After growing up in Michigan (very close to Bell’s Brewery), Alan Simons moved to Alexandria, Indiana where he graduated from Alexandria High School. He went on to Ball State University and took a degree in photo journalism. After college, he did some photography work and got into the construction business doing residential remodeling in Hamilton County.
Following a move to Indianapolis, Simons developed an interest in beer and started volunteering at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery downtown where Jerry Sutherlin (Round Town Brewery) was then the head brewer. He also volunteered at the now defunct Alcatraz Brewing Company and at Ram Restaurant & Brewery. His first paid brewing job was at Three Wise Men Brewing Company when they first opened. Next, he went to Oaken Barrel Brewing Company as the assistant brewer under Mark Havens. When Havens moved on to Quaff On! Brewing Company, Simons took over as head brewer. Ultimately, he had the opportunity open St. Joseph which has proven quite a success.
As the seasons change, so does Simons’ taste for beer. In the summertime, he favors the lower ABV brews. He mentions the Sintennial Session IPA, the King James Brown (English) Ale, and the 64 Bit Wit as brews on tap currently as his likely selections of choice.
Simons brewed a couple of extract home brews but did not find that to his liking. It was the volunteering, extensive research, and relying on the brewers he worked for that enabled him to refine his craft. Although St. Joseph does not bottle or can, they do distribute Simons’ brews in kegs that can be found in Marion County and the surrounding counties.
A steam fired 15-barrel system is where Simons works his brewing magic. They have their own boiler to generate the steam. Having started with four 15-barrel fermenting tanks, they recently added a 30-barrel tank to the mix. Eight 15-barrel bright tanks provided plenty of conditioning capacity. Simons has his own in-house mill located in the basement of the building. The milled grain is transported up to the grist tank above the brew house via a chain and disc conveyor. He was part of the team that planned and installed the brewing equipment. He is able to brew at least two and occasionally three batches a week. The water profile for his brews are very important to Simons. St. Joseph boasts both a charcoal filtering system for city water and a reverse osmosis (RO) system. Depending on the brew, the water from these two systems can be blended for the right profile (with the occasional addition of some salts).
Most of the recipes for the brews on tap at St. Joseph are Simons’. However, he recently did a collaboration on a sour with Big Lug Canteen and another (a German pilsner) with Sun King Brewing Company. His assistant took the lead on another recent brew.
When not brewing, Simons enjoys mountain biking, bicycle touring, camping, and hiking. He and his wife like to camp in southern Indiana. They especially like Versailles State Park because she can paddle board while he can mountain bike there. They also spend time with their dogs, George (half poodle, half Wheaten Terrier) and Grits (a “scruffy mutt”).
St. Joseph is one of the few breweries in the state with an Executive Chef, Scott Reifenberger. When you visit them, you will find a wonderful opportunity to pair one of Alan Simons’ magnificent brews with some really first rate food. This is something all beer lovers should experience.