from Jake: .....
When I first heard about Upland’s Sour Beer Fest last year, I had already been interested in sours for about a year, and been enjoying being able to get a hold of some good sours from around the country and occasionally the world. I loved last year’s festival. With such a small number of tickets compared to the microbrewers festival in Opti park the lines are much shorter and you get to try more beer!
This year I was lucky enough to snag a pair of VIP tickets, which apparently sold out in minutes. I enjoyed the VIP lecture style presentation from Caleb Staton, Upland’s Head Brewer. The presentation consisted of an overview sour brewing process, but the most interesting part in my opinion was Upland’s specific techniques. It is impressive how much trouble Upland goes through to create their spectacular sours. The list includes a vigorous cleaning each of their 141 barrels, a modified mash tun (capable of a turbid mash typical for Flemish style sours), as well as a 24 Hectoliter Foudre. The fruited lambics only use real fruit, no extracts, and none of their sours are artificially sweetened like the occasional Belgian brewery. Caleb is nobly focused on the exceptionally high quality of their sour program. The VIP portion ended with a sampling of Sour Reserve Batch #2, Raspberry Lambic (2011), and Cherry Lambic (2010).
The festival began and those of us in the VIP walked right in, while all the general admission ticket holders had to submit to getting the horrible re-entry stamp of a brown mustache. Anyway, on to the beers. As expected all of the Upland Sours were spectacular, including Sour Reserve Batch #1, and Batch #3, and a few Fruit Lambics I was able to try. Sun King’s All Brett Wee Mac was particularly tasty with some great characteristics from the different strains of brett used. Next up for me was Black Acre, a young brewery that had a tasty Raisin Sour, while their other option may have been lacking a little bit of complexity. Flat 12’s offerings were strong as always, and it was great seeing some of the other classic Indiana breweries, Barley Island, Mad Anthony embracing the sour tradition/trend. Some people may believe there are new trends in craft beer, which we’ll talk about later this week, but this beer fest shows me that there is still a growing audience for the complex traditional Belgian sour beers and the new American sours that are pushing the limits of what beer can be. I loved this festival again this year, and hope to see you at it next year.
Crowd shot and Mad Anthony description
Black Acre and Flat 12 descriptions
This is likely the true craft beer lovers' fest. Brewers and staff alike commented that this is one of their favorite events because attendees like to chat about beers, spend time at each table, and sip rather than slam. The attendance proved there are plenty of beer lovers who appreciate tart beer.
Perhaps the most interesting samplings were from Destihl brewery of Normal and Champaign, Illinois. Their 5,000 square foot beer cellar contains over 300 oak barrels, both California wine barrels and bourbon barrels. In addition, they have imported French foudres, large oak casks for storage. They follow a traditional Belgian sour aging process of exposing the fermented beer in casks and barrels to the open air to pick up wild yeast. the Destihl four-and-a-half year old framboise was complex and impressively light at the same time. Their Saint Dekerra plain lambic had been barrel aging nearly two years and delivered a nice vanilla and wonderful sour notes. While Destihl brews or has brewed over 60 beers since opening in 2007, and have a wide variety of beer styles, clearly their focus on barrel aging is providing truly interesting and tasty results.
New Belgium Brewery has a fondness for this festival and provided a "Peach Felix Love" ale on tap that was aged first in the barrels used for their LaFolie and then in peach whiskey barrels. As one participant noted this provided the wonderful type of tartness that gives you a tug at the back and side of the tongue while delivering great flavor. This was one of those beers you could never get elsewhere unless you travel to New Belgium in Colorado and know the brewers.
I was particularly pleased that the beer I had agreed to help pour, Bloomington Brewing Company Cranberry Saison, was so well accepted and so many people made it to the end table of the fest specifically asking for this ale brewed with French Saison yeast and finished with fresh and concentrated cranberries! This was a delightful sample from the saison I've much appreciated before gaining very nice fruit flavor! Several noted beer judges came by because they had heard this one-off beer, not even available at the brew pub, was so good.
Steve of Crown Brewing (Home of the Crown Beer fest this next weekend from 2-6 on Sat., May 18) of Crown Point, IN, poured a Cherry Dunkel Weizen Bock, that gave a nice hint of cherry in the unusual setting of a dunkel weizen. This blending of cherry, banana esters, and spice was quite a nice delight!
SunKing's Stupid Sexy Flanders (did you see that episode of the Simpson's?) was a very nice base oud bruin with wild yeast, brettanomyces, and lacto!
Thirsty Dog from Dayton poured Cerasus Dog Flanders Red that was very smooth and a grest treat. As hard as I tried to recall the exact brewing process which on Saturday I recounted to others, alas, my notes started to fade - but I enjoyed this brew!
Another very interesting beer was Jon's Triton Pink Ribbon Saison, obviously a saison but with pink and white peppercorns delivering a nice but not overpowering spice.
If you wanted a beer lighter in alcohol, Bell's Oarsman is a very refreshing and full-of-flavor tart sessionable beer at 4% abv.
Thanks to Global Beer Network importers for serving Petrus pale, Petrus Oud Bruin, and Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour. These Belgian beers (in bottles) give fest attendees a barometer for what these styles taste like when brewed in Belgium.
And thanks to Avery for shipping in bottles of Odio Equum which is brewed with red raspberries and aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels. Another beer I would not have wanted to miss!
Upland did not have much Dantillion, but a lucky few got a taste just as Starlight distributors from Southern Indiana also broke out a bottle of Cantillion from Brussels -- but alas I was not in the right spot to taste and report which Cantillion.
