Writer / Heather Simpson
Photographers / Matt Roberts & Heather Simpson
The Mayor’s Annual Bike Ride October 28 was the perfect backdrop for the grand opening of Indianapolis’ newest craft brewery. A parking lot overflowing with bikes of all types welcomed Centerpoint Brewing to the neighborhood — just right when you’re trying to create great, approachable beer and a place where people can come together.
That night I asked co-owner Pete Argiris how tired he was.
“On a scale of one to 10? I’m at least an 11,” he laughed.
Until about a month ago, Argiris, who lives with his wife Holly and four children in Center Grove, was working his “day job” as an engineer, then putting in a few more hours at Centerpoint before heading home to sleep so he could get up in the morning and do it all again. Add to that grueling schedule long weekends working at the brewery and opening day has been a long time in the making.
It all began five years ago when Jon Robinson invited Argiris to his house to taste his homebrew beer. The fellow Rose-Hulman graduate was intrigued. The pair began crafting their own recipes and entering competitions. They were having fun and learning a lot, but when they took the Blue Ribbon at the Indiana State Fair in 2014 for their category they knew they had something special. They started kicking around the idea of opening a brewery and developed a business plan. That’s where Center Grove resident and fellow Rose-Hulman graduate Jeff Ready joined the team.
Robinson, who describes himself as a serial entrepreneur, says, “being an entrepreneur is not a career path, it’s a lifestyle.”
He brought his start-up experience to the team. The co-founder and CEO of Scale Computing liked the idea of creating a craft beer that appeals to a wider audience.
Argiris summed it up, saying, “Our goal is to create a craft beer that appeals to a wide audience, that is balanced, true to style and can complement foods and work well at a backyard barbecue.”
The three engineers transformed their space at the Circle City Industrial Complex largely with their own hands. They did their own demolition, set their own equipment and did their own plumbing. An artisan in the building did the metalwork for the backsplash and bar top, but the base of the bar was bare, so friend Carl Fuhrmann used pallet wood to finish it. They also had a concrete company pour the concrete floor and apply a special coating that helps prevent the acid from the beer from eating the concrete. When they needed an interior designer for the tap room, Jeff’s neighbor Kristen Sodrel stepped in to help.
The trio describes its Gold as a “Beer Flavored Beer,” this is where they start customers new to craft beers. Described as light and refreshing, it’s their version of the classic backyard, mow-the- lawn baseball game beer. Gold is an important part of their mission to create a craft beer that appeals to a wide audience. Seems like a good start.
However, at the Mayor’s Bike Ride, the one I kept hearing about was the black. This is typically a dark, chocolaty ale that can be intimidating; but not at Centerpoint. This may be because it is served “King Arthur style” – an idea Jeff stumbled upon last summer when marshmallows were left out after his daughter’s sleepover. He popped one into his beer and the tradition of serving Centerpoint Black with a marshmallow, skewered by a tiny sword, was born.
So what happens when three engineers from Rose-Hulman open a brewery? They are methodical. They sweat the details. They use a plumb bob for their logo. They help rehab an old building and create a place for people to come together. They have a vision that is elegant and powerful in its simplicity: support the community, invite friends, and make great craft beer.
Centerpoint brewing is located at 1125 E. Brookside Ave. You can find it on the Web at www.centerpointbrewing.com.