One day, just maybe, Fort Wayne will have a “brewery on wheels.” But until then, you can look forward to the next best thing: a brick-and-mortar brewery launched by the talented team who brought you the Affiné food truck.
Sometime soon (in the first half of 2016, fingers crossed), Dan Campbell, Andrew Smith and Jack May will launch Junk Ditch Brewing Company. Located off of Main Street, the Junk Ditch building is tucked away, east of Leesburg Road and west of O’Sullivan’s. It takes its name from the actual Junk Ditch, which winds behind the brewery on its meandering path from Waynedale to Swinney Park.
Junk Ditch Brewing Company will be another entrepreneurial adventure for Dan, Andrew and Jack, but it won’t replace the food truck. While Affiné continues to supply duck confit tacos and pork belly bahn mis along its usual route, Junk Ditch will have its own unique menu. But just as they did with Affiné, the passions of the three chefs – handcrafted beer, seasonal flavors, locally sourced ingredients, and a “from scratch” philosophy – will shine through.
“Ultimately we enjoy beer and we enjoy creating,” says Jack. “Food and drink go hand in hand, and we wanted to bring the ‘everything local and in-house’ philosophy to Junk Ditch.
For Andrew, the idea for Junk Ditch had been brewing for quite awhile. “When I was on a vacation in Seattle I saw some local neighborhood breweries, and was very intrigued by the concept of a brewery in a city neighborhood. When I returned we started working on finding a building that would work.”
While the inspiration happened 2,000+ miles away, Andrew says they intend to keep the flavors close to home. “We will change menu items to showcase our Indiana farms. We want to be known for fresh ideas that are always changing.”
To wash down all the homegrown deliciousness, the Junk Ditch taps will feature a variety of beers, ready to drink by the pint or take home in kegs or growlers. The tap list will include an even mix of house-made brews and taps from the team’s favorite guest breweries.
Whether they’re making their own beer, featuring another brewery, or creating a new dish – quality and variety will drive the Junk Ditch approach. “The focus of in-house beers will to produce very high quality product,” says Andrew.
In addition to featuring the best brews, that approach also means continuing what they started with Affiné – including from-scratch breads, house-cured and processed meats, and fresh herbs and produce from a garden behind the Junk Ditch building. “The menu and beer list will be continually changing with the season, local availability and our creativity,” says Jack.
At Junk Ditch, you can definitely expect good brews and good grub. But in a city full of watering holes, don’t expect Junk Ditch to be “ just another bar.”
“It will be a restaurant with a casual feel and a refined menu,” says Jack. “We don’t have plans to be a ‘brewpub,’ a ‘gastropub,’ or fit into any category for that matter. We plan on being a brewery and a restaurant. We will have a family room as well as a bar. In the summer, we’ll have an amazing outdoor area, more akin to a park than a patio. The outdoor area will contain our garden, and it will be a great location for events.”
The beer-loving crew has spent plenty of time experimenting with small-scale brewing. And after a previous stint at Sun King in Indianapolis, Jack can’t wait to jump back in the brewing game – this time with greater creative freedom. “I’m excited to finally being able to produce beer on a commercial scale,” he says. “It’s always exciting to be able to cook for people, but creating the beverage is equally thrilling.”
If you’re ready to join the excitement, clear your schedule this weekend. On Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm, you can taste test the crew’s culinary creativity when they take over the Green Frog Inn kitchen to serve brunch.
No word if the Green Frog’s famous frog legs will make a menu appearance. But as any brunch fan knows – hollandaise sauce (or in this case, sambal aioli) makes everything taste amazing.
Junk Ditch Brewing Brunch
When: Sunday, Nov. 22; 10 am – 2 pm
Where: The Green Frog Inn
Who: Ages 21+ ONLY (a family room option will be added for future events)
For more info about brunch or the brewery, visit the Junk Ditch Facebook page.