GARY, IN – A massive vault originally built to store fur coats in the 1950s is being transformed into a brewing operation as part of an expansion plan by 18thStreet Brewery – one that will double its production capacity, create new jobs and serve as a catalyst for business in the beachfront community they call home.
“The Vault” – located immediately west of the brewery at 5725 Miller Ave. – is a 1,100 square-foot space that will be home to five 15-barrel fermenters, Northwest Indiana’s first canning line, a bottling line and one of the largest barrel-aging programs in the area. There will also be a small sampling room there, providing a space for invitation-only events involving the brewery’s exclusive barrel-aged and sour beers. That production will be happening in addition to the eight 10-barrel tanks currently being used in the brewpub.
The combined investments will allow 18th Street Brewery to increase production from roughly 500 barrels a year to more than 1,000. Construction on “The Vault” is expected to take several weeks, with doors opening and production set to begin in April.
“We have enjoyed tremendous growth in our first year and we are determined to keep that going,” owner Drew Fox said. “We wanted to find a production facility that would fit our expansion needs for years to come and had been looking for quality structures with as much as 20,000 square feet available. We looked at buildings across Northwest Indiana and saw many with promise – Hammond being at the top of the list. But in the end, we opted to re-invest where we started and, with this expansion, maintain our relationship with Gary as a business partner.”
The expansion and investment in a canning line – which began running last fall – will allow 18th Street Brewery to increase its distribution throughout central and southern Indiana.
Fox anticipates continued growth for the brewery – named by Rate Beer as Indiana’s “Best New Brewer” in 2013 – and expects to continue discussions with city leaders across Northwest Indiana about available production space as they grow. But he emphasized his commitment to the City of Gary hasn’t wavered.
“There are some incredibly special things happening in this community that we want to continue to be a part of,” he said. “We will keep doing our part to create jobs and opportunities here, while also working to attract other entrepreneurs willing to join us in investing in this city’s future.”