The list could go on and on but we tried to show some restraint. Truly this is an event for those of us who appreciate tart and tasty ales!
Cheers, from Jake and GregKitz
Pics with Katie (and Mark in the background) from Destihl,
Mark from BBC, and Andrew from Upland
Interested in attending a beer festival in the next four months? We’ve assembled a list of options to help you determine the best use of your beer sampling dollar. If you can’t decide on the best option, why not try them all? Then send me your autograph.
|2nd Annual Sour + Wild + Funk Fest|
|Saturday, May 11th 1-5pm|
|5255 Winthrop Ave, Indianapolis, IN|
|Tickets: VIP $60 (sold out), General Admission $45, Designated Driver $20|
Featuring more than 50 styles of sour and wild ales, the second annual Sour + Wild + Funk Fest promises to be another unique celebration of this emerging trend in craft beer. The beers served as this event are paired with foods designed to accentuate their unique flavors. VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission were still available at the time of this posting. To get a better feel for the event, check out IndianaBeer guest writer Andrew Korty’s review.
|American Beer Classic|
|Saturday, May 11th Session I 12-4pm (11am VIP admission), Session II 6-10pm (5pm VIP admission)|
|1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL|
|Tickets: VIP $110 (Session I sold out), General Admission $55 (Session I sold out), Designated Driver $30|
The inaugural American Beer Classic is a major regional event that showcases hundreds of diverse brewers for beer lovers on the grass of Chicago’s Soldier Field. The event covers two separate sessions over the course of Saturday, May 11th and includes live music and educational sessions. VIP tickets include complementary tours of the Visitor’s Locker Rooms, the Skyline Suites, and the Colonnades. Attendees will also have the opportunity to vote in the People’s Choice competition to determine the favorite beer of the festival. Note: General Admission tickets increase to $60 after May 6th.
|Crown Beer Fest|
|Saturday, May 18th 2-6pm (1pm VIP admission)|
|Lake County Fairgrounds|
|889 S. Court St, Crown Point, IN|
|Tickets: VIP $59 (sold out), General Admission $35, Designated Driver $5|
Formerly known as Illiana Mayfest, this NW Indiana festival is expanding this year to offer over 120 different beers from 30 different breweries. Enjoy the day at the Lake Country Fairgrounds with a brewery list featuring Crown Brewing, Cutters Brewing, Flat 12 Bierwerks, Fountain Square Brewing Co, People's Brewing Co, Bier Brewery, Brickstone, B. Nektar, Destihl, Four Horsemen, Icheya Da Brewing, and more! VIP tickets are sold out, so get your General Admission passes while you still can.
|Beoir Go Leoir (Gaelic for lots of beer)|
|Saturday, May 18th 2-6pm (1pm VIP admission)|
|JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House|
|Wayne Street between Harrison & Calhoun in downtown Fort Wayne, IN|
|Tickets: VIP $65, General Admission $40|
JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House is proud to present their first beer festival! Featured breweries include Sierra Nevada, Flat 12, Sun King, Breckenridge, Left Hand, Lexington Brew Co., New Albanian, Stone, Bell's, Brooklyn, Boulevard, Schlafly, New Holland, New Belgium, Sam Adams, Barley Island, Upland, Dark Horse, People's, Mendocino Brewing Co, Ace Cider, as well as assorted Belgian Beers. Food will be available in JK O’Donnell’s and from local food trucks Bravas & Affine. The VIP package includes one hour early admission, t-shirt, and appetizers. Note: All ticket prices increase $10 on the day of event.
|History on Tap|
|Friday, May 31st 6:30-10:30pm (6pm VIP admission)|
|13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers, IN|
|Tickets: VIP $35 (sold out), General Admission $25, Designated Driver $10|
Set around Conner Prairie, History on Tap features 10 central Indiana breweries, along with New Day Meadery. There is a panel discussion on Brewer Innovation along with a brewing demonstration from Tuxedo Park Brewers. Imagine an adult version of Conner Prairie at night. Great beers, great chances to talk to the brewers, and learn more about craft beer. For a limited time, you can get 20% off with the discount code “HORIZONFRIEND”. VIP tickets are already sold out, but you can still get Early Bird General Admission tickets until May 20th. Tickets increase $10 after that date.
|Keg Liquors Fest of Ale|
|Saturday, June 1st 3-7pm|
|St. Anthony’s of Padua|
|320 North Sherwood Ave, Clarksville, IN|
|Tickets: $25 (Designated Drivers free)|
The 8th Annual Keg Liquors Fest of Ale is a charity beer festival to help raise funds for the WHAS Crusade for Children. The event features 40+ Breweries, 3 Beer Distributors, 5 Fine Wine Distributors, over 150 craft and import beers, wine, food, charity silent auction and raffle and more! The 2012 event raised over $9200 for the Crusade for Children, so head out and help them make this year even better.
|Jungle Jim's International Beer Fest|
|Friday, June 14th 7-10pm and Saturday, June 15th 7-10pm|
|Oscar Event Center at Jungle Jim’s International Market|
|5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, OH|
|Tickets: Friday Session $40, Saturday Session $45, Designated Driver $15|
So you’ve probably already gone out of your way to visit Jungle Jim’s just north of Cincinnati to stock up on bottled treasures from the likes of Alesmith, Great Lakes, Green Flash, Lagunitas, Oskar Blues, and Troegs. Why not combine your next Ohio beer run with a festival? Jungle Jim’s Beer Fest will offer 350 beers from 100 different breweries. There will be brew masters available for conversatin’ and some special firkin and rare beer offerings. A complementary picnic style meal is included with the price of every ticket. If you enjoy a good cigar with your beer, Jungle Jim’s cigar expert will be selling a selection of their world class cigars that you can take out on the terrace with your beer sample.
