Born near Montrose, Scotland, John Treeter was raised in Greenwood and attended Greenwood High School. His family moved from Scotland (his father was in the military) when he was a small child. He has no memory of that time. Years later, he met some of the maltsters from Simpsons (a malt supplier in the United Kingdom) who told him they have Golden Promise planted all around the Montrose area. This has influenced Treeter to use a good bit of this malt in his brews.
After his partying got in the way of college, Treeter took a job as a machinist in an old school machine shop. Being good with his hands and with math served him well. He spent some time as woodworker before moving to Arizona where he attempted to make a living as a musician. After he determined that being poor and hungry was no way to go through life, he returned to Indiana and woodworking. When he and his wife started a family, it was time to get real. He became a stay at home dad with a part time gig at a liquor store. After all, he still liked beer. His family bought him a home brew kit that he turned into an absolutely awful beer. His second batch was not much better.
Treeter and his dad frequented the Oaken Barrel Brewing Company. He had read an article suggesting that home brewers should get advice from the local breweries; so he did. He got to know the owner and became the squeegee bitch in the brewery. Brewing came easy to him with his aptitude for math and his appreciation for working with his hands. Eventually, he was promoted to assistant brewer.
When the head brewer job came open at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub, Treeter jumped at the opportunity. After two years there, he was delighted to return to Oaken Barrel as head brewer since he was still living in Greenwood.
Treeter describes his all-time favorite brew as a collaboration during his early days with a home brew club called Mecca. This group would come into Oaken Barrel, sit on buckets, and drink each other’s beer. He says he learned a lot from those guys, many of whom were from Lilly and, “smarter than hell.” They decided to do a pro-am brew called the Big Hitter Barleywine. They got some port barrels from a winery and barrel aged some of the brew which was “amazing.” It won several medals over several years at the State Fair.
Treeter says his favorite step in the brewing process is quality control, the end product. He goes on to say the he is fascinated by much of the process such as the science behind it and its history. He also enjoys brewing a batch on the fly without working out the recipe first. He does this from time to time with his seasonal brews, not knowing what he will get but confident that the brew will be a good one.
Indiana Amber is the top seller at Oaken Barrel. Depending on the time of year, other brews are very popular like the Snake Pit Porter in the winter time and the Alabaster Belgian Wit in the warmer months. On Thursdays (growler days), they sell a lot of Gnawbone which is an American Pale Ale. Treeter’s personal Oaken Barrel favorite is, “always the next one,” although he does like the Gnawbone, a brew he has spent a great deal of effort developing. Every year he brews a Firehouse Lager to celebrate the Greenwood Fire Department with whom Oaken Barrel has a great relationship.
Home brew first is Treeter’s advice to the would be brewer. Be sure you like it. He emphasizes that the biggest difference between professional brewing and home brewing
is that as a professional, you have put the customer first. It is the customer’s tastes and preferences that drive a successful brewery. He also says you need a good pair of rubber boots and to be ready to be a janitor 95% of the time. He also believes that in the current industry climate, given the proliferation of breweries in the state, some formal education/training is very important.
Treeter feels very comfortable at Oaken Barrel. Greenwood is his home and Oaken Barrel is very much a family oriented part of the Greenwood Community. They are fortunate to have John Treeter brewing his excellent beer right in their back yard.