th Street Brewery is a brewpub in the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary, Indiana in late 2013. Conveniently located off the Dunes Highway and the Metra 'Miller' stop, 18th Street specializes in both big and small beers, from 9.5% barrel aged Double Milk Stouts to 4.5% Session Pale Ales. We have a kitchen that specializes in small plates, salads, sandwiches, and seasonal offerings. Our large, open front room is great for families. In January of 2014 Drew Fox was named 'Best New Brewer' in Indiana by  Ratebeer.com

USA TODAY write up about Gary, IN

It's a great write up about the revitalization of Gary, IN. Let the world know that real people do live in Gary and real people do care about Gary.  The article was written by Aamer Madhani. It was copied and pasted from its original source on the USA TODAY website here.

GARY, Ind. — It might be telling of the complexity of this city's problems that the recent start of the demolition of Gary's tallest — and arguably most decrepit — building is being heralded by local leaders as one of the most significant signs of progress this community has seen in years.

But in this tough-luck city, tearing down the old Sheraton Hotel, an eyesore that had become a powerful symbol of this once great steel town's fall, is nothing short of a monumental achievement.

"It really symbolizes the best of times and worst of times for this city," says Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who made demolishing the 14-floor structure a central part of her 2011 campaign to head this city. "When Gary was doing well, this was a central point. It was also a place that struggled as the city struggled."

Gary has been down so long the bottom might look like up. It wasn't always that way.

This is a city that grew up around U.S. Steel and gave the world Michael Jackson. It's a place that proudly touted itself as the "City of the Century." And it was the first big U.S. city to elect a black mayor, Richard Hatcher, in the late 1960s.

Since then, there have been a lot of dark days in Gary, and recent weeks have been among the hardest.

'HEINOUS' VIOLENCE IN MURDER CITY

Freeman-Wilson last month named a new police chief, days after the old chief stepped down as the city reckoned with what the mayor called "some of the most heinous murders seen in decades," a striking assessment for a city pinned with the ugly moniker of Murder Capital of the U.S. in the 1990s.

Her heightened concern about the city's violence was punctuated by last month's killing of veteran Gary police officer Jeffrey Westerfield — an incident that was followed by the gruesome stabbing murder of an 80-year-old woman and her 88-year-old husband and the slaying of a 41-year-old mechanic found dead in an auto repair shop.

Violent crime, while still a major irritant for this city, is actually down. Gary has recorded 26 homicides thus far this year, putting it on pace for fewer murders than last year's 54.

"The city of Gary isn't bad, and things can be different," says Crystal Fields, 43, a city resident who has spent most of her life here. "This used to be a place when I was growing up that if you were doing something wrong and your neighbor saw it they'd whup your (butt) and then call your mom and dad who would whup you again once you got home. That's what we got to get back to."

A DWINDLING POPULATION

The city's malaise parallels what other one-time industrial powerhouses such as Cleveland, Detroit and Newark have faced in recent decades as residents flee the cities and job opportunities dry up.

Gary has seen U.S. Steel — the city's biggest employer — shrink from a 25,000-person workforce in the 1960s to fewer than 5,000 workers today. The city's population stood at about 79,000 in 2012, down from 178,000 in 1960.

The dwindling population is starkly reflected in the 10,000 vacant homes spread over this sprawling city that's geographically the size of San Francisco but has less than 10% of the population. Earlier this summer, the city's school board voted to close six of the city's 17 schools, an unavoidable byproduct of the migration.

Despite the long list of issues facing Gary, Freeman-Wilson and others in her Cabinet insist the city's fortunes can – and will – change.

"We are the majority," Freeman-Wilson told residents at a recent community gathering in the city. "There are more good people in the city of Gary…than not. We're going to take back our city."

The push by Freeman-Wilson to revitalize this city has been fitful. But she and her staff point to some successes.

One of her primary goals has been to improve this city's appearance and image. Soon after coming to office, she forged a relationship with the University of Chicago, with some help from former Chicago mayor and current UofC distinguished fellow Richard Daley.

