BY GREG SIERING
In May, after much anticipation and a few false starts, Switchyard Brewing Company officially became part of the Bloomington craft beer community. The grand opening, originally scheduled for last winter, showcased the extensive renovation of the former Jake’s Nightclub building at 419 N. Walnut into a brewery and taproom that is best described as rustic-industrial—polished concrete floors, limestone bar, rough-hewn lumber trim, stainless-steel brewing equipment, and plenty of natural light.
Owners Kurtis Cummings and Jeff Hall say they spent the extra time developing a space that would support a concept that “felt as welcoming as walking into your friend’s living room.”
Fostering community has always been at the heart of the Switchyard plan. Besides offering a friendly environment for socializing, the brewery offers free use of its Brewhouse Boardroom to local organizations needing a meeting space, and local entrepreneurs can work on-site throughout the day.
The company also gives back to the community by showcasing a local nonprofit on the first Sunday of each month and shares a portion of that day’s sales with the group. Beer flights—a sampler of five beers—come with a wooden nickel worth a dollar off Switchyard merchandise or a $1 donation to a local cause.
Cummings and Hall also emphasize local business partnerships, most notably with Hopscotch Coffee, Cup & Kettle Tea Company, Creative in Bloom, and The Big Cheeze food truck. The food truck partnership is especially important since Switchyard doesn’t have a kitchen. While early plans included food service, the team decided to focus instead on brewing beer and creating a welcoming environment in which to enjoy it.
Cummings says opening in May allowed the brewery to expand its line of beers, refine its service, and build a strong following before the rush of students in the fall. “We’re working to capture the hearts of the locals,” he says.