11 August 2010

A bouquet of beers at People's Brewing Company

It may be that 2006 N. 9th Street in Lafayette is the most pleasant smelling location in the world. There you will find a building that is half filled with flowers from a wholesale distributer, while the other half contains the malt and hop aromas that can only be created in a brewery. This is the home of People’s Brewing Company.

People’s is the brainchild of brewmaster Chris Johnson. He has a great level of comfort and experience with English-style ales thanks to his nine years in the brewery at the Lafayette Brewing Company (given that Lafayette’s Greg Emig spent time as Broad Ripple Brewpub’s brewer before forming LBC, you could say that People’s is the third generation in Indiana’s modern era of English style brewing).

But you can also give some thanks to Nick Floyd for the formation of People’s Brewing Company. Nick provided Chris with encouragement in starting his own brewery and followed it up with advice that can only come from fourteen years of brewing and opening of three different brewhouses. Given that relationship, it is no surprise that Chris is leaving his mark on every beer he brews. Which explains why People’s Pilsner and Aberrant Amber are on the hoppy end of the pilsner and amber spectrums; why you can find smokiness in the non-smoked Fiddlin’ Willies Scottish Ale; and why the very hoppy Mound Builder IPA manages to maintain an American malt base. Chris takes each style and gives it a unexpected twist (“It’s not normal,” he told me, “but I think that may be trademarked…”).

In the brewery, you will find a 20 barrel brewhouse with 40 barrel fermenters. They are currently producing 50 to 60 barrels a month. There is also a bottling line waiting to be assembled. Chris hopes to have packages of 12 ounce bottles of their pilsner, amber, and IPA available for purchase in early 2011. The bottling line is able to change over to “bombers” as well, so 22 ounce bottles could be in People’s future.

Depending on which aspect of the business you ask Chris about, he will tell you that People’s is doing moderately to very successful. People’s has 40 tap handles around Tippecanoe County, with another 15 to 20 around the state (they are distributed by Cavalier Distributing). What has been a complete surprise for Chris is the wild success of their tasting room. It is open five days a week for samples, pints, and growler carryout. And the sales in the tasting room have greatly exceeded their expectations.

Chris is excited to see where People’s goes from here. He will be very curious to see if he will see an influx of Purdue students this fall. In the long term, he wants to distribute to neighboring states. And he has an option to buy the building he is in (please note: the key to opening a successful brewery is a very, very good lawyer) and expand into the flower distributor’s space (replacing the floral aromas with the floral aromas of hops). In spite of having been open for nine months, if history is any indicator, People’s Brewing Company and Chris Johnson are certainly looking at a very successful future.

1 comment:

  1. I have been lucky to get People's IPA regularly at the Speedway Union Jack's and it is quickly turning into one of my favorite Indiana breweries. Also, I might add they were very nice to talk to at the Indiana Microbrew Fest last month. Here's to wishing them much future success!