PLAINFIELD — If doing what you love is the essential building block for entrepreneurial success, Ruari Crabbe and Adam Burk should have a fruitful partnership with Cartel Brewing Co.
Crabbe and Burk expect to open Cartel — which they label a “community-driven brewery” — in June in the 5700 block of East U.S. 40, Plainfield.
Longtime homebrewers, Crabbe and Burk met three years ago and started brewing together at Burk’s Cartel brewing supplies and equipment store near Fountain Square in downtown Indianapolis.
“We clicked right off the bat, and one day we were brewing and found we both had dreams of opening a brewery,” said Crabbe, a 2005 Plainfield High School grad and Siemens technician. “We came together and here we are, opening a brewery.”
To help make the dream a reality, the company is currently engaged in a Kickstarter funding program. Kickstarter, an online crowd-funding website, has helped finance more than 50,000 projects with more than 5.7 million donors. Cartel’s goal is to raise $35,000 by March 2. If that figure isn’t met, no matter how much has been pledged, they get nothing.
The desired funding would be used for fermenters, bright tanks, a cooler and dispensing system. As of press time, 65 backers had pledged $8,660.
“Without that money, we’ll have what we have now, which means we’ll be producing a lot less beer than we want,” Burk said. “I have a bank that wants to loan the money, but that’s not the idea. Pushing everybody these last couple weeks is important. Until it gets to crunch time, most people aren’t going to do it.”
With 10 different levels, Cartel's Kickstarter pledges start at $10 and include perks that increase incrementally. For instance, for $150, donors get an engraved plaque with their name that will hang at the brewery, a custom T-shirt, pint glass, stainless steel bottle opener and two stickers.
Cartel is one of a dozen craft beer operations scheduled to open in the Indy metro this year, which would put the total count at 35.
“We might’ve jumped on the bandwagon a little late, but more and more craft beer geeks are coming out of the woodwork, and we’d like to convert the Bud Light drinkers,” Crabbe said. “Brewers like Sun King and Three Floyds have paved the way, and we hope to follow in their footsteps.”
Along with Keith Maar (Burk’s right-hand man at the downtown storefront), Burk and Crabbe intend to live up to their community-brewer moniker. While they expect to have three or four regular house brews, and up to 20 on tap at any given time, one per month will be created and named by a customer.
“They’ll design it, from style, hops, special twists, and they can call it whatever they want,” Crabbe said.
With more than 400 of its own recipes, Cartel will have plenty of options for its other taps. It has won awards at homebrewing expos throughout the Midwest, and its roster includes brews like Nutter Cup, a chocolate porter with peanut butter cups.
“All of the beers we’ve been working on have been great. That’s the easy part,” Burke said. “Getting money to get what you need and jumping though government hoops and taking care of the people who have a hand in your pocket is the problem.”
Burk, whose brewing skills might only be surpassed by his colorful honesty, said Hendricks County regulations stipulate that Cartel can provide samples and fill growlers and bullets for carry-out, but offer no pints or food.
“It’s all about zoning,” Burk said. “It’s an industrial lot, so you can’t have any food production or drinking. They told us if we wanted to do that, we’d have to go elsewhere.”
To make up for that, Cartel will have a 16-tap brewtruck that they’ll take virtually anywhere they’re welcome, all over the area.
"If we can drive up and sell beer, we’re gonna do it," Burk said. "We might not be able to sell pints at the brewery, but we have a traveling beer garden."
For more information on Cartel’s Kickstarter program, log on to www.kickstarter.com and enter “Cartel” in the search window.
- Follow Brent Glasgow on Twitter @BGlasgow37.