A Laporte County resident since he was a toddler, Steve Murray graduated from New Prairie High School. After high school, he enrolled at Indiana University South Bend to study sculpture with an eye on teaching. Around this time he started home brewing. He left school and moved back to Michigan City after doing some bartending in South Bend. He and his brother got on at Greenbush Brewing Company across the border in Sawyer, Michigan where he tended bar. He would occasionally bring some of his home brews into Greenbush, which allowed them to see his talent as brewer. When they expanded production, Murray was asked to come on as one of the brewers, a job he kept for about two years. Meanwhile, Greenbush upgraded from their seven barrel brewing system to a fifteen barrel system. Having plans to open their own brewery at some point, he and his brother bought the old system which they kept in storage until they could make arrangements to open their own place.
After the passing of their father, Murray and his brother inherited their father’s construction company building in Michigan City. At first they sought to sell it as they did not think the building was big enough for a brewery. However, they decided to make it work, knocked down a couple of walls, and it became Burn ’Em.
The brew recipes at Burn ‘Em come from a variety of people. Although most are Murray’s and his partner Robert Austin’s, other recipes come from employees as well as collaborations Murray does with his brother who is a chef. Murray’s favorite brewing experience was a farmhouse table beer he calls the Cleetus. It is a Saison brewed with Brett that won gold at the State Fair. His bestselling brew in distribution is the Kreamed Corn, a cream ale that they brew with actual sweet corn that they cook down in the small batch kettle. This beer does well in the tap room. But, not as well as the Hop Parade which is his IPA that was originally developed during his home brewing days. Another big Burn ‘Em favorite is the the Fourteen Buck Chuck, a new pale ale. Murray does not have a single personal favorite brew on tap. He likes lagers and is currently savoring his ESB.
Although Burn ‘Em has a small lab, Murray considers himself more of an artist than a scientist. He relies on others on the team to count yeast cells for their brews. Recipe writing is a part of the brewing process that he really enjoys. Since opening the doors at Burn ‘Em in 2014, he has done hundreds of small batches. He says that he has a very good idea of what a beer will taste like as he is writing the recipe.
Playing music is what Murray likes to do when he is not brewing. For years he played guitar in a band and would do two and, sometimes four, shows a weekend. Another thing that keeps him busy is growing a large vegetable garden on his ten acre farm where he lives with his wife and dog. The dog, Harrison, comes to work at the brewery every day to hang with three other dogs in the fenced back yard or upstairs in the office. The other dogs belong to members of the Burn ‘Em crew. His garden produces a wide variety of veggies including cumbers that were used in a cucumber beer he brewed.
While Murray works his craft a very short distance from Lake Michigan and the Michigan state line, Burn ‘Em has done a nice job in getting his brews to a number of liquor stores, bars and restaurants throughout northern and central Indiana. Craft beer lovers may never make the trek to Michigan City to visit the tap room. However, finding Steve Murray’s brews locally would be well worth looking.