Pour it on

Published 3:13 pm Friday, December 30, 2011

Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT If you visit the microbrewery, you might run into the guys that work there. Below, from left, are Ben Roule, Sam Roule, Stephen Foster, Tom Ebert and David Spottiswood.

Hoping to tap into the growing popularity of the craft beer industry, one Michiana family with a rich beer history is offering its unique take on the microbrewery.

Robert Roule and his sons, Ben and Sam, opened Four Horsemen Brewing Co. in August at the intersection of Fellows and East Bronson streets in downtown South Bend, Ind.

Named after the legendary foursome of Notre Dame football players, Four Horsemen Brewing Co. offers an onsite taproom where visitors can drink while experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of a microbrewery.

Food is provided through a partnership with the Dew Drop Inn Restaurant.

Beer enthusiasts can also purchase Four Horsemen T-shirts, glasses and 64-ounce “growlers” of beer to take home from the taproom. The company’s logo contains the photo of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame — Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden, Don Miller and Harry Stuhldreher — taken in the 1920s.

Four Horsemen Brewing offers four beers: Blonde Ale, Irish Stout, Pale Ale and Irish Red, with more beer coming soon. The alcohol by volume content is lower than other craft beers, ranging from 4.2 percent to 4.8 percent.

“We went with a lower ABV on these beers to hit a larger demographic of drinkers,” said Ben Roule. “We want people to be able to drink our beers and not just get slaughtered.”

Ben said they are planning to roll out a couple of India Pale Ales in early 2012, along with a Black Lager and Irish Lager. Their beer can be found on tap in many local establishments and packaged at area liquor stores and groceries.

Stephen Foster, the company’s master brewer, is the man behind the beer’s flavor. Foster began developing the beer in Sam Roule’s pole barn west of South Bend prior to moving into the building on Fellows Street. Foster has honed his craft at many places all over the world, including brewery school in Germany and jobs in South Africa and the Dominican Republic.

“We were lucky to find him,” Ben Roule said.

The Roules have had a large influence on the beer industry in the Michiana area.

The late Athur Roule Sr., (Robert’s father) purchased a small beer distribution company in Michigan City, Ind., called Laporte County Beverage in 1945. Robert took over the business in the early 1970s and purchased another distribution company in the 1980s called Michiana Beverage in South Bend. They renamed it Metro Beverages.

Ben and Sam worked at Metro Beverages until the family sold it to Indiana Beer in 2009. At that time, Metro Beverages was selling almost 3 million cases of beer every year.

The Roules went to work creating Four Horsemen Brewery shortly after selling Metro Beverages.

Ben said they plan on expanding Four Horsemen into Chicago and southwest Michigan in the near future.