Hoosier Beer Geek worked with Metromix to create their 2010 Local Brewing Guide. It was published in the November 18th issue and we are republishing the interviews we conducted. Enjoy!
Ram Restaurant and Brewery, est. 2000
Brewpub: 140 S. Illinois Street, Indianapolis, Ph: 317-955-9900
Restaurant and Taproom: 12750 Parkside Drive, Fishers, Ph: 317-596-0079
When Andrew Castner graduated from Indiana University in 2003, he thought he’d spend his professional life behind a video camera. Instead, he spends his time with his head inside of a fermenter. He had picked up a part-time server job at Oaken Barrel to supplement his income. When brewer Ken Price had an opening in the brewhouse, he thought, “That would be fun.” A year later, he was working full time in the brewery. And brewing has won out over communications.
In May, he accepted his first head brewer job at the Ram Restaurant and Brewery chain’s downtown Indianapolis brewhouse. “From one Ram to another, you’ll find a lot of consistency,” Castner says. “We aim that our house beers are going to be consistent. Everything is very specific. There are a lot of controls in place.”
He has the added challenge of brewing for two locations and managing their inventories. “We put a major emphasis on freshness, so when I brew a beer, the beer that’s on the serving tank (downtown) is kegged off for Fishers. And we want those beers to move within a four week time period.”
There are a lot of positives working for the Ram chain. “I have the greatest job in the world. All the tools are in place for a brewer to brew some really good beer. Between [the chain’s fourteen brewers], I have a lot of resources to pick from. And they grant us permission to do our own seasonals. I try to vary it up. I enjoy doing seasonals that I only get to do once a year.”
Castner’s seasonals will cover a lot of styles, but “I try to do lagers as much as I can. I find them challenging, but I find them fun.” Brewing and fermenting temperatures factor into the success of a beer recipe. The yeasts used in lagers require lower temperatures than those used in ales, which is why lagers were historically brewed in areas with cooler climates. They require more time and labor, but many brewers, like Castner, find brewing lagers to be a labor of love.
Regular Beers (styles in parenthesis): Indy Blonde (light ale), Big Horn Hefeweizen (German Hefeweizen), Butt Face Amber (Amber Ale), 71 (Pale Ale), Big Red (IPA), Total Disorder (Porter)
Seasonals: Three to five seasonals on tap at a time; approximately 15 different seasonals a year, including a Belgian Wit, Oktoberfest, a varying winter beer, and a Maibock.
Events: Brewers dinners; tapping events