November 2018 Writer \/\/ John Cinnamon\u00a0\u00a0 Photography \/\/ Laura Arick Shortly after Darren Connor arrived at Indiana University as an 18-year-old freshman, he called his father, Jerry, back home in Carmel with what might be considered a question about investing. \u201cDo I buy a fake ID, or do I buy a beer kit, so I can make my own beer?\u201d recalled the elder Connor. The decision to buy that beer kit more than 20 years ago began a beermaking journey that led the Connor family to recently open their second Bier Brewery & Taproom at 13720 N. Meridian St. in Carmel\u2019s Meridian Village Plaza. Jerry, co-owner of Bier Brewery, explained that Darren parlayed that early interest in beermaking into a job with the Bloomington Brewing Company for four years while still in school. Then after 10 years at Great Fermentations in Indianapolis as its main brewer, Darren and the Connor family felt the time was right to go into business for themselves. \u201cMy wife and I and a couple of other relatives always thought that if had the cojones, we\u2019d have the interest,\u201d said Jerry. And the family-owned and operated Bier Brewery & Taproom was born, opening its first location eight years ago at 5133 E. 65th St. in Indianapolis. \u201cWe\u2019re here because of him. We\u2019re here because of his expertise and his quality of work.\u201d That quality of work is exemplified by the dozens of awards that cover the taproom walls. \u201cNo other brewery or brewpub has the number of award-winning beers that we have,\u201d said Connor. \u201cWe are the most decorated brewery in the state for Indiana state medals.\u201d Bier Brewery\u2019s brewing philosophy is simple. \u201cEvery day they come in to brew, Darren would always say this is going to be the best batch he\u2019s ever brewed,\u201d said Connor. Asked if Darren has lived up to that daily promise, Connor throws a casual glance over his shoulder to the 70+ trophies and says, \u201cLook at the wall.\u201d Bier Brewery in Carmel brings the same relaxed, kick-back atmosphere that has come to define its original location. \u201cCollectic\u201d is the word Connor uses to describe the eclectic mix of comfy, overstuffed couches and mismatched tables and chairs \u2013 often donated by regular customers. It\u2019s all designed to create a sense that the taproom is an extension of your own living room. A fair amount of reclaimed wood plays a big part in the d\u00e9cor as it does at the 65th St. location. All the tap handles are made from wood remnants, and the Carmel bar is made from wood salvaged from an early 19th century barn in Tipton. \u201cAnother thing that we\u2019re excited about is Sarah bringing her chalkboard art to Carmel,\u201d said Connor. Sarah Buschmann is Bier Brewery\u2019s Indianapolis taproom manager and creative director. But she\u2019s probably best known for the intricate and colorful chalk art she creates every week on the chalkboard above the taps. She draws her inspiration from local events or national stories of interest. Her homage to Burt Reynolds\u2019 Cosmo centerfold after his recent passing was especially impressive. She says she\u2019s looking forward to seeing the people that will become the new \u201cregulars\u201d in Carmel. \u201cThis is very much like a \u2018Cheers\u2019-y type place where we know a lot of the loyal customers,\u201d she said. Two major differences distinguish Bier Brewery\u2019s Carmel location from the taproom in Indianapolis. First, the size. The space in Meridian Village Plaza is twice as big, allowing for an area to host private events and parties, and the bar is double the size and includes seating. And second, it\u2019s family-friendly, offering finger food and space for families with young children. Jerry says there are also plans for live entertainment periodically and maybe even comedy night, something they\u2019ve been doing at the original location for some time. \u201cThe nice thing is, depending upon what the neighbors want, we\u2019ll do it,\u201d he said. Carmel residents Chip and Pam Edgington were regulars at the original Bier Brewery and are now managers of the new location. \u201cWe adopted Chip and Pam into the Connor family,\u201d said Jerry, reiterating the familial nature of the business, which also includes his younger son, Ryan. \u201cChip and Pam had been coming into the brewery for many years,\u201d said Connor. \u201cI made a comment to them that I\u2019ve had multiple customers come and say, \u2018Hey, if you guys ever expand, let us know because we want in.\u2019 And Chip said, \u2018You better stop right there because we want to do this.\u2019\u201d Connor plans to use the Carmel shop to support neighborhood charities and local churches as he has done with the 65th St. taproom for many years. Everyone\u2019s welcome at the new family-friendly Bier Brewery & Taproom in Carmel. But if you want to buy beer, don\u2019t bring a fake ID.