Mad Anthony Brewing Company OktoBEERfest Event Update - August 30

Event Date:  Saturday, September 7:

As I stated here on August 5th regarding this event, here is the list of breweries that will have their beers available for sampling:

Fountain Square, People’s Brewing, Flat 12 Bierwerks, Rock Bottom Brewery, Bloomington Brewing Co., Shoreline Brewery, Crown Brewing, Lafayette Brewing, Tin Man Brewing Co., New Albanian Brewing Co., Union Brewing, Evil Czech Brewery, Granite City, Mad Anthony Brewing, Half Moon, Barley Island, Figure Eight Brewing, Bulldog Brewing, Summit City Brewerks, Brugge Brasserie, Chapman Brewery, McClure's Orchard (Ciders), Triton Brewing Co., and Cutter’s Brewing Co.

Tickets can be purchased at any Mad Anthony Brewing Company location in Fort Wayne, Auburn, Angola or Warsaw.  Attendees can also purchase tickets at

Beers Across the Wabash - Version 2.0

 While contemplating exactly how I wanted to approach my review of Greater Lafayette’s 2nd Annual Beers Across the Wabash (BAW), it became clear to me how I have already managed to start taking craft beer festivals for granted.  I consider myself very fortunate to have the time and means to be able to attend these events at the frequency that I have.  What I realized is that not everyone has the opportunity to attend multiple craft beer festivals and, while I struggle to find the words to type about this event, I am extremely lucky to have been able to enjoy more than my fair share of amazing festivals throughout Indiana.  Lafayette’s Beers Across the Wabash was every bit as wonderful as the rest of them!

  First off, this year’s event was encompassed by greater Lafayette’s Craft Beer Week.  Beer & food pairings, beer & cheese pairings, tap takeovers, brewery tours and education, craft beer specials, and a craft beer brunch all served as a terrific compliment to this year’s BAW.  Big thanks to our host breweries, Lafayette Brewing & People’s Brewing, and all of our local businesses who supported Lafayette’s homage to craft beer.

  So after my long-winded confessional/epiphany and shout-out to those who made it happen, I suppose it’s finally time to discuss the actual event.  Being that Lafayette is where I call home, it’s difficult to present my opinion of BAW without some element of bias.  Twenty-seven Indiana craft breweries, incredible aromas coming from food served by local eateries (thank you D&R Market, Sgt. Preston’s & Lafayette Optimist Club), plenty of sunshine, scenic river & downtown view, local musicians entertaining the masses, great people, and hard-working volunteers were all to blame for the success of this year’s festival.  Add to this an improved layout of the breweries, which opened up room for additional seating and sun shelters, and you’ve got the makings of, excuse me, a damn fine celebration of Indiana craft beer.

  BAW 2013 was easily the most fun I've had at any of this year's craft beer events.  It was easily the least concerned I've been about the collection of pertinent information for this blog (apologies in advance).  It was easily the only festival I've attended where such self-proclamations as “I AM THE BUTTER COOKIE” could be heard rolling along the banks of the Wabash River.  Long story, you had to be there.

  So my usual shtick when it comes to blogging about craft beer festivals is to give some love to about 6 to 10 beers that stimulated my senses above all others.  Typically I don’t go into much detail or analysis in breaking down the specific characteristics of what made these beers enjoyable, I wouldn't want to trick anyone into thinking that I’m anything other than an amateur.  So, to enhance my list of favorites from BAW, I decided to recruit the help of a couple other festival revelers for a few of their favorites.

  So here they are for their moment in the Indiana Beer blog spotlight, Josh Martin and Eric VandeVoorde, present their collaboration of favorites from the festival.

Bier Brewery  Metro Session IPA - Balanced & dry across the tongue with a light body.
Flat 12 Bierwerks   Oak-aged Chipotle Cinnamon Scottish Ale - Rotating flavors of cinnamon and spicy peppers, light body. Color of Jurassic Park mosquito. Overwhelms all typical Scottish qualities but that's ok.
Tin Man Brewing  Snakebite Pear Shandy w/ Irish Dry Stout - Separation of color. Sour wild notes. Velvety mouthfeel.
People's Brewing  Mr. Brown pushed through filter of bourbon barrel chips soaked in port wine for 3 weeks - Hops from Mr. Brown on back end.  Wanting more bourbon flavor. Slowly grows on you as flavor builds in your mouth. Nice medium body.
Hunter’s Brewing  Thread Splitter IPA - Columbus hops only. Yum.
Carson’s Brewing  Psycho Pagan w/dry hopped centennial - Bright finish.  Hop varieties change w each new batch.
Big Dawg  Oatmeal Stout – Yum!
Big thanks to Josh and Eric for sacrificing their taste buds for the cause.  It’s a tasty job but someone’s gotta do it!

