Indiana Beer News - June 30: New Beers, Fun events

What beer will you drink for Fourth of July and what beer will you drink in 2014? The answer to each might change as more and more beers come on the Indiana scene! There is a LOT going on in the next few weeks and a lot more coming.

We did a quick stop at some downtown Indianapolis breweries this weekend finding new pours everywhere and also realizing we have so many offerings in downtown Indy we could not fit them all into our short schedule.

Indiana City Beer (see Kathleen's Grand Opening Story here ) was offering up a Belgian Wheat (Yacht Rock; 6%), Oatmeal Stout (Shadow Boxer; 7%), and APA (Beyond the Pale; 7.2) showing perhaps a trend in slightly 'bigger' beers in alcohol.

SunKing showcased their regular three, WeeMac, Osiris, and Sunlight, plus a hefe-weizen (Big H; 5.8%) ), Vienna Lager (Indian Lager; 5.4%), and a collaboration beer with Solemn Oath (Mythological Wonder, 7.7%) with spicy and rye notes, delicious combo hops.

wants to give us our fruits and vegetables with so many beers on tap including their regular suspects (porter, amber, walk-about IPA, half-cycle IPA) and as usual so many seasonals, the newest being KiwiKiwiHefeWeizen with Kiwi fruit and kiwi juice so fruity, as well as Cucumber Kolsch which seems this year truly for those who love cucumbers, their Axis hefe and a Karousel Kolsch - tapped last week at the Elbow Room's 80th birthday party!

the RAM recently rolled out Barefoot wit, perfect for these hot days.

Daredevil has rolled out their Vacation Kolsch now showing up on taps throughout the state, also brewed with German ingredients and is a crisp, clean beer. Of course Daredevil Lift Off remains out there and seasonal Muse Belgian style can still be found on tap at many locations.

If you travel to Cincinnati you'll find a new brewery open (Grand Opening was June 29) with a strong Indiana connection. Rhinegeist brewing in the Over the Rhine District of the Queen City is the new home of Head Brewer Jim Matt who was a home-brewer in the award winning MECA club that also spawned now-pro-brewers Bill Ballinger and Michael Pearson of Daredevil. Jim gained professional status with SunKing, moved to head brewer status with Moerlein when they opened a brew haus in downtown Cincy, and just opened the Rheingeist operation serving a golden ale, English mild, Hoppy Wheat and IPA. Good Luck Rhinegeist and Jim!!

Bloomington Brewing Company has rolled out 10-speed nicely hopped wheat beer and a brand new Seven Sips Belgian Strong ale that has a nod to a wit with coriander + sweet and bitter orange peel but candy sugar to make it a big beer (8.3%). Also new at BBC is a Single Hop Columbus IPA following the trend of single hopped beers.
BBC's sister Lennie's restaurant and brew pub (the home of BBC beers) won a prestigious Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence award this month. The accolade, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.


July 4: most Indiana brewpubs are open on July 4 for growler fills!
If in Downtown Indy for the Freedom Blast (fireworks) check out the Indiana Craft Beer Garden with craft offerings from SunKing, Flat12, Fountain Square, Cutters, Barely Island and Peoples brewers.

Indiana City Brewing (26 Shelby Street a block from Washington Street and I-65), celebrates with a 4th of July Music Festival staring at 4:00 with $5 tickets and lost of live music, local beer, and food trucks -- plus a location to view the Indy fireworks.

July 6: SunKing celebrates their 4th anniversary with a Grapefruit Jungle IPA tapping with music, local beer, and food trucks 4-10PM - $10 tickets at the tasting room. Beer Tappings are scheduled throughout the day: 4pm Grapefruit Jungle, 6pm Port Barrel Aged Wee Mac, 7pm 777, 8pm Afternoon Delight, 9pm Velvet Fog.

Brewers of Indiana Guild 18th Annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival is Saturday, July 20, 3-7 p.m. at Indianapolis Art Center and Optimist Park in Broad Ripple.
Your favorite Indiana breweries will be joined by a select group of guest breweries from around the country at Indiana’s largest craft beer event. Over 300 beer selections to choose from!Details and Tix

Noted out-of-state beers coming to Indiana!

Green Flash from San Diego, noted for their West Coast style IPA, should be in distribution in Central and Southern Indiana by mid-July. Early reports suggest only 20 bars may be the first to have a GF beer on tap but many liquor stores are to get product! WCB is the distributor.

Smuttynose brewing of New Hampshire, as we previewed for Ft. Wayne story here is kicking off distribution with Cavalier in Indiana in the Northern and Southern parts of the state check releases here . We should be finding best-selling Finestkind IPA and international award-winners Robust Porter and Wheat Wine Ale in most of our areas soon.

DogfishHead has announced their return to Indiana (+ Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) with a cute video watch the video here . Look for DFH to work out the deal with a distributor and be back by 2014, possibly sooner.

