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Brewed with a local flair

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bee Creek Brewery Engineer Mike Godsey pours a batch of grain into a lauter tun, which extracts sugar from the grain during the brewing process, at the Brazil-based brewery. Jason Jacobs Photo. [Order this photo]
* Microbrewery hoping for business, community growth

Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Brazil.

During the past nine months, Brazil-based Bee Creek Brewery has quietly been growing into a successful microbrewery.

"My brother, Mark Snelling, has been a home brewer from more than 25 years," Bee Creek Brewery Co-Founder and Vice President Julie Forster said. "We always sampled what he made and it kept getting better and better."

So, on May 7, 2007, Snelling, Julie and husband Dr. Frank Forster started up Bee Creek Brewery in rural Brazil.

"Together, we live on a 200-acre farm, and Bee Creek runs through the center of the property, which is how we came up with the name," Julie told The Brazil Times.

The company started off as a side venture, but over time has begun to flourish.

"We really didn't have any major production until about July 2009," Julie said.

The brewery currently has two variations -- Hoosier Honey Wheat, which is their signature brew, and Clay County Coffee Stout -- both of which utilize ingredients produced in Indiana.

Included in the Hoosier Honey Wheat is clover honey from Hunter's Honey Farm in Martinsville, while the Clay County Coffee Stout is brewed with Brazil Santos Coffee made by Jameson Coffee in Greencastle.

"We started out by buying honey from the grocery store, and experimented with the stout by using Maxwell House Coffee," Julie said.

However, the homegrown spirit and willingness to make their beer truly local led to Bee Creek Brewery incorporating the Hoosier element into their products.

"We love supporting Indiana businesses and try to buy our ingredients locally whenever possible," Julie told The Brazil Times.

Jim Wright, who is the webmaster for the brewery's web site (www.beecreekbrewery.com), said the entrepreneurship and local focus drew him to the company.

"As we are coming out of the recession, we are going to see the next wave of small business owners," Wright said. "Clay County especially needs all the help it can get and places like the brewery are a sign of the growing importance of building local businesses."

In order to be classified as a microbrewery, a company must produce less than 15,000 barrels annually, which Julie said the company is nowhere near approaching.

"Right now, we are producing about 28 barrels a month, but we have the capability for producing 300 a month," she said. "There are different size brew systems, and we are utilizing a seven-barrel brewery system."

A barrel, which holds 31 gallons, is able to produce 330 12-ounce bottles.

A unique element to the staff of Bee Creek Brewery is that most of the employees have a background in the medical field. Julie is a Registered Nurse, Snelling is a Mechanical Engineer with Boston Scientific, Spencer, and Dr. Frank is a practicing psychologist. Also on the staff is Director of marketing, Tycha Donathan, who Julie said is also a nurse.

"Having a background in the medical field has been a big benefit for us, especially with the precise measuring," Julie told The Brazil Times. "Some of the elements are required to be sanitized, but with us being so used to needing sterile environments, we try to treat the brewery in the same manner."

As the company continues to grow, so has its visibility as they are leaving their mark on the community.

"When it comes to putting a new beer on the market, we have had tremendous support from businesses welcoming us in," Julie said. "We are also looking forward to meeting the residents and putting our business out there even more during the (Brazil Main Street, Inc.) 2010 Street Fair, which we are participating in."

Along with being available at House of Spirits, The Alamo and Time Out Sports Bar & Grill in Brazil, Julie said Bee Creek's products are available throughout the state.

"We have our beer in cities like Indianapolis and Plainfield, but we are also expanding to stores in Lafayette, Evansville and Bloomington, just to name a few," she said.

Expanding the number of locations their products are available has the Bee Creek Brewery Crew hoping to not only grow their business, but interest in the area as well.

"We are currently working on a third selection, called Bee Creek Ale, which we have received label approval from the state. We hope it will be on the market in about a month. It is basically a starter beer with one grain and one hop, and we classify it with the label 'Stupid Simple,'" Julie said. "But microbreweries are also a good source of attracting tourism."

While many people have expressed interest in touring the brewery, Julie said the company is not quite prepared for that at this time.

"We still need to get the insurance needed to provide tours, but we also hope to include a virtual tour of the brewery to include on the web site in the future as well," she said. "We are hoping we can continue to expand so we can offer tours and samplings, in part, to bring people to the area and spark some more interest for the community."

Assistance to do just that has even come from the state legislature in the past month.

In March, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation permitting some of Indiana's microbreweries to sell takeout beer on Sundays, which is some thing liquor stores cannot do.

"We're not at the point at this time where we are doing direct ordering, but that is a huge boost for microbreweries across Indiana, and we hope to be able to incorporate that into our growth," Julie said.

For more information about Bee Creek Brewery, log on to www.beecreekbrewery.com.

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I discovered this beer at the Thirty Six Restaurant in Rockville. It is absolutely wonderful. Best luck to Bee Creek! You have my support. Keep them coming!

-- Posted by Claycountian on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 8:30 AM


-- Posted by CaptBrent on Sat, Feb 25, 2012, at 4:37 PM

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