Born and raised in the “region” (northwest Indiana), Sean Lewis graduated from Chesterton High School. After high school, he moved to the Indianapolis area where he worked several different jobs. Then he went on to Bloomington and studied radiation therapy at Ivy Tech. He graduated in the depths of the recession and spent two years looking for work in his field of study. Having no success with his job search, he started volunteering at Flat 12 Bier Werks.
On day one Lewis was filling growlers. Things progressed to cleaning kegs, cleaning tanks, and eventually, after about a year and a half, brewing beer. He has now been the Flat Twelve head brewer for a little over a year. He was also a successful home brewer winning a blue ribbon at the state fair for his Belgian Dark Strong named Perpetual Slumber which won a white ribbon two years later. He will be brewing this award winner at Flat 12 in December. Since starting at Flat 12, he has only found time to home brew about six times. He is, however, brewing some mead at home for fun.
Only two of Lewis’ recipes are currently in the Flat 12 lineup. However, like most brewers, he tweaks the existing recipes from time to time. The Wingteam, a double IPA, currently on tap in the tap room, is the brew that he has most enjoyed brewing at Flat 12, while his Belgian Dark Strong ranks as his most enjoyable home brew experience. The brew he has been savoring lately is the Hello My Name is Amber, an American Amber. This was once a core offering that he recently brought back as a seasonal. At 5.8 ABV it will “keep you warm at night.” However, he says that he may like the Walkabout Pale Ale as much as the Amber. The number one seller in the tap room has been pretty consistently Lewis’ Half Cycle IPA which also leads sales in distribution. However, his recently released Dan Patch Wit is nipping on Half Cycle’s heels in the tap room. Elwood (a White IPA) is a brew Lewis looks forward to brewing for November release.
Lewis likes the job because it involves a lot of chemistry, biology, and math. However, in addition to the science, the job also allows for a significant amount of creativity in formulating recipes, naming the brews, etc. He likes to balance the science and the art equally.
For those wanting to get into brewing, Lewis says you must be ready to do grunt work and work long hours. Understand that the pay is low and the work is hard. Furthermore, almost all breweries participate in multiple beer festivals which eat up a lot of time in the warmer months. It requires a love for the job. But, as Lewis says, “even on a bad day there is still beer here.”
In his spare time, Lewis keeps occupied with his toddler daughter and is celebrating the recent (9/15) birth of his son. It is a normal day when he arrives at the brewery at 3:00 AM. This enables him to get his brewing done and have time to pick up his daughter from school. Right now family and brewing are his life.
With a “thirty thousand dollar piece of paper sitting in a foot locker,” Sean Lewis has found a niche as one of Indiana’s premier craft brewers. Radiation therapy’s loss has become the brewing scene’s gain.