Discover more from Based in Lafayette, Indiana
Breweries look to expand Wabash Ale Trail idea
Plus, a tribute grows for a fellow student at Harrison High School
Today’s edition of the Based in Lafayette reporting project is sponsored by Purdue University’s Presidential Lecture Series, featuring Purdue President Mitch Daniels’ March 29 conversation with Purdue alumna Julie Wainwright, founder of The RealReal. For more details, scroll to the end of today’s edition.
BREWERIES COMBINE FOR WABASH ALE TRAIL
The idea had been knocking around for a while, the craft breweries in Greater Lafayette joining forces as a regional, ale trail attraction.
COVID got in the way of doing much with it, though, for the past two years.
As winter was about to set in, Greg Emig, an owner of Lafayette Brewing Co., and People’s Brewing Co.’s Chris Johnson were talking about how the cold weather months weren’t typically the best for their craft brew taps.
“After Chris and I spoke this past fall about how the winter months might look, we decided to gather the local brewers to talk about a specific promotion designed to help us all,” Emig said. “As we discussed a name for the promotion, we kept coming back to the ale trail concept that we originally spoke about.”
So was born the Wabash Ale Trail, a promotion of back-and-forth gift cards for now, serving as a kickoff to something more permanent soon.
Seven breweries – Lafayette Brewing Co., People’s, Teays River Brewing, Thieme & Wagner and Escape Velocity in Lafayette, Brokerage Brewing Co. in West Lafayette and Crasian Brewing Co. in Brookston – have been running cross-promotion efforts since January, hosting entries at their bars for weekly gift cards to places across town. The initial run continues through April 10.
Johnson said that what’s next includes developing an app to map breweries in the area and offering incentives, passport style, for customers who visit. He said the idea is to bring other breweries – including Backstep Brewing Co. in Crawfordsville, Kopacetic Beer Factory in Monticello and Knapptronix Brewing Co., which opened recently in downtown Lafayette – into the fold.
“This is not a concept that’s new to breweries,” Johnson said. “You go to Portland or other towns with an established brewing scene, and you’ll find this map concept. … We find that craft beer fans aren’t necessarily brand loyal. They want to go try what’s out there. That’s what we want to do here, make it a destination region.”
Jo Wade, president and CEO of Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette, said the organization already lists a Hops & Grapes Trail on its site, giving nods to wineries and breweries in the region. She said Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette has been touting the initial Wabash Ale Trail promotion, too.
“Ale, local beer and wine is a big draw for visitors and locals, alike,” Wade said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to promote. Trails and themed touring is very popular.”
The idea of the breweries in the Lafayette area helping each other isn’t a new thing, either. One example: Order a Pinky and the Grain at Teays River and ask your server for the accidental, Cliff’s Notes version of how the IPA got its name and how it came into being when brewers rushed across town to save the first batch. Here’s the long version, still a classic moment in Greater Lafayette brewing history. (In case you’re keeping score: The Blood Orange Pinky and the Grain is my go-to there.)
Johnson said the Ale Trail concept was reinforcement for some of the newer places in town, “showing firsthand the benefits of working together.”
Jason Behenna, an owner of Escape Velocity, said he was aware of that cooperative reputation when the brewery opened at 405 Sagamore Parkway S., just as COVID-19 restrictions were starting to blossom.
“(The ale trail) especially helps with us, because all the other breweries were well established before the pandemic, and we have had to build our reputation and following in a time when people weren't leaving their house,” Behenna said. “Our biggest problem is many people still don't know where we are located, and this cross-promotion should hopefully get people out and about trying new places they may not have thought about going to before.”
Emig said the trail concept, in its earliest stage, is working to get people to try new places.
“Moving forward, we're looking at formalizing the basics that we've already established for the trail and expanding upon that,” Emig said. “We're excited about what the future holds.”
CLASSROOM TRIBUTE AT HARRISON: Harrison High School student Emma Kelsey started the whiteboard drawing that turned into a tribute wall for Rebekah Knox in Lori Janssen’s journalism class. Knox, 17, was killed Monday in a two-vehicle crash on County Road 600 North and U.S. 231, on her way home from school. Janssen said the first notes went up on the board Tuesday afternoon, after a counselor came to talk to the class, where Knox was a student. “Emma told Bekah’s friends about it, and more students have been coming and adding their notes to Bekah and remembrances and just as a place to gather,” Janssen said Friday.
Here’s a look at the work in progress.
Thanks to the Presidential Lecture Series for sponsoring today’s edition. Despite setbacks, Purdue alumna Julie Wainwright persisted to create the luxury resale giant The RealReal. Join the conversation alongside Purdue President Mitch Daniels in person or online at 6 p.m. March 29.
Thanks for signing up and making the reporting project work. Not a subscriber, but thinking about it? Now’s the time. I’ll do my best to make it worthwhile.