Windmill Brewing | Mema Colada
In 1979, Rupert Holmes released his defining hit and lyrical earworm “Escape.” The song was an immediate hit, rising to prominence and becoming the last U.S. No. 1 song of the 1970s. While Homes would go on to win two Tony Awards, the defining song of his career is better known by its alternate name the Pina Colada song.
Fast forward to 2015 in Dyer, Indiana, where Scott Vander Griend and Justin Verburg opened Windmill Brewing as a homage to their Dutch heritage. They started out brewing an array of beers consisting of a vanilla bean milk Stout, an American Pale Ale, a hoppy Red Ale and others. And much like Rupert Holmes, what would come to define the brewery wasn’t on the minds of Vander Griend or Verburg before they opened shop. What would come to define the brewery was established in their first refrain: the milkshake IPA.
Windmill celebrated its fourth anniversary in July with a festival featuring an array of friends and breweries, and while the beer was freely pouring, so to were the memes. More specifically, Windmill’s line of meme-inspired milkshake IPAs, highlighted with the introduction of Mema Colada.
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“[Our milkshake IPAs] really are the culmination of what a meme is, brewed up in liquid,” explains Windmill brewer Mike Glowacki.
Windmill wasn’t always known for its milkshakes. In fact, it wasn’t until Glowacki joined Windmill and started encouraging Verburg to experiment that they really exploded. Glowacki and Verburg have always been inspired by breweries that pushed the envelope, but brewing beers like milkshake IPAs were seen as risky at the time.
The demand from Dyer residents for a vanilla and lactose-infused fruity IPA wasn’t overwhelming either, but after seeing a post by The Mad Fermentationist, Glowacki and Verburg knew it was a risk they wanted to take.
“We both closed our eyes and were like, ‘Let’s really imagine this,’” Glowacki says. “Can we do it?”
They did. Windmill brewed and released its first milkshake IPA in house. They set it up on a nitro line and it was a massive success. “It blew people’s minds,” Glowacki recalls. “We got massive feedback from people saying they wanted it in cans.” The first cans of Memes and Dreams followed in 2017 and their catalogue of milkshake IPAs has only grown since.
“We’ve done mango, double mango, peach, double peach, pineapple, double pineapple, guava and coconut and orange gummy bears,” Galwecki says. Yet, one idea was thrown around that the brewery had not yet done: Pina colada.
“Pina colada was mentioned several times,” Glowacki says. “It was almost [to the point where] it was like, ‘Why haven’t we done this already? We’ve all talked about it, but why haven’t we done it?’”
They did, releasing Mema Colada for their fourth anniversary party. The 9% ABV milkshake IPA features vanilla, lactose, pineapple and coconut, all in a cheery, tropically themed can. The beer starts out with overwhelmingly notes of pineapples, mellowed by coconut as it warms. It’s crushable and delicious, but also something Gloawcki said the brewery knows must be enjoyed in doses.
“We never want to put out too many because we like to preserve them as a commodity,” Glowacki says. “If we put it out every day, it would lose the specialness. We try to space them out.”
A Four Pawed Problem Solver
Go into Windmill’s Dyer taproom and the brewery’s No. 1 supporter will undoubtedly meander out to your table to greet you, you just might have to squat down to say hello. Luther, a rescue cat, has become Windmill’s unofficial spokesman.
Casually strolling through the taproom, Luther is a lovable, domestic shorthair cat, that was first brought in to scare off rodents seeking shelter and food in the winter. Instead of opting for pest control, the brewery adopted Luther and the pests left.
Soon though, Luther became much more. “He started getting familiar with the taproom,” Glowacki says. “And he’s essentially became the face of Windmill, if you go inside, he’s there and if you stay long enough, he’s going to come up and sit right with you.”
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Luther is featured prominently on an array of beers and has even made his way onto a T-shirt and, now, a glass. Glowacki said that when they were adopting Luther, the shelter had said he was unadoptable, with a bad personality who didn’t like humans.
“For us, it was the absolute, complete opposite,” Glowacki says. “He adores every second of it, and if you go into the taproom, it’s his taproom. You see that immediately.”
Like Rupert Holmes’ hit song, Windmill’s milkshake IPAs have been a massive, overwhelming success. Unlike Homes, the brewery isn’t stopping there. Windmill recently began experimenting with rum and apple brandy barrels, and connected with a Latin food provider to secure some exotic fruit offerings. As for how these ideas play into the future, Glowacki summed it up nicely.
“I imagine Windmill gets a little more silly to be honest,” Glowacki says. “I only see Windmill being more fun, silly and joyous.”
Windmill will release Memes and the Giant Peach and Meme De La Creme IPAs soon, click here for more information.