Photo by Anna Macke
When you walk in to 2 Toms Brewing Company, you’ll be immediately immersed. The aesthetic and the open concept space are as carefully crafted as the beer in the brew tanks. The polished concrete floor gleams with the reflection of the Edison-style light bulbs, which are encased in glass balls and suspended from black iron industrial light fixtures. As you soak in the mid-century/industrial design, you’ll start to pick up on another theme: repurpose. All the furniture has a story here. You’ll see counter height tables that are made of old bowling alley lanes and reclaimed steel I-beams. There are stools from an old science lab. Jim Beam barrels have been given new life as cocktail tables. The end of an old cable spool is now a rustic coffee table. Even the dining chairs have a story – they’ve been salvaged from a church and refinished. But despite all this attention to creative design, you won’t be able to deny that the brew tanks are the real focal point of the room. They’re showcased behind glass and a ledge with tall low-backed chairs offers you a front row seat for dreaming about the grain fermenting inside.
The Story of 2 Toms
The story of 2 Toms Brewing Company began when Tom Carpenter’s wife Stacie bought him a 1-gallon home brew kit for this birthday three years ago. “It came with a glass jug, hops, yeast – everything you’d need to make beer on the stove,” he told me. Tom says he’s always liked craft beer and it was fun to do on a small scale. “Getting to travel around to different breweries and taprooms, seeing the creative brewing styles coming out, talking to owners and brewers, I really enjoyed it.”The name came about because Stacie joked that Tom was so busy he needed to clone himself so they could have ‘two Toms’. “As far as the brand, right out of the gate I acted like a brewery. I have a business background and a creative and engineering mind. I created an Untappd.com account and printed up some Avery labels for my brews.” Tom is part of a local group called Pour Misfits, a craft beer group that meets to share and trade different beers and talk hops and malt. Pour Misfits is now worldwide, with members numbering over 3000. “I really respected their pallets, so I brought them my homebrew. They liked it and my beer developed a following. Eventually, people were begged us to open a business so they could get access to my beer full-time – and here we are,” he explained, pushing his cap back as he remembered. With their kids in college and their finances in order, Tom and Stacie decided to tackle this project together. They wanted to put together an experience. “The feeling of the taproom, the beer itself, the brand. 2 Toms isn’t just about taste. It’s about the two of us being transparent and putting this out there for everybody to enjoy. We’re coming at this from a culinary perspective: visually, the aroma, the mouth feel, the taste…we really think that all aspects of the experience set us apart,” said Tom.
“Our styles are not always traditional. From our Hibiscus style, to our juicy new England style IPA called Mango Milkshake, all the way to our barrel aged stouts with their layers of chocolate, coffee, and roastiness, we’re really pushing the boundaries,” he explained excitedly. “Our tagline is ‘inventive beers for the adventurous spirit’.” Tom says their IPAs will be different than most. “They’ll be more juicy and less bitter. We use huge amounts of hops that bring more citrus, fruitiness, and big aromas to the beer.” On the other end of the IBU scale, Coconut Oak Splitter is a barrel aged stout that takes on character of the barrel in which it’s aged and gives layers of taste.
In addition to their enthusiasm to unique flavors, 2 Toms Brewing Company is enthusiastic about supporting the local community. Jack and Diane will be brewed with all Indiana hops and all Indiana grain. “Also unique is that our spent grain is going to a local farmer in Columbia City to feed his cattle,” said Tom. “Stacie and I have visited the farm and we’re working on details to have that beef come back into the brewery.” 2 Toms wants people to have the feeling of being in a big city without having to travel. “Our goal is to be a destination; to have people traveling to us, Tom explained. Their location on Wells Street near the zoo should facilitate that. It’s only ten minutes from downtown, but also fairly accessible from I-69. Their proximity to the zoo is also no accident. “We’ll definitely be family friendly,” nodded Tom. “Sure, I expect we’ll get some parents coming home from the zoo,” he chuckled.
Bottles and Cans: Members, Clap Your Hands
A special barrel society will have specialty bottles for members only. Down the road, Tom plans to have a canning line, but beer will only be available on site. “We hope to have special can and bottle releases eventually. We’re working locally with Catalyst to design the labels already,” Tom confirmed. One specialty in the pipeline is a series with names like Edison, Selleck, and Petty. “People always want to know who the other Tom is. The Other Tom is friends and family who have supported us and really all kinds of other influencers. So this series will be for them,” said Tom.
Tom and Stacie have created a special place with special beer. “I’m most excited about seeing people experience it for the first time,” said Tom. “Seeing them smell it, sip it, share it. Watching their eyes light up and hearing them tell their friends, ‘you’ve gotta try this!’”