Kickstarting the Dream
Founder and passionate homebrewer, Ray Kamstra had a dream of taking his award-winning ales to the masses. He launched a Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2012, helping secure the perfect historic bottling house to lay the foundation for Indiana City Brewing Co. located at 24 Shelby Street in Indy’s historic Irish Hill neighborhood.
Building the Brewery
With a clear vision, sleeves were rolled and work began. Vacant for more than six years, the building was stripped of inches of dust and boarded-up windows while the exposed brick walls, scarred concrete floor and steel beams remained untouched. We completed the build-out with our own hands and a team of passionate volunteers. The six-month project not only created the best brewing space in the city—it assembled the solid team of hardworking craft beer lovers we now call family.
In the summer of 2013, we began brewing high-quality, handcrafted ales on Indy’s east side. Since then, we have brewed more than 30 unique small batch beers, launched a series of bourbon barrel-aged beers and won statewide brewing awards.
A Prophecy Realized
After years of lobbying against the waxing temperance movement, the fervent immigrant hands of the Home Brewing Company of 24 Shelby St. were forced to hang up their aprons and watch their blood, sweat and hops wash away with the rising tide of Prohibition in June 1922.
Ninety-one years later the historic bottling house would become our home, reanimating the location’s heart and soul—craft brewing. Emblazoned on the walls of our taproom, a 1917 prophecy by the Home Brewing Company shines a sobering reminder of Indiana brewing’s tumultuous past:
“The day will again dawn upon Indiana, when a man can drink what he wants, when personal liberty will be again a citizen’s right.”
Indiana City brought beer back to the pre-prohibition era brewery located at 24 Shelby Street near downtown. Besides being a great location, we love the space and there’s so much beer history in the building. It was the bottling house of The Home Brewing Company, 1880–1920.
Ryan Hamlett describes the history of the building in his article A Room with a View–Indiana City Brewery (Home Brewing Company Bottling Building):
The men behind one of Indianapolis’ first major breweries spread far and wide throughout the history of the city. Organized in 1891, Home Brewing Company’s first brewmaster and principal organizers was a German immigrant named August Hook, father of the John Hook who founded Hook’s Drugstores in 1910. Among the brewery’s early leaders was Albert Leiber, grandfather of Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut Jr.. One of HBC’s principal owners was William P. Jungclaus, founder of Indianapolis’ oldest general contractor (responsible for the construction of the Circle Tower, Columbia Club and IRT to name a few) though the brewery was designed by architect Hermann Gaul (one time apprentice to Louis Sullivan) who designed the Saint Mary Church at 317 N. New Jersey St.
At its height production HBC was brewing 35,000 barrels a year, but that came to a sudden end as the increasing powerful temperance movement led to the prohibition of alcohol in Indiana on January 1st, 1918, nearly two years before the 18th Amendment took effect, banning alcohol nationally. Said the head of the brewery on December 29th, 1917, as HBC stopped production “the day will dawn again in Indiana, when a man can drink what he wants, when personal liberty will again be a citizen’s right.” Though HBC tried to hang on, producing a low alcohol “near beer” in the years after the institution of prohibition, they officially closed up shop in 1922, selling off their buildings and equipment eleven years before seeing their prophetic words come true with the passing of the 21st Amendment. Hoosiers could once again legally take a drink, however it would be 91 years until they would taste one from 24 South Shelby St.