In 2017, 36-year-old Aaron Hawkins of Elizabethtown co-founded Flywheel Brewing, Hardin County’s first and only commercial brewery. Since then, the venue has become not only a place where craft beer enthusiasts gather but a community venue for a variety of events and a major piece of downtown Elizabethtown’s recent revitalization.
Hawkins said when he and co-founders Ashley Willoughby and Josh Durham were developing Flywheel, they envisioned a community space where people of all backgrounds could “discuss life over a beer.”
“We obviously wanted to sell a lot of beer but that wasn’t most important to us,” Hawkins said. “I feel and hope we’ve accomplished our main goal and people feel free to come and be themselves.”
Still, Flywheel has managed to sell a lot of beer since opening. In fact, Hawkins said the business already has its sights on expansion and distributions, two goals he initially thought would take years longer to accomplish. He said this success has only motivated himself and fellow brewers to craft better beers.
“We all home-brewed together for a while but it’s a completely different ball game when people are paying money for your stuff,” Hawkins said. “They expect quality and that has forced us to really refine our skills.”
In addition to offering a rotating list of house and guest tap beers, Flywheel also serves as a venue for a variety of events, from live music to trivia tournaments to a community forum series called BEERtalks.
“We hope this has only enhanced downtown’s appeal so more people come and open awesome spaces that make E’town a destination,” Hawkins said.
When he’s not working with Flywheel, Hawkins serves as a planner for the City of Elizabethtown’s Planning and Development Department. He previously served as the Regional Transportation Planner and as a GIS Specialist for the Lincoln Trail Area Development District.
Hawkins said though his experience in regional development has helped him when it comes to co-owning a business, he said his father, Starpath Communications founder Rik Hawkins, has been his biggest influence when it comes to business.
“I’ve learned everything I know from my father who was the best business person I’ve ever met,” he said. “If I can be half as successful as him, I’ll be happy.”
Elizabethtown Heritage Council Executive Director Stacy Reynolds said Hawkins already has made a major impact on the community through Flywheel.
“This business venture will open the door to other similar businesses in the years to come as others seek to benefit from the path that has been blazed from Mr. Hawkins and his business partners,” Reynolds said.
Hawkins is married to Melissa Hawkins and they have two children: Jackson and Eli. Though he said he doesn’t have much time for hobbies, he enjoys golfing, occasionally.
Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.