As a result of that friendship with Daley, University of Chicago students are cataloguing Gary's blight — no small task in a city of thousands of vacant homes and empty lots overrun with shoulder-high weeds and trash.

Freeman-Wilson also has won over residents by making a weekly ritual of cleaning up trash and mowing lawns at abandoned lots around town.

A Harvard-educated attorney, Freeman-Wilson made two unsuccessful runs for the city's highest office before finally winning in 2011. She has served as a municipal judge and as the Hoosier state's attorney general. But she insists she doesn't have any greater political ambition than leading her hometown.

"This is the job I plan to retire from," she says.

She met recently with residents to discuss initial plans for redevelopment and demolition of abandoned properties in several neighborhoods that will, in part, be funded through a White House program to assist distressed cities.

Sean O'Brien, a lead operator out of Toledo, Ohio, watches as workers remove an asbestos coating from the parking garage wall at the Sheraton Hotel site.(Photo: Alyssa L Schukar for USA TODAY)

Her most notable accomplishment to date may be following through on her campaign promise on demolishing the old Sheraton — an issue that had become a focal point of every mayoral campaign in this city over the last four decades.

It opened as a Holiday Inn in 1968, early in Hatcher's term and as white flight from the city began. The hotel, which neighbors City Hall, struggled financially from the outset and closed in 1972. It reopened in 1978 as a Sheraton franchise but didn't have better luck turning a profit.

Operations were scaled back over the years. Despite subsidies from the city to help keep the doors open, the hotel closed for good in 1984. The restaurant and lounge in the hotel complex closed the following year.

CAN GARY REBOUND?

Freeman-Wilson and her aides acknowledge that Gary can't return to the glory days as an industrial giant. But they are convinced the city can rebound by leveraging some of its existing assets, including the Gary/Chicago International Airport and the city's location on Lake Michigan.

"The first 100 years of this city was about the rise and fall of the steel mill," says Richard Leverett, the mayor's chief of staff. "We're pulling people in and saying let's re-imagine these neighborhoods. Let's look at our park assets, let's look at our lakefront assets. This city was built for 200,000 and now has far less. What does that mean for how our city should look in the future?"

Freeman-Wilson and her aides also have tried to sell the city as a place where entrepreneurs can get a start at rock-bottom prices.

One business owner drawn by the affordability of Gary is Drew Fox, a craft beer maker who opened 18th Street Brewery here late last year.

Fox, who has 14 employees, now is installing a canning operation, and his tap room's chef soon will open a bakery that will operate out of the brewery's space.

Fox, 42, says Gary has a long way to go in shedding its stigma. But he's convinced the city can be a great incubator for young entrepreneurs who have good ideas but not necessarily a lot of cash. At the same time, the city badly needs more people to take the plunge if it's going to rebound.

"This city will survive even if it's on one knee right now," Fox says. "But it's going to take people like myself and others to help this city rise. You're going to take your licks, but you have to be able to sustain and look forward to those better days. It's going to take some strong will and strong-minded people to forge ahead."

 

Labor Day Hours

Monday is Labor Day:
We will be open from noon-5pm serving drafts and filling howlers. Our kitchen will be closed but we will have our Snack Menu available. 

SINSTER bottles and draft

We have a limited amount of SINISTER bottles available in the bottle shop of the brewpub. Bottles are $12 w a limit of 4. We also have a very limited amount of our specially packaged SINISTERS left. These are $14 and include the hand-made packaging and a SINISTER tarot card.  Not interested in bottles? We have SINISTER in our taproom on draft. 

Special hand made packaging for SINISTER. VERY limited quantities.  

Special hand made packaging for SINISTER. VERY limited quantities.  

Suntimes Press

Along with the NWI Times article we have a write up in the Chicago Sun Times by Bill Ruminski. View the article online here, or read below. 

Gary’s 18th Street Brewery expects to double its capacity by the end of the year and have a canning operation up and running.

The brewer, which began production seven months ago, will increase its capacity from about 500 barrels a year to more than 1,000 barrels. The company is replacing its nine, 7-barrel fermenters with 10-barrel fermenters. The canning line is expected to arrive in late September.

