Brian Hampton had been trying to purchase the building and land behind his business, Floyd County Brewing Company, almost since the business opened three-and-a-half years ago.
The owner finally made the sale just after the first of this year, and Hampton used it to expand the outdoor beer garden and to convert a former storage shed into an auxiliary bar. Dubbed the Grain Haus — the brewery inside is known internally as the Brew Haus — the new bar will open Friday, April 27, starting at 4 p.m.
The new bar features 25 taps, seven or eight of which will pour house-brewed beers, with the rest rotating craft beers of varying styles, along with meads and ciders.
A few bottled and canned beers, mostly imports, will be available at the bar as well, along with limited food service focusing on bar snacks.
Unlike the main part of the brewery, which is more restaurant than bar with full table service and an extensive food menu, the Grain Haus will be a walk-up bar, more geared toward socialization.
This also plays out in the form of a 25-foot long community table, a small lounge area, and a perimeter standing bar. The space will be wide open during warm weather months, thanks in part to three garage-style doors that will remain open as weather permits.
Hampton said the brewery spent about $250,000 acquiring the building and customizing it and the rest of the area into the desired facility.
The bar back is made from a former grain silo acquired from Jasper, Ind. The rest of the space is finished out with reclaimed barn wood procured from an old barn in Salem, Ind., while the table tops and bar top are fashioned from former bowling lanes that once were used in a nearby New Albany bowling alley known as the Hoosier Strike and Spare.
The bowling alley burned down in August 2017 and later relocated to Clarksville.
And the name for the new space is no accident — in addition to an added bar area for customers, the building also will house sacks of grain for the brewing operation.
“The idea is to have a way for people to connect with the brewery,” Hampton said. “You’re basically sitting next to the grains you’re going to be drinking shortly, grains from all over the world.”
There’s also an added level to the pet-friendly beer garden, with a small stage area and picnic tables that recalls a true German beer garden, plus a deck that overlooks the outdoor area, and tables with umbrellas.
Hampton said the Grain Haus will seat about 50, while there is plenty of room, inside and out, for people to move around and mingle.
“Up front, you’re kind of confined,” Hampton said. “You come in, you’re assigned a server, you have your spot. Down here, you can be mobile.”
He also noted that the added tap space gives the brewery a total of 37, making Floyd County Brewing the place with the most taps in Floyd County.
“It gives a nice option on a toll-free bridge to come over and get a great selection of beer,” he said.
However, even though brewing will increase, no expansion of the brewhouse is planned. Hampton attributes this to the fact that Floyd County Brewing doesn’t distribute — all the beer brewed there is sold there.
“Places that distribute play their game with limited releases, but our game is we want you to come here,” he said.
Live music will begin this weekend, and Hampton imagines other special events happening in the new space. There also will be limited availability for renting the Grain Haus for private events.
This makes the investment into the Grain Haus even more essential, in Hampton’s mind. He said unlike many of the restaurants and bars in downtown New Albany, he and his wife Julie own the property their business is on.
“My wife and I talked about and said, ‘We want to do it,’” Hampton said. “‘We’ve got to control our destiny here.’ It kind of gives us the ability to weather storms. Plus, it makes you a hell of a lot more invested in the community.”
Floyd County Brewing Co. is located at 129 W. Main St. in New Albany.