People's Brewing Celebrates 3 Years of Tasty Beers

Greetings from Lafayette.  With the 3rd Anniversary of People’s Brewing approaching, I had the opportunity to sit down with co-founder and brewmaster Chris Johnson for a bit of reflection and some discussion regarding the state of the brewery and what’s on tap for 2013.

What’s the1st thing that comes to mind when you think about the fact that you’ll be celebrating your 3rd year of People’s Brewing?

Right off the bat, it’s amazing that it’s been three years.  It seems like it’s been a whirlwind.  Time flies when you’re having fun I guess.  It’s awesome, it’s cool…you never know how things are going to go when you get started so it’s cool to get into year three.  Were at a point right now where we’re further along than we expected to be.  We’re working on some year five and year seven original plan things to get done in the new year.  So yeah, it’s pretty exciting and its fun that we’re here in year three.

So actually you’ve answered my next question to some extent.  At the 3-year mark, do you feel that you have fallen short, met, or exceeded your expectations that you had set?  It sounds like you’ve exceeded you’re expectations to this point.

Yeah, we’re way further along than we expected to be.  Right out of the gate we had a great local acceptance, the local bars and pubs, and the local folks have been awesome for us.  Our taproom has done better than we ever expected.  We’re producing all the beer we can possibly produce, which we’re excited about.  We thought originally that we were going to able to use our current setup for the first five years and we’re already upgrading so yeah, it’s definitely been a really good three years and we look forward to really good future years.

How much time is involved with doing your job each week and has it diminished or increased since you first began?

Well, it’s diminished, luckily.  When we started, I was brewing, selling, and delivering.  Basically, we didn’t have the money to have people to do things.  We’ve gone from having two employees on day one, now we have four full time and seven part time employees so that has taken away from my day to day hours.  I can get what I’m doing done in a shorter period and we have a lot of good people that are taking care of other things that I used to do.  From day one it was seven days a week, 14 hours a day and now it’s much more reasonable.  Every Sunday is a day off for my family and Saturday’s I’m usually here until 2 o’clock or so, just sort of buttoning up the week.  It used to 24/7, it still kind of is because I’m always thinking about this, I’m always working on new stuff.  Even when I’m at home I’m often working on the brewery but it’s a lot better, I see a lot more of my family these days.

How much of what you do actually feels like work and how much feels like you’re amazed that you’re getting paid to do what you do?

Well, I’ve done a lot of different jobs and beer is a passion of mine.  I get up every morning and I don’t ever think to myself ‘I have to go to work’.  I get up excited to go to work and I have since I started in 2000 at the Lafayette Brewing Company.  The days just fly by because you’re doing something you love.  My recommendation to anybody is to find something you love to do.  It never really seems like work, that being said, it’s not that it’s not stressful or hard sometimes but, at the end of the day, I’m doing what I want to do and that’s incredible.

Along with this being your 3rd Anniversary, we’re coming up on a new year.  So, what does 2013 hold for People’s Brewing?  Let’s talk first about the expansion of your facilities.

Sure, well we’ve expanded our taproom space and new cooler space.  We’re getting ready to break ground on more production space out back.  We’re going to double our physical space for production, which is also going to give us space for bigger tanks, more tanks.  Basically, go from being able to do about two thousand barrels a year to do more like six or seven thousand barrels a year.  In all, this will start to happen mostly in the 1st quarter and we’ll really be moving forward at that point but, as we go down the road we’re giving ourselves room to expand beyond our current expansion.

So an increase in production capacity opens up more possibilities.  Concerning distribution, are you looking to possibly tap into new markets outside of Indiana?

We’re looking at that.  We’ve got some distributors outside of the state that are interested in the product and at this point we just couldn’t possibly get beer to them.  As we expand we’ll continue to look at those options and, when we feel like they make sense for us, we might make those moves, maybe into the Ohio market, or Kentucky, or the Chicago area, which is a no-brainer for us eventually.  We always like to see where we’re at and take a picture of what that means to us and make sure that we can provide for that if we do move into those markets.  But, we also feel like we could do more in the state of Indiana as well.  We’ll probably focus mostly on staying local but we’re always looking at those options as well.

You’ve also recently expanded the taproom to accommodate more seating, what else may be in the works for this side of things?

Looking on the taproom side, we’re looking at maybe doing a small pizza or sandwich kitchen, offering a little bit of food that will be something good, quality but not a real expansive menu.   We just got the 12 (tap) lines put in so we doubled up the line space. So we’re just kind of chunking away little pieces, all over the place both on our production abilities and our taproom space.

You mentioned the taproom expansion and the additional taps, what will that mean for what you have to offer in the taproom?

Well we went from having six lines to twelve lines so it gives us the advantage of being able to put more of our products on and some of the specialty stuff we do, like the bourbon barrel aged and the nitrogen beers that we do.  Also, it gives us the opportunity on growler fill day to put some of the beers on multiple lines and just help with the flow of the taproom.  Most of all it gives us more variety.  We’ve often had more than six beers in the cooler so it’s nice to be able to put on more choices for folks.

When we last spoke I recall that you had mentioned the possibility of having a selection of local wines at some point…

At some point we’re looking at getting a 2-way license so that we can do some wine.  We have a lot of people that come in with their wife or husband that would rather drink wine than beer.  Our focus will always be on the beer side but we may do some things to make the taproom a little more inviting for everybody.  We really just want a sense of community in there and sort of give people a chance to stop in and see what’s going on here at People’s.

Finally, December 17th marks your 3rd Anniversary, what’s going on in the taproom to celebrate this event?

We’re going to do pint specials that day, similar to our pint day on Thursdays.  Also, as a thank you to our folks who come into the taproom on a regular basis, we’re doing an appetizer buffet starting at 5 o’clock.  We’ll probably run a little bit late that day.  We’re not that set on our 8 o’clock closing time typically but I can anticipate that day we’ll run a little bit late.  We’re also going to tap our 3rd Anniversary beer, it’s an Imperial Red we’re naming Smooth Criminal.  It’s an American style red, we used a good number of German and American malts to give it a nice malt side and then Galena hops.  It’s about a 7% beer, dark red hue and about 60-65 IBU, just a tasty new brew to do as our anniversary beer that we’ll be releasing that day and have the pint specials to go with that.


I want to extend a sincere thanks to Chris for taking time out of his Saturday to give me a tour of the facilities and answer my questions!

Stop down this Monday to help People's celebrate their anniversary and enjoy a cheap pint.  They are located at 2006 N. 9th St. in Lafayette.  As of this week, they are open every day:  Mon-Fri from 2 to 8pm, Sat. & Sun. from noon to 8pm.

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