I was first introduced to Central State Brewing through a twitter thread I saw that included an otter. I will let that settle in because in the past 12 months, I have met the three caballeros behind these shenanigans, Jake, Josh, and Chris. These three have created not only some of my favorite beers, but also my favorite bar in Indianapolis.
I remember scrolling through information and realizing Central State was in Indianapolis and it was an entirely Brett and mixed fermentation brewery. I was excited because growing up in an Indiana suburb just 20 minutes north meant I would have access to their beer. Back in February I made a special trip from Bloomington, IN, where I was finishing up school, to stop by CSB’s bar, The Koelschip.
Just north of downtown Indianapolis near Fall Creek, you can find the bar with the name synonymous with brewing. (A koelschip or coolship is a fermentation vessel that allows the hot unfermented wort to cool in a large open-air shallow pan. This wort then picks up micro flora in the air and the brewer gets spontaneous fermentation). Here, I had met up with a college friend who worked with an Indiana beer website. He and I sat at the long angled bar and immediately began talking about as you might guess, beer. To our right and the gentleman who began to answer my questions about Brett based beers and CSB was Chris Bly.
Months later at Rock the Junction Craft Beer & Music Festival in Westfield, IN, I met Jake Koeneman pouring Halsdurchschlag (Throat Punch - Berliner Weisse, 4.5% ABV) and Are We Doing This Right? (Off Color Brewing collab - Brown Ale, 6.2% ABV). I posted up here for a bulk of the festival drinking a little a Brett Arnold Palmer and talking about their work.
This last weekend, I finally met Josh Hambright at Winter Warmers, a Nashville beer festival. With the recent Gute Nacht (a Farmhouse Stout, 8% ABV) release, I asked him about packaging, labels vs. shrink-wrap and what it will look like moving forward. These decisions fascinate me sometimes as much as beer. Almost a full year since my first sip of Lazer Raptor (a Cranberry Lime Gose, 5.9% ABV), a lot has changed. As a brewery they have achieved placement in some of the most respected restaurants and bars in the Midwest.
A House became a Table, a production space of their own was announced, and the addition of a German-influenced bar and beer garden came to light. It seems like the three are working at warp speed, although I am sure in the heat of the moment it all seems to be agonizingly difficult at times. Through all of this though the three have added staff for their bar and added sales support with a friend of mine, Adam Schick. (I first met Adam through our mutual friend who works with the Indiana beer website. At the time Adam was working for the website and the three of us and another gentleman met up at Taxman Brewing Co. in Bargersville, IN).
All of this doesn’t explain why I appreciate these three and why I was so excited when Central State Brewing launched. Indianapolis has grown to have a large number of breweries brewing good beer. These Indy breweries opened their doors with IPAs and flavored stouts. Some of these beers are good and some are fantastic, but the guys at CSB opened with a different focus as a brewery. As a drinker I found this new focus to be the most engaging and biggest learning opportunity for me in beer.
I have a strong commitment to supporting them because I appreciate them for being honest and forward about current issues, for being open and insightful to the industry, and for continuing to push forward beer in the state I will always call home. All of this together is why when I visit home in Indiana; I always stop by to say hi and to grab a beer.
Thank you Jake, Josh, and Chris.
To any reader– Go to The Koelschip for some Dark Matter coffee or some TABLE (a Rustic Blonde Ale, 4% ABV) because beyond one of the best tap lists in the city, is a group of guys whom I look up to and who I support. If you want to hear more about them than this simple post, listen to them on Good Beer Hunting with Michael Kiser.