Shane Dyer and Ryan Thompson scouted a dozen locations. Dyer, who is an architect, drew plans for a brewery at about half of them. The duo, with partners and key managers who have joined the effort along the way, are finally preparing to open Hydraulic Ale Works at 333 Nibco Parkway, Elkhart, in late spring or early summer.
The former McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk will be a family-friendly brewpub with seating for about 80 inside, 50 on the enclosed patio outside and 40 on the open patio. The spot along the slow-moving Elkhart River has one of the prettiest patios in the region.
The two are cousins who both graduated from Concord High School, Shane in 1991 and Ryan in 1996. Dyer had worked in Indianapolis. Thompson, who brewed his first batch of beer when he was 19, went to work at and study beermaking in Chicago before taking brewing jobs in Colorado and New Mexico.
Chris Hooley, who graduated from Concord in 1987, went to college with Dyer and got connected with Thompson when he lived in Colorado and has become a third owner in the brewery.
“We all grew up here. We all moved away. We all decided to move back,” Dyer said.
At their grandmother’s funeral five years ago, Thompson told Dyer the only way he’d move back was to start a brewery.
“A few months later,” Thompson said, “he called me up and said were you serious about what you said?”
They talked more and started working to find a location.
They eyed the abandoned utility building at 315 W. Washington St., Goshen, and then got word that Goshen Brewing Co. was going in there.
They announced plans to be part of a boutique hotel in the nearby Hawks building, but the space and numbers didn’t work. There were other buildings for which Dyer and his partners had hopes and he would draw plans. They all had challenges, ranging from ceiling height to parking.
“I can definitely lay out a brewery,” he said.
Dyer was also involved in envisioning the redevelopment of Hotel Elkhart with Dan Boecher, but left the project in 2018 as he amped up efforts on his brewery. He stopped counting and stopped drawing brewery plans until he called Tom Borger Jr. in March about leasing half the building that had McCarthy’s and still has b on the River. They signed the deal last fall to lease 4,300 square feet and started cleaning and renovating.
The 13-barrel brewing system, bigger than both GBCo and Iechyd Da’s systems, will be inside the front door where the bar was. The bar area will overlook the tanks procured from a brewery that went out of business in Champaign, Ill.
The private dining room will become family dining area. The kitchen overseen by chef Mat Ewing stays in the same spot. Ewing started consulting with the partners near the beginning of their work together and eventually they wanted to offer him a job, said Thompson.
He helped open Crooked Ewe and has worked at Heavenly Goat, Constant Spring and 114, as well as doing pop-ups at Bare Hands. “He’s a talented chef,” said Hooley.
Jordan Mullins is joining the management team to oversee the front of the house.
Thompson, who has been bartending at GBCo., is planning a collaboration beer with a friend he worked with at Goose Island Brewing and hopes to have half the 12 taps filled with his Belgian-influenced brews. Ewing is planning a menu that won’t be what Dyer calls “pub grub.” Thompson and Ewing plan to emphasize beer and food pairings, beer dinners and eventually a brewing school. Craft sodas and a kids menu will be part of the mix.
After all the waiting and planning, the owners and managers are excited to have a place to open. They’ll be early residents of the developing River District downtown and I expect people will flock to what they’re opening.
“I think there’s no better location in Elkhart County than right here, with all the development coming up,” said Dyer.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat.
Credit to the South Bend Tribute and
Marshall V. King, a food writer based in Goshen. You can find him on Facebook (DiningALaKing) and on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@hungrymarshall).