|Brew Bracket Pale Ales|
|Saturday, June 15th 3pm (VIP Brewer Q&A at 2pm)|
|Indiana State Fairgrounds (Expo Hall)|
|1202 E 38th St, Indianapolis, IN|
|Tickets: VIP $45, Participant $35, Designated Driver $5|
March Madness style voting, blind taste testing, raffle prizes, good beer, all for a good cause. Brew Bracket brings the Pale Ale style to the next version of their game. Sixteen breweries in a showdown for the best beer, all determined by your votes! Back at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, this event is 4 hours of fun and trying new inventive brews. A VIP session has been added that gets participants in an hour early for a special sampling and Q&A session with Brew Bracket multi-winning brewer Andrew Castner of the RAM along with Barley Island. For a better idea of what to expect, Indiana Beer visited December’s AMBERgeddon Brew Bracket event. A portion of the proceeds benefit People for Urban Progress.
|Fishers on Tap|
|Saturday, June 15th 5-8pm (4pm VIP entry)|
|Town of Fishers Municipal Grounds – Outdoor Amphitheater|
|1 Municipal Drive, Fishers, IN|
|Tickets: VIP $60, General Admission $40, Designated Drive $10|
The second annual Fishers on Tap is presented by The Rotary Club of Fishers. The Rotary Club is promising 15-20 local breweries, live music from Dear Abby and the Bad Advice and Soul Street, and cuisine from select food trucks. Tickets are limited to 200 VIP and 800 General Admission. VIP ticket holders receive early entry to the festival and food pairings with local eateries and select breweries. All proceeds from the event will be distributed back to the local community to those in need through local service agencies.
|18th Annual Brew-Ha-Ha|
|Saturday, June 22nd 3-7pm|
|North Park Ave between Massachusetts and St. Clair in downtown Indianapolis, IN|
|Tickets: General Admission $30, Designated Driver $10|
Indy’s original microbrew festival returns for its 18th year of benefiting the Phoenix Theater. North Park Avenue will be blocked off to traffic between Mass Ave. and East St. Clair St. and the festival will provide a summer outdoor block party. The festival already has 18 confirmed breweries and wineries and should eventually have over 25, making this one of the best festival deals of the summer. Confirmed breweries include Bell’s, Bloomington Brewing, Brugge Brasserie, Flat 12, Fountain Square, New Albanian, The RAM, Rock Bottom, Upland, and many more! Live entertainment is provided, and food from local vendors will be available. Note: General Admission tickets increase to $35 day of event.
|Indiana Microbrewers Festival|
|Saturday, July 20th|
|Optimist Park and Indianapolis Art Center|
|E. 67th St and Ferguson (Broad Ripple), Indianapolis, IN|
This has not been officially announced, but we have it on pretty good authority the 18th annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival will return to the Optimist Park and Indianapolis Art Center grounds on July 20th. If you’ve never attended, this is Indiana’s largest outdoor festival where you can sample the greatest variety of beer (don’t try them all!). The recent expansion to the Indianapolis Art Center grounds offers the chance to find a little shade and makes it easier to move around then most festivals of this size. Some pictures and a quick recap of last year’s festival are available here. That event featured over 300 beers from 64 breweries, can it be topped this year?
|16th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival|
|Friday, July 26th 5-9pm and Saturday, July 27th 1-6pm|
|6 West Cross Street, Ypsilanti, MI|
|Tickets: Friday Admission $30, Saturday Admission $35, Designated Driver $5|
It’s a bit of a drive, but what better reason is there to head up to Michigan in July? Put on by the Michigan Brewers Guild, the Summer Beer Festival boasts over 600 different beers from more than 65 Michigan craft breweries. That number is not an exaggeration – Dark Horse Brewing alone offered 51 different beers last year. Try the Friday session if your schedule is flexible, the lines can get a little intense on Saturday. For more details, check out Nathan’s review of last year’s event. Tickets went on sale May 1st and will go quickly, so make your plans now!
|GnawBrew - Art, Music and Beer Festival|
|Saturday, July 27th noon-midnight|
|eXplore Brown County/Valley Branch Paintball Retreat|
|2620 Valley Branch Rd, Nashville, IN|
|Tickets: $15 General Admission|
Set in the rustic hills of Brown County, GnawBrew combines breweries with artists and musicians for a fun filled, yet family friendly event. This year’s participating breweries include Big Woods, Hawcreek Brewing, HWY50 Brew House, Powerhouse, and Zwanzigz. Festival gates will open at 11am with music starting at noon. Beer samples will be served all day and well into the evening and complimentary primitive tent camping is being provided after the event by eXplore Brown County to encourage alcohol safety. So bring a tent and stay the night!
|Saturday, August 3rd 2-6pm (1pm VIP entry)|
|Main Street, Downtown New Haven, IN|
|Tickets: $60 VIP, $35 General Admission, $5 Designated Driver|
Northeast Indiana’s premiere craft beer festival promises to be even bigger and better this year with 3 tents and a 20-tap semi trailer. The price of admission includes samples from 50+ breweries, local and regional homebrewers, bottled water, and a meal! The VIP package also includes one hour early entry, commemorative t-shirt, and a special gift. Designated drivers also get a meal along with unlimited soft drinks. Check out Cindy’s recap of last year’s event. Tickets go on sale May 31st and Trion Tavern will celebrate with a Ticket Release Party featuring special tappings and pricing. Note: VIP and General Admission ticket prices increase $10 day of event.
