March 25, 2014

Kickstarter-ed bookstore in Indianapolis offers books & beer


Books & Brews opens its doors in Indianapolis.

Books & Brews opens its doors in Indianapolis. Via Shutterstock / LaCameraChiara

Following the example of stores in Denver and Baltimore, an industrious bookseller recently decided to open a combination used bookstore/bar in Indianapolis. Michael Anthony Adams reports for the Indianapolis Star that Jason Wuerfel turned to Kickstarter to raise the money he needed to fund the establishment, which opened its doors last Friday.

Wuerfel had hoped to have his own bookstore for a while, he told the Star. Now 33, he’d toyed with the idea since his days as an English major at the University of Michigan, but says, “when the market collapsed, there was no viability in a bookstore. How do you make your margins in order to survive?” Eventually he landed on the inspiration for Books & Brews, places like Spotty Dog Books and Ale in Hudson, NY, that highlight locally crafted beers alongside books.

Wuerfel decided to take the idea of local craftsmanship one step further, by not only building all the furniture (including bar stools, tables, and the bar itself) by hand, but also brewing all the beers he serves on the premises. He even offered up a chance for backers to help create their own brew, with two spots for people who contributed upwards of $500 to design and name a beer that would then be served at the bar (though it doesn’t look like these rewards were claimed by anybody).

A sense of community is a big part of the philosophy that Wuerfel wants to instill into the store-cum-nanobrewery, but disconnecting from technology is also important. The tagline for Books & Brews is “Read, Drink, Converse,” which he says they chose “because we want to give that social platform to people.” To that end, he’s split the space in half, with the used bookstore in front open to all ages, and the taproom in the back restricted to patrons 21 and older; “that gives us,” he explains in his Kickstarter video, “the flexibility of doing family-oriented events and then doing 21-and-over-oriented events. For the back of the store, the taproom, I’m really hoping to key into the arts community here in Indianapolis, both with artists, poets, musicians, authors; and really run a lot of events to showcase their talents.”

Wuerfel met his fundraising goals and then some, with 159 backers giving a total of $17,264, putting it over his stated objective of $15,000. Books & Brews celebrated its grand opening last Friday, with a performance by local Celtic band Whiskey Verbena.


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.