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Adding to the flavor: Simmons Winery adds craft brewery

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SIMMONS Winery now includes a craft brewery and restaurant offering everything from appetizers to sandwiches, pasta and brick oven pizza.

Owners Dave and Brenda Simmons launched 450 Brewing Co. about three weeks ago on the same 120-year-old farm that houses their vineyard and retail wine shop, at 8111 E. County Road 450N.

A dozen new employees, including five who work full time, serve and prepare food for up to 80 guests. The building’s dining area, adjacent to the wine shop, provides views of the stainless steel fermentation tanks, a nearby cornfield and some of the Simmons grapevines. The restaurant’s rustic feel is enhanced by the red wooden interior walls, which consist of the exterior planks of an 1870s barn that the Simmonses trucked in from Ohio. The walls also are adorned with farm implements, including an old saw, ladder and wooden seeder.

The Simmonses opened their winery about 12 years ago, added a banquet hall six years later and for years have planned to open a restaurant.

They initially considered locating downtown, including the Commons mall, but then realized that their location — though about a 20-minute drive from downtown Columbus — has its advantages.

The couple live there, allowing them to be responsive to dealing with timely business matters, Dave said.

Brenda said wine and craft beer locations become destinations. The more breweries and wineries an area has, the more likely it is to attract tourists, she said.

“If you make a good product, people will come,” Brenda said.

With pleasant weather and great fall views, Dave said conditions at the rural location couldn’t be better.

He said the couple eventually hopes to establish a presence in downtown Columbus, even if it is just a retail outlet.

Brenda also said that events in the banquet hall previously had to be catered by other businesses, but now 450 North Brewing also can provide food, beer and wine, which is generating additional revenues for the business.

Those will help defray some of the $320,000 investment into the restaurant and brewery. David said the brewery equipment alone costs $200,000.

While Brenda serves as the primary wine connoisseur, David went to beer school in Chicago for a couple of weeks and serves as 450 North’s brewmaster.

He’s been brewing in five-gallon tanks at home for several years, but that’s far different from brewing 315 gallons.

“There are a lot of similarities between wine making and beer making,” he said.

Beer making provides more of a challenge because of a lower acceptable variance of pressure and temperature. The stainless steel fermenters are chilled with glycol to 32 degrees.

For now, the Simmonses are offering five ales — Summer Wheat, American Pale Ale, American IPA, Belgian Amber Ale, English Brown Ale — and a porter. They also plan to offer seasonal varieties.

The IPA has proven to be the most popular so far, Dave said. It’s also his favorite.

“I like a lot of hops,” he said.

Pints sell for $4.50, but the uninitiated (or indecisive, or curious) can buy a flight of five five-ounce beers for $7.50. Customers also can order any of the Simmons wines with their meals.

The food items, especially the 16-inch brick oven pizzas, which cost between $17 and $20, also have sold well, Brenda said. Nonetheless, she said the winery/brewery needs to increase its marketing to the lunch crowd. Nearby farmers, students at Ivy Tech and IUPUC or residents in eastern Columbus, such as McCullough’s Run subdivision, can drive to the restaurant in about 10 minutes. Downtown workers, Brenda said, can order food and pick it up. The drive takes about 20 minutes.

Indiana has about 40 breweries, according to Brewers of Indiana Guild. Bartholomew, with four, trails only Marion County.

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