Passionate Promoter

Microbrewery developer Wade plans Sept. 8 opening of tap room

Madison’s newest attraction
to be in converted grain mill

(August 2018)
Read previous Don Ward columns!

Don Ward

If you’ve spent any time in Madison, Ind., this summer, chances are you’ve come across Mad Paddle Brewery’s Wicket Blonde Ale. Owner Jerry Wade has been all over town and appearing at several Madison festivals promoting his new brand of beer.
Right now the beer is being brewed at New Albanian Brewery in New Albany, Ind. But it will soon be mass produced at his future microbrewery going up at 301 West St. inside a 12,000-square-feet, historic building that once housed Irwin’s and later Lamson’s Feed Mill. In fact, that where the name, Mad Paddle, came from – Mad for Madison and Paddle for the grain paddles that were used in the feed mill but are also used in brewing.

Photo provided

Jerry Wade has been busy promoting his Wicket Blonde Ale around Madison, Ind., this summer.

The New Castle, Ind., native and Ball State University graduate recently purchased the 1870s building and is now fully engaged in turning the massive structure into Madison’s next attraction. He hopes to begin making small batches of beer in October and full-scale production by April 2019.
A second Mad Paddle beer – an IPA – began production in late July at New Albanian Brewery. He has not come up with a name for it yet. Wade says there could be up to 10 varieties of Mad Paddle beer in production by the end of this year.
In addition to a traditional bar and bartender, Wade plans to also have a wall of beer taps on the patio and in the tap room with a self-dispensing system controlled by payment cards. You load a Pour My Beer card with money from your credit or debit card, pick your beer from the taps, and it will pour the beer.
“I have a lot of beer recipes coming my way, including a bourbon barrel-aged beer,” said Wade, 59. In the future, Wade plans to add distilling equipment in one room of the building to produce spirits such as whisky, vodka and gin.
“It takes 18 months after receiving a brewery license to obtain a distillery permit to start making spirits,” he said.
A grand opening of the outdoor patio and 750-square-foot tap room is slated for Saturday, Sept. 8. Eventually, will feature 10 kinds of beer, including two Mad Paddle beers. Wade said he is still deliberating what, if any, food will be offered at the brewery, but there will definitely be plenty of beer.

Photo by Don Ward

This 1870s former grain mill at 301 Mulberry St. in Madison is being converted into Mad Paddle Brewery

Area beer drinkers have been tasting Mad Paddle Brewery’s Wicket Blonde Ale since the RiverRoots Music & Folk Art Festival in early June. Since then Wade has promoted the beer at the Madison Regatta’s Rooster-tails Music Festival, Madison River-front’s Wine, Stein & Barrel event and North Vernon’s Fermentation Festival. Wade plans to also promote the beer at the Madison Ribberfest and Madison Chautauqua.
This will be the first year that the Madison Chautauqua has offered alcohol, and it is because Wade pitched the idea of an alcohol tent to offer a bourbon drink, wine and, of course, his Wicket Blonde Ale. Wade is sponsoring the “8 Decades Drink Tent,” which will be set up on Elm Street during the Chautauqua. The “8 Decades” special bourbon drink will feature Heaven Hill bourbon. Simmons Winery of Columbus, Ind., will be providing four wine options.
Wade created a new associate company, Mad Paddle Event Planning, to do the Chautauqua alcohol tent. He is solely in charged of organizing and running the tent. It will be staffed by volunteers from Simmons Winery and others, he said. “It’s a big deal for the Chautauqua to serve alcohol,” Wade said. The festival will receive a cut of the proceeds as a fundraiser.
Wade recently made it through several months of permitting, zoning and local government bureaucracy to obtain a five-year conditional use permit to operate his microbrewery. The process was so grueling that his brother and partner, Larry Wade, walked away from the project, leaving Jerry to continue on his own.
“It has been harder than I could ever have expected,” Wade said. “But all of that is behind me now, so it’s full speed ahead.”
Wade has hired former Upland Brewery head brewer Caleb Staton to make future Mad Paddle beers. Staton is a Muncie, Ind., native and Hanover College graduate who spent 14 years at Upland Brewery. “His assistance has been invaluable,” Wade said. Staton and New Albanian’s Josh Hill are collaborating on making Mad Paddle’s IPA.

