A 3-month-old chestnut brown mixed hound named Eleanor tugged at her owner’s leash, leaping energetically toward Switchyard Brewing Company’s co-founder and co-owner Jeff Hall. He laughed to himself.
“That’s the reason I do this job,” Hall said.
Last Memorial Day, Switchyard opened a brewpub in what used to be Jake’s Nightclub on North Walnut Street. They distribute their Switchyard craft beer in-house and to 22 local businesses.
Hall said Switchyard is known around Bloomington as an inclusive hangout for all people, including families and pets. He said reception has been overwhelmingly positive.
His business partner, co-owner and co-founder Kurtis Cummings, said the company has plans to distribute beer outside of Monroe County this spring to Indianapolis, Columbus and Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Hall said in a few years, he thinks they will continue broadening their horizons by opening a second location.
“We’re only a few months in,” Hall said. “But we want to stay ahead and keep making big goals.”
Switchyard patrons and IU seniors Alyssa Kayne and Reilly Crabbs said they come occasionally because they live nearby. Crabbs said she works on group projects there sometimes, and Kayne said she comes to play board games with friends.
Kayne and Crabbs said every time they come in, someone has a dog.
“It’s a nice way to cheer up while you’re studying,” Kayne said.
James Nelson, Switchyard bartender and third-year IU graduate student, said he is not surprised the brewery is taking off. He said the owners had big goals from the beginning and knew what direction they wanted to go with it.
“It’s a crowded brewing market,” Nelson said. “But it’s working because we’re doing something different.”
Hall said besides making its own craft beer, the brewpub separates itself by helping the community. The Switchyard has organized benefits for local organizations such as Middle Way House, Cardinal Stage and Monroe County Humane Association with events such as Positive Pints.
Hall began his business with Cummings seven years ago in Cummings’ garage. He said Cummings’ wife was forced to park outside because of the makeshift distillery.
The pair began bringing samples to local festival events to get their name out, Hall said. They distributed for taste and evaluation purposes, so there was no profit, he said.
In 2015, Hall and Cummings started a Kickstarter to open a bar for their brew. The fundraising goal was $30,000, but Hall said they ended up raising over $42,000.
“It was a dream come true,” Hall said.
Hall said now when he sells his craft beer to other businesses, he tells them about how the pub came to be.
“We want them to buy into the story," Hall said, "not just the brand.”
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