|Saturday, August 24th|
|501 W Maryland St, Indianapolis, IN|
|Tickets: $75 VIP, $55 General Admission|
Looking to attend Victory Field for an adults-only event? The Festiv-Ale is a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation featuring 30 Indy restaurants, 100 beers, and 100 wines. The VIP reception will include an educational tasting.
|Beers Across the Wabash|
|Saturday, August 24th 12-4pm|
|John Myers Pedestrian Bridge|
Details were very limited at publishing time, but it appears that August 24th will bring us the 2nd Annual Beers Across the Wabash on the John Myers Pedestrian Bridge overlooking the Wabash River between Lafayette and West Lafayette. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for further details. Until then, you can get an idea of what to expect from Jason’s review of last year’s inaugural event.
That covers everything we can confirm at the time of publishing. There will certainly be a number of other festivals that will emerge throughout the season for your beer drinking pleasure. Thanks for reading and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates. Stay safe and enjoy the festivals!
Daredevil Brewing of Shelbyville, has fueled great success in about four months with their ongoing Lift Off IPA, their Muse Belgian Golden Ale, and more recently their Rip Cord Double IPA. With over 100 locations and 150 taps primarily in greater central Indiana and a few in Southern Indiana, demand is strong enough that they are doubling capacity, to allow fans to get twice the brew. Lift Off will continue to be the flagship beer as an extremely balanced and yet hop-forward IPA. When opening in January they promised Lift Off plus at least one seasonal. Daredevil Muse satisfied the desire of many for a slightly sweet, slightly spicy, Belgian Golden Strong that delivers huge flavor while going down smooth. When they gave the world Rip Cord this satisfied a craving for intense hops in a wallop of a beer that remains balanced with malt underpinning. We recently encountered a successful local chef/owner downing a Rip Cord as his 'shift beer' at the end of an evening in the kitchen. As the Daredevil crew likes to say, "aggressively fun beers."
Yes, new beers are coming! By the end of May expect Rip Cord to circulate off tap slowly being replaced by another hop forward brew! That beer includes German malt and is being brewed as this blog is being posted! And Belgian beer lovers will find another Belgian style beer available by mid-June! In order to guarantee that at least 3 beers will always be available via regional taps Daredevil's new tanks have shipped and not only will the brewery be able to crank out more beer, they have more flexibility in keeping a given style around to satisfy demand.
Daredevil has focus! Daredevil Brewing carefully plans their beer styles like major national brewers, allowing fans to find a particular beer over and over for awhile, fresh and on tap. Rather than divert their attention with bottling or self-distribution Daredevil is focused on brewing consistent styles. We find their increased sales coming from consistent consumption; certain locations have reported that Daredevil beers are among their top-selling pours. Don't look for growlers or a tasting room! Michael, Bill, and Shane want to have beer near you; check for locations throughout greater Central & Southern Indiana http://www.daredevilbeer.com/#locations Look for a steady flow with a nice variety of both hoppy and Belgian style beer to continue from Daredevil.
Meanwhile we see other major brewers expanding distribution. While SunKing of Indianapolis has become one of Indiana's top three breweries by selling almost exclusively within a 100 mile radius of Indy, this Spring they announced distribution agreements with Indiana Beverage Company for Northern Indiana and North Vernon Beverage for Southern Indiana. SunKing also plans to double their already huge production facility by Spring 2014.
Flat12 Bierwerks of Indianapolis expanded distribution all the way to Nashville, TN this Spring as they jump over space to a city that had fewer local brewers than Indy. Flat12 found they have been well received at beer fests in Nashville.
More great beer!
The first round winners in the National Homebrew Competition (NHC) are now posted and we can pass along congratulations to some Indiana homebrewers! The NHC is the largest known homebrew competition with entrants participating in one of 11 different regional judging sites. The top three entrants per style category (assuming an assigned scored of 30 points or more for that entry) at each regional advance to compete for medals in the National Finals to be judged at the National Homebrewers Conference in Philadelphia. Simply advancing through a regional can be very challenging as some categories reach 60+ entries. After surviving a difficult registration process this year, the following Hoosiers persevered and are moving on to the finals:
|Nathan Compton (Indianapolis)||1st place Porter, 2nd place Amber Hybrid Beer, 2nd place Belgian and French Ale|
|Chris Higgins (Elkhart)||1st place Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer|
|Andrew Korty (Indianapolis)||1st place Light Lager|
|Rob Meinzer (Zionsville)||2nd place European Amber Lager|
|Jairo Nunes (New Palestine)||3rd place Belgian Strong Ale|
|Tim Palmer (Fishers)||3rd place European Amber Lager, 3rd place German Wheat and Rye Beer|
|Bill Staashelm (Indianapolis)||2nd place English Brown Ale|
|Tom Wallbank (Zionsville)||1st place Pilsner|
Best of luck to everyone in this year’s finals! Last year, Indiana took home an impressive six medals from the National Finals that included awards for current competitors Rob Meinzer, Bill Staashelm, and Tom Wallbank. Let’s see if we can bring home a few more this year!
Menu items include locally sourced pretzels, 3 unique pizzas, burgers inluding the Fischers Farm Buffalo Burger (get it with Bad Elmer's sauce, bacon and cheese!), Smoking Goose Bratwurst and the killer "Mac and Cheese" plus other interesting sandwiches and entrees.
