Wednesday marked the soft opening for Tomlinson Tap Room, an Indiana-only craft beer bar that is partially owned by the Brewers of Indiana Guild and set in Indianapolis' City Market. Tomlinson is the latest idea in what has been a very long and costly effort to turn around the fortunes of the City Market, and there are reasons to be skeptical about its success.
"We're going in a direction that we haven't gone in before," said Jim Reilly, City Market's executive director. "We're getting kind of creative here.Is a bar the answer for 124 years of failure? I'm not so sure. But there are reasons for craft beer fans to be excited about Tomlinson.
"We just think it's the way to go," he said. " Quite frankly, over the past 124 years, nothing else has worked. We're being proactive here." Indianapolis Star, October 28, 2010.
First among those reasons is the availability of beer that doesn't make its way to Indianapolis all that often. The opening lineup included lesser seen beers from the likes of Mad Anthony, Lafayette, Big Woods, New Albanian, Crown, Peoples and Powerhouse, as well as a very special small batch offering from the likes of Three Floyds - Aotearoa. The 16 tap lineup is filled out by the likes of perennial Indianapolis favorites such Brugge, Sun King, Upland, Ram and Rock Bottom, giving not only locals but visitors a full selection of what Indiana has to offer.
If the lineup alone isn't enough reason to visit, growler fills of any beer in the lineup might be. Because the bar is owned by the Brewers Guild - and subsequently the breweries that make up the guild - Tomlinson will be the only place in town where you can get a growler filled from as many as 16 different breweries.
The success of the space might rely heavily on the continued availability of rare and one-off beers - there are certainly no lack of options when it comes to your beer dollar downtown. The space has always been great, and craft beer has certainly been a hot commodity recently. Here's hoping Tomlison can finally help the City Market find a winning formula for success.
Tomlison Tap Room
Grand Opening Wednesday November 24th
Indianapolis City Market Main Hall Upstairs (Southwest Corner)
Wednesday-Friday: Noon - 8:00pm-ish
Saturday: 11:00am - 5:00pm-ish
Closed Sunday - Tuesday (available for private events)