18th Street Brewery intends to switch from packaging its beers in 22-ounce bottles to cans, using the bottles for special releases.

“It takes us about eight hours to bottle just one 7-barrel tank,” owner Drew Fox said in a news release. “These moves will make us much more efficient, even as we’re growing.”

The increased capacity will position 18th Street to distribute throughout Indiana. The brewer has worked out an agreement with Starlight Distributors to deliver more of its beers in the Indianapolis area. And 18th Street recently collaborated with Mikkeller, a Copenhagen, Denmark-based brewer.

“Even before we opened our doors, we’ve had nothing but incredible support from so many people,” Fox said. “Since we opened last winter, that support has been overwhelming. We really can’t thank people enough for that. We’re ecstatic.”

18th Street Brewery Expansion announced:

We are very excited to be able to share this publically with everyone. Thanks to NWI Times and Joseph S. Pete. The article is below the video:

Drew Fox, owner of 18th Street Brewery in Gary, discusses the equipment and operational upgrades his microbrewery is currently undertaking.

GARY | Sinister, a Double India Pale Ale brewed with seven different types of hops, established 18th Street Brewery's reputation back when Drew Fox was still a gypsy brewer making the rounds around the Chicago beer scene. 

His Miller Beach-based microbrewery just started brewing the acclaimed 9 percent ABV Double IPA that's infused with notes of mango and pineapple again for the first time in a year. Pent-up demand is so high that Fox expects the entire batch will sell out in two days, similar to how 18th Street's Grapefruit Dead collaboration with the hip Danish brewery Mikkeller sold out in a week. 

Business has been booming at 18th Street Brewery, which has been so well-received that Rate Beer named it "Best New Brewery in Indiana" last year even though its brewpub was only open for 18 days at the tail end of 2013. The craft brewery, which has been running out of beer as fast as it can make it, is now pursuing a major expansion less than a year after it first opened in Gary. Fox is investing about $400,000 to double production capacity and install the first canning line at a Northwest Indiana craft brewery.

Popular 18th Street beers like Deal with the Devil will be available in cans that will be sold in six-packs – or four-packs of pint-sized cans for heavier, higher ABV beers – at retailers throughout Northwest Indiana this fall. 18th Street has inked a distribution deal for the Indianapolis market, where Fox had been driving kegs down himself, and has expanded to Denmark through a collaboration with the Copenhagen-based Mikkeller, a trendy brewery that's been written up in the New York Times.

Starlight Distributors will deliver more 18th Street beer to craft bars in the Indianapolis area, and the brewery is looking for a distributor to keep its products in the European market. Fox also is eyeing an eventual return to the Chicago market, and is particularly interested in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the south side, which he said remains underserved despite the explosion of craft brewing in the city.

Fox, whose business card identifies him as the "Nubian Overlord" of 18th Street, has not taken a salary so he could reinvest the brewery's profits into growth. A Nubian is a native or inhabitant of Nubia, an ancient region of Northeast Africa, and also can refer to anything relating to African-American culture or history. New tanks will increase production capacity to more than 1,000 barrels a year from the current 500 barrels.

"We made the smart decision in the beginning to make sure we were fiscally responsible with how we spend our money and manage payroll," Fox said. "Obviously, bottle sales help. Just by the regular consumer coming in every day to our tap, buying lunch or buying dinner -- that's been a huge factor in the expansion. Banks aren't lending money right now, so we made the decision to self-finance the operation." 

Sales have been trending upward at a nice pace since the brewpub opened on Dec. 14. But the main motivation for expanding is that the craft brewery has been running out of beer and has had to pull some back from distribution to ensure the taps keep flowing at its brewpub, which has grown to about 15 employees.

"It's scary how fast it's grown," Fox said. "It started with us two of us, and it's just been a growing little monster. But it's good growth that means jobs in the city of Gary and in Northwest Indiana. We try to do our part."

