If you’ve visited the Hoppy Gnome on the ground floor of the Anthony Wayne building downtown recently, you might have noticed some construction in progress across the hallway. I am excited to report that Fort Wayne will be home to its very own brewery – GnomeTown Brewing Co. – brought to us by partners James Khan, Pete Shuey, and Lysa Pelkington. It will be a “Brew on Premise” concept and will be the first commercial brewery to offer its guests the opportunity to create their own beer with the added expertise of a professional brewing instructor.
I sat down with Khan, who I’m pretty certain never sleeps as he is also involved with The Hoppy Gnome and BakerStreet Steakhouse, to ask him about this new addition to downtown Fort Wayne. Khan stated that the vision was to create something unique to Fort Wayne that would draw people downtown. Khan’s partner Pete Shuey lived in Southern California for 15 years and experienced first hand the explosion of the craft beer scene. The popularity of craft beer naturally progressed into an increase in home brewing. While home brewing is incredibly popular, it takes up an inordinate amount of space and uses quite a bit of specialized equipment…not to mention the weird smells and mess. This is where the “brew-on-premise” idea has come into play, which will allow Gnometown’s guests the opportunity to customize and brew their own beer without any of the hassle.
Khan mentioned that brewing beer is an artistic science. While there is the creative piece of what notes, flavor and color you wish your beer to have, there is a distinct science to it, such as the timing of steeping the grain, adding the hops, and even the temperature for the mash. There are many chemical and technical reactions that must take place within a degree of perfection. In designing their facility and process, a tour was made of the Saugatuck Brewing Company to determine best practices to ensure quality beer craftsmanship, while still providing the guest-centered focus that Hoppy Gnome and BakerStreet are famous for.
GnomeTown Brewing Co. will have a brewing instructor on staff to help you craft your beer as well as the ability to create custom labels for your beer bottles. While you will need reservations to brew you can also choose to rent a room or rent the whole brewery if you wish to accommodate more people for a brewing party. You can brew anything from 5 gallons to a full keg of beer. There will be multiple options for brewing depending on your skill level. If you know nothing (raises hand), you can tell the instructor what kind of beer you like (Zombie Dust or Yuengling anyone?) and they can help you create something similar. Another option would be to opt for a guided brew where you may know you like an IPA so they will have the base recipe for you and you can determine what notes you want to add. If you are a beer brewing connoisseur, and perhaps moonlight as a brew master yourself, you can have your experience tailored start to finish as detailed as you would like it.
On your first day of brewing it will take 2-3 hours to make the beer, depending on how involved you wish to be. GnomeTown Brewing’s brewers will then take care of fermenting the beer, which is the most scientific and labor-intensive part of crafting beer. In 2-3 weeks when that process has been completed, you can come back to bottle your beers and label them….oh and drink them!
Projected to open Fall 2016, GnomeTown Brewing Co. will be a fantastic addition to downtown Fort Wayne. Follow their progress on Twitter @gnometown_brew or on the Hoppy Gnome Facebook page to see what exciting things are on the horizon for Fort Wayne’s beer scene!