Best New Breweries, No. 7: Tow Yard Brewing Company


When southside native Shawn Cannon envisioned a new craft brewery near downtown, the plan was to set up shop on the grounds of a former tow yard. That deal fell through, and Cannon found another slightly gritty location with an old-school brick exterior and industrial bay doors: the former Chateau Thomas Winery and its garage. He kept the original name (and all of the street cred that comes with it), but the spread, which includes a deli counter, a deck overlooking the South Street crawl to Lucas Oil Stadium, and a curving bar area with windows that open onto the production space, has a raffish charm of its own. One night, a customer at the bar pointed to a spot in the middle of the dining room’s polished-concrete floor and told his bartender, “I used to park my car right there.”
Tow Yard Brewing Company opened in April, relying heavily on local guest taps for the first few months, which allowed head brewer Bradley Zimmerman—an IU grad who started homebrewing in college and spent nearly 10 years honing his skills at breweries in Seattle—to slowly roll out a short list of hoppy, unfiltered “Pacific Northwest–style” craft beers. The lineup includes the Emerald Circle IPA (a sharply bitter slow-sipper with all of the piney bite that hopheads have come to expect), the equally potent Horse Power double pale ale, the easy-drinking Goldie Hops (a grassy American-style golden ale), the Randy Smash Pale Ale (with its tropical-fruit notes), and a shandy called Hook Up Shandler, blended with citrus soda.
The libations are solid, and Tow Yard’s location and food take care of the rest. Chef Tommy Thompson’s menu includes grilled sandwiches and inventive salads served in big metal mixing bowls. A favorite shared starter, the carnitas oven fries, layers caramelized pork with salty blanco cheese that has been tossed with the house golden ale—proof that beer is one of the most versatile food groups.
501 E. Madison Ave., 317-638-9273,