Oaken Barrel Brewing Company
John Treeter got his start brewing beer nearly 15 years ago the same way many folks do—making an objectively mediocre and underwhelming homebrew.
Today he is head brewer at the award-winning Oaken Barrel Brewing Company in Greenwood, Indiana, one of the state’s oldest craft breweries located on the southern edge of Indianapolis.
He had brought in a bottle of that first homebrew to Oaken Barrel for some constructive feedback and eventually landed a volunteer gig working on the production floor.
“I started as a hose dragger and a squeegee boy in 2007,” Treeter recalls. His background as a machinist and the level of precision that required helped him learn the ropes quickly, and he was soon brewing a product far superior to that first homebrew.
Awards and Accolades Reflect a Passion for the Craft
Oaken Barrel has earned numerous awards at the Indiana Brewers’ Cup at the Indiana State Fair, and it received the Critic’s Choice “Best Brewpub in Indy” designation from Indianapolis Monthly.
Treeter believes part of that success stems from the quality ingredients going into the mash.
“We’ve been using Prairie Malt since I came here,” says Treeter, whose lineup at Oaken Barrel includes standard brewhouse favorites mixed in with a rotation of more unique ales and lagers.
“We use their base malts—Special Pale, White Wheat and Prairie Select—and I'm starting to move into the specialty malts with them now. Prairie Malt gives us a little bit of a unique edge. We’re getting great results for different styles of beers from all over the world. And we’ve got the medals and the awards to prove it.”
More Like Friends and Family Than Sales Reps
Treeter praises the level of customer service he receives from Prairie Malt as well.
“They’re one of my last vendors where I just get to call and we chat for 5 or 10 minutes before we get to the order, you know? It’s personal, it’s family and friends—that’s what it feels like,” he says. “I feel like they care.”
Treeter adds that whenever there is an issue with an order—a seldom occurrence, he notes—the team is quick to remedy whatever went wrong.
“That’s when I really appreciate what Prairie Malt customer service is,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Oh hey, let’s figure this out together. No problem.’ And every time it's worked out.”
Rooted in Community
Oaken Barrel Brewing Company produces nearly 25,000 barrels of beer each year, much of which is purchased in-house.
“We concentrate on in-house and our community,” says Treeter. “We do a lot of work with the local fire department, police department, chamber of commerce, hospital and first responders.”
Its smaller distribution footprint is reflective of its personality and the brewpub’s strong commitment to the community. And, of course, that has also helped Oaken Barrel retain its status as a destination in the Indy metro area.