Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big Dawg bites into local brewing scene
by Amy Lynch 

Something big is brewing on Richmond’s west side — J&J Winery has recently added Das Bier Big Dawg Brew Haus to its picturesque location on U.S. 40, giving it the very unique distinction of being the only winery/brewery combo in Indiana.

The new brewing enterprise unveiled its wares at a chili cookoff in October to great response, promptly selling out of seven kegs worth of beer that included IPA, dry Irish stout, Imperial oatmeal stout, Oktoberfest and pumpkin-spiced ale.

The process of creating new beers for Das Bier Big Dawg is definitely a collaborative team effort. J&J Winery owners Jeff and Melody Haist oversee all the brewing operations and marketing efforts. The winery’s live music coordinator Mike Miller plays a big role in brewing and distribution, and Richard Shroyer, a local science teacher and award-winning home brewer, consults on recipes.

“I have friends who’ve brewed for years, so I was around it and was always interested,” Miller says. “I spent a lot of time at the Heorot (in Muncie) and really gained an appreciation for craft beers. I had been to Shroyer’s home brewery, drank his beers and really liked them. He and I brewed together and two weeks later, Jeff, Melody and I started a brewery. Jeff and I brewed many experimental batches and had a few different tastings over the ten-month period while waiting on our approval.”

Rounding out the team, Shawn Mead takes care of all IT responsibilities and technology for the brewery, and artist Jon Terzini of Terz Design created a series of clever eye-catching beer labels for the finished products. 

The Das Bier house lineup includes a range of styles to please different tastes, including a dry Irish stout, hoppy Trippel IPA and a fruity raspberry wheat. Additionally, a continually evolving rotation of seasonal beers might include creatively flavored offerings like cerveza amber with lime, a Christmas-themed chocolate peppermint stout or a summery apricot IPA. The roster changes all the time, making each trip a potentially new tasting experience.

“We just play around with different flavors, try them out and see what tastes work best,” Miller says.

Customers can try out Big Dawg beers for themselves at the J&J tasting room by ordering a “flight” of four samples for $10 or a pint for $3.50 to enjoy on site, or filling up growlers to take home (expect to pay $12 to $15 per fill). Miller estimates the brewery is turning out 100 gallons of beer a week, and anticipates making Das Bier products available at local restaurants and liquor stores in Richmond, Muncie and Indianapolis in the future. Look for beer dinners to make an appearance on the J&J calendar before long, too.


For more information about J&J Winery or Das Bier Big Dawg Brew Haus, call (765) 965-9463 or visit

Born and raised in Richmond, freelance writer Amy Lynch now makes her home in Indianapolis with her husband and three-year-old son. Read more about her food and travel adventures at

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