Oskar Blues of Longmont, Colorado, the first to use CANS announced in March that they should be available in Indiana soon. Most in Indiana know of the SunKing/Oskar Blues collaboration of CHAKA last year. As OB rolls out to Indiana look for Dale's Pale and Mama's Yellow Pils.

Speaking of cans look for some other craft brewers (in Indiana) to consider cans. recently released a clip from one of their junior reporters extolling the virtues of cans vs bottles

and finally, having a Summer Wedding? Beer is IN! Anja Winikka, Site Director recognizes the trend: "Our brides love beer! More and more we've been seeing couples go beyond the traditional bar and really personalizing the experience for their guests. Beer is huge – everything from beer flights and craft beer bars to beer tasting stations and beer and food pairings. Couples are even serving homebrews specially created for their events. That's why we're so excited about Brewlywed Ale – it gives all craft beer lovers a chance to enjoy the trend at their weddings. Plus, what could be better for personalizing your day than a specialty wedding beer?" (thanks to PR from SamAdams)

Smuttynose Tap Assault at Trion Tavern - June 27

Saturday, June 29 - 5p.m. - 3a.m. Sunday June 30:

The Trion Tavern (503 Broadway Street, New Haven, IN - (260) 493-2265) will be tapping five (5)Smuttynose beers never before seen in Indiana. A brewery representative will be in house with Smuttynose swag to hand out.  The following information was located on Trion's Facebook event page:

Smuttynose Brewing Co. is the Granite State’s leading craft brewery, located in the historic seaport city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Smuttynose was founded in 1994 by the folks who started the Northampton and Portsmouth Breweries.

For 2013, RateBeer ranks Smuttynose as the best brewery in New Hampshire and the 58th best brewery in the world (42nd in the US). This is the first time Smuttynose beers have been available in Indiana and this event will be THE OFFICIAL debut of Smuttynose in Northeast Indiana!

The beers to be tapped are as follows

• Finestkind IPA (6.9%) BeerAdvocate: 92, The Bros: 100. RateBeer: 97 overall, 95 by style.
Portsmouth is a colonial era seaport town, so it goes to follow that sooner or later Smuttynose would brew an India Pale Ale as a tribute to those big, hoppy 19th century ales that made the long sea voyage from England's temperate shores, 'round the Cape of Good Hope, to the sultry climes of the faraway East Indies.

But there's another reason Smuttynose brewed this beer, one that's closer to their home and hearts. Hopheads.

In 1994 Smuttynose brewed our first batch of Shoals Pale Ale, our American interpretation of the traditional British ESB (Extra Special Bitter) style. At the time, it was widely considered to be darned hoppy. However, a funny thing happened over the last decade - Smuttynose's Shoals Pale Ale didn't change; beer lovers did, and Smuttynose started to hear more and more: “Why don't you guys make a really hoppy beer?”
You could say, then, that Smuttynose IPA is a physical salute to the glory of the American hop grower. The citrusy hop flavor coming from a mixture of Simcoe and Santiams is pleasantly balanced by a smooth bitterness from the Amarillo hops. The beer itself is light bodied and crisp with a golden color that will throw a slight haze, as Smuttynose bottles it unfiltered. At 75 IBU's, this is definitely not a training-wheels IPA, but is meant for hop lovers looking to satisfy their craving in a way that's not easy to find. Smuttynose thinks they’ll be quite pleased.

• Old Brown Dog Ale (6.7%) BeerAdvocate: 88, The Bros: 98. RateBeer: 85 overall, 93 by style.

Old Brown Dog has been cited as a classic example of the “American Brown Ale” style of beer. Compared to a typical English Brown Ale, Old Brown Dog is fuller-bodied and more strongly hopped.

Old Brown Dog has been around for many years. It was first brewed in 1988 at the Northampton Brewery. In 1989 it won a silver medal in its category (American Brown Ale) at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

• Robust Porter (6.2%) BeerAdvocate: 93, The Bros: 97. RateBeer: 99 overall, 100 by style.

This hearty, mahogany colored ale is brewed to evoke the dark, full-bodied ales that were a favorite of dockworkers and warehousemen (hence the name “Porter”) in 19th century London. It is a good bet that when Dickens’ Mr. Pickwick sat down for a pint, he would have been drinking an ale much like Smuttynose Robust Porter. This is a smooth and very drinkable beer, characterized by its well-balanced malt and hops, plus subtle notes of coffee and chocolate.

• Shoals Pale Ale (5.6%) BeerAdvocate: 87, The Bros: 92. RateBeer: 88 overall, 99 by style.

Smuttynose's interpretation of a classic English beer style is copper-colored, medium-bodied and pleasantly hopped. Its flavor is delightfully complex: tangy fruit at the start, with an assertive hop crispness and a long malty palate that one well-known beer writer has compared to the flavor of freshly-baked bread.

• Star Island Single (4.7%) BeerAdvocate: 79. RateBeer: 44 overall, 40 by style.