My far less descriptive favorites from the festival are as follows:
Flat 12 Bierwerks  – Oak-aged Chipotle Cinnamon Scottish Ale
Flat 12 Bierwerks  – Farmageddon Black Saison
New Albanian Brewing  – Community Dark English Mild
BIER Brewery  – Metro Session IPA
Powerhouse Brewing  – Jack the Bum Amber Pale
Upland Brewing  – Ard Ri Imperial Red Ale
Carson’s Brewing  – Psycho Pagan Pale
Hunter’s Brewing  – Ailbe Irish Blonde

  As I dug up additional details for my selections, I was somewhat surprised to discover that three of these beers fall into the category of session ales.  Now I don’t know about anyone else but I've been a bit on the skeptical side as to whether a session beer can pack the flavor and aroma that I crave from a craft beer.  In case you may have missed it, this was a topic of discussion between Greg & Nathan just a short time ago on the Indiana Beer site.  All I can say to this is that my favorites from this day speak for themselves, three out of eight is a pretty good percentage.  Hall of Fame material for baseball anyway.

  So let's put this long-winded piece of work to rest shall we.  Beers Across the Wabash in Lafayette, great beer, great people, great community, great....oh I think you get the picture by now.  Get over here next year as I'm sure Friends of Downtown will most certainly one-up themselves yet again for an even better craft beer experience.  Cheers!

Jason C. @oldbeerdork on twitter if your life just doesn't feel quite complete and you need that little extra.

***Coming Soon....Nathan, myself, & the one and only Poppi Rocketts head out on a brewery hopping Labor Day weekend road trip!***


Dribs and Drams

CompleteIdiotThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beer Tasting is out and on the shelves.  By Rita Kohn with the Upland Brewing Co. Available just about everywhere. Amazon lists it at $12.98 with other vendors through Amazon at $9.32.

Looks like the Brewers of Indiana Guild may be spending $171,000 per year for a lobbyist. Davey Neal got an exemption to be able to go straight from the statehouse to the guild house. “In the last year, a handful of top state officials have received approval to leap directly from government work to outside employment, including former Gov. Mitch Daniels.” article

“In each case, the state's ethics panel pointed out the law does not apply to their situations, largely because they would not be directly working on projects or programs they worked on while in state government. But government ethicists say the cozy relationships still raise other questions of favoritism.”

Indiana City Brewery gets ink in the Indy Star about their building in downtown Indy that once housed the Home Brewing Co.

Great Fermentations homebrew store has opened a second outlet. This on in Avon at US 36 and Dan Jones Road. They will have a grand opening party on Sept. 14th. info. The annual Great Grain Sale is also happening – today through Sept 8th. Apple juice is also available now by pre-registration. Yumm.

What goes better with apple cider than donuts? Well, a lot of things but the segue was necessary to take a jibe at Lift Bridge’s mini donut beer that they served at the Minnesota State Fair. article

Reader Justin Kloer sent us some pictures and stories to add to the Hoosier Beer addenda.

I noticed a gap in your breweries index, specifically you don't have the brewers listed for C.L Centlivre brewing company of Ft. Wayne and later, as it became Old Crown Brewing Co.
As it happens I'm proud to know who they were, as it was my grandfather and great-grandfather. 
My great-grandfather Frank’s WWI registration card lists him as the Master Brewer for Centlivre. he would later become Vice President of production and his son,
my grandfather Herbert Kloer, would become brewmaster, as seen in the attached scan of an advertisement during their 1950 expansion.  
Just as a fun fact in beer history, Frank continued brewing in his garage during prohibition, selling beer at $3 a bottle until he was busted in 1924, paid $518.50 in fines and spent 6 months in Terre Haute federal pen. 
My great great grandfather Josef was a brewer in PA, but I don't know the brewery.  He was a cooper in the old country (we're Transylvanian Saxons, a German people.)
Being the family historian I have a great many documents about Centlivre and Old Crown brewery.  I also have union books and cards, pictures, article etc. should you have interest or need of info about the brewery. … If there's ever anything you're looking for or want to know I might be able to find it and send it your way.  The only thing I like more than drinking beer is talking about it.


