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Indiana's first brew pub: the Broad Ripple Brewing Co. and Brew Pub.

Beer has been the favorite drink of the pub goer for hundreds of years. Its English counterpart, known as ale, has been the central attraction in the more than 5,000 pubs that dot every village and neighborhood across Great Britain.

Last estimates place the number of beers at more than a thousand in this land whose population is less than a third of the United States'. One of the reasons for this abundance is the profusion of local breweries and the intense loyalties that they generate. In many cases limited production means ales are available only close to the source.

The nearest thing to this phenomenon in North America has been the microbrewery, defined as a brewery that produces fewer than 100,000 barrels a year. A related development in the past decade has been the brew pub, a pub that makes its own beer on or near the premises. In 1982, there were only a dozen such establishments on this side of the Atlantic. Now there are more than 300.

The first development of its kind in Indiana--the Broad Ripple Brewing Co. and Broad Ripple Brew Pub--opened last fall under the guidance of Nancy and John Hill. The Hills also are proprietors of the Corner Wine Bar, one of the most popular eating places in the Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis, as well as the Wellington, their British pub next door.

Among the first in Indiana to sell the beers of his native Britain, John Hill set out to capture in his brewery what could not be bottled--the local distinctive taste of a high-quality ale. As in his former Yorkshire haunts, the focal point of his pub is the beer he produces.

Although familiar with the brewing process through frequent meetings with neighbors who brew beer in their homes, John enrolled in the Seibel Institute in Chicago, the foremost brewing school east of the University of California at Davis. Her personally renovated the old Broad Ripple Auto Parts store, installed wainscoting, a cast-iron fireplace and a turn-of-the-century pressed-tin ceiling that was rescued from a downtown building about to be demolished. One side of the building houses the brewery, while the other houses the brew pub.

From the pub side, patrons can peer through leaded-glass windows to see the working elements of the brewery. The three stainless-steel fermenters that each can hold 220 gallons (seven barrels) were custom-built by Century Manufacturing of Richmond. Overlooking the fermenters and Lauter tun, which is another stainless tank where the hops are added, is the malting room. It is there where the bags of malted English barley arrive and await the descent into the boiler below.

The Hills can brew two different types of beer at the same time, and the brewing process takes about two weeks. Thus, it is possible to sample four different locally brewed beers at the brew pub over the course of any given month. Summer will see the lighter pale ales, which are about as light in color as English beers get, or bitters, a lighter-weight, hoppier, thirstquenching brew. The colder seasons will feature stout, which is also an ale but made with roasted barley.

The house Porter is a dark, heavy and creamy beer that is less "hoppy" than the Brew Pub's other beers. The "ESB," or extra-special bitter, is the establishment's flagship beer; it is golden and has a sharp taste of hops. After emptying a pint of one of these, the foamy sides of the glass leave no doubt that real ale has been consumed.

The Broad Ripple Brew Pub's beer list includes the brews of several Midwestern microbreweries and a few from the West Coast. These are bottled, but the local brew is served on draught in traditional flat-bottomed, handle-less 20-ounce glasses.

The menu complements the beer. It includes pasta in its various forms, beef burgers, fish and chips, Scotch eggs (a combination of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried) and vegetarian dishes such as the "nutty burger."

The Broad Ripple Brewing Co. and the Brew Pub are located north of the canal in Broad Ripple at the corner of 65th Street and Cornell Avenue. It is in a neighborhood of small shops and houses, much like the environs of the typical English pub. It is not surprising, then, to hear John Hill describe his and Nancy's goal: "to build a place we would want to go."
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Title Annotation:Indianapolis, Indiana
Author:Shepherdson, L.M.
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Article Type:Biography
Date:May 1, 1991
Words:736
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