The Status on 10-56 Brewery
Mike and Erica Hemphill connected from the get-go with a love for craft beer and visiting breweries. As their relationship brewed into marriage, Mike, who was an active state trooper, and Erica, a freelance photographer, found their personal passion of home brewing in 2013.
Erica started reading up on recipes and styles, and soon created their first two recipes, Serenity, a milk stout, and Lame Ass Beer, a light ale with a touch of citrus. After great results, she decided to brew more than five gallons at a time and started ordering larger kettles and bigger chilling equipment.
Once the couple converted their 16x30 storage barn into a brewery, friends started to flock. “Making beer is expensive, so we created a growler club and those involved could donate to our grain fund and give suggestions on beer styles they hoped to see on our list.”
In 2014, when Mike’s retirement from the state police was in sight, the couple made their dream a reality by starting their own brewery named 10-56 Brewing Company, LLC. “10-56 is the police code for a drunk pedestrian. Oddly enough, the very first yeast we ever used in a beer was the popular Wyeast 1056. What a happy coincidence,” Erica reminisced. The brewery upgraded their system in 2016 to a three barrel Blickman, purchased by Twisted Kate's Brewing in LaPorte, changing the game on their production as they expanded styles and recipes. For the first three years, the Hemphill’s brewed and distributed beer straight to restaurants, with no public taproom. “Making and distributing the beer to restaurants and bars seemed like a full time job already. We did more brew fests that I can count!” Mike’s retirement in 2017 opened up more time for the Hemphill’s to expand their business. In May of 2018, they purchased their building at 2120 S US Highway 35 in Knox, Indiana, their current location.
Customers are treated like friends and can hang out and play games in their taproom or outside on their patio, giving it a home-like atmosphere and family friendly. They serve beer, wine, cider and food. Which is exactly what the Hemphills wanted. Not only do they care about their customers, they also care about their community. 10-65 gives five cents per pint back to local charities of various causes including The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Telling us more about how their current location came to be, she says, “It was originally a lumberyard, with big open spaces and possibilities. We built out the cooler, taproom, and brew room in six weeks and opened on July 6, 2018. We've now been there for over two years, and it has been a nonstop blast. Those three years we spent distributing and focusing on brew fests really helped create a following who believed in us. When we opened our door, they showed up from all over the state (and many from outside!) to support us. And then it happened; locals who didn't know who we were, started showing up and enjoying not only our beer but our fun, laid back atmosphere.”
Erica gave us a look into the way they do business, saying, “Customers love the chance to make a difference for the various causes. We've donated to so many animal shelters, police and fire departments, negative school lunch balances, local youth groups, food banks, etc...and 2020 has given us a chance to expand that [donating]. When COVID happened and so many health care workers and those in public service were still showing up every day, we wanted to show our appreciation and it seemed like so many others did as well, but they didn't know how. So, we started a 10-56 Brewing: Feed Our Heroes campaign. Community members were able to call in and sponsor as many meals as they wanted and then we pooled those numbers together, got busy in the kitchen, and we were able to provide meals to all of our local fire departments, police departments, hospital staff, medical offices, nursing homes, post office, and more. We also have a standing offer since the day we opened; If you are concerned about how to feed your children, whatever the reason, you can walk in and ask for Erica. I will feed them on the spot or send food home with you.” She added, “Our story isn't that unique. If you walk into any small independent brewery, the story will be similar. Joe brewed a batch in his garage and was hooked. His friends drank all of his beer and he decided to open a brewery. If the owner is serving you a beer, then it is DEFINITELY their story! People keep asking how much we want to grow and our answer is always “Not too much.”
Mike and I continue to brew the beer, man our taproom, clean toilets, mow the lawn, and everything else that makes a business run. We have a few amazing people we can count on to help us at our busy events and if we need to slip out of town, but 98% of the time, it's Mike and I. And we like it like that. Craft beer enthusiasts want to talk about craft beer and they want to talk to the people that made it. This is how we make connections that last. We've celebrated our customers’ kids' successes, cried with them over losing a pet, celebrated their milestones, given them tough love, and encouraged them. They've given us all of that and more in return. We are the luckiest people alive.”
ADDING OTHER SENSES TO BUSINESS: FROM BREWERY TO BIRTHING CENTERS
Erica also owns Love You Baby Photography, a newborn photography company she started that contracts with seven hospitals throughout Northern Indiana and was started around the same time the Hemphill’s got their licensing for 10-56.
“I love the chance to help new families document their time in the hospital and to create the first professional portraits of their sweet new baby. It just never gets old,” says Hemphill, who uses her magic touch with the newborns to get classic, timeless, priceless, and professional photos for families.