South Bend Brew Werks has nearly 2,000 likes on Facebook, and it isn’t even open yet.
The buzz might be due to the Brew Werks’ early beginnings as a homebrewing supply store. Or because the brewery’s word-of-mouth raised more than $14,000 in a crowd-funding campaign to help get off the ground.
Or maybe it’s simply that the 10 house-made beers are just really, really good.
Brew Werks, 216 S. Michigan St. in South Bend, is set to start taps on August 16, intentionally coinciding with the popular downtown event Art Beat 2014.
A microbrewery in the basement will feed the restaurant and brewpub with “small batches for lots of variety,” said Drew Elegante, who calls himself the “maestro.”
Elegante, along with brewmaster Joel Miller and culinary ninja Greg Wisinski, are the minds behind Brew Werks. All three are familiar with the brewing business; they started South Bend Brew Werks as a homebrewing supply store in 2012 before changing the model to focus on the brewery.
Brew Werks will exclusively stream its own beer, carrying five house flavors on tap (black and amber IPAs and a smoked porter, to name a few) and five rotating flavors, like a pumpkin ale in the fall and a new beer every first Friday. Drinks will run $4.50 to $8 for pints.
Customers who want that VIP touch can join the mug club and claim a 20-ounce mug custom-made by local artist Paul Kuharic. Besides getting an extra 4 ounces per pour, other perks include a members-only experimental tap, 25% off merchandise and invitations to exclusive events.
The seasonal food menu places a focus on locally-sourced food, Wisinski said. Items like grilled cheese, mac and cheese, soups, flatbread pizzas and baked chickpeas will use ingredients from Purple Porch Co-op in South Bend; lamb shanks from Morris Family Farms in Culver; and bison burgers with meat from Cook’s Bison Ranch in Wolcottville.
“We like to do what we want our neighbors to do, which is buy as locally as possible,” Wiskinski said.
In fact, every inch of the pub was built with sustainability and community in mind, in keeping with Brew Werks’ motto: ‘Building a stronger community, one brew at a time.’
The bar is made with wood from a repurposed bowling alley. Spent grain will be reused. And for every single pint sold, the brewpub will donate 50 cents to local organizations The Music Village, Neighbor Resources Connection or La Casa de Amistad.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’” Elegante said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. It gives people an opportunity to see what people are doing in the community — a win-win on a bunch of different fronts.”
The brewpub is partially inspired by a love for sharing beer. Elegante lost his parents when he was young, and looked up to his brothers. While growing up, he said, they were always waiting for the day they could share a beer together.
“What attracts me to beer is when you have high quality, it’s about enjoying it and having nice conversation in a good atmosphere,” Elegante said. “It’s not about pounding pitchers or getting hammered; it’s just being able to connect. We want this to be a great place to connect with someone.”
During the opening on August 16, the brewpub will offer free drink coupons for customers to return and redeem for samples of three forthcoming beers.
South Bend Brew Werks is located at 216 S. Michigan Street in South Bend. Hours are Monday through Friday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m, and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Check out a video about South Bend Brew Werks from the brewery’s crowdfunding campaign:
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the founders of South Bend Brew Werks opened Michiana Brewers Supply in South Bend before starting the brew pub. They are unrelated; the brewery merely consigned its inventory to Michiana Brewers Supply during the switch. We apologize for the error.