The back bar is constructed from beautiful aged barnwood via a barn from California. The remainder of the restaurant had a modern vibe with cool lighting. Total seating is about 170 with 50% inside and 50% on the outside patio.
This afternoon expect a string band and expect a bicycle parade from the Upland College Ave. location to come up the Monon trail and arrive around 3:00ish! Expect a wait!
Expect a relaxed cool vibe with solid food and beer (wine, too). Watch the cool growler fill device work. And expect a relaxed staff. As General Manager Jose Travez says, "we are the land of the misfit toys." If you loved it in Bloomington, you'll love it in Carmel.
from the road................................. the bar......................................... some of the Upland Brew Crew
Bloomington Brewing announced the availabilty of Vision Weiss. Vision Weiss is a spring and summer seasonal ale available April to October. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of every pint are donated to the Cardinal Stage Company in Bloomington. “Each year we use proceeds from our sales of Vision Weiss to support a worthwhile local campaign, but particularly one like this that supports a vision for an even better community and invests in a way that will pay dividends for the next generation.” explained company co-founder Jeff Mease.
We've recently enjoyed both the Bourbon Barrel Aged Wee Mac and the 777 Triple from SunKing! Strong beers for our strong palate.
Flat12 will introduce special beers for Cinco de Mayo: Bleeding Heart(burn) IPA, & Taco Beer
and be on the lookout for Founder's KBS or Kentucky Breakfast Stout; we got our taste this past week and it was as wonderful as our annual anticipation. Based on our visit to Twenty Tap in Broad Ripple this week it appears they may be tapping this delight on May 3, at 5:30
And our visit to Union Brewing revealed a tasty "From Lynchburg with Love" English Mild that spent two weeks in the Jack barrel and served up just right on the hand pull!
This is all good and well, but the information provided really does not lend any further insight to those who may be new to the event and even seasoned veterans. I even asked a lawyer to review the post and decipher the meaning behind the words but he also was dumbfounded.
Do not cross railroad tracks except at a designated crossing. This is always sound advice and FFF throws it out there from the start. I believe this is the result of patrons parking in the residential area behind the brewery and just climbing up and over the embankment. A nice warning, but one that may go unnoticed.
The festival grounds are not well defined. FFF tells patrons the way to line up and enter, but not conveying where the gates will be other than with directional language (for example, line up at the north, the line for sales is on the west, etc.). If you are unfamiliar with the area it would be worthwhile to use your favorite GPS mapping program and review your compass use.
Parking is also up in the air. Centennial Park across Calumet Avenue made $3,700 last year with patrons parking their cars and hiking over. Always a viable option. My understanding from the help of beeradvocate.com discussion threads is that FFF will have Indiana Ave completely closed off. Not sure if that's true, but until I have my scout finish his drive-by I will keep this as purely speculative.
Finally, congratulations to Mike Cate who scored himself the 15 year anniversary Three Floyd's Baller Stout with this submitted story:
Craziest thing I ever did for a beer? Not sure if I would define it as crazy but it was definitely unlikely...
I'm a big St.Louis Cardinals fan and love going to Milwaukee a few times a year to catch Cards/Brewers games. The fans up there are a blast to be around. Truly professional drinkers. And what makes it even better is that they're drinking delicious New Glarus, Lakefront and Central Waters beers. Can't beat that! Anyways. I went to Brewers Opening Day last year against the Cards and befriended several people in my row. Shot the shit about beer, homebrewing and baseball. I was living the life.
Turns out this old man who can barely get around is a huuuuge beer fan. As in he goes to all the big beer festivals across the county (Hunaphu Day in Tampa, KBS release, GABF, etc..). We got to talking about Dark Lord and he said that's the one he's never had (tickets selling out so quickly and all). I told him I go virtually every year and could help him out next time I'm up. He liked the sound of that.
To make a long story short, his son called me a few months back out of the blue and said his dad wanted me to go ice fishing with the 2 of them. I guess his dad wasn't doing real good and held trying a Dark Lord pretty high on his bucket list. So after a few days of trying to explain to my wife the unlikely scenario of driving up to Wisconsin to go ice fishing with an old man and his son whom I met 9 months before (and only hung out with for the duration of a 6-0 Brewers victory), I went up and had a blast. I went ahead and brought all the vintages of Dark Lord I had, shared some beers, caught some fish and had a good time.
I didn't leave empty-handed either. The old man gave me several vintages of Surly Darkness which I've always wanted to try (but the trading pricetag is always too unreasonable) as well as a Goose Island King Henry.
Earlier, Bigger, Better! Well, the last one is really for you to decide, but it’s safe to say the number of people with an educated opinion skyrocketed this year. The 3rd Annual Bloomington Craft Beer Festival moved to April this year and introduced a full slate of lead-up events during the first Bloomington Craft Beer Week. IndianaBeer was well represented at the event and we now present a collection of the thoughts and beer picks from each reporter:
When I reflect on The Bloomington Craft Brew Festival I think of the term “community” of craft brewing. A community of brewers, brewery crews, and craft brew lovers all came together on the sunny Spring day Saturday, for a celebration of brew. From the wonderful historic venue of the Woolery Mill with historic rafters and, when empty echoing of craftsmanship, this fest brought out craft food, special music, craft beer and even some unique attire.
