Bare Hands Brewery also offers a few panini-style sandwiches to patrons. Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Man behind the beer

Published 8:12pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You’ve got to hand it to Chris Gerard.

The Michiana man knows how to make a good beer — just ask the customers that pack his small brewery on the northwest side of Granger, Ind.

They’ll tell you the man behind the beer is what makes it so good. Gerard has had a hand in every batch.

“What I do with my beer is I make stuff I like to drink,” Gerard said. “I go for more of a full-flavored, bigger-flavored beer with the highest-quality ingredients. Our beers are generally a little stronger than most.”

Strong indeed.

There aren’t any wimpy beers to be found at Bare Hands Brewery, which opened in December at 12804 Sandy Ct.

Its regular beers have an alcohol by volume, or ABV, count ranging from 5 to 7 percent. The stronger stuff ranges from 8.5 percent to 10.5 percent.

“Those are the beers you sit back with and sip like a wine, let it warm up, let the flavors come out,” Gerard said.

Even though Gerard is the one making all the beer at Bare Hands, he doesn’t like to be called a brewmaster. Gerard has no formal training in brewing beer and hasn’t worked for a commercial brewer. He is self-taught, gaining knowledge the hard way by reading books and doing research on the internet.

Gerard, 31, began brewing beer in his parent’s garage about five years ago, after he received a home-brewing kit for Christmas. He was working in construction at the time, and when the housing bubble burst, he had more time to devote to making beer.

He eventually became obsessed with it, making batch after batch and letting his friends and family taste his creations. After receiving a lot of positive feedback, Gerard began thinking he could make beer for a living.

Using his construction skills, Gerard built the brewery from the ground up. He has a large Facebook following and says it is hard to make enough beer to keep up with the current demand.

One of Bare Hands’ most popular brews is the Thai India Pale Ale. It is an IPA-style beer made with Thai ingredients. Gerard adds rice to the grist and mash and other Thai-inspired flavors to the boil, such as Thai palm sugar and Kaffir lime leaf.

“People like that citrusy flavor and aroma along with the IPA, so it works nicely,” he said.

Gerard is brewing between six to nine different beers a week. Most of it is on a rotation — meaning customers won’t see the same beer every week.

Gerard tries to put his spin on the different styles of beer. Sometimes that means breaking the rules.

“I am not afraid to go beyond the style guidelines in certain areas, but I also stay close to the parameters for that certain style,” he said. “Basically, it is a progressive craft beer.”

Right now, customers can only get Bare Hands beer at the brewery. Customers can bring in their own growlers to take home; otherwise, they must do their drinking in store.

The brewery has a few flat-screen televisions, tables, couches and a bar area. Servers pour pints and snifters and offer beer flights where customers can sample many varieties of beer. They also offer a few panini-style sandwiches.

Gerard said he plans to someday increase production, do some outside sales and bottle his beer.

“That would be somewhere down the line,” he said. “Right now, we are pretty comfortable where we are at.”

For more information, contact Bare Hands Brewery at (574) 277-2258 or visit Gerard’s blog at barehandsbrew.blogspot.com.

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