Visitors to Smuttynose Island, peering across the dark waters of Gosport Harbor towards the ragged rocks of neighboring Star Island, are sometimes startled by the fleeting sight of mysterious, alluring creatures swept up from the Atlantic’s cold, inky depths. Or so they tell us.

Smuttynose Star Island Single is an eminently sessionable, Belgian-style pale ale offering a beguiling mix of flavor and refreshment. This medium-bodied golden ale features a slight residual sweetness from Honey Malt and hints of citrus and tropical fruits from the unique Belgian yeast it is fermented with, leaving a crisp dry finish. Enjoy it sociably while you savor good times, tall tales, friendly company & life’s unexpected pleasures

Trion Tavern will be offering $8 flights of the five (5) Smuttynose beers and $10 flights for all others. This is a 4oz. sample of each of the five (5) beers. The normal price for a flight is $13 so this is a great beer deal! Try some flights to find out what you like and then order a full glass!

Check out Trion's Facebook page for any and all updates for this event as well as their website

Brew Bracket Pale Ales

After tackling Ambers, Belgians, Bourbon Barrel Aged, India Pale Ale, Stout, and Wheat; the latest incarnation of Brew Bracket featured the popular American Pale Ale style. If you’re not familiar with Brew Bracket, it’s the unique beer competition where the winner is determined based on the votes of blind tasting participants. No qualifications required, no guidelines, just pick the beer you enjoy the most. Participants taste two beers at the same time and the winner of that voting round advances to face a new opponent in the next round until an overall champion is determined.

Jake, Jason, and I attended the event and decided to take a new approach by publishing each of our votes here for a good round of public ridicule. Our picks deviated significantly from actual winners early in the competition before falling in line a bit more as we drew closer to an overall champion. Congrats to Thr3e Wise Men for winning the tournament with their Rocky Ripple Pale Ale, and to Rock Bottom Downtown for claiming runner-up with Sugar Creek Pale Ale. We’ll start with the matchups and our choices followed by a bit of commentary.

Sweet 16 Round

Flat 12 vs. Rock Bottom College Park (North Region)

Jake’s Pick: Flat 12
Jason’s Pick: Rock Bottom College Park
Nathan’s Pick: Flat 12
The People’s Choice: Rock Bottom College Park

Three Wisemen vs. Union Brewing (North Region)

Jake’s Pick: Union Brewing
Jason’s Pick: Union Brewing
Nathan’s Pick: Union Brewing
The People’s Choice: Three Wisemen

RAM vs. People’s (West Region)

Jake’s Pick: RAM
Jason’s Pick: People’s
Nathan’s Pick: People’s
The People’s Choice: RAM

Brugge Brasserie vs. Bloomington Brewing (West Region)

Jake’s Pick: Brugge Brasserie
Jason’s Pick: Brugge Brasserie
Nathan’s Pick: Brugge Brasserie
The People’s Choice: Bloomington Brewing

Upland vs. Rock Bottom Downtown (East Region)

Jake’s Pick: Upland
Jason’s Pick: Upland
Nathan’s Pick: Upland
The People’s Choice: Rock Bottom Downtown

Evil Czech vs. Triton (East Region)

Jake’s Pick: Triton
Jason’s Pick: Triton
Nathan’s Pick: Evil Czech
The People’s Choice: Evil Czech

Barely Island vs. Indiana City (South Region)

Jake’s Pick: Barley Island
Jason’s Pick: Indiana City
Nathan’s Pick: Indiana City
The People’s Choice: Barley Island

Iechyd Da vs. Half Moon (South Region)

Jake’s Pick: Iechyd Da
Jason’s Pick: Half Moon
Nathan’s Pick: Half Moon
The People’s Choice: Half Moon

Elite 8 Round

Rock Bottom College Park vs. Three Wisemen (North Region)

Jake’s Pick: Rock Bottom College Park
Jason’s Pick: Rock Bottom College Park
Nathan’s Pick: Rock Bottom College Park
The People’s Choice: Three Wisemen

RAM vs. Bloomington Brewing (West Region)

Jake’s Pick: RAM
Jason’s Pick: RAM
Nathan’s Pick: RAM
The People’s Choice: RAM

Rock Bottom Downtown vs. Evil Czech (East Region)

Jake’s Pick: Rock Bottom Downtown
Jason’s Pick: Rock Bottom Downtown
Nathan’s Pick: Evil Czech
The People’s Choice: Rock Bottom Downtown

Barley Island vs. Half Moon (South Region)

Jake’s Pick: Barley Island
Jason’s Pick: Barley Island
Nathan’s Pick: Barley Island
The People’s Choice: Barley Island

Final 4 Round

Three Wisemen vs. RAM

Jake’s Pick: Three Wisemen
Jason’s Pick: Three Wisemen
Nathan’s Pick: Three Wisemen
The People’s Choice: Three Wisemen

Rock Bottom Downtown vs. Barley Island

Jake’s Pick: Rock Bottom Downtown
Jason’s Pick: Rock Bottom Downtown
Nathan’s Pick: Barley Island
The People’s Choice: Rock Bottom Downtown

Championship Round

Three Wisemen vs. Rock Bottom Downtown

Jake’s Pick: Rock Bottom Downtown
Jason’s Pick: Three Wisemen
Nathan’s Pick: Three Wisemen
The People’s Choice: Three Wisemen

cooksmall From Jason C………….

