Good Beer Hunting

Growing Up, Growing Out, Pt. 2 — Small-Town Indiana is So Metal


This month, 3 Floyds Brewing Co. is set to begin its most ambitious project, putting the 22-year-old brewery on par with many of its peers. Shortly after its annual Dark Lord Day on May 19, work is expected to begin around the 57,000-square-foot brewery, essentially quadrupling in size. Plans call to renovate and expand to another roughly 154,000 square feet, adding a host of bells and whistles along the way.

3 Floyds hasn’t revealed the overall cost, but the architects handling construction have compared the effort to Stone Brewing’s Escondino HQ, where the California brewery produces more than 325,000 barrels of beer a year. 3 Floyds, the 45th largest Brewers Association-defined craft brewery by volume in 2017, likely made between 60,000 and 70,000 BBLs, per estimates, and is spending millions on the newest venture after dropping $7.5 million for an expansion in 2014.


Announced in mid-February, it’s clear this effort is meant to bring the metal-themed brewery into the top tier of American craft producers. It’ll also create one of the more unique brewery experiences in an ever-popular, ever-changing own-premise culture. Breweries have long been destinations, but now there’s a new wave of destination breweries true to the name.

“How many communities can say they have a business that’s recognized worldwide for its creativity and quality?” says Dustin Anderson, town manager for Munster, Indiana, where 3 Floyds calls home. “If you’ve met a person who knows about beer, they know about 3 Floyds, and they know about Munster. It’s put my community on the map.”

3 Floyds staff have not spoken publicly about the update (they didn’t respond to comment for this story either), but a by-the-numbers breakdown shows clear intent. Plans call for about 15,000 square feet for retail and restaurant space with enough seating for about 250 people, as well as construction of a 16,706 square foot terraced garden for outdoor dining.

In a 2014 interview with DNAinfo Chicago, co-founder Nick Floyd said the start of that year’s expansion wouldn’t change the identity of the company or brand, because “[w]e're still making the same beer the same way.”

“We're just getting a little bigger,” he continued. “We're still minuscule compared to places like Bell's, which is at 300,000 BBLs. Someone will probably complain that it's not enough, but it's what we can do."

That sentiment has certainly changed, as this project doesn’t just put bring them closer to where Bell’s was at that point in time, but purposefully creates a “one-stop shop” kind of atmosphere where a visit can easily be extended beyond just grabbing a pint or two. The scope can make it feel like a near wholesale update of what customers can expect.

To boot, it’s all being overseen by HKS Architects, which has done previous work on major sports stadiums (Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, Minneapolis’ US Bank Stadium), performance spaces (Las Vegas’ Jersey Boys Theatre) and government facilities (Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland).

"It's like a George Lucas Museum of beer in terms of its architecture," Munster planning director Tom Vander Woude told The Times of Northwest Indiana.

Needless to say, this is a big deal. As cities see craft beer as an important part of their communities, a project like 3 Floyds’ also comes as a “value proposition” for a “sneaky cool” place like Munster, Anderson says. According to U.S. Census estimates, Munster has increased its population by about 2,500 residents in the last 20 years to around 23,000 today.

3 Floyds’ project also comes at a time of other commercial and residential redevelopment in Munster, including an expansion of a hospital, creation of the new residential-commercial Centennial Village, and renovation of old manufacturing plants into Class A office space.

“When an important stakeholder chooses to plant their flag for the long term, that sends the message that they’re here and excited about the community,” Anderson says. “But given the context of when and where the brewery expansion is happening, I think it’s consistent with the continued investment, growth, and creativity that’s happening in Munster.”

In the final part of this series, we’ll visit the Tar Heel State where one brewery is planning something similar, creating a “beer entertainment complex” that, for enthusiasts, could rival Downtown Disney.

—Bryan Roth

Growing Up, Growing Out, Pt. 1 — Breweries Expand Beyond the Taproom
Growing Up, Growing Out, Pt. 2 — Small-Town Indiana is So Metal
Growing Up, Growing Out, Pt. 3 — North Carolina’s Interactive Beer Disneyland