Winterfest: 10 Beers You Should Try

beer beer everywhere

Like many of you, I scanned the list of Winterfest breweries and beers with astonishment at the number of beers that have not had the pleasure of assaulting my brain cells. But then I stopped and tried to think about noting some beers I’ve actually tried that would warrant a strong recommendation for someone who is fairly new to the glory of Winterfest. By focusing on beers that are not omnipresent throughout the state, this list will hopefully contain something for veterans and non-veterans alike. So here are some personal recommendations for you to consider when planning your day of responsible sampling:


Bell’s Harry Magill’s Spiced Stout: We stumbled across this Bell’s specialty over the holidays at The Chubby Trout in Elkhart (great place if you’re in the area). Harry Magill’s is a unique blend of specialty malts, ginger, and nutmeg. Not as close to a Christmas Ale as the description might suggest, it carves out its own unique flavor profile that is well worth a try.
Great Fermentations Temple of Rye (tapping at 4:45): This is an Imperial Porter aged in a Templeton Rye whiskey barrel. OK, so this selection is incredibly biased because I contributed some homebrew to the project. But after trying the final product yesterday, I’ll stake my reputation on saying you won’t be disappointed with this beer. Guess that only works if anyone cares about your supposed reputation. Try the beer anyway.
New Belgium Biere de Garde: Another new offering we found over the holidays, this is actually a collaboration between New Belgium and Brewery Vivant from Grand Rapids. A nice example of a criminally underrated style that will appeal to those who appreciate rich maltiness with subtle wine-like characteristics.
Oaken Barrel Super Fly IPA: One of the best local IPAs when I started getting into craft beer. Still one of the best you can find today. While checking out and supporting our new breweries, don’t forget the quality offerings this local veteran still brings to the table.
Power House Diesel Oil Stout: Named in honor of the diesel engines produced in Columbus by Cummins, Diesel Oil Stout is more approachable for the average drinker than the name might suggest. If you’ve never sampled a beer from Power House, try this seductively dark stout that uses a bit of lactose sweetness to balance the dark malts.
Rock Bottom (College Park) Naked Oat Stout: Brewer Liz Laughlin turns out consistently good beers at Rock Bottom College Park and the Naked Oat Stout and Simcoe IPA are the seasonals I always seek out. Aggressively flavorful but still approachable, this one pushes the boundaries of what an Oatmeal Stout can taste like in a good way.
Sam Adams Thirteenth Hour: A barrel aged beer that combines the dark fruit flavors of a Belgian Dark Strong Ale with prominent chocolate and coffee notes, Thirteenth Hour proves that Sam Adams is still relevant as a craft beer innovator.
Shoreline Beltaine Scottish Ale: Beltaine has been around for a while, but you owe yourself a sample of this World Cup multi-award winning beer if you’ve never tried it. Consistently the standout offering when I’ve visited Shoreline’s brewpub.
Triton Sin Bin Belgian Pale: Very approachable option for those who prefer a more nuanced bitterness and hop character in their pale ales. The Belgian phenolics are nicely restrained and balanced against the toasty malt backbone.
Upland Gilgamesh: Upland’s take on a traditional Flanders Red, I was pleasantly surprised by how the subtle sour character complemented a bouquet of fruit flavors when reviewing this beer for the website last year. After trying it again at the Indiana Brewers Cup (where it won commercial best of show) against some other standout commercial examples, Gilgamesh solidified its status as my pick of the day for sour ales.

Honorable Mention: Barley Island Black Mystic Java Stout, Daredevil Lift Off IPA, Figure 8 Raven Tor Oatmeal Stout, Flat 12 Walkabout Pale, Lafayette Brewing Company Tippecanoe Common

Finally, don’t forget to check out my friends at the homebrew club tables to see what local amateurs are brewing up these days. There will be only two tables this year with various clubs rotating throughout the day so you will find various new options to consider on repeat visits. Plus the lines will probably be shorter (just kidding homebrewers) :)

See ya Saturday, Nathan


Kathleen Slauzis said...

I too will be checking out Thirteenth Hour... again. :) And I am so excited about Gilgamesh and the other lambics.

Nathan Compton said...

"scanned the scanned the"? Good to see my proofreading skills are in rare form today. Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

People's doesn't even get a mention? For shame!

GregK said...

among several:
Batch 333: The Velvet Fog
Batch 666: Sympathy for the Devil

Ghost Pepper Imperial Stout

Against the Grain:
Corsair Rasputin Barrel Aged Spackle the Orb

Bare Hands:
Mole Bride

and a shout out to my local
Bloomington Brewing Co:
Cask Conditioned Ole Floyd's Belgian

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