For the record, I went into this thing a Brew Bracket virgin. I had really been wanting to attend since its inception but I suppose I was just saving myself for the right style. When I saw pale ales on the calendar well, I just knew that I was ready both physically and was just my time. Little did I know the mental anguish that awaited when the beers I liked left the competition without so much as a goodbye note. At least I am able to take some comfort in knowing that I can stalk those beers now that their identity has been disclosed.

After sampling everything from the Sweet 16 (rounds 1&2), I felt that the North Region was in control of the bracket (even tweeted it at the time). Oddly enough, I ended up voting against the eventual winner for it's first two pairings. This isn't meant to slight Three Wisemen in the least, their beer was certainly deserving as they did receive my votes in both the Final 4 & Championship rounds. Looking back, I still feel that the toughest decision for me was the Round 1 match-up between Flat 12 & Rock Bottom CP and I maintain that the Rock Bottom CP offering was the best beer I had all day.

I was surprised that the People's entry was knocked out in Round 1 as I felt that they had the strongest offering in the West Region (and no, I'm not being a homer!). The East Region's best match-up came in Round 1 with Upland vs. Rock Bottom DT. While I gave the edge to Upland, I wasn't surprised to see Rock Bottom DT advance to the finals. Again, a first round match-up that knocked out a pretty nice beer. The last thing I really want is to be a hater but there really wasn't much to get excited about in the South Region. The only beer that really caught my attention was the offering from Indiana City. Looking at the bracket it's obvious the majority of the beer drinking populous didn't share in my taste for this beer. The flavor contained an interesting spice note (ginger maybe?) that I found to be unique and pretty tasty. Because of this combination I gave it my vote, albeit in vain, to move on to the next round.

So that's my brief summary of my first venture into the exciting world that is Brew Bracket. They say you always remember your first and I feel that the pale ales will be no exception. I've also been told that it gets better with experience so, that being said, bring on the Oktoberfests!

jake_small From Jake………….

Like Jason, I popped my brew bracket cherry this past weekend. So the theory behind this event was a March Madness style bracket of beers, with the final beer standing being the champion. This is a great idea and the execution of the event really makes it easy for the consumer to simply enjoy themselves. A pair of food trucks fed the few hundred or so people with pretzel bun sandwiches from a german food truck and scratch truck’s indian style offerings. I was surprised to see just how many brewers were at the event; a few made it out to mingle with the crowd but most of the time they were behind the scenes drinking amongst themselves. A corn hole style long toss, a raffle, and a trivia contest sponsored by NUVO kept the mass entertained as the bottle cap votes were counted.

At the beginning of the festival a 1 page handout from Ron Smith gave a brief rundown of the style’s history and what a BJCP trained judge would look for in this style. Essentially the style is an American hop showcase. Just enough malt backbone to help balance the moderate to high hop bitterness and flavor, and low to no yeast character. This is a great style for an event like this because you do not overwhelm your senses with the first few rounds.

Anyways enough about the event, lets talk about beer. As I’m sure you read I only got 7 of my 15 picks correct. This didn’t really surprise me as I had no idea what to expect. Like Jason, I thought the North and West regions were stacked with great beer, the East had a few tasty ones. Regretfully, most of the South region would have struggled against any beer in the North or West. After discussing the event, after round 2, with some friends from another blog; I picked the beer I thought would win the whole thing. I choose Andrew Castner’s creation for the RAM. Andrew’s offering made it to the semifinal round and only lost to the overall winner, Omar’s offering from Three Wisemen. Some notable first or second round upsets were Rob Caputo’s offering from Flat 12, Upland’s Campside, Ted Miller’s Brugge beer, and newcomers Indiana City. Some of the underdogs who did well were Barley Island, always great beer but more well known for their darker beers, who made it to the semifinal, and Evil Czech who lost in round 3 to finalists Rock Bottom Downtown. After only voting for Three Wisemen once, against my pick to win it all by the way, I can’t really say I think Omar’s was my favorite beer. In reality any of the semifinalists could have won, as they were all pretty tasty.

Congratulations to Omar, and everyone at Three Wisemen! The future of brew bracket is promising. With Oktoberfests on the horizon for the next event in September and another one later this year there will be plenty of opportunity for you to end your brew bracket virginity as well. Oktoberfest is one of my absolute favorite styles, so I will be at the next event. Now I’m sorry I missed Bourbon Barrel Brew Bracket, sounds like it was a good time. What I would love to see next year is some more interesting styles like Saison, Schwarzbier, and perhaps a Berliner Weisse competition.

nathansmall From Nathan………….