Craft-beer thirst insatiable

Consumers' thirst for craft beer has been insatiable, and the industry has been expanding at a frenetic rate. Indiana now has more than 60 craft brewers who produced more than 120,000 gallons last year, resulting in a statewide economic impact of more than $600 million, according to the Brewers Association. Multiple craft breweries – such as Burn 'Em Brewing in Michigan City, Four Fathers in Valparaiso, Devil's Trumpet in Hobart, and Wildrose Brewing in Griffith – either have recently opened or plan to soon.

"Craft brewing is the hottest industry in Northwest Indiana right now," said Martin Oleksy, a spokesman for Wise Guys Discount Liquors, which has dedicated an entire 40-foot-long aisle to local craft brewers in its new Hobart superstore.

Visitors have poured into the Gary brewpub from as far away as Florida and Europe. About 37 to 38 percent of the customers hail from Chicago, and many roll in on the South Shore Line, since the Miller station is about a block away.

To keep up with demand, 18th Street is replacing its nine 7-barrel fermenters with nine 10-barrel fermenters over the next four months.

When a new canning system is installed in September, 18th Street will essentially be operating a small manufacturing facility in the back of its brewpub at 5725 Miller Ave. The brewery currently bottles some of its beer, selling 22-ounce bombers at liquor stores throughout the region.

But the overall bomber market has been soft for a while, while cans have been gaining in popularity among craft brewers since they preserve freshness for longer, Fox said. Bottling a single 7-barrel tank can take up to eight hours, and canning is much more efficient.

18th Street will still occasionally produce 22-ounce bottles, but they will be reserved for special releases such as the Hunger Coffee Double Milk Stout the brewery produces with the help of Grindhouse Cafe in Griffith.

"Russian Imperials, sour beers and big beers will stay in bottles," he said.

The first phase of expansion was the addition of the dining room and a food menu, the second phase is the added capacity and canning line, and third will be the roll-out of sour beers that will be labeled fancily like wine bottles instead of with the skulls and snakes 18th Street is known for. The brewery will start pursuing its sour project in collaboration with other craft brewers in 2015.

Over the long term, Fox hopes to expand to more Midwestern markets such as Louisville and Detroit. But for now, beer-lovers are making pilgrimages to the Miller Beach neighborhood to taste what all the hype is about.

"I was just in Louisville at the Holy Grale (restaurant), and a guy came up to me and asked me if I was Drew Fox," he said. "The word's getting out."

Link to the article on NWI Times here. 

18th BAN ART presents works by Scott A. Shellhamer

Our second official art show is up in the brewpub and online. We are excited to present the work of Chicago based artist Scott A. Shellhamer. Shellhamer is a self taught artist whose works are energetic and chaotic but subtly layered and precise with detail.

Earlier this week I overheard a customer say of Shellhamer's 'FURTHER' painting;  'Look at that painting, its just white...I mean, its just a white...Wait, what is that--is that a skull...Whoa'. These works are as great when viewed from afar as they are when studied from 6" away. 

Scott A. Shellhamer's show will be hanging in the brewpub through late September. Get in to see it in person or check out the pieces in his BAN ART shop here. 

Guardian of the Barren Tundra

Guardian of the Barren Tundra

Number of the Beast II

Number of the Beast II

Further

Further

GRAPEFRUIT DEAD SOLD OUT IN OUR BOTTLE SHOP...

...but we've delivered a small number of bottles to the select NWI liquor stores 

Liquor Stop
9218 Indianapolis Blvd
Highland, IN

Delock's Liquors
1054 Joliet St
Dyer, IN

Cask & Cellar
2232 US 41
Schererville, IN

St. John Wine and Spirits
9540 Poplar LN
St. John, IN

Duneside Liquors
2681 Willowcreek Rd
Portage, IN

Pat's Liquor
1 US 20
Porter, IN

Nick's Liquor
8103 Taft
Merrillville, IN

Anna, our new Assistant Brewer

Anna has been with 18th Street for 5 months, she started out as a part-time bartender then quickly moved up to full-time bar manger. She is a super hard worker and knows her beer and customers. She has been working tirelessly to learn a new role in the brewery and I'm proud to announce that Anna will be our new assistant brewer. Pictured here she is brewing UNDERCROWN w Rich. Don't worry, you will still be able to catch Anna behind the bar slingin suds! 

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