While all beer is not created equal at the very least it starts with simple and common ingredients. Simple enough that it’s possible for you to recreate your microbrewery favorites in your own home. For today’s column, I visited Indy’s one-stop shop for all things beer and homebrewing, Great Fermentations.
Located on 65th Street, Great Fermentations contains all the trappings of the local hobbyist’s haunt. Brewing equipment dominates the right side of the shop, with huge glass carboys and propane setups sitting content next to more technical fare, such as different gauges of tubing, gaskets, and the ever-important sanitizing chemicals. It’s clear that this area of the shop caters to the professional hobbyists, those who are just as obsessed with their brewing setup as they are with the product itself. The term “nerd” comes to mind, but in a comforting and admiring sense. Brewing “craft” rings more true here than on the packaging of Anheuser-Busch’s latest acquisition.
New brewers shouldn’t be discouraged though. If anything, the prominence of the hobbyist materials acts a teaser for what could be. Great Fermentations prides itself on being welcoming, both in the shop and as an introduction to the process of beer making. Starter kits, filled with all of the basics, can be purchased for those interested. What’s not included in the kit itself is provided at the counter and in consultation with the friendly staff. A customer clutching a kit cannot leave the store with at least a miniature (and free) bit of advice about which beers to try first, tips not to ignore, and a sentiment of good luck.
For those who are more serious, the fully equipped kitchen and learning center just next door is a great stop to get a proper education. Whether it’s beginning brewing, winemaking, or even cheesemaking, Great Fermentation’s classes matches the feeling of the store they’re attached to. The process and product are important, but the real reasons to go are the people and culture. Of course, a slight buzz helps.
Indianapolis, in general, already boasts great beer culture. Local eateries keeping Indy microbrews on tap and the microbreweries themselves have elevated beer culture in ways Miller High Life never could. Great Fermentations seems to have recognized the elevation and made it the heart of their business. Drinking beer is a social experience to begin with. Shouldn’t beer creation also share that social aspect? Great Fermentations answers with a resounding yes, and is doing all the right things to cultivate brewers and yeast alike.
Written by: Brian Banta