GARY | Fresh craft beers on tap should begin flowing later this summer in Gary.
Curious residents already have stopped by with encouragement at 18th Street Brewery, which has secured a location in the Miller Beach area, said founder and brewer Drew Fox.
Fox said it's Gary’s first craft brewery and will be at 5725 Miller Ave. near Lake Street — a short jaunt from the Miller South Shore train stop.
“I’m doing something in my community,” said Fox, a Gary resident of five years. “This is an opportunity not just for Gary but for Northwest Indiana to really support something. I’m all in. I want to give something that’s positive to this community. When people ask me: 'Why Gary?' I ask: 'Why not?'”
The brewery already has established a following in the Chicago market, because Fox has been contract brewing his brand at Pipeworks Brewing.
Fox anticipates patrons from the Chicago area and Indiana and touts the Indiana Dunes and Marquette Park as two scenic destination points near the brewery.
“We want to promote people coming from Chicago on the train,” he said. “We have one of the best locations for a tap room and brewery in Northwest Indiana.”
George Rogge, president of the Miller Business Association, said the brewery will become an important anchor on the street.
“We cannot probably be the restaurant area of Valparaiso,” Rogge said. “We can’t probably be the glittery craft place of some of these other resort towns. But what we are is an island inside of Lake Michigan and the (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore). I still believe the most important piece of the whole puzzle is the South Shore — bringing people from Chicago to Miller Beach on Lake Street. This will be a corridor in the Miller Beach arts district. That’s how we’ll get ourselves back together again.”
Fox has been so enamored with Rogge’s support for his business that the brewery will produce a year-round IPA called Rogge Racer.
Fox said 18th Street will operate as a brewery and taproom. He'll offer six beers on tap (some year-round, some rotating) in addition to growlers and 22-ounce bottles to go. Bottles also are planned for distribution across Northwest Indiana with a plan to evolve into six packs and canning.
"We’re making great beers,” Fox said. “We really have to invest as much as we can back into this community. We’re the new guy on the block, there’s a new beer in town.”
Heineman Bar Co. in Chicago is building the bar for 18th Street. The company also built the bar for Revolution Brewing in Logan Square, among others.
Fox and his team, which includes Calvin Fredrickson and Michael Pallen, plan to offer internships in the future to those who want to learn the brewing process from cellaring to marketing.