Four Day Ray: Fishers Welcomes a New Brewery into the Nickel Plate District
Writer / Kara Kavensky
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
“Four Day Ray” was a nickname given to a railroad worker who called off work one day a week. The acronym FDR also pays homage to our 32nd President who, during his first year in office, ratified the 21st Amendment and brought an end to prohibition. A new brewery in the Nickel Plate District of Fishers pays homage to both by borrowing their name and initials for a new venture centered around craft beer and a gastropub bistro.
Four Day Ray brings together beer lovers Brian Graham, Mitch Ackerman, Matt Troyer and Chris Welsh. The idea originated with Graham’s wife encouraging him to turn his 20-plus year hobby into a business venture.
Graham began planning FDR in 2012. A certified beer judge, Graham sought a professional brewer to complement his concept. He found Ackerman online via probrewer.com. “We share a similar philosophy to brewing,” says Graham of Ackerman. “Mitch was looking to relocated to the Midwest, and this presented the perfect opportunity.”
Ackerman is originally from Akron and has a decade of professional brewing experience. He was living in Arizona at the time Graham reached out to explore a partnership.
Thoughtful consideration has been the modus operandi for FDR, beginning with the brewing formulas. Graham created the recipes, and the team tested their brews for over two years to create a solid, scalable product. Once confident with their results, the concept of a full production facility and complementing services were added. Troyer and Welsh bring their own acumen to the team, handling the real estate and business elements for the venture.
The founders of FDR settled upon the Nickel Plate District after extensive searching for an ideal location. The team aspired to create more than a production facility. Discussions with the City of Fishers began in 2014 with location and permitting approved in 2015. “Over the course of a year, we dialed in our focus and expanded the original plan,” shares Welsh.
“We felt it was important to put this together where we live,” states Troyer. “The location is perfect, and we wanted to do something that we knew this area needed.”
The building is 20,000 sq. ft. SteadyServ occupies the third floor with FDR taking up the first two levels. The main dining area is suitable for families with the upstairs for 21 and older. There is a skywalk above the production facility, and the second floor features a private dining and party room, meeting room and full bar.
“We are a full production facility but knew we needed a food component that was family-friendly,” says Welsh, a father of five.
In addition to filling their own taps, FDR is supplying to other restaurants and bars. They are achieving this with a three vessel, 15-barrel brewhouse, along with four fermenters and two bright tanks which gives them a production capacity of about 2,000 barrels per year. “I am excited about FDR and confident with the direction we are going,” says Ackerman.
Four Day Ray may be new, but the experience is one that resonates from a seasoned, experienced team. “We make an exceptional product,” states Graham. “No cutting corners. With our technical brewing process, if the flavor is off, we make adjustments and begin again. We strive for consistency and have an exceptionally high standard of quality.”
The attention to detail put into the Four Day Ray concept extends from the brewing process to noticeable features throughout the building. From the hooks and charging outlets under the bar to the A/V options in the meeting room on the second floor and the walkup access for patrons for growlers, the consideration for a positive customer experience is clearly a priority. The wood beams, lighting and natural accents give a feel of Old World industry. Industrial garage doors open to outdoor patio seating with heat lamps, a fire pit and retractable awnings for sunshade.
Another thoughtfully planned experience is the walkup line. Customers can grab a growler or retail merchandise “to go” without disrupting the service staff in the main dining room or at the bar.
Experienced Chef Andrew Miller, a graduate of the College of Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University, was brought on to lead the scratch kitchen. “We are a world bistro, featuring globally inspired food. We will add and change items as we grow and welcome customer feedback,” shares Miller. The cicerone-trained staff is ready to match a beverage with any food item on the menu and ready to assist with the extensive craft offerings with spirits as well.
Of the 18 taps to fill inside the bar, FDR has produced Track Jumper IPA, Doonright Scottish Ale, Laplander Blonde, Coffee Blonde, Brick Arch Porter, Inauguration Day Stout, Take The Day Mild, Identity Crisis, Coffee Blonde and Malty Mofo Stout so far. Guest bottles will be available.
The guys warn to be careful around them, for friends and customers are fair game for inspiring a beer. “Naming the beers is part of the fun. For instance, we have had an eccentric electrician named Igor,” says Ackerman. “For winter, we are making a Russian Imperial Stout called Prince Igor.”
Their Laplander Blonde, which inspired a mural on the side of the building that’s drawing some attention, is an early popular brew. “The Laplander is a great boat beer,” says Ackerman. “It’s malty and sweet with a fruity character. It’s a medium-to-light beer and finishes dry with hints of citrus, cedar and marmalade. It’s to be enjoyed any time of day.”
“There’s a story behind every brew, and we encourage our customers to ask our staff about these,” says Graham.
Troyer indicates the drink selection has a “heavy focus on craft” with Indiana artisan Cardinal Spirits, Hotel Tango and small batch wineries on their list. Non-alcoholic craft root beer and sodas are also featured.
“We are a brewery with a really great food concept. We are focused on a high level of excellence with our execution of this facility,” says Welsh.
“Our focus is creating a brand with the ambition of becoming one of the best in the state,” adds Welsh. “But first, we want to make this location a great place by creating a great experience.”
If you can be successful in your own backyard, global domination may happen later.
For more information, visit 16671 Lantern Rd. in Fishers or fourdayray.com.