Invited guests were the first to walk through the front door of Goshen Brewing Co. this past weekend.
In order to give the new staff an official run-through, the new Goshen brewery hosted a soft opening Saturday with a full food menu and seven beers on tap. The brewery will officially open for business at 315 W Washington St. this Wednesday, May 20.
I have been checking in with brewer/owner Jesse Sensenig regularly over the past couple of years, and did so last week as he was making last minute preparations for opening.
He told me that he had hardly had time to stop and think about how he felt, but it was definitely surreal for him after several years of planning to finally fulfill his dream of opening a brewery.
- RELATED: Hop Notes: Goshen Brewing Co. is officially brewing its first batches of beer, March 25, 2015
- RELATED: Goshen Brewing Co. plans to open before Memorial Day, May 6, 2015
Just two days before the soft opening, I expected to find a flurry of activity and training, but with good help and good planning, most everything was ready and in place. And judging by the big smile on Jesse’s face as he spoke to me, I could tell that he was excited to be just a couple of days away from it all becoming real.
There were two seatings for the soft opening, and I was scheduled for the second seating. My friend Dale and I met up at a table with Marshall King and his wife Bethany, and Chip and Summer Lewis of Iechyd Da Brewing Co., Elkhart.
There was a big crowd, some lingering from the first seating, but it did not feel overcrowded. Two lines formed at the bar for drinks (and food for those eating and drinking) and a separate line for guests who were just ordering food. Beer was served at the bar after a short wait, and food was delivered to tables by wait staff.
Lighting was very pleasant. I am not a big fan of dim lights at restaurants and bars, and especially since this was more of a celebration than just a regular night at the brewery, it was good to be able to recognize all who were present.
Paul Travers from Great Black Swamp Brewing, Jesse’s brewing mentor, traveled from Ohio to be there. Mayor Kauffman and Goshen Community Development Director Mark Brinson were present, as well as many who have supported the brewery from the early days of planning.
If I were to categorize Jesse’s beer, I would say it is good, solid, comfort beer that goes well with food, or just conversing with friends on the patio.
I began with Heritage (4.5 percent ABV, IBUs 18) while waiting for our food to arrive. It is a Kölsch style ale brewed with all German malt and hops. This style originated in Köln, Germany, and I thought that Jesse did a great job with this style. It is a medium bodied beer, with low hop bitterness, a good biscuity, malty flavor with a slightly dry finish. I could easily see myself sipping on this refreshing beer on the patio on some hot days this summer.
When our food arrived, I paired my pulled pork sandwich with Inaugurale (5 percent ABV, IBUs 15), the first beer Jesse brewed on his brand new seven-barrel system.
This Scotch ale was more full bodied than the Kölsch, and had a more malty sweet flavor. Again, the hops were behind the scenes in this beer, and I agree with the brewery description which lists notes of caramel and raisins.
Other beers on the menu included The Grind (6 percent ABV, IBUs 15), a coffee brown ale brewed with coffee roasted by Goshen’s own DIY Coffee and Ale Supply, Tailwind (American Pale Ale, 5.5 percent ABV, IBUs 39), and Hiphopopotamus (hoppy wheat, 5.5 percent ABV, IBUs 35).
Since I had already tried one of the two Scotch ales on the menu, I decided to skip Young Soul (6.7 percent ABV, IBUs 18), and move onto a hoppy beer. I have enjoyed Menno Mighty (American IPA, 6.6 percent ABV, IBUs 40) several times, and it is one of my favorites from Goshen Brew Co. (my top favorite is The Grind and I will have to go back when they open to taste that once again).
Shoot Out the Moon (Black IPA, 6.3 percent ABV, IBUs 51) was not ready for Saturday’s event, but should be ready in time for Wednesday’s public opening.
Three sizes of pours are available: 5 oz. for $1.50, 10 oz. for $3, and $20 oz. for $5. Beer is also available for take out in either 32-oz. ($7) or 64-oz. ($13) growlers.
Menno Mighty is brewed with local maple syrup, however, it is not overtly apparent in the flavor. When talking with Jesse, he told me that he has brewed it with and without the maple syrup, and it just tastes better with it. I think that it provides a bit more complexity to the flavor, which has some good citrus and a slight bitter finish.
At one point toward the end of the evening, Chef Jesse Shoemaker made a quick appearance to have a toast with Jesse Sensenig, house manager Jason (Heater) Heatwole, and the guys from Zehr Construction, who did all of the renovations on the building.
All present seemed to be having a great time, and no one was in a hurry to leave. In fact, when I left, there were still about 30 people enjoying themselves on the patio.
The dining room is not huge, so I’m guessing that they are going to be very full during their first few weeks of being open. If going, I would plan to not be in a hurry. If there is nice weather, the patio adds quite a bit of seating.
I would not expect any huge issues, but things might be a big slower during these first few weeks until they get their restaurant legs. Both beer and food are worth the wait, though, and Goshen Brewing Co. is a family friendly brewpub.
Whether it’s a night out without the kids, a family dinner, or just a beer on the patio with some buddies, I’m am very happy to have Goshen Brewing Co. open just a short bike ride from my house. Thanks Jesse and crew for this great addition to Goshen.