Introducing customers to the wide-ranging flavors of small-batch cider is just part of the job for Ash & Elm cofounder Andréa Homoya. Yet cultivating an adventurous palate is a birthright for this lifelong globetrotter.
The daughter of missionary parents, Homoya grew up in Singapore (as well as Tanzania and California) eating the fusion street food of Southeast Asia. Even when the family returned to the states, her Southern Californian mother served up such “exotic” foods as hummus long before it started trending. “Then we moved to Indiana in the mid-1990s,” Homoya says, “and it was a downer to see so many chains.” But after returning to Indy from college in Philadelphia, she and now-husband Aaron saw the stirrings of a real food scene.
By then, Aaron was heavy into home brewing, and Homoya urged him to draw up a business plan. On a trip to Ireland, they sampled classic ciders and began focusing more on the fruit-based fermented drink that was virtually unknown back home. It all seems like ancient history for the pair, who are set to move their Washington Street tasting room to more spacious digs in the Assembly building a few blocks closer to downtown. “It’s a clean slate,” says Homoya. “Light, bright, and industrial.” The new spot will be more of a departure for Indy’s brewery tasting rooms, which Homoya says can be “aggressively masculine.” It will also allow new chef Tracey Couillard to do monthly brunches with pairings to show how cider’s acidity works with richer dishes, even desserts. Most importantly, it will give Homoya a new venue for spreading her love of good taste.