This was a pretty strong field of beers, I can only think of one entry that the three of us were unanimously unimpressed with. So there were a fair amount of tough decisions, and the brackets pretty much guarantee some of your favorites will be knocked out early. It’s interesting to note that as a group we unanimously voted against Thr3e Wisemen in the two North region matchups, but this is primarily because the Union and Rock Bottom CP beers were exceptional in my opinion.

The first round matchup between Flat 12 and Rock Bottom CP was just brutal – those were probably my two favorite beers in the competition. The Evil Czech vs. Triton matchup was also very difficult as they both ranked near the top of my list. I haven’t had the chance to try a lot of offerings from Evil Czech, so it was great to find out they had such a strong offering in this competition. Of course, none of the four beers I mentioned as favorites advanced past the round of 8, and the people have spoken! On the other hand, the few entries I didn’t care for were also eliminated in the first two rounds.

Once we reached the Final 4, my favorites were gone but the remaining entries were very solid. At this point, my notes tabbed the Thr3e Wisemen entry as the best remaining beer in the field. This seems illogical since I had voted against it twice, but the North Region entries were disproportionately strong. Once we pass the Porter competition in December, the next challenge may be finding new styles that Indiana brewers produce commonly enough to hold a full 16 brewer competition. Brown Ales, Lagers, and Light Hybrids (Cream Ales, Blonde Ales, etc.) are a few that still come to mind. Thanks to Brew Bracket for putting another great event and motivating me to pick up a sixer of the Flat 12 Walkabout!


Check out the Brew Bracket event page for your next chance to participate and select a champion (hopefully with a better rate of success than we had)! Upcoming events include:

Oktoberfest Beers
September 28th, 2013
8 Brewers, 150 Participants
Held at Tomlinson Tap Room (in City Market, Indianapolis)
December 7th, 2013
16 Brewers, 400 Participants
Held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis

Chow Down Midtown

Chow Down Midtown is an great event highlight Broadripple's culinary talents with affordable menus options.  Sometimes, along with those culinary talents, there is also beer.

Sahm's Place partnering with their neighbors down the way, Bier Brewery, offered a delicious 4 - 4oz sample flight of Bier's bier with their ChowDown Midtown meal.

I, of course, living down the street from both, and Bier fan that I am instantly decided I need to check out this line up.

This wasn't a beer paired dinner, which in case you were interested, Sahm's & Bier does offer a beer paired dinner for $30 a person every third Thursday, this was just great beer with good food.

The beer options for the night were Farmgal, Bier Brewery's saison, Weizengoot - a hefeweizen, Rye Pale, and the famous Trippelle.  All of them good, even if I'm not a fan of the Rye Pale. Obviously Farmgal is my favorite, followed by the Trippelle.  The genuine smoothness and simple flavors went well with what I had for dinner without over pouring them. Since it wasn't a beer pair dinner, there wasn't any flavor enhancement with the food. Just a basic enjoyment of good bier.

After the flight went, and boy did it go quickly, I ordered a Figure 8 - Pimp Slap (Imperial Pilsner). Lately I've really been into trying and drinking different pilsners. It was triggered after my visit to Great Lakes Brewery and I really liked the Wright Pils. Figure 8's Pimp Slap was delicious, and my only regret was I don't live near by the brewery to get more.

My suggestion? Hit up Sahm's Place before Chowdown Midtown is over (June 23rd is the last day) and get a free flight of Bier with your dinner.  This is the perfect way to try new craft beer if you haven't had a chance and a ladies, it'd be a great way to get your partner out on a date night if you mention free craft beer.


Black Swan, gastro-pub and brewery in Plainfield, IN

Ever have one of those “go to” places where you feel comfortable, you like the beer, you like the food and like the staff? Black Swan brewpub in Plainfield is one of those places. Black Swan is the place our current core bloggers met to ‘take over’ and has become the place we like to go to meet or just to grab a beer or a meal. Plus Black Swan is conveniently located at the first stop light North of I-70 at the Plainfield, Indiana, exit making it one of the closest good eating places to the Indianapolis Airport. Black Swan always has at least ten taps of solid beers, great gastro-pub food, and friendly service. A funny story: in March we sat next to a fellow from Virginia who was in the area frequently on business and started talking about enjoying this place several times and wanting to get to another brewery he had read about. I asked how he knew about the local beer scene and he started telling me about ‘this site called’ Yes, brother, we beer nerds can stick together.

Locals at Black Swan love the IPAs and the strong beers. Yet the interesting fact is that there are people loyal to nearly every regular beer style on tap. If the scotch (locally called Scottish but at 8%) ale blows there are always some patrons that ask and ask when it will be back on. When the Ruby is out there are always patrons who ask when it will be back. Of course, Black Swan owner/brewer D.J.McAllister would really hear about it if there were no hoppy options. On our March visit he had the IPA at 90iub (6.9%), and the double pale at 75ibu (5.7%). For our June visit we find the hop heads truly satisfied with the IPA, Chinook IPA 90ibu, Falconer’s Flight IPA 90 ibu, and Double Pale. Overall there were 11 Black Swan beers on tap plus a guest cider. Basically there is something for nearly every taste, except Budweiser – drink the Blond or the Wit.