This year there were more attendees than last year, more breweries, plenty of porta-potties, and an enhanced fest layout (in my opinion). While a light breeze wafted through the structure and sunlight filtered through, the attendees seemed well behaved and happy. On the positive while VIPs got early access and free frisbees (of recycled material) everybody had access to most of the same beers, which is a criticism of some out-of-state beer festivals. Sure a few beers might have tapped out before some of the regular admission folks entered but the BCBF is set up to allow access to good beer for all, not exclusive VIP access to the most rare beers. There were plenty of firkin beers all day, and some of the brewers did not pour some special beers until later during the festival. After all, while VIPs tend to be craft beer lovers who look for the rare pour, this festival (fortunately) did not seem to attract a crowd that just wants as much free beer as possible.
Congratulations to Brewers of Indiana Guild, to Ted and to Lee, for the great layout that kept the crowds moving with the largest brewers anchoring the corners. Congrats to Nathan for the sustainability effort. Thanks to the crowd and to the brew crews who were there to enjoy.
The community of craft was thriving and we saw great discussions of beer, of brewing, of yeast, of hops, of beer trades, and we heard of brewers who have taken time to help other brewers with their systems. This is not some ‘trade show’ where everyone thinks their product is better than another. This is the craft community where we see brew crews sharing and commenting… often offering encouragement. We are all proud of our craft beer and we are all proud to sip, talk and reflect.
So…. about the beer….
I have personal comments plus I reached out to a few folks I know, from a Master-level beer judge to I.U. students who are very into craft beer.
Evil Czech Brewing, Culver, IN – I made this a destination stop when saw Stalin’s Darkside, barrel aged imperial stout at 10.5% and 69 IBU. It did not disappoint. Full flavored and complex. They were proud of their Lucky Dog APA, more of a session pale at 5.2% and very drinkable.
Bloomington Brewing Company, Bloomington, IN – 6%, 12 IBU Wine Barrel Aged Ruby Bloom amber. Who would have guessed that one of my home-town favorites would taste so delicious with the richness of wood and wine? Sandy Cockerham, Master BJCP beer judge passed along, “I absolutely loved the wine barrel aged Ruby Bloom Amber ale! Simply awesome.”
SunKing, Barrel Aged Maibock, 8.3%, 24 IBU, and you just know I had to get to the SunKing booth at 6:30 for a sample of this. I like Maibock and I pleasantly discovered that the barrel aging added depth and complexity without too much sweetness. Less hop notes but balance.
Flat12, Indianapolis, IN – Pinko, and though I’d had a sample this week, I wanted another of this Pappy barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, 10.3%, 86 IBU. The complexity of this beer is the deep, complex flavor laboring in the hops for balance
Enough with the barrel….. how about intriguing? Different?
Broad Ripple Brewing, (Do I need to say, in Broad Ripple?) – Strange Broux Brew takes coffee brewed by Strange Brew Greenwood, that is brewed exclusively for Papa Roux restaurant (you know, the place that gave the kid who was walking miles to get a restaurant job, a job there; but I digress), and brewed this coffee called Louisiana Swamp water, into an Oatmeal stout with 5.5%, 27 IBU. Love the story, love the brew, or broux, or…. Whatever, just enjoy!
Broad Ripple gets another nod for Bubble Gum lager – So this is considered a flaw when you don’t intend it, but they just must have said, “let’s do this.” And who can argue with the Pope of the Indy beer scene, owner John Hill. Very interesting, John, and I wanted to blow a bubble.
Brugge Brasserie, Broad Ripple – Getting Figgy with It, Imperial Belgian Porter brewed with Black Mission figs, Caradamom, and mace – that’s dried fibrous exterior of nutmeg (oh, you knew that). 12% Whoa! Complex, love the deep fruit. One of the female I.U. students I queried listed this as a favorite and noted the deep taste of fig coming through.
Brugge Brasserie, Broad Ripple – Ted Miller, owner/brewer had this beer available earlier in the week and I had to have another sample! Released after 1 year in a barrel (here I go again) sour… nice light ‘off the hook’ funk, in a golden color beer that comes in at about 5%.
Zwanzigz, Columbus, IN – Ghost Pepper Imperial Stout, a beer I had with excellent brewer Mike initially, had again at Winterfest, and not only made a point of getting a sample, I took a bar-owner friend over to have it. Not a burn your mouth off, but a nice wonderful, flavorful “I love the flavor” stout.
Upland, Bloomington/Indy – Gilgamesh. Flanders Red, addition of flaked maize, fruity Belgian yeast, some wild micros, slight bourbon barrel aging produces this 10.5% beverage. Thanks to Upland (Jackson, Andrew) for sharing. Actually the very first beer I tasted for this fest! When I complemented Upland Head Brewer Caleb Staton on the excellent production of sours he was nonchalant and humble.
Caleb poured me Upland’s Teddy Bear Kisses, Oatmeal Stout with chocolate, pale, and roasted malts adding organic dark chocolate coming in at 11.5% and 80 IBUs for complexity.
Upland had the new 15th anniversary Champagne Velvet at this event and while we've already written about it I agree with Master judge Sandy who, "...found it pleasantly grainy and crisp." A clean pre-prohibition celebration of historic Indiana beer.
And for the newer and further away….
Bare Hands Brewing, Granger, IN --- located in an off-the–beaten path industrial park (wait, that works for a Northern Indiana brewer with a 3 in their name) and deciding to come at the last minute, this brewery got acclaim at Winterfest and was the one brewery singled out by one I.U. student who has become immersed in craft beer. To quote him, “Their Pineapple Pale, Imperial Coffee Stout, and Rice IPA, accomplished the two things I get most excited about when tasting a beer I've never tried. All three were surprisingly original/unique tastes to me, but more importantly, all three were damn good.” I stopped by for the ThaiPA as one of the more unusual beers I’d tried before and had to have again. I then agreed the Rice IPA was a close second in the unusual and hoppy category.
