Cedar Creek Brew Co. is currently the only brew pub operating in Morgan County and they don’t even have a sign. Most beer is sold on premise in pints or growlers with a small amount through 5 draft accounts. Customers find them on the Untapped app, on Facebook, have discovered the beers at one of the draft accounts, and are customers of the attached 6-year-old winery. An original concept for opening the brewery came from customers who would stop at Cedar Creek Winery but one partner of two might sit in the car because they were not a wine drinker. On the first day they actually sold beer, a ‘soft opening’ not promoted, they had one beer, a porter, which they nearly sold out just to customers who stopped at the winery and had no idea there would be beer available.
We’ve meandered the 3.5 miles from highway 37 through beautiful countryside on highway 252 and down Leonard Road several times. Our first visit was a stop at Cedar Creek Winery where the winery owner was proud that their son was going to start brewing. We followed the story and visited just as they opened. They were brewing on a small system and had a small tap room attached to the winery. Now one year out, they’ve taken their brewing and fermenting capacity up by six fold with multiple brew days per week and they’ve brewed eighteen different beers in the first year. Brewer/owner Bryce Elsner is one of the friendlier guys you’ll meet and like most in the business is proud of his beer or he won’t sell it. Take that literally; he told me he’s had some batches not good enough so he would not sell that batch. Bryce is fortunate to have quality control expert Brandon Fry as Assistant Brewer as Brandon also has over ten years of experience as a home brewer in addition to professional lab experience. Bryce tells us bringing Brandon in is the smartest thing he’s done. Brandon says the smartest thing they do is listen to customers. Fry says customers have asked about possible changes to a beer they love and the team is willing to try. Given that repeat customers drive 20 to 30 minutes for the beer and the fact that the guys report at festivals people return to have the beer again, they are clearly listening.
A standout beer at Cedar Creek is the Kentucky Common, a beer that history almost forgot. This beer was brewed around Louisville before prohibition and is similar to a dark cream ale. The KC has corn so is slightly sweet in the first swallow but finishes dry. The Cedar Creek KC is only 4.4% alcohol and delivers a powerful flavor for a very drinkable beer.
At a different end of the spectrum is their APA with Citra and Mosaic hops coming in at 7% alcohol and, of course, a wide range of hop flavor from citrus to resin. For our most recent visit Cedar Creek had a Double IPA (10.7%), an IPA (6.9), the APA, a Dry Stout (4.4%), a porter (5.7%) and amber (6.5%) and the Kentucky Common (4.4%).
The location six minutes from Highway 37 makes a great diversion while driving between Indianapolis and Bloomington. Cedar Creek could almost act as the old wayfaring station or travelers rest stop between cities. The combination of beer and wine and a patio or beer garden make the stop very pleasant, as well the friendliness of the crew.
If you wonder why I wrote that Cedar Creek is the only one in Morgan County, and you’d known Three Pints was in Martinsville, IN (Morgan Co.) – Update: Three Pints is gone. The equipment is owned by Quaff On/Big Woods and there is no tap room in Martinsville anymore.
Cheers! Greg Kitz