When Guggman Haus Brewing Co. first opened its doors to friends and family last month, Butler University graduates filled the cozy taproom. Crowding around handcrafted tables, which were built in-house by the founders, they celebrated something many of them had helped to create.
Some had tried the beers before, taste-testing new brews over the last five years. Others had helped with the marketing plan, and one had designed the Haus’s logo. Another even served as the trademark lawyer. Of the microbrewery’s four founders, three hold Butler degrees, so their Bulldog network runs deep.
Twins Courtney (Logel) Guggenberger ‘10 and Abby (Logel) Gorman ‘10 launched the business with their husbands, Derek Guggenberger ‘11 and Ryan Gorman, in 2016. Now, they’ve finally found a home in the Riverside neighborhood just northwest of downtown Indianapolis, where they remodeled a 1916 house that was once occupied by a racing legend.
Since opening to the public on May 25, the microbrewery has focused on more than just beer. Butler gave the owners a passion for chasing their dreams and embracing community. They wanted to provide a welcoming space for people to gather, and making beer has let them do that.
“Beer can bring people together,” says Derek, who now serves as head brewer.
The Brewing Bug
Derek was first to catch the brewing bug. Toward the end of college, he started trying Mr. Beer kits. He knows his beer didn’t taste great, but he enjoyed the process and was proud of what he made. When Derek graduated and headed to Germany for an engineering job, Courtney came along, and they stayed for a year.
Courtney and Derek fell in love with Germany’s beer. They spent weekends exploring small towns, and almost everywhere they went, they found festivals based on Pilsners and Hefeweizens. It was less about the beer and more about the culture.
When they came back to Indiana, Derek started brewing for real. He filled their tiny kitchen with pots, and he used the pantry for fermenting. Brewing soon became more than a hobby: It let Derek merge art and science into one project.
Abby and Ryan found their own love for craft beer in Colorado. They had moved to Denver for a few years, where Abby says the beer scene was “pretty hoppin’.” Ryan started his own home brewing, and Derek pitched the idea of a family business.
The Business is Born
It all started in a basement. When Abby and Ryan moved back to Indianapolis in 2014 (to a home just two streets away from Courtney and Derek in Broad Ripple), they installed a brewing system and built a cold room under the stairs. The couples started hosting beer-centered events in their houses, from casual birthday parties to taste-testing focus groups.
For the next year, they combined their skills to build a plan. Derek’s dual major in Economics and Engineering made him the go-to person for business and brewing. Playing football at Butler (as part of the 2009 team that went 11-1) also taught him time management and the grit to keep going.
Courtney, who studied Integrated Communications, hadn’t sent a news release since college. But by the time she was writing the first one for Guggman Haus, she remembered her campaigns class and even dug out one of her old textbooks.
“To get to do it for your own business—it’s extremely vulnerable,” Courtney says.
But they weren’t going it alone. Among the several Butler friends the owners called on was Sheila (Tomasbi) Schwab, a 2014 graduate the twins knew through their younger sister Sara, who also attended Butler.
During Schwab’s time on campus, she majored in Strategic Communications and minored in Art + Design. She thanks Associate Professor Deborah Skinner for that. Schwab had started college as a Marketing major, but it didn’t feel right, and she says Skinner’s advice helped her find a better fit.
“If it weren’t for her, I think I would be doing something I didn’t actually love,” she says.
When the Guggman Haus owners gave Schwab a creative brief for the logo, she was in the process of becoming a full-time designer. It was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down.
“I wanted the logo to be perfect,” she says. “I probably sketched for hours and hours before I ever took things to the computer to start building out my ideas.”
The final logo includes some fun hidden meanings, Schwab says. The house’s door is a pint glass, and the water and path represent Indy’s downtown canal and cultural trail. The two pine trees in front were made identical, like the twins.
“I don’t think people always realize how much work goes into making something like this come to life,” Schwab says about the brewery.
But the Butler community made it happen. Schwab says Bulldogs become family fast, “and once that happens, there is a lot of trust that exists and joy that comes out of working with people you know.”
While Derek and Courtney recently left their day jobs to run the brewery, the Gormans are splitting their time. Between brewing beer, handling Guggman’s finances, and running the taproom, Ryan works remotely as a business analyst. Abby, who majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders while at Butler, spends three days a week doing speech therapy at Riley Hospital. Her job description at Guggman Haus? “All other things.”
With a business plan made and beers in the works, the only thing holding Guggman back was the Haus.
A Partnership of Beer and Cars
The building now housing Guggman Haus Brewing Co. rests on the old site of the Boyle Racing Headquarters, which was once home to racing legend and three-time Indy 500-winner Wilbur Shaw. After Boyle Racing left the property more than six decades ago, other companies came and went throughout the 1900s until the buildings were left to fall apart.
Then in 2015, a group of vintage racing enthusiasts partnered with Indiana Landmarks to save the historic structures from demolition. They had a vision for restoring the property and driving revenue—a vision that would give Guggman Haus a home.
The two groups met up about three years ago, and it was a match. Now, Boyle Racing owns the land, and Guggman Haus brews the beer. An events center and racing memorabilia garage are slated for the larger building (which, at the moment, is just three walls and a dirt floor). Next door, the property’s two-story 1916 house was perfectly on-brand for the Guggman vision. It even resembles the house in the brewery’s logo, which was designed before the Boyle property was ever in the picture.
“It all came together beautifully,” says Courtney.
While restoring the building, the owners stayed as involved as possible. Rather than opting for the industrial vibe common in modern taprooms, they just wanted the space to feel like home.
They decorated with pieces from their own houses, hand-picked all the paint and stain colors, and brightened the room with fresh-cut flowers. Near the window, a giant Connect Four game tempts guests to stay a while.
When it comes to the beer, Guggman’s brewers are still debating their “signature” drink—or if they will even have one. Instead of featuring a few special options on a menu of milder beers, they want everything to stand out.
The Guggman Haus founders also aim to stay present in community conversations. They want people to know how much they care about the neighborhood. They don’t want to just come in and change it: They want to grow with it. They’ve joined the Riverside Investment Club and the Riverside Business Association, and they hosted a few community events before even celebrating their official grand opening June 15.
According to Schwab, who watched the family work toward that day for the last five years, the Guggenbergers and Gormans are definitely go-getters.
“Some people talk about cool ideas,” she says. “Some people actually go out and chase them.”