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Crooked Ewe Brewery holds grand opening in South Bend Friday

“If we were just opening a brewery, it would be a lot easier than opening a brewery and a restaurant,” brewer and part owner of Crooked Ewe Brewery and Ale House, Andy Walton told me.

Andy and his business partner, Sean Meehan, purchased the former VFW building at 1047 Lincoln Way E., South Bend, in March 2013. In July of the same year, they began remodeling the space that would eventually house their brewery and restaurant.

Crooked Ewe Brewery and Ale House
1047 Lincoln Way E, South Bend

Grand opening: noon to midnight Friday, June 5, and Saturday, June 6

Even though the brew house has been ready and the first beer was brewed in December 2014, most of the hold up has been with inspections for the restaurant part of the business.

With the passing of the building, health and fire inspections earlier this week, Crooked Ewe is now ready to open its doors to the public this Friday, June 5.

UPDATE: Crooked Ewe Brewery delays grand opening because of electrical problems, June 4, 2015

When I visited last week, much of the staff was there. They seemed ready, but just sitting around waiting, which seems to have been the recent theme for them. All that has been keeping Crooked Ewe from opening has been to pass the building inspection, followed by a health inspection.

Renovations were no small task on this project, but I admire them for re-purposing an existing building that was in much disrepair when they purchased it.

Andy told me that many of the three generations of family that managed the previous business over 85 years have stopped in to share their stories. Part of the building was a school house that was moved to the present location sometime during the 1930s. The family was unable to get a permit to move the building properly, so they secretly moved it during the night.

The ground floor tap room will seat around 70 people and has a fireplace and large windows behind the bar that look out over the St. Joseph River.

Additionally, there will be a patio just outside the ground floor bar to start with. To follow will be an upper-level family-friendly dining room and two outdoor patio areas on the roof of the building.

The menu will focus on items that can be paired with their beer, with an emphasis on smoked meats and pickled items.

I have enjoyed many different styles of Andy’s homebrew, and he has shared stories of his late grandfather who was a WWII and Korean War Vet. He used to tell Andy about the Bock styles that he enjoyed while in Germany. So what can we expect to see from Andy’s brew house? Lots of different styles.  

On opening day we will most likely find Recneps Oatmeal Stout (5.5 percent ABV), named in honor of Andy’s friend Spencer, who is no longer with us. It is his name spelled backwards.  

Other beers may include Westfield Wheat, Glascow Butcher (Scotch Ale, 6 percent ABV), an IPA with a yet-to-be-determined name and Monday Pale Ale.  

Monday Pale Ale, Andy explained, has a simple grain bill with a single hop which will rotate with each batch. His first batch was brewed with Cascade hops, and the most recent batch was brewed with Centennial hops.  

There will also be firkins — lots of firkins! A firkin is a keg that is one quarter barrel in size (72 pints or 9 imperial gallons). Beer is both conditioned and served from the same firkin, which can be either metal or wood. The beer carbonates naturally inside without the use of carbon dioxide, and the beer is called cask ale or real ale. It is Andy’s hope to always have at least a couple of firkins on hand.

Big beers, you ask? Andy brewed his first big beer on the 10 barrel system recently and it is a double IPA which will come in around 11.5 percent ABV. He used 700 pounds of grain to get 120 gallons of beer. He also has an imperial stout, some of which is aging in oak bourbon barrels.

Whatever your favorite style, you will surely find it at The Crooked Ewe with good food to pair it with.

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