Brewery Spotlight: Indiana City Brewing Company

Avid home brewer and Indianapolis native, Ray Kamstra, spent ten years in Chicago just as the craft brewing scene there was heating up. Other home brewers were moving up to opening their own craft breweries with a fair amount of success. He was enamored of the process of brewing unique craft recipes, branding the product and sharing it with the world. When their daughter was born, the Kamstras moved back to Indy to be closer to their families. The birth of his daughter led Kamstra to re-evaluate his focus. He did not want to tell his child that learning a trade and working in a cubicle was the path to fulfillment when he knew that he was destined to move beyond that nonsense.

Leaving Chicago meant Kamstra leaving his job there. Indianapolis had grown and matured quite a bit while the Kamstras were away. He was both pleased and proud of his home town, resolved to open a brewery, and immediately started putting together business plans to that end. A Kickstrarter campaign raised a little over $35,000.00 bettering a goal of 34K which allowed the brewery to find a home in the old bottling house of the Home Brewing Company, a pre-prohibition brewery. Among other considerations relating to the business was settling on a name for the brewery. Given the new found location at 24 Shelby Street near downtown Indianapolis, it seemed natural to honor Indiana’s largest city with the name Indiana City Brewing Company.

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Starting out with a “glorified home brew set up” that produced just under two barrel batches which, when they brewed four batches a day, almost filled their seven barrel fermenter. This labor intensive beginning involved twelve to thirteen hour days and resulted in high quality beer with great branding. Year one (2013) yielded 187 barrels of brew that was nearly all consumed in the tap room on the premises with only a very small amount going out into distribution. In May of 2013 Indiana City opened with four beers on tap, three of which are still in the lineup while one is still brewed occasionally. Now, five years later, the goal is to get to the 2,000 barrel mark. That seems quite doable with the ten barrel brew house and 4 thirty barrel fermenters (one of which is used as a bright tank) now in production beside the original seven barrel fermenter.

In the beginning, only a few lucky spots close by the brewery were able to serve up Indiana City brews. Now distribution is all around the greater Indianapolis area and focuses on smaller batch brews coming out of the original seven barrel fermenter that is still going strong. Demand has increased to the point that larger limited releases are being produced thirty barrels at a time. This allows plenty of kegs for the bars and restaurants, and also some brew for canning (16 ounce four packs) and distribution to the brewery’s liquor store and grocery accounts. All of this growth has not diminished Kamstra’s focus on customer experience.

In the house at Indiana City you will find a comfortable tap room that is open seven days a week. Check the website to confirm hours of operation – The extensive beer offerings can also be found on the web site. They include the flagship beers like Shadow Boxer, Yacht Rock, and Tribute as well as numerous seasonal and specialty brews. Around twice a month the huge industrial events space adjoining the tap room features great local and regional bands. The room really lends itself to heavy metal which is most often on the music menu. A sponsorship with Auralex Acoustic, Inc. has the place well-tuned for sound. Sam Ash Music Stores donated microphones, stands, and cables to go with the speakers and other gear picked up at auction. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events –Indiana City Brewing Company.

Fridays are an $8.00 four pack can special and Sundays are half price growler fills. You can hire the hall for private events which has successfully hosted weddings, receptions, and other special occasions. Contact Nicole at  for more information and to make arrangements. Third Thursdays will find the Craft Brew Doodle Crew at work on their latest musical chairs style, collaborative art where ten artists move through ten stations each contributing a unique piece of their own style to every one of the differently themed works.

Having recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, Indiana City Brewing Company is on an upward trajectory – a very good sign for a craft brewery. With a steadily expanding distribution footprint and growing brand recognition, Ray Kamstra’s vision has become a reality. This is a very good thing for Hagrid and Maggie, the two cats who keep the brewery free from varmints, and feel like they own the place.

Categories: Brewery Spotlight

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