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Hydraulic Ale works!

As someone who lives in Elkhart County, I have a confession to make.

I’m not a big fan of the city of Elkhart.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Northern Indiana in general, and the city I live in (Goshen). Just…not a fan of Elkhart. So for me to make the trek downtown, I probably need a good reason.

Hydraulic Ale Works gave me that reason.

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The new brewhouse, located in the old McCarthy’s restaurant, held their grand opening on Monday (April 8). I decided to stop in Wednesday after a work meeting nearby. I left there 3 hours later thoroughly impressed!

Now, I had never been to the previous establishment, so I have no frame of reference to what the building looked like before, but all I know is that the first impression was that of a slightly upscale restaurant with the charm of your typical neighborhood brewery, if that makes sense.


Their beer menu was relatively standard, as to be expected with a start-up brewery. They had six of their own concoctions available, and bottles of a couple other relatively well-known ales. I ordered a flight as per usual (which allows you to sample 5 of the 6 beers available). I missed out on “Malevolence”, their Belgian Golden Strong, but when getting a flight, I view it as a marathon, not a sprint, so I passed on the beer with the highest ABV (even though it is a manageable 8%).

Next time.

As for the beers, they were solid. Hydraulic definitely leans into the Belgian style beers, which admittedly are not my favorite style, but that is just a matter of personal preference. I definitely finished the flight, so what do I know? I will say that my favorite beer is their Nucleation IPA. For a Belgian style IPA, it didn’t have that over-the-top dryness that style tends to have. I really enjoyed it! My second favorite is their American Stout, Space Panda. It is one of the fullest bodied stouts I have probably ever had, and it was delicious!

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If I am being completely honest, their food menu intrigued me almost as much as the beer did! I love a brewery with diverse food options. And while they have standard pub fare like a soft pretzel, soup, salad and burgers, they also have dinner options such as hangar steak and mussels. (Usually. They didn’t the night I was there, but I’m not a seafood guy anyway.) I went with the basic burger, and was very, very pleased. I’m a no-frills guy when it comes to food, so if you can do a good burger, you have a fan in me.

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As mentioned above, the building itself is very nice, with a combination of bar stools, table and booths available, allowing for plenty of seating available. However, what makes Hydraulic stand out is a back patio that overlooks the Elkhart River. While Wednesday was not ideal weather for such a view, I surmise that it will be quite a hit this summer!

I told you it was less than ideal weather.

Overall I was very impressed with Hydraulic Ale Works! Usually when a new business is just getting off the ground, you can expect some hiccups. But I saw no such problems. And while it is not far from another brewery (the well-established Iechyd Da)┬áthe two are really quite different from each other in food, drink and ambiance. So in that regard, I really think they will compliment each other in “The City With a Heart” quite well!

Who knows, I just may end up coming to Elkhart a lot more often now.

To see the interview Indy Craft Brew did with the new General Manager of Hydraulic Ale Works, Jordan Mullins, click here.

Born and raised Hoosier who enjoys beer, minor league baseball, beer, the Green Bay Packers, beer, the Indiana Hoosiers, and beer.

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