Monday, May 16, 2011

Get Me Another Brew(ery)!!

Over the past few years, the American and international economies have seen many ups and downs. There seems to be one constant throughout the recession, though. That constant has been beer. The brewing industry has remained strong as other businesses shut their doors left and right. Even craft brewing, which is considerably more expensive, has continued to grow over the past five years. Is beer recession-proof, though? To this question, many economists would say, "no." Though it sure as heck seems that way.

Today we are witnessing a rebirth in the Indiana craft brewing industry. Not since the start of prohibition have we seen so many local craft breweries in this area. Because it has been such a long time, and pretty much no one dealing with this was alive during that time, many politicians and city planners have no experience in how to deal with these new businesses.

Breweries attempting to open their doors currently are running into red tape that has delayed opening in some cases by several months. Other cities, like Portland, have embraced the new beer revolution. This Pacific Northwestern city, known for many things like the Trailblazers its rich agriculture, is also home to 28 microbreweries like Widmer Brothers, Bridgeport, and Hair of the Dog. This region of the United States is home to the Willamette Valley which is one of the leading hop-growing regions in the nation. Along with the locally-grown two-row barley, this region is a breeding ground for regional breweries.

Back on topic. What can we do to promote these businesses, or attract others to the area?  Here is my theory:

Right now in Indianapolis, there are dozens of vacant, distressed buildings. Breweries like Sun King, Flat 12, and soon-to-be-opened Fountain Square and Triton breweries have taken over, renovated, and revitalized these buildings. This has positively affected the areas that surround the breweries.  Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive to obtain a brewing license as well as a lengthy process to be rezoned.

As a city we should get behind these brewers and support them. They have been proven to increase community involvement and have an overall positive effect on a city's economy. I propose creating a "Barley District" of Indianapolis. This area of the city would focus on attracting breweries. We could create an incubator for not only the breweries that are already here, but attract other breweries to move here or encourage new ones to open up within the city. There will be more to come on this subject. Until next time...



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