HAMMOND — Last week, Hammond didn't have any craft breweries.
Now it has two.
After 18th Street Brewery opened a new production facility downtown, Byway Brewing is going to open at 2 p.m. Saturday at 2825 Carlson Drive in Hammond.
Members of a home brewing club in Munster, who have been making beer for nearly two decades, launched the ambitious craft brewery, which has a 20-barrel production system, a 125-seat restaurant with a chef-driven menu, and aspirations to make world-class beer that they hope to soon distribute throughout Northwest Indiana, Chicago and Indianapolis.
Owners Dave Toth, Tom Duszynski and Branko Sajn hired head brewer Patrick Jones. He has won several Great American Beer Festival awards with Gordon Biersch Brewing in Colorado and, most recently, Triumph Brewing in Philadelphia.
"The Sandy Bottom Home Brewing Club has been at it for 15 years," Toth said. "It's been award-winning, and we make some really, really good beer. But we want to take it up to be a world-class brewery. I know the best brewers in the country, and they're way, way, way beyond our level."
They also hired chef Bryan Rance, who has 23 years of experience with restaurants like Gamba Ristorante in Merrillville and Amore in Crown Point. His seasonal menu includes crisp pork belly, roasted lamb shank, mussels, octopus, beet salad and charred broccoli with harissa vinaigrette, sweet garlic aioli and blue cheese.
Toth and Duszynski started brewing their own beer in the 1990s, and decided about three and a half years ago they should open a craft brewery.
"The best indication is we started Brewapalooza in 2004 in a backyard and it was a modest affair with 35 people," he said. "Eight years later, it was 250 people. We had it in my house, which is in a cul-de-sac and it spilled into the street."
They originally planned to open Craft 41 in Schererville, but they ran into obstacles, including a trademark with conflict with an existing Field 41 Pale Ale. They decided to stick with a road theme when they moved to the new location in Oxbow Landing by the Borman – hence Byway Brewing.
"Figuratively, we all have roads through life," Toth said. "Ours is literal. We're right out Interstate 94."
Byway Brewing has hired around 20 workers, and aspires to start distributing as soon as possible, though it hasn't decided whether to bottle or can. The brewery will look to distribute initially in Northwest Indiana, Chicago and Indianapolis, and is shooting for between 10,000 barrels to 25,000 barrels a year.
Beers include a ChIPA India Pale Ale and Oak Street oatmeal porter that's named after Chicago's Oak Street Beach. The Goldblatz golden ale, which is meant to introduce drinkers to craft beer and is named after Hammond's iconic Goldblatt's Department Store, which was prominently featured in Jean Shepard's "A Christmas Story."
The taproom has an industrial feel, and features hand-made tales.
At any given time, the brewery should have eight to 12 beers on tap, including small one-barrel experiments. It will eventually have to-go growlers, but not when it first opens at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Byway Brewing will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
For more information, visit 219-844-5468 or visit www.bywaybrewing.beer. To reserve space for a private party, call 219-844-5469.