Growing up on the northwest side on Indianapolis, Nic Stauch graduated from Pike High School. He then went on to Indiana University graduating with a political science degree. He also took several courses in physical science as well, which provides some good foundation for his craft. He brewed his first beer over seventeen years ago at home and continued home brewing off and on until he and his partners decided to step up to a bigger operation. At first, they donated the beer they brewed to local charitable events. This resulted in quite a bit of a following that convinced them the time had come to find a location and open up a commercial brewery.
After a bit of searching, Stauch and his partners settled on the west 79th Street location
and spent nearly seven months getting up and running. For the first two years or so, he was brewing on a large (45 gallons) home brew system. The three and a half barrel system he is now using has allowed him to keep his staple brews (like Bacon Face) consistently on tap. It has also made it possible to send some kegs out to some purveyors of fine brews all the way from Wabash to south of town.
Stuach’s favorite step in the brewing process is the actual brew, combining the various ingredients to make a product that is far from beer but will become beer after fermentation. He notes that the brew is also the easiest part. The cellaring, cleaning, and other steps are all equally important. However, they are more of a “pain” than the brew.
When asked which of his brews is his favorite, Stauch replies, “that’s like asking which of my kids is my favorite.” Upon some reflection he allows that he really likes his Bobby Burns Scottish Ale. He calls it, “an even, well balanced, sessionable beer.” He recently brewed an east coast IPA that turned out to be one of his favorite IPAs. His palate changes from time to time like many of us and that leaves him unable to declare one and only one brew to be his favorite. His bestselling beer at Wabash rotates between the Bacon Face Brown Ale and whatever IPA happens to be on tap. He has been working on a low carb beer that is an, “extremely flavorful, much hoppier, very light bodied beer.” It is not lagered. It is an ale. Testing on the different test batches confirms that it is well within the spectrum of being low carb. A full brew of the beer is almost ready and will be tested to see if it worked. He has already identified a group of consumers for this type of brew. They are a group of fitness buffs who use a gym close to the Wabash location. Another beer on his top shelf list is the Cascarillo, a hefe/pale combo that derives its name from the Cascade and Amarillo hops used to brew it.
The first brew Stauch did in the larger system was the Waapaahsiiki Blonde Ale. This turned out to resemble more of pale ale than the intended blonde, drinkable, but not what he was hoping for. By the time he did the third batch on this system, he had the equipment all dialed in and has been coaxing excellent brews from it consistently ever since. With the additional capacity, he has gotten to the point where he now has time to focus on other projects like upgrading and adding to the brewery’s physical plant and also getting out into the community to do some collaboration brewing.
If you are interested in getting into brewing, Stauch suggests that you go volunteer which will get you in on the bottom of the ladder cleaning things. Brewing can be an ugly, dirty business with setbacks and obstacles that can only be overcome by passion, hard work, and dedication. “Learn yeast. It can be your friend and your enemy.” It does not matter how well capitalized you are. Money cannot replace the determination, attention to detail, and flat out hard work that is the foundation of a successful brewery. Nic Stauch is the personification of these characteristics.