Haw Creek, Hope, IN – 4 Founders Wheat satisfy the craving for discovering one of our newer Indiana brewers. This is a solid wheat beer for a place that opened in the Fall. Nice people; we’ll have to visit!
Daredevil Brewery, Shelbyville,IN -- Rip Cord IPA, this delivers a massive amount of American hops with a very solid malt underpinning. This builds very nicely on the Daredevil family reputation!
Big Dawg Brew Haus, Richmond, IN – Thistle Sitter Smoked Scotch Ale. I love the style, I love the smoke.
Big Dawg… Shroyer’s English Bitter is an award winning British style session beer that I could drink a lot of.
Iechyd Da (say Yacky Dah) Brewing, Ekhart, IN – Kiss Me I’m Stout, wheat stout. I love the brewery name (cheers or “good health” in Welsh), I love the fact that this is a female-owned brew pub, I love the beer name, I love the fact that this is organic ingredients. Then I love the nice spice of the wheat grains underlying a serious stout! 6%
Figure Eight, Valparaiso -- Pimp Slap Imperial Pilsner, at 9%, 63 IBU, interesting malt character, our brewer buddy Mike Lahti was about to explain it to me when he got a call so I’ll just say interesting and worthy.
It seems everyone should have had to walk past Flat12’s booth (Flat12 Brewing, Indy) for the science of brewing lesson which allowed comparison of two beers with different yeast strains and four beers with different hops to aid sensory perception! In the white lab coats and serving these experimental beers they really stood out.
We appreciate all who came out, all who gave me their opinions, and all who made this year BCBF a big success, who added to the great community that is craft beer.
While I didn’t get to try all the beers I wanted to, I did get to try quite a few great beers. After trying ZwanzigZ Brewing’s Ghost Pepper Imperial Stout at Winterfest, I knew I needed to get another sample. This great beer comes in at 8.8% abv with a moderately strong spicy character that blends with the full flavor of the stout to make it a must try at beerfests. I was told they have yet to put this on at the brewpub so there aren’t a lot of places to try this one.
Another Imperial Stout makes my top list with Evil Czech Brewing’s Stalin’s Darkside. This 10.5% beast is aged in bourbon barrels. Flavorful doesn’t quite describe this sweet alcoholic, but not overly hot, velvety beer. If you are in the Culver, IN area, a little west of 31 between Kokomo and South Bend, this 7BBL brewhouse is a must try.
From the firkin table I was able to try many tasty samples. New Albanian Brewing’s Eastern Front caught my eye. My first question was what the he!! is a Russian Imperial Pilsner, but with it being New Albanian it was of course a fantastic brew blending the two theories behind the styles. Next up at the firkin tent were two Flat 12 Hello My Name Is French Oak & American Oak. These two amber beers aged with the different oaks really help highlight the differences that each one can offer.
Continuing on with Flat 12 at their table, I tried all four experimental hop beers. I’ve heard some of the Great Fermentations employees raving about these hops, and they are quite good. I got a citrus orange/grapefruit from one that I particularly remember enjoying. Next up at were the experimental yeast beers, one had a very nice belgian banana ester character while the other was certainly more of an American style yeast. I also finished off the day with 12 Penny a Scottish 60 style beer which is really quite good, for a session beer. I have some thoughts on session beers, but there is no time for that now so stay tuned in the future for a discourse on this new trend.
Lastly I was able to try Daredevil Brewing’s Rip Cord double IPA, which has lived up to their high expectations and is a classic example of a double IPA. I didn’t make it to very many out of state breweries, but I made it a point to try DESTIHL Brewery’s Antiquity Rye Wine. This rye wine was almost as spicy as the ghost pepper imperial stout, albeit in a different way.
I saw the idea of an Indiana beerfest being exclusive to Indiana breweries being discussed on twitter. I really like this idea and I think it is quite obvious that the Indiana breweries could support this. We will see how this idea develops, but adding another beerfest to the Brewers of Indiana Guild’s calendar sounds like a great idea to me.
|From Jason C………….|
My list of craft beer events attended isn’t terribly impressive. My general tendency is to just attend the same ones from year to year and not stray very far from my native habitat. Being a first time attendee of the Bloomington Craft Beer Fest, I’ll state for the record that my range for attending beer events has now expanded.
Fantastic selection of breweries and eateries, scenic & unique setting, and good organization are a few of the key factors that made this event a must attend for me in future years. While the number of attendees caused a bit of gridlock at times, it really didn’t seem to stifle one’s ability to get your next beer in a timely manner. Only drawback (at least in the opinion of this blogger) was the insufficient number of restroom facilities that nearly caused yours truly to break out into my best James Brown dance moves at one point. Hey, nothings perfect, but overall I’d highly recommend attending this event in 2014.
