Born in Marion, Indiana, Derek Herring graduated from Eastbrook High School. He went on to Rose Hulman Institute of Technology where he studied mechanical engineering. His first job was in Indianapolis where he worked as an oil engineer. Subsequently, he moved to California and took a job as a park ranger. He tired of ranger work after a couple of years. Meanwhile, he started volunteering at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, eventually getting hired on as a keg wrangler. When he left Sierra Nevada, he traveled around some and found his way back to Indy where he went to work at the now defunct Cutters Brewing Company in Avon.
Although Herring’s father was a home brewer, he never paid much attention to the process. He credits the then head brewer at Cutters, Dustin Brown, with teaching him how to brew beer. When Brown moved on from Cutters to help start up the new Danny Boy Beer Works in Carmel, Herring went with him. After a little over two years at Danny Boy, Herring left to start up Centerpoint Brewing Company where he is their first and only brewer. He is fascinated with the lab work involved in brewing and is fortunate to have one of the very few labs found in the local brewing community. This lab enables him to keep a tight rein on quality control, especially the water profile. He pulls samples of the brew at various stages to ensure that it is 100% clean. Another aspect of the brewing process that he enjoys is recipe creation. He considers himself a chef saying, “you take a whole bunch of different ingredients, combine them together and you get different flavor profiles based on how you combine the ingredients and what ingredients you use.” He likes to cook and to create food recipes as well.
Herring’s all-time favorite brew was a collaboration done at Centerpoint with Danny Boy’s Dustin Brown. It was an imperial IPA that used all Indiana grains and all Indiana hops. He took great satisfaction in working with his old mentor on the brew. The bestselling brew in the tap room is the Centerpoint Gold which is a Kolsch style beer. His Blood Orange IPA is also currently, “flying off the shelves.” The Berliner Weisse is his favorite brew currently on tap. Due to its low ABV, he can enjoy it all day while he brews. Something that Herring has looked forward to is a collaboration with Matt Pennington at Union Brewing Company in Carmel. The brew is an authentic English ale and will be dispensed in the tap room using one of Union’s beer engines and hand pulls. Herring is currently turning his attention to lagers which use simple grains and hops with the process being the essential part of the recipe.
Volunteering and perseverance are the two things Herring recommends to the would-be brewer. Don’t get upset when mopping and squeegee work seems to be your life. Also, “don’t quit your day job.”
When he is lucky enough to get away from the brew deck, Herring enjoys back packing, mountain climbing, and mountain biking. It has been a while since he has done any summiting what with assisting in opening Danny Boy and opening Centerpoint. When he does get out, he will travel to Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado, and even California to pursue this passion.