Dreaming Big

Mad Paddle Brewery continues its expansion into food, music, more

Owner Wade moves ahead with the plans
for an artisan distillery

(September 2020)
Read previous Don Ward columns!

Don Ward

(September 2020) – Ever since Jerry Wade moved from Minneapolis to Madison, Ind., in 2018, he has been working to realize his dream of creating an “experience” for craft beverage lovers. After more than a year of pushing his idea forward through the state and local bureaucracy and legalities of owning a brewery in Indiana, while at the same time buying and renovating a 9,000-square-foot, 1870s-era former grain mill, his dream has finally become a reality.
Mad Paddle Brewery has been a huge hit in Madison for residents and visitors alike. He first opened a 1,650-square-foot tap room in December 2018, and this past spring an outdoor patio followed. He then began offering live music on weekends. And in mid-August, he teamed with Deputy, Ind.’s Pizza Uncommon owner David Long to begin offering artisan pizza and breadsticks.

Jerry Wade - Mad Paddle Brewery

Photo by Don Ward

From left, Mad Paddle Brewery owner Jerry Wade and Pizza Uncommon owner David Long pose in the tap room, where they are now serving beer and pizza.

And there’s much more to come.
Long is hiring more staff and working on new recipes for many pizza flavors and soon hopes to begin offering “creative” milk shakes and specialty salads. Meantime, Wade has a team of construction workers renovating the large main floor room to serve as a beer hall with VIP balcony, which combined can accommodate 152 people. The hall would also be available for weddings and private parties. An upstairs room will be converted into a sort of game room with TVs for guests to watch sports and can accommodate nearly 100 people.
Meantime, he plans to open a Garage Distillery Room in the back of the building, where guests will be able look down into microbrewery basement and across to the artisan distilling area. He has received federal and state approval for the distillery – including obtaining one of Madison’s new three-way alcohol licenses – in August and hopes to have it ready for an Oct. 31 grand opening.
“This is not just a brewery; this will be an experience for our guests,” says Wade, 61. “Getting that three-way license was critical for us to be able to sell beer and distilled spirits throughout the building.”
Mad Paddle offers 12 beers on tap and take-home Crowlers, plus canned wine, a canned seltzer and a canned gluten free beer. Mad Paddle currently ranks No. 5 in the state, according to beer-drinking voters on the app Untappd.com. The Wicket Blood Orange ranks No. 1 and the Wicket Blonde Ale ranks No. 3. among craft beers ranked on the site. Mad Paddle’s brewer, Tonie Wycoff, makes the smaller batch beers on site, while the larger batch beers are brewed at a Bloomington, Ind., brewery.

Mad Paddle Brewery

Photo provided

Mad Paddle Brewery’s outdoor patio as been “the place to be” this summer to enjoy craft beer and music.

Many beer drinkers have discovered the new brewery at area festivals over the past two years. Wade began selling his beers at area festivals in summer 2018 – six months before the brewery even opened. Mad Paddle beers are now available on tap at several Madison restaurants – Shooters, Rivercrest Lighthouse, Bad Apple Macs and Off Broadway Tap Room, to name a few.
Soon, the brewery will add Mad Paddle distilled spirits to the list. Wade has teamed up with Hanover College chemistry professor Craig Phillip, who will begin distilling spirits on site. They plan to begin by offering moonshine and flavored moonshines.
“When we open all the rooms, we will have gone from 1,650 square feet to 9,000 square feet of space and an increase in our occupancy from 49 to more than 400,” Wade said. For the grand opening on Oct. 31, he plans to feature live music by Rusty Bladen’s full band in the new beer hall and a Halloween costume party. “We hope to make it the biggest Halloween party in Madison.”
After having to cancel their fundraiser event twice due to COVID-19, Mad Paddle Brewery on Aug. 28 donated $1,500, which was a percentage of its beer sales since March, to the Lide White Boys & Girls Club. Long, meanwhile, brings a party of his own to the brewery because of his reputation as an artisan pizza maker in Deputy, where he offered his creations at a convenience store called Gather. “People drove from miles around for my pizzas,” he said.
Long, 35, and his wife, Holly, and two young boys moved to the area from Lafayette, Ind., where he had managed several pizza outlets located in gas stations while perfecting his skills at making artisan pizzas.

Mad Paddle Brewery

Photo provided

Mad Paddle’s new sign announces the addition of Pizza Uncommon at the Madison, Ind., brewery.

“I only use the best ingredients and make my own sauce and sausages,” said Long, a native of Bolingbrook, Ill., just outside of Chicago.
At Mad Paddle, his pizzas are sold in three sizes – small, medium and large – for $8, $13 and $18. He also offers a kid’s size personal pizza. “I want my pizzas to be an experience, and I plan to change the menu every two weeks or so.” He said that in addition to the creative flavored pizzas, he will still offer a basic pepperoni pizza.
During the recent grand opening in August of Pizza Uncommon at Mad Paddle Brewery, Long ran out of pizzas. “He’s truly a pizza artist,” Wade said of Long.
Armed with a pizza artist on board and a new distillery and beer hall on the way, Wade is positioned to fully realize his dream of turning the old grain mill into the “experience” destination that is now Mad Paddle Brewery.

• 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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