- Associated Press - Sunday, June 4, 2017

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - There’s a new addition to the menu at Tin Man Kokomo: a golden ale called “First Brew.”

It’s a pretty straightforward name, letting customers know that the wait is over - Kokomo is brewing.

Since Tin Man’s opening late last year in downtown’s historic train depot, craft beer enthusiasts have eagerly awaited the introduction of new recipes brewed exclusively in the Kokomo location, beers that would complement the options currently transported from Evansville.

Now, customers can have their first taste of brewmaster Jack Sramek’s creations. In addition to the golden ale, which took two weeks from brewing to serving, Sramek is expected to place on tap an American pale ale.

And before long, a ginger-style beer, prepared recently by Tin Man employees who peeled and chopped 14 pounds of ginger, will be served.

“I just want to do some creative things that maybe some people haven’t ever tried before,” said Sramek in an interview May 26, flanked on each side by brewing equipment that allows for Tin Man’s unique, mash filter-style brewing.

Sramek, who previously worked for Tin Man in Evansville but began brewing professionally at Warrenville, Illinois-based Two Brothers Brewing Company, said he also wants to recreate a small-batch beer first brewed in Evansville, a pale ale made with prickly pear.

“It’s a fruit that grows off of a cactus. It’s called nopal,” he explained. “And I’d like to do that beer again.”

Along with experimental batches, Sramek will at times brew Tin Man’s standard, year-round beers. On May 26, in fact, he was brewing the popular Circuit bohemian pilsner.

But mostly, such beers will be transported to Kokomo from Evansville, allowing Sramek the opportunity to experiment and try new batches. It’s a setup that was in limbo as recently as this month.

News broke in late March that Tin Man Brewing Co. had gone up for sale for $2.39 million. Earlier in March, the company also announced closures of its Evansville restaurant and tasting room in an online statement.

And while the development never threatened the Kokomo location - Kokomo and Evansville are run as completely separate entities and even operate as different limited liabilities - it did present the possibility that the ability to transport beer from Evansville could be eliminated.

However, The Evansville Courier & Press reported on May 12 that the Evansville property, listed for $2.39 million, has been labeled as under contract.

“Within the next several weeks, we will be announcing an exciting new chapter, leaving the Tin Man brand intact and moving forward,” said co-owner Sara Davidson, according to the paper.

Additionally, Sramek said the Kokomo taproom recently purchased 40 kegs from Evansville, comprised of the company’s Key Lime Sour and Grapefruit Gose.

Overall, Kokomo’s a market that Sramek, new to town, said has responded positively to Tin Man’s offerings. And he expects that trend to continue.

“So far, from what I’ve seen, (there’s) a lot of willing people to try new things,” he said. “I can’t really say for the city; I’ve only been here for three weeks, and I’ve been mostly cooped up in the brewery, so I have yet to go and explore Kokomo.

“But from what I hear it’s an up-and-coming city, and certainly from what I’ve seen a lot of people here are willing to try new things.”

He even expressed optimism about his possible failures.

“If I make a dud and it’s not a hit, there’s only five barrels of it. It’ll go away some time,” he said with a chuckle.

Sramek said he got into brewing as a “poor college student” who believed he could make good beer for cheaper than he could purchase it at a liquor store.

He was right, but the hobby became so consuming that his investments in equipment, time and research likely cost him money. But by then, cost was beside the point.

Sramek, who called his growth as a brewer from that time “night and day,” had found his passion.

“It seems like it’s addictive. I like creating something,” he said. “From just a bag of grain and a bag of hops and some water and some yeast, and it turns out to be this product that I love.

“And I like to drink it. It’s a social thing to go to a bar and drink with your friends, and that’s what I like. And I love making it.”

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Source: Kokomo Tribune, https://bit.ly/2qzEaVi

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com

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