CHESTERTON │ The craft beer industry continues to grow in Northwest Indiana following the new addition of Hunter’s Brewing in Chesterton.
The nanobrewery at 1535 S. Calumet Road opened Feb. 16 after three years of careful planning by owners Justin Reisetter and Amy Gentry.
The origins of Hunter’s Brewing began a decade ago when Reisetter started to homebrew beer. Reisetter was reared in Chesterton but for a time lived in Nevada where he met Gentry, who is originally from Vermont. He taught Gentry how to brew and the pair moved back to Chesterton four years ago and decided to turn their passionate hobby into a business. It’s the kind of business – craft brewing – that continues to grow.
“It is a growth industry,” Gentry said “But we would never want to say that we would open something that’s a ‘can’t fail’ because there is no such thing, and there is always a risk involved in putting a business together. But we’ve planned very carefully.”
Hunter’s Brewing is entirely self-financed.
“There are a lot of breweries out there that are driven by investors and we feel lucky we were able to self-finance and it gives us complete control, which is fantastic,” Gentry said.
Through careful budgeting, the duo opened a brewery and tasting room that’s manageable.
“Our motto right now is 'slow and steady.'” Reisetter said.
Hunter’s Brewing operates on a one-barrel system, which is 31 gallons at a time. It’s small-batch boutique brewing where everything is done by hand – there are no computers “to type things into.”
“When we say handcrafted we really mean that,” Gentry said. “It’s labor-intensive. It’s a craft. It requires a skill to do that. There’s no automation.”
Currently there are eight taps on hand with room to expand. There were six taps when Hunter’s first opened.
The beer menu will change, although Gentry said some will “stay up all the time.”
Regular staples will probably include Mild Child, an English brown ale, and Porter County – a robust (what else?) Porter.
“Both of us have a pretty creative mindset when it comes to beer,” Gentry said.
The same applies in the craftsmanship of the brewery itself. With a little help from friends and family, Reisetter – who has a background in construction management – and Gentry did all the work themselves.
The tasting room includes a bar with outlets installed underneath for customers to better take advantage of the available Wi-Fi. There is a lounge area with couches and long stand-up tables to give the place a “German beer-hall feel.” There are no televisions in sight as the owners are big on community focus and conversations among customers.
“We’re starting to see a lot of repeat faces,” Gentry said.
How did Reisetter and Gentry come up with the name of the brewery? “Hunter” is Gentry’s maiden name, but it’s also the name of Reisetter’s family dog – a yellow lab whose pictures adorn the bar.
“The brew dog,” Reisetter said.