Ledgeview Brewing Company Owners Talk Food, Beer and Giving Back
Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photographer / Tony Straw
What goes best with good food and good brews? Ledgeview Brewing Company Owners Abby and Craig McLaren can tell you. It’s giving back to the community that they now call home.
The McLarens opened their restaurant in December of 2020, fulfilling a longtime goal for the couple. A friend told them that the building was for sale in 2019. The McLarens made the move from Boston to Warsaw to set up shop, offering barbecue and craft beer to the community. They also support local organizations with their Give Back program.
Craig, from Rhode Island, is a professionally trained chef, having most recently worked as the executive chef at the New England Aquarium. Abby, a native of Goshen, holds a culinary degree, and is experienced in front-of-house responsibilities from working at the Boston-area restaurant Bar Boulud. The couple met when Abby interned at a restaurant where Craig was working.
“It’s a partnership,” Abby says. “He’s the yin to my yang.”
The Warsaw community welcomed the couple and their business warmly, Abby says. That is why getting the Give Back program in place was important to them. Organizations taking part in Give Back nights receive 20% of the non-alcohol sales, and commit to having a couple of volunteers on-hand that evening.
The promotion is offered once per month and has benefited a wide variety of local groups, from Cardinal Services to Sacred Heart School to the high school band boosters and the Warsaw chapter of the Friends of NRA. This year the November promotion will benefit Toys for Tots.
“This was the one thing that Craig and I wanted to do as soon as possible,” Abby says. “Everyone has been so gracious and helpful since we arrived.”
With the restaurant open, the McLarens are looking at expanding with a food truck. They rolled out the truck in May for the Fat and Skinny Tire Fest in Winona Lake. It will serve many of the barbecue menu staples that the restaurant diners enjoy, such as pulled pork, brisket, and fancy mac and cheese.
“This gets our name out there,” Abby says.
They have appreciated the support and acceptance from other food truck vendors.
Ledgeview Brewing Company is family friendly. It has 10 beers on tap, and barbecue and more on the menu. It is close to the soccer pitches where local kids play, and Abby welcomes families to dine inside or outside the restaurant and even play games on the open field outside the building.
Craig and Abby have two children of their own, aged 9 and 5. She says she knows how busy families are, from personal experience with her two active kids.
“It’s a challenge,” she says.
For Craig, Ledgeview Brewing Company combines his two passions – cooking barbecue and brewing beer. He describes his style of barbecue as “all-American.”
“We take influences from everywhere,” Craig explains. “The brisket, for example, starts with a Texas-style rub with New England flavor.”
He started as a home brewer in 2012. Abby suggested he take up a hobby. When she shared some of his early brews with co-workers, there were many compliments, she recalls.
Craig says he has stayed true to his early brewing recipes. As the seasons change, he tries to incorporate familiar seasonal flavors, such as the Bane of Ichabod, a blonde pumpkin stout inspired by the New England story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” which is popular in the fall. In the winter, more tropical flavor combinations are offered to offset the cold days of the season.
Craig and Abby update their menu selections for the restaurant as well. Lighter fare, such as the smoked turkey BLT, accompanies their traditional meats. There are also two desserts on the menu, the Apple Cherry Crisp and Smoked Chocolate Chip Brownie.
Ledgeview Brewing Company is located at 975 Warren Street in Warsaw. For more information, call 574-376-4445 or visit ledgeviewbrewing.com.