Thanks Justin. We’ll update the HoosierBeer web any day now.

Beer Review: Kulmbacher Eisbock

Greetings everyone! First off, we have a huge weekend coming up so please check out our calendar if you’re looking to enjoy some beer festivities. Along with various Greater Lafayette Craft Beer Week events, Friday brings the Zoo Brew and Wine Too in Fort Wayne and Beer and Bluegrass Festival in Franklin. On Saturday, you can hit Beers Across the Wabash in Lafayette, Upland’s 15th Anniversary Carnival in Bloomington, or Festiv-Ale in Indianapolis. Wrapping up the weekend on Sunday is Indy’s Dig IN – a celebration of local food, beer, and wine.

I plan to occasionally post some reviews for beers you can find in Indiana that are new to the market, seasonal offerings, or represent uncommon styles. They may be old hat for some of you seasoned veterans, but I hope it will give you some ideas for what to seek out (or avoid) if looking for something new on your next trip to the liquor store. For the first in this series, we’re going big with the legendary Kulmbacher Eisbock. If you’re not familiar with the style, Eisbock literally means “ice bock” and can basically be described as a concentrated Dopplebock. The concentration comes from partially freezing the beer and extracting the remaining liquid. Leaving behind some of that pesky water intensifies the flavor and alcohol level of the finished product. What would inspire such an experiment? According to legend, it was pure accident. Here is the description from Kulmbacher, who lay claim to producing the world’s first Eisbock:

The ice bock, also known as "Bavarian", owes its discovery to a coincidence. According to the chronicles of the Kulmbacher brewery, some time around 1900 an apprentice forgot on a cold winter day to carry two barrels of bock beer into the brewery cellar. The barrels stayed outside, were covered by ice and snow and weren't discovered until the following spring. The barrels had burst and the apprentice was reprimanded. But the carelessness was a stroke of luck because under the thick ice coat, a bock beer extract remained, strong tasting and high in alcoholic content.

eisbock            DSCN1311

No freshness date on the bottle, has been in my cellar for about 9 months.

The beer poured with a decent head for a 9.2% ABV offering, but it dissipated fairly quickly. On the higher end of bock color, it is a deep chestnut to dark brown but still very clear if you isolate a small sample. The aroma is bready malt with notes of dried fruit and brown sugar. Alcohol is very noticeable, but not harsh enough to be unwelcome. The flavor is a complex blend that brings to mind a fruitcake consisting of raisins, dates, and hazelnuts……soaked in booze. This is complemented by hints of caramel, bitter chocolate, and a slight sherry quality from some oxidation. This example has clearly had time to blend all of these qualities together, no one character is sharp or overwhelms the rest. Light bitterness on the tongue, no discernable hop flavor, no unique yeast flavors – this is all about maxing out the qualities of German malts. This beer begs to be sipped and take it all in, making you look forward to the next one.

One note on the alcohol level: While not excessively hot or unpleasant, it is very prominent throughout. This is not a “oh, I can’t believe it’s X% ABV” type of experience. It works for me, but drinkers who do not enjoy prominent alcohol notes may want to seek out another option.

Finding Kulmbacher Eisbock may require a little searching depending on your location, but 6-packs of 0.33 litre (11.2 ounce) bottles can be found at some of the better craft beer stores. Kahn’s Fine Wines lists it at $16.99, which I believe is the same price I paid at a Crown Liquors location. While a slight premium over most 6-packs, consider that comes out to roughly 25 cents an ounce. This would be the equivalent of a $5.50 bomber, which most of us would feel is a great value for a specialty beer. Your bonus with a 6-pack: drink a few now, set the rest aside, and enjoy noting how it matures over time.

The Verdict [Avoid/Worth a Try/Recommended/Highly Recommended]: Highly Recommended

Greater Lafayette Craft Beer Week

  Greetings all from the banks of the Wabash here in Lafayette.  Late summer is upon us and, if your beer interests are similar to mine (and since you're reading this I'd hazard to guess that they are), I'm sure we've all been to a beer festival or two throughout our fine state.  Maybe your craft beer interests have led you to festivals in other states as well.  Had enough yet?  If your answer is yes then prepare to have your craft beer-hood questioned.

  As I stated before, the summer craft beer festival season is winding down.  Whether you'd like to enjoy one last chance to sample the finest craft beers our great state has to offer or perhaps you just haven't had an opportunity to make it to an event yet this year, both are perfectly justifiable reasons for heading to the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge on Saturday, August 24th in downtown Lafayette for the 2nd Annual Beers Across the Wabash.