Photo provided

Jerry Wade bought this 1939 vintage Chevrolet truck to promote his new Mad Paddle Brewery in Madison.

Wade also has tapped into the skill set at Hanover College’s chemistry department, garnering the help of chemistry professors Craig Phillip and Tim Cunningham. As a result, the two professors are considering creating a fermentation science program at the college, Wade said.
Meantime, Wade has been involved with area home beer brewers to create the Mad Craft Home Society, a beer making club that already boasts 260 members. Tonie Wycoff serves as the club’s president.
“Creating this club was a natural for me because there are so many home brewers in the Madison area,” Wade said. “I’m a new resident to Madison, so I want to bring value to Madison in whatever way I can. I’ve invested over $1 million in a building to turn it into a destination.”
Wade did not take the normal course of waiting until the microbrewery was built before starting to make and sell his beer. “That’s because Madison has so many great festivals that it was a no brainer to go ahead and make the beer and promote the product while the building was under construction. By the time the microbrewery opens, I will already have an active customer base.”
Recently, Wade bought a 1939 vintage Chevy truck and painted it with a Mad Paddle Brewery scheme to park at events and promote his brand. He also bought a 1942 fire truck. And he has a stylish logo, T-shirts and a vendor tent to promote Mad Paddle Brewery.

Photo provided

Demolition began in July to the west side of the former grain mill where an outside patio will be created for Mad Paddle Brewery customers.

In addition, he has generated a huge following on social media, such as Facebook, where his Mad Paddle Brewery already has more than 2,600 followers. The page features several videos of people talking about how much they like Wicket Blonde Ale beer after having sampled it at recent events. Wicket Blonde Ale is currently available for purchase at Shooter’s Bar & Restaurant, Bad Apple Mac’s and Boneyard Grill in Madison.
As an outsider to Madison, Wade says he was fortunate to have made so many friends in town, many of whom have been instrumental in getting his project off the ground. This small group of supporters include Todd Boone, Jim Pruett, Valecia Crisafulli, Link Ludington, Craig Phillip, Charlie Rolfing, Carla Ginn and Matt True – many of which stood up at a zoning board meeting to say to how good the project would be for Madison. As a result of their comments, the zoning board, after having just voted to delay the project 5-0, voted again at the same meeting and voted 5-0 in support of it.
Wade says he would have never gotten this far had it not been for three things: Boone, Pruett and his Hanover College connection.
Pruett, a local Realtor who represented Wade in the building purchase, said of the project, “I think the brewery will be a great addition to downtown Madison as another destination for a broader range of people. This is an addition and not a substitution for something else. It will make the town more vibrant and hopefully help attract more investors to Madison.”
Pruett said he has become good friends with Wade in the process and said, “It is apparent that Jerry is a business person and not a beer aficionado. Beer just happens to be his product in this project.”

Caleb Staton

Mad Paddle Brewery almost never happened. Wade started working in the financial industry in 1984 in Minneapolis, founding his own business in 1994. He divorced in 2012 after 28 years of marriage. Then after 25 years in the financial industry, he sold his business in 2016 and retired. He was forced into early retirement due to degenerative disc disease, having had five back operations in the past decade and scheduled for a sixth this fall.
Planning to eventually end up in his native Indiana, and with a love of historic property restoration, he purchased a 1850s Victorian home in the heart of downtown Indianapolis in 2015 and turned it into one of Indy’s most stunning collection of luxury vacation rentals, The Villa on Meridian.
He began visiting Madison with his brother in fall 2017 and decided to try to buy a “small” building on Main Street, live on the upper level and rent out the lower level to a retailer. But fate took a turn last spring when a planned trip to the Indonesian island of Bali to focus on eastern medicine practices had to be cancelled due to a volcanic eruption going on there. He cancelled the trip and decided to take another look at Madison to invest in real estate.
“Now look – I’m spending all this money trying to develop this massive building into a microbrewery,” he joked. He rents a small house in downtown Madison and plans to eventually live on the upper floor of the three-story microbrewery.
“I’m not really a craft beer guy, but I do like beer,” he said.

Considering the cost and scope of the Mad Paddle Brewery project, you could say that’s an understatement.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: info@RoundAbout.bz.

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