If 2020 was a beer what would you name it? I can think of clever options. From COVID to sports bubbles, reality show elections, and my favorite, murder hornets! I have confidence we will see some fun ones soon.
All that said when was the last time you ventured to a local brewery? No, I’m not talking about walking to the fridge in pajamas after 4 hours of zoom calls for a 2 pm brewski. I get it, we all get it, COVID has taken a toll on being able to belly up to the bar rail, smell the sweet hops aroma, and order a delicious nectar of the Gods. So as breweries begin to re-open, what’s stopping you from venturing out?
I took to social media to ask the question. The responses flooded in. How many at each table? How their menus are made available? Mask? Sanitizer? I realized there were a lot of different ways people think about their safety when being in public. So being a beer expert, as in I enjoy a pint, or two, or a few with friends, I felt the calling to investigate.
The experiment: Visit local breweries around Indianapolis that have an outdoor patio. Enjoy at least one beverage while taking note of the following:
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Patio Environment
I visited four breweries on this tour, and before you ask about why I did not go to this place or that place, note there are only so many beers you can have while safely riding a bike. I’ll make recommendations for the next tour.
St Joseph Brewery & Public House:
I must confess starting here was a smart move to get some great food, but that blog will be for another time. The server wore his mask the entire time welcoming me to the small tables on the patio that were shaded by umbrellas. The paper menus listed the beverages and water was brought in a big glass so I could self-pour. Making a pit stop at the restroom on my way out there was clear directional signage and specific markings limiting the number of people in the facilities at one time.
Sun King Brewery Downtown:
A shandy ride over to one of the most prominent Indy breweries, the massive Sun King Brewing logo was calling my name. A straight walk from the bike rack to the patio I grabbed the corner seat with a clear view of other patrons and servers. I started to move the mini menu off the table, only to realize it was a QR Code style menu. Yes, QR codes have made a comeback. The masked up server stood his distance to take my order. This was the first time I had seen multiple families with kids on the patio. They all had their masks enjoying the nice day. Stopping in to check out the inside signage I was greeted by a staff member who was also kindly reminding people to have their masks on when not at their seats. A big wave to my buddy Zaius the RCA Dome Yeti and I was back on the trail to the next brewery.
Upland Brewery Company Fountain Square:
My longest segment I burned rubber at dragonfly speed to fountain square. A short walk through the building then out into the patio. One of the coolest outdoor areas with big picnic style tables covered in various shading textures. The waitress was polite and made sure I understood the COVID changes. This was where I first noticed the gloves! Yep, the staff was wearing gloves. About halfway through my golden suds, I saw a young man get up from his table to break the seal but had forgotten his mask. Quickly a woman behind the bar and hostess got the man’s attention to remind him about wearing his mask when not seated. One of the easiest breweries to navigate, its open-air concept made the space feel comfortable no matter if I was inside or outside.
Indiana City Brewing Company:
A rock skip away had me arriving at the sudden sharp sounds of a huge party! Wait… you didn’t believe that? This is a COVID brewery experiment. What I meant to say was I arrived at Indiana City and thought “Wow, what a ghost town.” No noise, nobody sitting outside, but the doors were open, so I walked on in. Speaking with the brew-tender I learned quickly that they were carryout only, hints at the lack of social distance drinkers. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, or a delicious beer, I bought a 6 pack and proceeded to drink in the parking lot patio. A small simple area with picnic tables and umbrellas, there was a lot of room to spread out. Before heading out I thanked the masked brew-tender and took a few minutes to appreciate their aesthetic mural on the sidewall of their parking lot.
Indianapolis breweries are doing their part. They are adjusting just like the rest of us. I felt safe and welcomed at each location. The conversations I had were with genuine people who want to make the brewery experiment about protecting their customers and employees. So do me a favor, don’t discount the breweries and their staff! And if you are concerned, they are happy to take a phone call before you arrive to answer any question. Cheers!
Bonus: There are hints woven into each paragraph eluding to the beer I had at each brewery. Can you figure it out?
Jaden Brown moved to Indianapolis from Terre Haute in 2012. He has worked for his fraternity headquarters for the past 8 years serving as a consultant to 30+ chapters across the country then moving into the role of Director of Chapter Services. His day to day is managing a team of young consultants and providing coaching to college students in the fraternity system. He specializes in using personality assessments to help others find their strengths and learn how to navigate life. Outside of the office, you can find Jaden exploring the Circle City through the November Project, local eateries, music venues, all the sports, and of course breweries.