Deviating From the Norm
Deviate Brewing Creates Unique Craft Beers
Writer: Jon Shoulders
Photographer: Ron Wise
Among the many local craft breweries that have cropped up in recent years offering specialty beers throughout Central Indiana, Deviate Brewing on West 96th Street stands as a particularly fearless producer of unique and sometimes downright quirky liquid concoctions.
“Our business model is to focus on the fun end of the beer spectrum,” says co-owner Greg Ortwein, a Kentucky native. “That’s why we’re the size that we are because we realize that it may not be for everyone. We’ve seen that people tend to have fun trying our stuff even if they don’t like all of the flavors they try.”
Nearly 20 years ago Ortwein and fellow owner Mike Orkey started experimenting with home brewing, and after being introduced to Belgian and German beers through a mutual friend, the duo continued to hone their craft through the years until they decided to take things to the next level with their own specialty brewery.
“We had gotten some equipment from a friend and were just doing our own thing as the beer geeks that we are,” Ortwein says. “We clearly couldn’t drink all the beer we were making, and it was getting a good response from friends at parties and events and stuff. It seemed like the natural thing to do after awhile, to open our own brewery but keep it small so we could keep focusing on quality.”
Ortwein and Orkey feel the key to their success since opening Deviate Brewing in August of 2015 has been a willingness to create unexpected and offbeat flavor combinations for those wanting a different kind of beer-tasting experience. Everything produced by Deviate – even its bottled offerings – is made and sold onsite, so you won’t find it in any restaurants or on any retail shelves – at least not yet.
“We didn’t want to get into the rut of producing the same kinds of beers over and over,” Orkey says. “That keeps it exciting for us and for everyone that comes in. People tend to watch us on social media to see what we’re going to come up with next.”
The pet-friendly, 21-and-over facility features eight taps that are constantly rotating with the owners’ latest brew brainstorms. Ortwein says current favorites include the Milkshake IPA, which features fruit and vanilla, and Liquid Currantcy, an imperial stout with chocolate and blackcurrant. Additional fruit-infused selections have included Watermelon Mint and Blueberry Tarragon ales, as well as Berry Deep, a blackberry-and coffee-flavored stout.
“In general we like to say we are foodies at heart, and we love to take fun food flavor pairings and put them in liquid form,” Ortwein says. “The Milkshake puts a spin on hops, and a lot of people who say they don’t like hops have come to like that one.”
Patrons are welcome to bring their own food into the establishment to pair with their beer selections, and Deviate carries menus from several local restaurants for delivery. Growler refills are also offered, and to prevent quick depletion of their supply the owners created the Deviate Drinking Club – for an annual fee members can fill a growler with anything on tap, while other patrons can only fill their growlers with an IPA.
Mike and Greg realize the market for their product isn’t exactly enormous, but they wouldn’t have it any other way, and they have no plans in the immediate future to expand into a mass-production facility.
“You never know what the future might hold, but we want to focus on making fun stuff in small batches as our business model,” Orkey says. “People have seemed to gravitate toward the concept and are excited about something different. We’re constantly changing what’s on our eight taps to keep you coming back to see what fun things we have going on here.”
Deviate Brewing is located at 4004 West 96th Street in Indianapolis. Call 317-374-8249 and visit deviatebrewing.com for additional information. Check their Facebook for updates on beer releases.