Originally from Scottsburg, Indiana and a graduate of Scottsburg High School, Mike Grap moved to Seattle, Washington at age twenty-two. While in Seattle, he tended bar and started home brewing. From there he moved to Alabama where he worked mostly front of the house at Mr. Jim’s Cannon Brew Pub in Mobile. At that time in Alabama, craft beer was hard to find which made it more important that his home brew quality improve. He eventually moved Louisiana and continued to home brew and bartend in Baton Rouge. After a move to New Orleans, he got on in the front of the house at Crescent City Brewpub, but looked over the brewer’s shoulder when he could. On his days off, he would volunteer at NOLA Brewing Company which involved cleaning kegs, cleaning floors, and cleaning equipment. That volunteer work led to a job offer that kept Grap employed there for six years.
Grap’s family situation led to a move back to Indiana where he drove a truck for Cavalier Distributing until his resume came to the attention of the folks at Fountain Square Brewing Company. He accepted the head brewer position and has settled in comfortably. He brews on a steam jacketed 15 barrel system which was the now defunct Alcatraz Brewing Company’s brewhouse. He has four 30 barrel and five 15 barrel fermenters, as well as 2 thirty barrel lagering tanks and a thirty barrel bright tank. A typical week for Grap involves doing five brews although he occasionally will do as many as seven.
One of Grap’s current favorite brews is the Wheels of Soul Lager now on tap at Fountain Square which was his first lager. He also recalls the Rebirth American Pale Ale that he brewed at NOLA which was his recipe inspired by a home brew he had done. Working Man’s Pilsner is Fountain Square’s best seller in distribution and in the tap room and has been for a long time. He brews thirty barrels of this staple each week. Coming in second is the Hop for Teacher Pale Ale. His brews are distributed throughout Indiana. He is looking forward to brewing the Cinnamon Girl which is a fall seasonal brewed with cinnamon and vanilla. A number of other brews are in the pipeline as well. He is planning a series of seasonal brews named after some of the regional bands that play at the tap room.
Grap is doing a lot of experimenting with different hops. He is putting unusual hops in some of his staple brews to see what he gets. Meanwhile, he is dry hopping individual kegs as he says, “because, why not?” A double batch brew is something Grap really enjoys. The aroma of the brew while mashing in the mash tun when the wort from the first round is boiling is something he savors.
When he is not brewing, Grap loves live music, fishing, and drinking beer. However, based on the laundry list of seasonal and experimental brews that he has described coming up at Fountain Square, the fish are probably safe for the foreseeable future.