Valparaiso's Four Fathers Brewing is on a roll.
The craft brewery recently won a bronze medal in the Porter/Stout category at the prestigious Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers in Chicago. It's celebrating its fifth anniversary. And now it's planning a major expansion that will involve a move across town and the rollout of a new mobile taproom that will pour craft beers at summer concerts in downtown Valparaiso.
The craft brewery owned by Jason Lacny and Beth Lacny will move from its 1,400-square-foot space in a strip mall at 1555 W. Lincolnway to a new 5,000-square-foot location in a business park by the Ivy Tech campus on Valparaiso's east side. It will have about 1,300 square feet in its taproom and another 3,700 square feet for production, which will give it room to grow in the future.
"We're not going to jump to increase our system capacity right away," Jason Lacny said. "But we will be increasing our barrel aging program."
Four Fathers will play to its strengths by barrel aging beers like the Double Barrel Wheelhouse Stout that won the bronze in a highly competitive category with more than 80 entries. It's an imperial coffee stout made with Dagger Mountain beans and aged in Journeyman whiskey barrels.
"We release Wheelhouse every Small Business Saturday and it's grown 10-fold every time we've done it," he said. "Last year, we had crowds wrapping around the building."
The additional space will allow Four Fathers to experiment with new beers and age them in different types of barrels, including rum, tequila and Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.
"In the current space, we're kind of restricted," Beth Lacny said.
In the new space, Four Fathers will have a proper taproom instead of the half-Dutch door it now serves customers through in its cramped tasting room.
"We'll have some nice seating with couches where it will be more comfortable," she said. "We'll have light meats and cheeses and the popcorn with the pork fat that we're known for. It will be a warm industrial eclectic space."
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Four Fathers' lease at its current location ends on July 1 and the brewery hopes to be open at the new location by the end of summer.
The craft brewery also is rolling out a mobile taproom that was specially fabricated in Traverse City, Michigan. The craft brewery signed an exclusive deal with Valparaiso Events to serve beer at the free summer concerts downtown. It will be on hand at 7 p.m. every Thursday from July 18 through Aug. 29, starting with the Duke Tumatoe concert on July 29.
"It's 100 percent unique for Northwest Indiana," Jason Lacny said. "We'll start with Valparaiso Events and private events and then extend it to other areas if things work out."
They came up with the idea of a mobile taproom because they wanted a presence in downtown Valparaiso without having to pay the steep rents. They have a 20-foot-by-10-foot shipping container tricked out with an awning, a bar, an electrical stereo system and four-tap kegerators. It will have six to 10 bar stools and barriers where they can rope off additional seating for a portable beer garden on the go.
"It's very unique and we thought outside of the box in how we could grow our business and have space downtown in some way, shape or form without getting killed on rent," he said. "It's going to be great exposure because people come to downtown Valparaiso from many different areas."
The brewery has a small brewing capacity of just three and a half barrels but moves its product very quickly so it can keep putting out different beers. Four Fathers has built up a loyal following, including many mug club members from the neighborhood. It also sells its beer online through Seattle-based Tarvour.
Four Fathers brews many different styles including a sour salted wheat beer, but is best known for its stouts.
"If you ask beer people in Valparaiso, Four Fathers is known for its stouts," Jason Lacny said. "Some breweries are well-known for IPAs or Milkshake IPAs, but Four Fathers is synonymous with stouts."
For more information, visit www.fourfathersbrewing.com or call 219-464-9712.