Aaron Koerner hails from the south side of Indianapolis and Southport High School. He knew several foreign exchange students growing up, many of whom were German. After graduation from high school and some unsatisfactory jobs, he and one of his German friends were wondering about the future. His German friend said, “We should make beer.” He started his brewing journey by volunteering at Oaken Barrel Brewery in Greenwood for a couple of years. His first title there was “squeegee bitch.” Subsequently, he was hired on and participated in a 30 barrel expansion at the facility. After two years on the Oaken Barrel payroll, he moved to Oregon.
In Oregon, Koerner got a head brewer job at Fearless Brewing Company in Estacada. Unhappy there, he moved to Sandy where he and another ex-Fearless brewer opened Bunsen (as in Bunsen burner) Brewing which was themed after scientists and had a laboratory décor. Koerner also picked up some work in Sandy at the Bhudda Kat Winery where he developed some vintner skills and took on the head vintner role for rest of the season. His work producing a cider using 14,000 pounds of apples was a very labor intensive process. He finished the job in very good physical condition.
As a result of his success in Oregon, Koerner received several job offers including head brewer positions at breweries in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indianapolis. The Indiana job had the greatest appeal. He took that one and it turned in to Metazoa Brewing Company which was started from scratch. After about two years at Metazoa, he moved on to Tow Yard Brewing on February 2, 2017. He is fine tuning the existing Tow Yard recipes and has been given a free hand to craft the seasonal brews, the first of which will be a Hefe-weisse.
Koerner, like many brewers, takes a good deal of satisfaction in doing the grunt work like cleaning the mash tun. He also enjoys the mashing in process. The brew he made that he savors most is an East Anglian bitter on tap at Metazoa, the Jacks or Bitter. Having spent a week in England, he fell in love with that style of beer which is typified by the Adnam’s Southwold Bitter. He likes to achieve balance in his brews by using English malts. The two best sellers at Tow Yard are the Hook Up Shandy and the Impound IPA. Koerner’s drink of choice at Tow Yard is a blend of three different beers.
Koerner’s brewing history includes only four of his own home brews, although he has helped other home brewers with numerous batches. He has assisted them both with recipe development and the brewing process.
Koerner describes the Indiana brewing community as “tight.” He says everyone knows everyone, even the newbies. He came into brewing at a time when the Indiana brewing scene was beginning to take off. This allowed him to be familiar with the older brewers who have now been brewing for ten or more years as well as the newer folks who have
just moved up from home brewing or have brewing degrees. His advice to someone wanting to get in to brewing is to not do it for money. Do it for yourself. It requires passion and dedication. Starting a brewery involves a tremendous commitment and long hours. He says that the brewing community is there to help with questions about anything whether it be equipment, process, or ingredients. Everyone has to find their own method. However, no one should ever be embarrassed to ask for help.