The Town of Chesterton is going to be home to the area’s only small brewery.
At its meeting Thursday night, the Board of Zoning Appeals voted 5-0 to
grant a use-variance allowing Hunters Brewing LLC to operate at 1535 S.
Hunters Brewing, as it happens, is one of the state’s very few female-owned
breweries, the business of majority owner Amy Gentry and Chesterton native
It’s also a “nano-brewery”—even smaller than a craft brewery—and will make
31-gallon one-barrel batches of artisan crafted ales using locally sourced
and seasonal products, Gentry told members.
The business will feature a “comfortable,” smoke-free tasting room for
adults 21 and older, a small sales area, and a very limited menu. Under
state law there is a “minimum food requirement” for small-brewery permits
“and we’re meeting that,” Gentry said. At some point in the future, Gentry
and Reisetter will consider more extensive food offerings.
Hours of operation have not yet been determined but Hunters Brewery is
unlikely to open before 4 or 5 p.m. and will close around 10 or 11 p.m.,
Gentry added. “This is not a last-call establishment. It’s not a place
that’s going to be open to 2 a.m.”
Gentry did say that the use-variance is a prerequisite for obtaining federal
and state permits. To give some idea of the nano-nature of their operation,
Gentry noted that a small-brewing permit allows the brewing of up to 30,000
barrels annually. Hunters Brewing, in contrast, will be turning out
“hundreds of barrels.”
At a public hearing prior to the vote, Heather Ennis, executive director of
the Chesterton/Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of the petition. “The
Chamber of Commerce is interested in entrepreneurial growth,” she said. “I
know beer enthusiasts who will visit Chesterton just to try out the new
brewery. We’re excited about the opportunity of having them in Chesterton.”
Town Manager Bernie Doyle, speaking on behalf of the town, also endorsed the
petition. “Officially the Town of Chesterton sees this as an economic
driver,” he said.
Three others also spoke in favor the petition, friends and family of
Reisetter, who all took note of his skills as a brewer and his great
interest in setting up shop in his hometown.
No one spoke in opposition to the petition.
Gentry did field a few questions from members. Sig Niepokoj wanted to know
the maximum occupancy.
That hasn’t been determined yet but Reisetter guessed around 40. Doyle, for
his part, said that staff has calculated that there are 25 parking spaces
available at the location.
Jim Kowalski asked whether the brewery would be using propane during the
No, just natural gas, Gentry said, for which the space has already been
In other business, members voted 5-0 to schedule a public hearing at its
next meeting, April 26, on the petition of Donald Haines, owner of Haines
Collision at 1516 Broadway, for three variances:
•A use variance to allow the construction in an R-2 zone of a small
pre-fabricated hut to house a fiber optic “regeneration point” between South
Bend and Chicago, for Great Lakes Comnet of East Lansing, Mich.
•A development standard variance to allow the construction of that hut on a
lot smaller than the minimum size permitted by Town Code.
•And a development standard variance to allow the erection of a six-foot
fence around the hut, one foot taller than permitted by Town Code.
Aaron Bowie of Comnet told members that the regeneration point is needed to
enhance the strength of the fiber optic signal as it travels to Chicago from
South Bend. The further signal from its origination point, the weaker it
gets, Bowie said.
In response to a query from Niepokoj, Bowie said that there will be “no
strange noises” associated with the equipment; that there will be an
emergency backup generator at the site but only for use in the event of a
power outage; that there will be no storage at the site; and that there will
be no microwave activity as part of the equipment’s operation.
Bowie noted that Comnet is under contract with Verizon to connect the
regeneration point by cable to the cell tower on East Porter Ave. near the
ambulance barn and that the Town of Chesterton could tap into it if