Want flavor beyond hops? In March a Black Peat Stout that gave the impression it was a cousin to a fine Scotch Malt whisky was delicious as was a Sour Cherry and a nearly traditional British Mild, a session beer at 4.5% abv. And DJ had a Quad on at 12.9%. Last week (June ) we found a delicious Cherry Wood porter providing a slight smoke flavor and a nice subtle cherry while the Sour Cherry was also still on tap and still tasty. A cream stout offered a fantastic richness and a French Country Ale using French saison yeast provided refreshing Belgian flavor and a slight tartness. The slightly sweet but well balanced Scottish (the scotch ale at 8%) was on tap along with a Wit at 4.9% with coriander and orange. For maximum flavor with hops there was the “Oak Aged Maris Otter Strong Ale” which at almost 10% was a big beer but very dry. This one was made using bourbon barrel staves.

Black Swan opened on 10/10/10 (Oct. 2010, lest you though I was writing in code) with a lot of guest beers and good food that immediately drew in loyal customers. Once they got their own beers on tap business boomed.

D.J. operates a 5.5 barrel system that could be stretched to 7.5 capacity with the right additions. This is an electric fired system that proves you can put out solid beer using electric. At under $4 for some local pints patrons get their money’s worth. Having brewed more than 30 different beers, the IPA, the Scottish, and the Double pale are the overall top sellers. Yet, as noted most of the beers develop their own fan club.

Due to the location in an area with many hotels serving the Indianapolis International airport, Black Swan has a steady stream of hotel patrons as well as local residents.

McAllister had both brewing and business experience before opening Black Swan. D.J. learned a lot brewing as assistant at such notable places Oaken Barrel, Greenwood, and at Lafayette Brewing. He has specific business goals for Black Swan and, luckily for all of us, he is very consistent with his goals of serving great food (“killer” local made-in-house corned beef), with a great staff , and consistently delicious beer. Black Swan is a place where you know you can usually find one of those beers that has developed its own fan club or choose from a nice selection of specialty beers such as the Black Peat Stout, the Quad, the wood-aged Cherry Porter, or the French Country Ale. Thanks, Black Swan, for great beer and great hospitality.

Cheers! Greg Kitz

Beer Travels: The Mile High Club

The benefit of choosing a University in Denver for your online program is it gives you a good excuse to celebrate graduation by visiting a vibrant craft beer scene. So while beer may not have been the “official” reason for this trip, you can bet we allowed it to play a pretty strong supporting role.

Avery Brewing (Boulder): Our first visit and arguably the highlight thanks in no small part to the hospitality from Plant Engineer Steve Wadzinski. Let’s get this out of the way first – yes, Avery did pull distribution out of Indiana in 2011 and you can hold that against them. But they have also established a well-earned reputation as one of the more aggressive and innovative breweries in the past twenty years of craft beer. As a drinker who grew into the scene primarily through American styles, Salvation and The Reverend were two of my earliest exposures to Belgian styles. And The Beast Grand Cru frightened me a little at the first tasting…in a good way.

The growth of today’s Avery Brewing has strained the limits of available buildings within their small industrial complex, and plans for a new facility have been in the works for two years. The brewery continues to produce their old favorites and push the boundaries of emerging craft brewing trends. When we attended, they were preparing for the release of Momi Hiwa, a 17% ABV coconut porter aged in dark rum barrels and the 15th addition to their Barrel-Aged Series. The interesting samples we found in the tap room included Trogdor, a smoked Dopplebock, and Snapping Turtles, a Scottish Wee Heavy brewed with a variety of hot peppers that really snuck up on you with a nice burn in the aftertaste. And it’s just always great to get fresh samples of Maharaja Imperial IPA and Hog Heaven, a very hop forward American Barleywine that I prefer without extensive aging.

Probably the most unique feature of Avery’s brewing process to me is the use of outdoor fermentation vessels due to the lack of sufficient indoor space. These require six inches of insulation to preserve proper temperatures during Colorado winters. As someone who worries about the 1 degree change from placing a carboy in different sections of the basement, I find it a marvelous feat of engineering that all this great beer can be produced when exposed to a harsh climate.

Oskar Blues (Lyons): Oskar Blues appears to be building a small empire in the Rocky Mountain National Park region with a variety of brewing facilities, tap rooms, burger joints, and their own food truck. They also just opened a new brewery in Brevard, NC. You may be familiar with Oskar Blues from their two collaboration releases with Sun King, and you may have read here a few months back about their desire to expand distribution to Indiana. For our trip, we visited the original Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in the very small town of Lyons that we first discovered in 2006.

