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Brewers of Indiana Guild keeping on target with Tristan Schmid

A life-long love of beer has led him to better Indiana's brewing scene


Across Indiana, brewpubs and production brewery taprooms are setting us up with the freshly published DrinkIN: the official publication of the Brewers of Indiana Guild. It’s a colorful, breezy invitation to know more about the 125 craft breweries presently operating in towns, villages, cities, and outskirts around Indiana.

The map on page 39 is impressive, but if one more person intimates maybe we’ve reached saturation you can point to the spaces sans blue dots. Plenty of spaces are left to educate other than craft beer drinkers about the specialness of local, fresh and tasty. Small communities earn the opportunity to savor a quality beverage.

Proceeding from page 39 to front cover and back cover you’ll find good reasons to  explore and enjoy, and in the process, energize Indiana’s economy. According to the Guild’s website, 125 breweries have nearly 8,000 full-time employees and create an impact of more than $1 billion. In addition, every brewery’s philanthropic mission adds value to the cultural, social, historic and intellectual life of their home community and neighborhood. Responsible enjoyment of their quality brews is the across-the-state mantra along with the mission to bring national awareness to Indiana’s steadfast brewing industry.

Organized in 2000, the Brewers of Indiana Guild initially funded itself through the summertime Microbrewers' Festival. The springtime Bloomington Beer Festival and Winterfest now round out the seasons and the budget. “Fest Love” on page 15 describes the benefits of attending festivals and offers tips for the best experience. The spread on pages 12 and 13 is an artful showcase of the brewing process clearly visible at St. Joseph Brewery and Public House.

You don’t want to miss the seven “toast-worthy trips” between pages 24-37 taking you to all corners of the state and into the middle of Hoosier history and culture through a dozen brewery stops over a weekend. Prefer to take day trips on your own? There’s a definitive listing of every brewery by region. Happy to veg out at home? Enjoy a ‘Hoptail’ on your porch or patio—recipes are on page 64.

Even though creating this first ever Indiana beer-centric magazine had its genesis with a consensus of BIG members weighing in, the task of seeing the disparate parts come together fell to Brewers Guild communications director Tristan Schmid. Here’s Tristan’s story of how he moved from patron to professional:

NUVO: Share your happy tale of joining the ranks of craft beer as a beverage of choice—when, where, how, why, who helped grow your palate?

Tristan Schmid: My grandfather (opa) on my dad's side emigrated from Germany right after World War II. My dad grew up having the occasional beer, so it was always around when I was growing up, too. My Opa introduced me to German Hefeweizen, which I loved. When I went to school in Colorado, Blue Moon had recently launched, so I started drinking that. I soon realized it was more "crafty" than "craft," so when I moved back to Indiana and began going to school in Bloomington, I became a regular at Upland and switched over to Upland Wheat.

I've lived in Indy for about a decade now and had the good fortune to live near Broad Ripple Brewpub, which I visited religiously, along with Brugge and, later, Thr3e Wise Men. I've always loved Broad Ripple Brewpub's charm and their easy-drinking ESB, along with their dedication to the community—it was at a dog adoption event at the brewery where I first met John Hill.

I also met Clay Robinson right after Sun King opened. I loved attending their many tap takeovers, where Clay himself would usually wheel the kegs in and tell everyone about the beer they were drinking. I also appreciated the brewery's drive to serve their community, to truly be the beer of the entire city.

Several years ago, I started my own brand consulting company and began working with Jeff Mease and his team at Bloomington Brewing Company. I loved their passion for local beer, local food, and the community, and began thinking about how I could continue on this path in a bigger way.

So two years ago, I dusted off an idea I had several years before while working at NUVO — An Indiana craft beer trail. There were about 80 breweries then, and after I brought the idea to you, you recommended I talk to Clay — great timing, as he was president of the Guild, which had just created a communications position and was hiring for it. Long story short, I've been working full-time to promote Indiana beer for two years now.

NUVO: How did this choice for craft beer lead to other life of quality choices? What other enriching elements came into your life?

Tristan: I’m not a church-going person, and I don't really enjoy major-league sports, so I hadn't felt a true sense of community until I became involved in local beer full-time. It's a wonderful group of people. Brewery owners and brewers dedicate special events and beers to local charities all the time.

The idea of the brewpub as a "third place" is compelling to me. I love going into a brewery I've never been to, meeting the owner/brewer, and immediately feeling a sense of being welcomed and connected to something bigger than myself.

Our breweries are places that revolve around two things: beer and community. And they're the kind of places that, no matter who you are, what your background is, what you believe in, you're welcome and can likely strike up friendly conversation and make friends with whomever is there, all for the love of beer.

The community aspect is strong in Indiana's brewing industry, likely led by the Brewpub and those that followed. Our "brewers' family tree" makes the state unique.

NUVO: What happened when the different strands of your vocation and 'avocation' [craft beer] entwined?

Tristan: I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to combine my skills—communicating value, connecting people with others and with things they love—with my profession and my passion. I've chosen a career path that puts personal fulfillment and bigger-than-me causes first, and though it's been incredibly difficult at times, it's ultimately led to countless valuable experiences, relationships, and a true sense of purpose.

NUVO: And now what? How is your experience helping to enrich the rest of us?

Tristan: I was fortunate to be able to develop and launch the Drink Indiana Beer campaign, which has put a public face to Brewers of Indiana Guild, which didn't have a strong public recognition beforehand. Through the campaign, we've launched the first official Guild guide to Indiana craft beer in both an app (Drink Indiana Beer) and magazine (DrinkIN) form, as well as a line of merchandise which helps Hoosier craft beer lovers show the pride they have for their state's brewers.

It's also amazing to be able to throw some of Indiana's biggest beer-centric festivals, all for the benefit of Hoosier breweries.

NUVO: Beyond good beer, what else about the brewing industry is inspirational?

The crowd at Woolery Mill - BREWERS OF INDIANA GUILD
  • Brewers of Indiana Guild
  • The crowd at Woolery Mill
Tristan: The camaraderie is incredible. I'll never forget walking into Woolery Mill this past spring on the morning of Bloomington Craft Beer Festival when all the brewers were setting up. The sun was shining in, and even though it was chilly, everyone was smiling. And it felt like the show "Cheers": Walking in, I knew almost everyone there, and we were all gathered there to celebrate one thing: beer.

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