Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Whistle Pig Brewing plans to expand to a Templeton Gap Road location, pending city's neighborhood variance approval

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2020 at 2:11 PM

click to enlarge Whistle Pig's marmot mascot, Brewster, with a crowler and pint. - COURTESY WHISTLE PIG BREWING
  • Courtesy Whistle Pig Brewing
  • Whistle Pig's marmot mascot, Brewster, with a crowler and pint.

Whistle Pig Brewing Company (1840 Dominion Way,, now in its 5th year, plans to expand to a second location at 2107 Templeton Gap Road, #130. That’s the same shopping center in which Sasquatch Cookies recently opened; as well there’s another Joey’s Pizza location ( planned for the center.

Co-founder and co-master brewer Eric Merrell (his business partner is Rob Beers — yes that’s a real last name) says they hope to be open by late July or August, but currently they’re holding on a variance with the city because they’re less than 200 feet from residential units that have expressed concerns such as noise and parking. "They were concerned it would change the family nature of the neighborhood," says Merrell. "We responded that we're family-friendly ... people don't always understand that breweries aren't like bars; it's not the same clientele."

So, assuming all goes well and they get a green light — the landlord's hopeful as they've already hung a banner out front — Whistle Pig will move brewing operations over, as this space offers a brew area that would be more than three times larger than the current 400 square feet they brew in with a four-barrel system. They’d purchase a new seven-barrel system, accordingly.

“We’re maxed out at our current location,” says Merrell, noting they doubled capacity last year from two to four barrels and had inquired about a neighboring storefront that didn't work out. “If we can’t grow here, we’ve gotta grow somewhere else.”

The new space would host a similar sized tap room, but expand from the current 12 taps to 18 or 20, to include house hard seltzers plus more rotating seasonals and experimental beers, which Merrell defines as something outside of what they normally do, such as a recent imperial stout with cayenne pepper or a California Common.

He says they'd likely do more single-hop IPAs, and barrel-aged beers as well. Current bestsellers include IPAs, such as the flagship Code IV Double IPA and Blue Line IPA, named in honor of law enforcement, and seasonals like a summer-timed Black IPA. With more tap space and brewing capacity, Merrell says the seasonals (which include a winter oatmeal stout and St. Patrick's Day-timed wee heavy Scottish ale) could potentially stick around longer.

This new Whistle Pig would also serve a limited food menu with panini sandwiches and the like, prepped at the current location. They envision also having a relationship with Joey's Pizza to offer pizza on site, since it'd be a neighbor.

Beers and Merrell have been friends for more than 35 years, having graduated Palmer High School together. When Whistle Pig first opened, the Indy gave it a tough, critical review, noting several poorly executed beers.  A year later, we reported a move in the right direction. And more recently, anecdotally, I've heard of continued improvement.

I asked Merrell about that evolution and early bumpiness, and he concedes "we had a huge learning curve, we had our issues, and we worked diligently to overcome them all."

Merrell says he went for a certificate at the Master Brewers Association of the Americas in Madison, Wisconsin last year. "My knowledge increased a lot," he says. "A lot of things I already knew of course, but some of the stuff I learned, I was like 'uh-huh, now I know why that happened.' Now, if something goes wring, I can tell exactly what happened and fix it." 

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