Besides their status as one of the pioneers of producing craft beer in a can, Oskar Blues is well known for crafting assertive beers high in flavor….and alcohol. Their hoppy beers are wonderful, but the Old Chub Scotch Ale and Ten Fidy Imperial Stout are also personal favorites. On our trip to the brewery, the house taps included smaller offerings that included a Nut Brown and Helles lager which were very good. Any place that I can get good beer and a good bowl of jambalaya is a winner in my book.

This was also the first (and not last) experience with a $7 pint on this trip, a pint of Deviant Dale’s IPA in this case. While this beer certainly warrants a certain level of premium pricing, it brings up a topic I’ve been tempted to address in the past. I enjoy visiting a brewery and sampling some fresh beer (arguably too much), but I start to wonder if there are any limitations on what breweries can charge at their own place. It seems like the same beer that goes through the added expense of bottling/canning, distribution, and retail markup somehow ends up half the price or less when purchased off the shelf. I know, I know, the beer in that glass is worth whatever someone like myself is willing to pay for it. Well, exactly how much are we as drinkers willing to pay? On another recent occasion I visited an unnamed brewery taproom and enjoyed a nice seasonal offering. Upon leaving and visiting another bar, I found the same beer and was able to order a pint for 50 cents less than was charged at the brewery. Not a big difference, but something seems a little backwards here. Anyway, I’m way off topic, back to the trip…….

Great Divide Brewing (Denver): Our final visit of the trip commenced with a convenient walk up Arapahoe Street from downtown Denver to the Great Divide tap room. Now this is a great tap room! There were 16 different beers on tap including four different varieties of their Yeti Imperial Stout (regular, oak aged, espresso oak aged, and chocolate oak aged). Great Divide will pour you a generous sample (see picture below) of any beer on tap for merely a dollar. This included premium offerings like the Yeti varieties, Old Ruffian Barleywine, and their 19th Anniversary ale featuring birch wood aging. To top it off, all tap room sample sales are donated to local nonprofit organizations.

Great Divide initially made a name for themselves with Titan IPA and Hercules Double IPA, but it’s the other styles that have always really impressed me at this brewery. The Claymore Scotch Ale and regular Oak Aged Yeti would rank at the top of my list, followed closely by Hoss Rye Lager and Nomad Bohemian Pilsner. While all the Yeti samples were wonderful, the oak character pairs so well on its own with this beer that other additions end up distracting. Overall, this is basically a brewery that can spin through a wide variety of styles and rarely leave you disappointed. I think the Yeti beers are a fairly good value even in bombers, but six packs of the Claymore Scotch Ale or Hibernation Ale (winter seasonal) are highly recommended buys from Great Divide. They’re fairly easy to find at better craft beer stores across central Indiana.

Regardless of my comments on pint prices, these three represent the breweries I consider “must stops” along the Denver/Boulder/Rocky Mountain National Park route. Left Hand Brewing in Longmont is only excluded because their tap room was closed for renovations the day we could have fit in a visit. I had a great time visiting them on past trips. We’re not big fans of New Belgium beers, but their brewery is a really interesting place to visit and I appreciate their sustainability efforts. The other breweries we visited on this trip included:

Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery (Boulder): Well worth a trip

West Flanders Brewing (Boulder): If you have a time

Wynkoop Brewing (Denver): If you have a time, and don’t order “Ye Olde Ale”

Cheers, Nathan

S & V Liquors Annual Summer Event (Fort Wayne) - June 12

S & V Liquors, 9960 Illinois Rd, Fort Wayne, will be having their annual summer FREE Beer, Wine and Spirits event on Saturday, June 15, from 5p.m.-8p.m.

This year's event will include beer representatives from Bell's Brewery and from Sun King Brewing.  There will be beers to sample from Bell's, Sun King, Southern Tier, Rogue, Flat 12, Dark Horse, Victory, and Boulevard to name a "few".  There will be approximately 40 different beers to sample in addition to those from Bell's and Sun King. 

Some of the Bell's beers at this event will be beers that are only available at the brewery.  These beers will also be available to purchase during the event ONLY and since Sunday is Father's Day these beers will make a great gift!!

Also, there will be FREE food available from The Cheeseman Store, Dawson's Dogs and Copper Kettle & Fudge Company.

Indiana (& around) Beer News: June 9, 13 - Upland Upcup Winner

Annually since 2008 Upland has run a Spring homebrew competition called UpCup. Each year the winner's beer becomes a pro-am brew for Upland and is eventually served on tap at the Upland tap rooms. Congratulations to the 2013 winner, Tom Wallbank of Indianapolis (Zionsville) and member of the Foam Blowers of Indiana homebrew club for his winning Berliner weisse. Tom won in 2009 with a German style rauch (smoked) beer so this year's German style entry will challenge the tasted buds of local drinkers to enjoy a slightly sour wheat beer. Ron Smith, also of FBI and Indianapolis (Zionsville) came in second this year with a saison.

tis the season for wheat beers and they will abound. Flat12 just tapped their Axis hefe on Friday of this past week.

