Jonathon Mullens took a long road to Indianapolis.Born in Decatur, Illinois, his family moved to California. Subsequently, he returned to Illinois after a year in Colorado and attended Eastern Illinois University. After spending some time perfecting his home brewing skills, he happened to meet up with the founder of Union Brewing Company in Carmel and participated in their first brew. He then took an office job for a while before returning to Union on a part time basis. He moved from Union to Flat 12 Bierwerks where he worked various jobs and further developed his craft. Then in November 2014 he took his current job as head (and only) brewer at the Broad Ripple Brewpub.
Mullens started with Broad Ripple Brewpub(BRBP) just before the pub’s 25th anniversary. He immediately gave some thought to brewing up something special to commemorate the occasion. His choice was as challenging as it was clever. He decided to bring in 25 pounds of grain from 25 different brewers. He would take and use the grain without having any input on that aspect of the anniversary brew. His contribution was to select the yeasts and hops as well as the brewing process. In order to help celebrate this impressive milestone, he enlisted the assistance of all the pub’s previous brewers. Only the pub’s original brewer was unable to participate as he was working in Texas at the time. The pub’s owner christened the brew, The Last Day of Camp, as in throwing all the leftover food at camp in the pot for lunch before leaving camp. The brew was a success. He barrel aged a portion of the brew and will release a keg of it on each future anniversary through the thirtieth.
As Broad Ripple Brewpub is an English style pub, Mullens keeps his brews authentic by using primarily imported English malts, yeasts, and hops. The ESB (extra special bitter) is the pub’s biggest staple and is the preferred brew of both he and the owner. He brews other ales and lagers to round out the pub’s offerings. These include the Lawn Mower Pale Ale, the Black Heart Lager, and the Monon Porter. He also experiments occasionally with twists of his own.
Mullens frequently interacts with the community and other brewers. If he tries another brewer’s offering that he feels is an exceptional brew, he makes a point to let them know that. He has taken the step of becoming a BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) certified judge which certainly lends to his professional bona fides. In furtherance of his craft, he has entered brews in various competitions in order to receive feedback both positive and negative. He weighs the judge’s assessments carefully to determine what might improve his product. He also participates as a judge occasionally which allows him to taste elements of various brews that are something he might not otherwise encounter.
When asked, Mullens’s advice to the novice brewer is to learn everything possible, study all aspects of the craft, and talk to other brewers. Other brewers are especially helpful and will share their knowledge of the industry readily. He feels it is especially important to be able accept criticism. It can be tough to take; grow a thick skin. Also, understand that criticism of a particular style of brew that the drinker does not generally enjoy to begin with is not something to be taken seriously. He emphasizes that one should never be reluctant to dump a batch if it is not up to expectations.
Broad Ripple Brewpub is very community oriented, especially in Broad Ripple, but also in the larger metropolitan area. Mullens speaks warmly of the collegiality and fraternity among the brewers in the area. He envisions more local pubs opening in the near term and openly welcomes them. BRBP is modeled on the traditional English neighborhood pub with the attendant group of regulars gathering to quaff a brew or two and enjoy the pub life. Jonathon Mullens has continued the BRBP’s tradition of offering authentically brewed British style beer as befitting Indiana’s original brew pub