Chris Gerard, the owner of Bare Hands Brewery in Granger, is back at work after sustaining a major head injury in May, but customers will see a lot less of him behind the bar than they used to.
“I’ve been more focused on the production side of things. Where I’ve cut back on hours, it’s been out front. I wish I could be out there more, but right now I don’t think it’s a good thing for me,” Gerard said. He said he often worked as many as 90 hours a week before his injury. “I kind of decided I would be better off spending more time with my family and decreasing the stress of working that often and running a business and stuff like that.”
Before the accident, Gerard would often brew during the day and then work a full night shift in the adjoining restaurant. He says he never really thought much about the possibility of a serious injury or illness before he fell and hit his head on concrete.
The accident led to nearly two weeks in the hospital and hours of speech therapy to regain communication skills damaged by the fall.
Gerard said he had looked into purchasing a health insurance policy in the weeks before his accident, but he did not have any insurance when it happened. Fellow brewers and other members of the community rallied in his support, raising tens of thousands of dollars to help pay his medical costs.
“I’d been relatively healthy, you know? I hadn’t been to the doctor in 16 years. I just didn’t really have any health problems. It was definitely a very different experience, just to go through something like that and realize that yes, it’s a very real thing that’s a possibility, and anything can happen at any time,” Gerard said.
“The brewing community, to be supported by people downstate in Indianapolis and everything like that, was pretty amazing. And the local community was outstanding as well. I don’t think any words can explain how appreciative I am for that.”
Gerard is still dealing with a few minor after-effects of his injury, but he says he feels much better and now only does a few online exercises for therapy.
“Sometimes it was difficult, but a lot of the doctors and people had expressed that I was very lucky to be recovering so quickly,” Gerard said. “I’m just very appreciative and grateful that I’m healthy.”