And now for the beer. Of the different breweries that I managed to make it to, the ones that either newly or continued to impress me are: Bare Hands, Big Dawg, Crown, Figure Eight, Flat 12, Iechyd Da, New Albanian, and People’s. As for individual beers, I list the following:
· Iechyd Da - Gumption Double Amber (calling this one my favorite of the day)
· Flat 12/People’s - Hoosier Brown Rye (close 2nd)
· Bare Hands - Double Thai PA & 574 Pineapple Pale
· Crown Brewing - Baklava Java Porter
· Against the Grain - Citra Ass Down American IPA
· New Albanian - Black & Bluegrass Spiced Belgian
· Big Woods - Imperial Red (unsure about a name for this one, it was getting late)
So there you have it, general observations, opinions, and preferences from my first Bloomington Craft Beer Fest. Had a great time, drank some great beer and managed not to wet myself so I’d say it was a successful day. Cheers Bloomington!
The question on my mind yesterday was - why go to a beer festival? What is it really all about? Between the 35 in state breweries and the 15 out of state, the majority of the beer offered there is offered any time in their tap rooms, in local bars, or in local liquor store bottles.
Some breweries do take festivals to the next level and make special beers, or save up highlights from the brewing seasons to bring out and share with those hardcore fans who pay the $50/$40 ticket to come out and spend 3/4 hours talking, drinking and having a good time.
That is what craft beer festivals are for me, is trying those special beers, finding a new brewery who just opened and trying their product, talking with the brewers and or generally just having a good time.
Bloomington Craft Beer Festival on its third running was all that for me and more.
I actually went to the first Bloomington Craft Beer Festival. It was right before I joined IndianaBeer.com. The turn out I believe then was only 1,000 people. Held outside of the Woolery Mill. It was never crowded, real easy to talk and hang out and the tables. I even ended up taking Ted Miller back to Brugge due to a ride fall out. I believe it was where I fell in love with Brugge's Harvey, a blackberry infused sour ale.
This year I brought a friend I'm trying to help grow into trying new beers. It was fun to see him try new beers and what his thoughts were on some of my favorites.
In the past I usually do a big run down of beers that I tried and the ones I really liked. This time I'm only going to mention a few of my beer tasting highlights but show much of the story that was the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival with pictures. Hopefully it shows you readers what a good time can be had.
Onto my highlights -
Bier Brewery - Trippelle - Yes, this is a fairly regular offering by Bier, and I may be biased, but it is damn good.
Cutter's Brewing Co - General Brown's Sour - I was excited because I had recently tried New Belgium's La Folie, and it was my first sour brown ale ever. This one was very nice and light. I think it could've been a little more sour.
Brugge Brasserie - Gettin' Figgy With It - I love the play of flavors here. It isn't strong, I feel it is well blended and warming.
Three Pints BrewPub - Cherry / Blackberry Wheat - I'll come out and say it, if I'm going to Plainfield for beer, I'm going to Black Swan, I've just never been impressed with Three Pints, until.. this beer got me. I like the little bit of cherry and blackberry sweetness with the wheat. I like that it was freshly infused with a Randall the Enamel Animal :) I may have to pop in and try more at Three Pints.
Zwangzigs - Ghost Pepper Infused Imperial Stout. I don't need to gush about this beer. I did it at Winterfest I'm just going to say.. I'd buy many many many bottles of this and save it, if they actually bottled it.
Besides the beer, I thought the location was great but may need to expand next year. Having in April was a great idea. To give the readers another point of view, I asked my writer friend, John Kennedy, for his insight. Bloomington Craft Beer Festival was his second beerfest:
"I enjoyed myself and got to try lots of great beers, including the Ghost Pepper infused Imperial Stout from Zwanzigz. There were plenty of people offering Scottish Ales, which is my favorite style. I loved the Floyd's Folly Scottish Ale from Cutter's Brewing Co. I also enjoyed Dog Day from 450 North Brewing Co, which was a good, heavy beer. The band was a little loud, which took away from being able to talk to the brewers and others about the wonderful beer."
Thanks again to B.I.G., the Breweries and Brewers, Nathan for his environmental task force!, and all the volunteers.
Big thanks to those who let me take their pictures!
As the staff member in charge of our recycling and composting programs, I’m the freak who spent more time digging through the trash than tasting beer on this April afternoon. Oddly enough, I did turn into a raccoon the next day==>
Anywho, I can tell you that after about 1300 people attended the event in 2012, the festival committee was dreaming big and wondering if we could possibly draw 2000 this year. When word started circulating that we were approaching sellout status, there was a great deal of excitement and quite possibly a bit of panic. After the dust settled our early estimate puts this year’s crowd in the range of 2600-2800 (no estimate on the number of fake moustaches, but let’s just set it at “too many”). Anytime you double the size of an event and people generally seem to leave happy, I have to call it a good day.
The holding area that allowed attendees to work through the ticket process prior to opening time was brilliant and ensured that nobody had to lose valuable festival time trying to get through the line. The restroom situation left something to be desired, but this is already on the planning committee’s radar which is a good sign for future improvement. Kudos to the crowd who were very patient, courteous, and in the right mindset to have good time from my observation.
Note for attendees: Any (preferably constructive) feedback you have on what you liked and what we need to improve would be welcome in the comments below. I can relay your thoughts to the planning committee when we hold our wrap-up meeting.
Since I tried a limited number of beers and did not have the chance to take notes, this section will be brief. The single beer that stands out in my mind was the Flat 12/People’s collaborative Hoosier Brown Rye. Three Floyds Toxic Revolution Stout and Iechyd Da Gumption Imperial Red would also be in the mix.
I do want to offer another word of thanks to the Brewers of Indiana Guild and the festival committee for their support of this year’s environmental initiatives. Special thanks to Salt Creek Cycles for sponsoring the valet bicycle parking and Jeff Mease/Bloomington Brewing Company for accepting our compost at Loesch Farm!