Success Across the Wabash!

  The success or failure of an outdoor summer beer festival is dependent upon many factors.  Timing, location, publicity, community support, volunteers, and participating breweries are several that I can rattle off without having to put too much stress on my foggy, Sunday morning brain.  However, as I sit here listening to the steady patter of rain, compliments of the remnants of Hurricane Isaac (pictured right), falling just outside the window, I feel I can confidently state that all of the aforementioned factors are capable of being held hostage by the whims of Mother Nature.

   As good fortune would have it, downtown Lafayette’s 1st annual Beers Across the Wabash (BAW) only fell victim to plentiful sunshine and a brief return to 90 degree weather.  As for the other factors, well:

Timing:  The event was a perfect complement to the 8th annual Uptown Jazz and Blues Festival that took place later in the evening.  It also didn’t hurt that several thousand Purdue students had just returned for the fall semester.

Location:  The John T. Myers pedestrian bridge overlooking the Wabash River, Riehle Plaza, and downtown Lafayette, provided a picturesque backdrop for the festivities.

Publicity:  Early rumblings snowballed into a healthy buzz (yep, that’s a double entendre right there) since the idea of BAW was first overheard back in April at the Tippecanoe Arts Federation Event, TAP at TAF, an event that featured a dozen Indiana craft breweries. 

Community Support:  Strong local sponsorship (please click the link and scroll to the bottom), hard-working volunteers from Friends of Downtown and Tippecanoe Homebrewers’ Circle, delicious eats provided by D&R Market, the Lafayette Optimist Club and Sgt. Preston’s, and the attendance of Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, Indiana State Representative Sheila Klinker and several hundred thirsty revelers demonstrate an exemplary testament of the Lafayette community’s commitment to the success of the festival.

The Breweries:  The stars of the show!  An array of incredible Indiana microbreweries provided some of the best brews that the state has to offer. 

   Spoken in brewer’s parlance, all of these festival factors are akin to how the perfect harmony of water, malted barley, hops, and yeast results in a joyful pint of liquid delight.  In terms of the BAW event, such elements culminated in a splendid Saturday afternoon of merriment for craft beer enthusiasts.

   Obviously it would be difficult (and unwise) for someone to sample each and every tasty offering from the assembled breweries.   I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed all of the beers that I managed to get my hands on.  I did manage to note several offerings that stood out as my favorites from the afternoon.  These are, in no particular order:

     People's barrel aged, cask-conditioned Scottish ale
Upland's Nut Hugger Brown Ale
New Albanian's Naughty Girl Blonde IPA
Backroad's Blueberry Stout
Flat 12's Jo Brahma Coffee Brown/Stout Ale
Brugge Brasserie's Pooka American Wild Ale
Crown's Special Forces IPA
Lafayette's Marley's VSOP (Very Special Old Porter)
Black Swan's Fug Nug double pale

   A few of these selections were old favorites that were worthy of repeating, however, some are beers that I’ve somehow not been privy to prior to this event. Again, tons of great beer but these especially appealed to my palate.

   Look, I realize that one of the unfortunate downfalls (?) to the explosion of the craft beer industry is that there are a number of festivals, old and new, that ultimately compete for your precious time and hard-earned scratch.  That said, if you weren’t able to attend the 1st Annual Beers Across the Wabash…shame on you!  However, I feel fairly certain that, due to the success of this year’s event, your shot at redemption will be forthcoming sometime in August of 2013.  Hope to see you in Lafayette.

Jason C.
"Let no man thirst for lack of Real Ale."

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