We were enthralled with this idea from the moment he reached out. Back then, before we became fully-enmeshed in this industry, we were beer fans and home brewers. We spent all of our money and spare time at local breweries (this was way before children and multiple employees came into the picture, mind you) and we believed in what Eddie and Scott wanted to build. We wanted it to exist as much as they did.
Reviewing our own portfolio and company development, Big Lug stands out as one of the most important projects of our career. Not only were we able to work closely with their team, take them through our entire branding process and create some of the most authentic work we’ve ever developed. But the branding that we developed (and that we still continue to create to this day) has earned us untold number of projects over the years as breweries around the world see it, call us, and exclaim, “Hey, I want that!”
In 2018, Eddie and Scott opened a Bavarian-meets-Indiana concept called Liter House. And shortly thereafter, they launched its sister concept, a German beer garden x Texas BBQ smokehouse, called Half Liter. The Liter House concept included a 20bbl production brewhouse that allowed them to start canning their beer. And like Big Lug’s foundational branding before it, the packaging we were able to create has already been instrumental in helping CODO grow.
I’m spending a lot of time, too much maybe, talking about how our work with Big Lug has benefited our business. But I believe that this is an important, if not overlooked, metric for how successful design work is. As a rule, we’ve avoided award shows and competitions over the years. Instead, we’ve always been focused on the idea that if we can create successful work for a client, other companies will take note and hire us. This philosophy has been a major driver of our small business, and the work we’ve created with Eddie and Scott over the last five years continues to bolster this position.
We’re still working with them to this day, and, knowing what’s on the horizon, thought we should pause briefly to catch up with Eddie and see what he’s learned over the last few years. Read this carefully, there’s a lot of understated wisdom and hard-earned lessons you can apply to your own business.
CODO: Kicking off, please introduce yourself and Big Lug.
EDDIE: Name’s Eddie Sahm. My family has been in restaurants since 1986 when my father opened up his first one.
I went to Purdue University and studied Food Nutrition and Restaurant Management. After that I bought my first restaurant, Sahm’s Place, in Indianapolis and ran that for 6 years before opening up Big Lug Canteen.
Big Lug was really just an offshoot of my opinion on where beer was going and the type of place I always wanted to see around Indy. Something original, letting the community and a passionate staff breathe some life into a space that had, prior to our arrival, grown old, crusty, and slow.
Scott and myself met around 2013 and became buddies. He was assistant brewing at Bier Brewery and I was helping do pint night food for Bier Brewery down the street from my house. We had similar feelings about where the beer biz in Indy was going and both saw a future in which we could not only contribute to scene, but help mold a life that seemed enjoyable and prosperous. Overall it was modest. We weren’t trying to change the world. Our beer views and drinking preferences were modest as well. We enjoyed beer and the atmosphere it USUALLY provided.
CODO: Scott came out of the gate making more English-leaning (not crazy bitter, but quaffable) beers. Have you stayed this course or shifted over the last few years?
EDDIE: We are still in that same boat. We both believe these styles not only are delicious, but something that will always be conducive to a brewpub environment where people aren’t looking to drink the hippest thing or hoppiest thing, but looking for something balanced, attenuated, and tasty with food.
Now with that being said, we do listen to our customers’ demands and market trends, and like most breweries have really ramped up our IPA selections. We rotate a lot of styles through and always give our regulars something hoppy to look forward too. Mixed in with these are a lot of styles. Brewpubs are great for this reason, you get the consistency of regulars who enjoy a beer and a meal, and also the customers looking to try something new.