Drink Local: Warsaw’s beverage scene builds on the laketown's culinary creativity

It’s no secret that the Warsaw and Winona Lake community are driving the area’s restaurant scene toward a new standard with locally sourced menu items and made-in-house specialty recipes. 

A focus on living, eating—and drinking—well with a do-it-yourself attitude have been distinguishing themes of the area’s culinary creations for generations. 

But while any city’s food and drink scene can boast hidden gems, it becomes something special when those gems show dedication and integrity toward creating one-of-a-kind, authentic experiences.

This is exactly what HopLore Brewing, Man Cave Brewing, and Tippy Creek Winery in Kosciusko County are focused on.  

When it comes to the adult beverage sector, the well of drinks locally brewed in Warsaw has only deepened over the years. These businesses are refining the art of alcohol creation with local flair, providing family-friendly environments and genuine home-cooked meals to compliment their specialty drinks.

HopLore Brewing

Customers write on the wall at HopLore Brewing, adding to its ambiance.
While Kosciusko County’s land isn’t the ideal environment for vineyards, HopLore Brewing in Leesburg, Indiana, has unearthed an ingredient totally unique to brewing that northeastern Indiana can lay claim to: Donuts.

Amish Krack, as HopLore Brewing has dubbed its beer, is made with the widely-praised, Amish-made sugary donuts of Rise‘n Roll Bakery. But their menu’s connections to the surrounding community don’t stop there.

Drew Wilks caps bottles of beer at HopLore Brewing.

The Owner Stefan King and Head Brewer Joseph Hull opened HopLore Brewing in the Old Leesburg Mill in the spring of 2017, turning the 115-year-old building into a bright and modern hangout spot that’s created to bring people together.

“We didn’t want TVs every two feet,” King says. “We wanted to be more of a community gathering place. It’s fun to watch people sit at the bar, talk to someone they’ve never met before, strike up a conversation, and the next time they see each other, they’re friends. That was something that really flowed, but our personalities are worked into the building themselves at this point.”

HopLore Brewing is a community gather space.

Both northeastern Indiana locals from Elkhart, Ind., King and Hull attended high school together and reconnected about 10 years later when they noticed their interests in home-brewing aligned. They also wanted to maintain their respective crafts while taking their careers in a different direction than their current jobs were going.

At the time, Hull was in bacterial fermentation and King was managing a restaurant, so they came together around craft beer.

“The different flavors—the freshness of real beer—is what really interested me,” Hull says. “I was told making beer was much easier than what I was currently doing, so I experimented and realized I was pretty good.”

Head Brewer Joseph Hull, left, and Drew Wilks bottle and cap beer at HopLore.

Today, Hull has been perfecting his craft of home-brewing for five years, and the brewing process at HopLore takes about eight steps. He and King continue to experiment with recipes. Combined with King’s culinary background, other recipes as unique as Amish Krack have been born, such as their fruity Dreamsicle series of beers.

“We like to consider ourselves the brewery for beer geeks, so we get a lot of hard-to-find, rare things in stock,” King says.

Whatever types of beers HopLore doesn’t brew themselves, they fill the gaps with guest taps from local breweries or their own favorites. Their own footprint also extends past Kosciusko County, where they have about 30 accounts between South Bend and Fort Wayne.

HopLore Brewing offers a spacious modern bar and dining area.

Despite their regional reach, their focus remains intensely local. HopLore maintains its connections to the Warsaw area community with everything from hosting trivia and euchre nights, to featuring the talents of area artists.  

It also extends its community responsibility to how its products are made. On its menu, the meat for tacos and summer sausage comes from a farm less than a mile away, where the animals are in-turn fed with the brewery’s spent grain.

“The intertwine of the community and what we do is very important,” King explains. “The saying is, ‘drink local,’ but you can’t expect the people to drink local if you’re also not trying to support the local community.”

As part of HopLore's community spirit, guests hang personalized beer mugs on the wall.

The power of this philosophy is written on the walls. Literally. Inside HopLore, the walls are covered in sharpie with hundreds of names and sayings. Paintings for sale from local artists line the walls, and HopLore hopes to add art from Redbird Art Studio, where all artists are clients of Cardinal Services in Warsaw (an organization that assists and advocates for people with disabilities).

Whenever HopLore hosts live music, they strive to select musicians locally, as well. Their previous “Live, Local Music” series held artists exclusively from Leesburg’s 550-person town.

