A business plan hatched in a basement by a group of Butler University grads has quickly turned into a growing microbrewery on the near northwest side of Indianapolis. Guggman Haus Brewing Co. has only been open for just over a year, but its beer and historic ties to the Brickyard are attracting Hoosiers from all over, even during a pandemic.
Co-founders Courtney Guggenberger and Abby Gorman say the idea is just a continuation of how they’ve always done things – together. But their appreciation for craft beer happened separately when the identical twins, unknowingly, found themselves living in beer meccas in different continents.
“We’ve done everything together in life, mostly, except for when Abby moved to Denver with her now husband and then Derek, my husband, we moved out to Germany for a year,” said Guggenberger. “We went and explored all the beer halls, tiny little breweries or big beer gardens in the middle of the city.”
The exact same thing happened to Abby in the Mile High City.
“The ability to be outside and appreciate nature paired with the beer culture there, it was really a big community feel there,” said Gorman.
When the sisters and their husbands decided to make the move back to Indiana, they found themselves living on the same street in Broad Ripple and that’s where it all started – home brewing in the basement as a hobby, evolving into starting a business.
“From there, we started working on our business plan. We started looking for a location at the end of 2015,” said Guggenberger.
They decided on 1701 Gent Avenue, which they purchased in 2016. However, the location needed a lot of work.
“It was a leap of faith. It was bigger than we really had ever intended,” said Gorman. “I think just the vision of what it could be.”
But one could argue success was already rooted in this once-hallowed ground that served as the Boyle Racing Headquarters, home to three-time Indy 500 winner Wilbur Shaw, also known as the “Savior of the Speedway.”
“We’re two miles from Speedway. Wilbur Shaw went on to be the president of IMS and helped save the actual Speedway from turning into a subdivision,” said Guggenberger. “It’s pretty cool that that was actually here in this spot.”
And so far, it would appear Shaw’s legacy is rubbing off on Guggman Haus. Since the microbrewery opened its doors in June of 2019, volume has increased nearly every month due to customer demand. Currently, the small family operation is manually canning more than 1,500 cans of beer per week, selling about 95% of that.
The Guggmans, as they call themselves, say the growth in business has allowed them to break ground on major expansion plans in the midst of a pandemic. The brewery is transforming part of the property into space that will include a taproom and event space.
“We kind of just felt like we had to jump all in. If we had to go for it, we just went for it and put all of our energy into this business to make it work,” said Gorman. “It’s kind of week by week, figuring out what we’re going to do and not only in our current business model.”
The expansion is expected to be complete by the spring.