Photos by Emily Sobecki
Though it may be tucked in a cozy corner on Michigan Street, South Bend Brew Werks is far from a hidden gem. Established in 2013, the brewery has become a go-to spot in South Bend for quality beers and bites — it even served beer at Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s wedding. Theresa Niezer, 28, of South Bend, is a bar manager at the brewery. Serving a beer with a smile on her face, she says it is no secret as to why the brewery has become so popular. To her, all you have to do is walk inside to understand its appeal.
How is being a bar manager at a brewery different than working as a bartender?
I think it is mostly the atmosphere and the food that comes along with breweries. When you go to a cocktail place, it is a whole different experience. Craft beer people know what they like, and when they find something they like, they will come back for it, because it can’t be redone anywhere else. If you like cosmos, you can kind of get a cosmo from anywhere, but a beer is signature to a brewery.
What is your favorite beer on the menu?
The grapefruit IPA. It’s called Emily’s, named after Emily, who has been working here for four years. There is a lot of history here.
What is your favorite food menu item?
The nachos with the brisket are probably the best appetizer for sure. Our best flatbread is Somethinz Burnin’. My favorite pasta is the Festini because anything made with our feta pesto is delicious. All of our food is really good.
What makes South Bend Brew Werks special?
I guess the coolest thing about South Bend Brew Werks is that we have a donation system. It’s called Beer for Good — for every beer we sell, the customer will have a chance to donate some of our money to one of our three local not-for-profit community partners. Basically, the customer is the middle man.
We also make everything in house, and what isn’t made in house is locally sourced. I could talk all day about South Bend Brew Werks. It is just really cool.
How you describe the vibe at South Bend Brew Werks?
We like to say it’s cute, aesthetically. It’s just that neighborhood bar. We want to get to know you, and we want you to get to know us and the people around you. It’s your home away from home. It’s a safe place with no judgments.
Do you get many regulars?
We have countless regulars here. We have two mug clubs, and I could probably tell you everyone that is in them. We have probably a dozen customers who, when they walk in, their mug is filled and down on the table before they sit down. … We love our regulars and to know the names and faces of all of them.
If you weren’t a bar manager, what would you be?
I would like to have my own place one day. I feel like I’m getting a trial run at this place because we had an owner that trusted us and let us take the lead at reorganizing and putting everything into place. Every day here is rewarding.