For their upcoming events, visit their Facebook page.


Man Cave Brewing Company

Man Cave Brewing Company at 10201 N SR 13 in Syracuse, Ind.

Just minutes from the beautiful Lake Wawasee, Man Cave Brewing Company started just as you might suspect—when three men in Syracuse turned a renovated pole building into a guys’ retreat in 2007.

Before long, the friends tried their hands a brewing beer together, and after years of creating a few favorite concoctions for family and friends, they opened a lodge-like Man Cave bar and started commercially distributing beer.

Then, in March 2018, they opened a new brewpub and restaurant at 10201 N. State Route 13 with a 10-barrel microbrewery on site, a full menu, bar service, and a family room.

Inside Man Cave Brewing Company's new space.

Step into the open, industrial space today, and you’ll find 13 house beers, ranging from the Honey Badger (“amazingly light” in color and taste) to the Jiffy Lube peanut butter stout.

With each flavor, Man Cave prides itself on creating a “smooth and easy to drink” ale that can prompt people of many tastes to “grunt in approval.” But joking aside, the culture it's creating in Syracuse gives back to the surrounding community, too.

For instance, Man Cave is hosting the Wawasee Kiwanis club’s Wawabrewski Beer Fest on June 29th where all of the proceeds go to support local Kiwanis charities, including Riley Children’s Hospital.

“Come join the great time and support a great cause,” Man Cave’s website says. “Sample brews from 15-20 local Indiana Breweries, enjoy some great food and music, and kick off the July 4th holiday week at the lakes!”

Learn more about Man Cave Brewing Company on its website.


Tippy Creek Winery

Tippy Creek Winery is located at 5920 N. 200 E. in Leesburg.

Tippy Creek Winery in Leesburg, Ind., is close to Tippecanoe Lake on Dan and Lori Richcreek’s family property. They take pride in being the only winery within a 50-mile radius while also being surrounded by the county’s many lakes.

The winery’s story began in 2009 after the Richcreek’s adult children gifted them a wine-making kit for Christmas. When their batches of homemade wine became more and more successful, their passion for the craft grew, and they began gifting bottles to friends and family.

A sampling of Tippy Creek Winery's flavors.

Before they knew it, they had more wine than they knew what to do with, so Dan perfected his craft by taking online classes at the University of California, Davis, which is the largest viticultural (wine growing and harvesting) school in the country.

The Richcreek’s property of green rolling hills and classic Indiana countryside has been in their family for more than 50 years, and they thought it was the perfect spot to bring their dream of connecting the community over glasses of homemade wine to life. They broke ground for the winery in July 2015, and Tippy Creek opened its doors in June 2016.

Lori says that while her family is fulfilling a dream, it wouldn’t be possible without the community’s support. As such, the winery stays focused on acting as a community gathering place.

“We feel blessed because a lot of people told us we were crazy and that this would never work in this area,” Lori says. “But we did see a void in this area because the closest winery to go to is about 50 miles away from Two EE’s in Roanoke, Country Heritage Winery in Laotto, or Fruit Hills Winery and Orchard in Bristol. There was nothing connecting those wineries to us, so we went forward and built.”

Tippy Creek Winery's patio is pet friendly.

Testifying their success in their craft, Tippy Creek Winery received Double Gold and Best in Class awards for their red wine, Tippy Zippy, at the Indy International Wine Competition during their first year of operation. Visitors might just be able to meet the famous Zippy, the Richcreek’s family dog, lounging around the winery on any given day.

Beyond that, the Richcreeks explain that their wine is as home-made as it gets. Because Indiana’s environment isn’t good for fruit growing, they source their juice from vineyards in Michigan and the West Coast. Then Dan begins the four- to six-month process of fermentation, using different blends of grapes to create their range of flavors.

Locals can enjoy wines named after the many lakes in the area, such as Chapman Catawba, Winona White Caps, and Dewart Dry Dock, while visitors can learn about the lake environment that helps define Kosciusko County.

For the winery’s event schedule, visit its Facebook page.

Read more articles by Ciara Knisely.

Ciara Knisely is Input Fort Wayne’s “Focus on Warsaw” Project Editor. As a recent Manchester University graduate and a Warsaw native, she enjoys the opportunity to highlight powerful narratives in the local area. She also works for OrthoWorx, Inc., a local grassroots non-profit, and Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation.
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