King of Pop: Jerry Rezny's Handcrafted Beverages

The godfather of Midwestern brewpubs crafts specialty sodas for local eateries.
Avon-based Jerry Rezny is no stranger to the brewing scene. In 1987, he introduced craft beer to the Midwest when he opened the region’s first brewpub in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The avid home-brewer now lives in Indianapolis, where his next business venture—soda—has taken off. “The microbrewery industry came about because there were so many plain, bland products,” Rezny says, estimating that handcrafted pop is in the same place microbrews were 30 years ago. He uses a rented Indy’s Kitchen space to mix up refreshing flavors like cherry-vanilla cream, caramel apple, and ginger beer for his line of naturally sweetened (with cane sugar, stevia, or monk fruit) Handcrafted Beverages. Don’t expect to see six-packs on the grocery shelves, though. Rezny says the bottling industry is a whole other business. Instead, his company focuses on replacing the national brands at local restaurants like Papa Roux and Broad Ripple Brewpub. When he’s not taste-testing his sweet syrups, Rezny can be found in chef whites, directing front-of-house operations at Eleven at the Pyramids and teaching business classes at Indy’s International Culinary School. Soda, pop, or Coke—it doesn’t matter what you call it. This idea isn’t going flat anytime soon.

Jerry Rezny’s Favorite Things

(1) An English pint of Broad Ripple Brewpub’s ESB: “I’d rather go tasting ales in Indianapolis than in London.”
(2) Talenti Sea Salt Caramel gelato.
(3) Pogue’s Run Grocer: “Especially the farm-fresh eggs.”
(4) Homemade pizza: “I’ve got a stone for my oven and a professional pizza peel, so I can make some pretty good pizzas.”
(5) Shoefly Public House: The Cuban pork waffle sandwich.
This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.