Remember Brew Bracket coming up next weekend at the Indiana State Fairground and your chance to win tickets. check it out here

And just across the state line I Cincinnati, Rhinegeist brewing with former Indianapolis resident Jim Matt as Brewer completed their first batch of beer (officially) this week.

Check back for upcoming blogs on Black Swan brew pub, breweries in Evansville, and more beer news!

Cheers! Greg Kitz

Second Annual - History on Tap

On the last Friday of the month in May, with the skies cloudy showing promise of more rain, local breweries, beer drinkers, historical lovers and more gathered at Conner Prairie to enjoy another year of History on Tap. 

Brought together by the Conner Prairie Horizon Council, History on Tap involves much more than a simple beer festival. Opening up the entire grounds for attendees, breweries and one local meadery scattered about ready and willing to pour endless samples for tastings and full half pints in exchange for tickets. 

Not only was there delicious beer, but a food buffet was available. You could partake as part of your VIP ticket or it could be purchased separately. A grill and other food vendors provided for those wanting a snack. There was also music,  reenactments throughout the park and a brewers panel in the barn. 

The timing of the event couldn't have been more perfect. Spanning 4 hours (4 1/2 if you were VIP) into a Friday night, is the perfect way to spend the kick off to anyone's weekend. Plus with the night weather, and it being late spring, it kept attendees nice and cool.
But enough about atmosphere - let's talk about beer!

I had a sample from every single participant that night. Some were old favorites, many were regular house beers, some new ones popped by, but all were enjoyed (Some even twice!)

Instead of listing them all I'll just mentioned the ones that stood out - 

Flat 12 Bierwerks - Cucumber Kolsch - The nose of this beer is very crisp, with a clean highly cucumber-y smell, but honestly the taste isn't for me. This beer is their new summer seasonal being bottled and will be out in stores soon. I suggest giving it a try for yourself.  The concept for this beer was a long time coming, Rob Caputo mentioned in the brewer's panel how it started out with adding a whole cucumber to the fermentation. Later on for mass production, this was replaced with cucumber essence. 

Union Brewing Company - Sassy Pants Porter - A porter with sassafras added. Was an interesting flavor. I probably should have had more of it. It was definitely good, but one of those tastes where you can't put your finger onto why it tastes good. .

Bier Brewery - Farmgal - Ok, so this one is a cheat. I love Farmgal. I love the slight sweetness, the slight spice, the easy drink-ability. Of course it is a saison, which is one of my favorite styles and from Bier one of my local favorites. 

New Day Meadery - Shelby Blue Ribbon - a wonderfully balanced mead with strawberries and rhubarb.  To be honest, I can't think of anything that isn't wonderful from New Day, - meads or ciders. 

Cutters Brewing Company - Belgian Pale Ale - Not as smooth as Goose Island Matlida, which is mostly my base comparison to Belgian PA's, but still refreshing. 

Fountain Square Brewing - Brought their house beers, but I really appreciated the well executed Workingman's Pilsner. 

As for some other attendees thoughts? - I heard a lot about New Day's Shelby Blue Ribbon and from two of DoItIndy's finest - Ben Risinger loved Flat 12's Cucumber Kolsch while his soon to be wife, Kelly loved Cutters Brewing Company - Scottish Ale & as always Thr3e Wise Men's - Two Lucy's Blackberry Wheat. 

Without a doubt, History on Tap is a great event to attend.  They doubled in size this year, and look to double again next. Get tickets early. I got my VIP ticket for $28, which is unlimited sampling, three full pours, 30 minutes extra, plus includes the buffet!

Hope to see you there next year!

- Kathleen 

Brew Bracket: The Cure For All Your (Pale) Ales! - Contest & Information.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Feelin' a little out of sorts? Need something to help out those beer blues?

Time to step right up and head on over to Brew Bracket 7 and get the cure for all your (pale) ales!

For limited time only - June 15th from 3-7pm, come and help find the best ale, the best brew, the one that all others pale in comparison to!

For those new to Brew Bracket: Here is the breakdown -

Want more? - Tickets are at
VIP - $45, GA - $35, 4-Pack of GA - $120 & DD - $5

Now -- For a treat! 

How about getting some tickets for -- FREE!

We at love beer and we know our readers do too.

We also love Brew Bracket! 

And with all this love - we are offering one reader a chance to win two free tickets to BB7: The Cure for All Your (Pale) Ales.. 

To enter:
Please comment on the blog with your 
*   Must be  registered comment, no anonymous comments allow

A random winner will be chosen and announced on our Facebook page on Wednesday 6/12 at 5pm!

We have a winner for @BrewBracket BB7!! - Christopher Sturgeon! Please e-mail for further details. Thank you to the ones who participated. It was great seeing everyone's choices.

Thank you to Brew Bracket! 
Good luck to the breweries.. may your ales save us all!