  Want a glimpse of what is in store for you at this event?  Click here to see my review of last year's event. So here's the deal, pick up a ticket for $35, get yourself to downtown Lafayette by 1pm, and sample a bevy of beers from across the state!  Four hours not enough?  Grab the VIP ticket for an extra hour plus local food and beer pairings.  I have to admit, I'm somewhat embarrassed that I do not have any more recent information than what is offered on the Beers Across the Wabash (BAW) site but, clicking this link will get you to the list of breweries and ticket page for the event.

  Hours of craft beer sampling not enough incentive to get you downtown on the 24th?  Would seven hours of Jazz & Blues provide any more motivation for you?  Then check out the Uptown Jazz & Blues Festival taking place immediately following the conclusion of BAW.

  Finally, please take the opportunity to check out all of the local events taking place in the greater Lafayette area leading up to Saturday's Beers Across the Wabash.  Sunday the 18th marks the beginning of daily events scheduled throughout the week leading up to the event.  Beer and food pairing events at McGraw's Steak Chop & Fish House and Main Street Wine & Cheese, growler deals and special events taking place at People's and Lafayette Brewing, Thr3e Wisemen specials @ Scotty's, tap takeover's @ Lenehan's Pub, and an Indiana Craft Beer Brunch @ the Black Sparrow (Sunday post-BAW) will be taking place to promote the Lafayette community's celebration of craft beer in Indiana.

  Obviously making it to all of the events may be difficult so, pick out one or two that interest you the most and get out this week in support of greater Lafayette's Craft Beer Week.

-Jason C.

Session Beer: The Future of Craft Brewing?

The concept of “session beers” has gained popularity in some circles as a potential new trend in the American craft brewing movement. What exactly is a session beer? Should you care? Is it poised to become a hot new trend? Greg and Nathan considered these questions and share their thoughts below. What do you think about session beers?

gregsmall From Greg………….

What do YOU mean when you think of session beer? Do you think it is silly to think about, do you think it is the next trend in craft beer, do you think about it at all? This spring as five Indiana brewers gathered for a roundtable on craft beer in Indiana, when asked about the next trend in beer, they unanimously declared ‘session beers’ to be the next trend. By that, most brewers mean lower alcohol beer, under 5%, but we likely need to consider what really IS session beer and would anyone care?

The average beer drinker in the U.S. drinks Bud Light (#1 beer), Coors Light, or Miller Light and certainly considers these to be ‘session beers’ as in you can drink several in a row. The British pub patron considers the Mild at 3-4% abv, and the Ordinary Bitter or Best Bitter up to about 4.7% abv all to be ‘session beers.’ (abv – alcohol by volume) The British pint being larger (20oz) than the American pint (16oz) the Brits often love to sip, or sometimes pound back, a few of these in a ‘session.’ I’ve been happy to participate.

Most Americans likely don’t consider Guinness to be a ‘session beer’ although the draft product comes in at about 4.3% abv making this beer lower in alcohol and with less calories than the Bud Light! So what do YOU mean by ‘session.’ Consider the possibilities: filling, a taste that is so pleasant you can drink several, low alcohol to keep you from being inebriated to quickly? Any of these definitions can fit. Which is why some people consider the topic of session beers to be a silly topic!

Writer and blogger Lew Bryson takes credit for starting the concept of making session beers more popular and defines session beers in the following way: 4.5% alcohol by volume or less, flavorful enough to be interesting, balanced enough for multiple pints, conducive to conversation, and reasonably priced. If I am going to put those in an order of importance I would start with flavor (I mean, sure we can find near-beer like Kaliber that I do not like at nearly 0% alcohol)! Balance for multiple pints and then abv would be next in line for my use. And I won’t stick to a rigid 4.5%. If I walk into a brew pub, get a sampler flight to share, then settle in for a pint I am likely to choose a tasty 4.9% beer over a 9.5% if I think I will be operating any heavy equipment (like maybe my car)! Oh and you can order a shirt here from Lew's Session Project

Can we get local session beer in Indiana? Yes! My picks for Central Indiana would be:

Flat 12, 12 penny Scottish Ale, 3.4% (Brewer Rob actually threw out the first mention on the brewer’s panel); Super Bravo 46 at 4.6% and 46 ibu
SunKing, Shake Up, 3.01%; Ring of Dingle Dry Irish Stout, 4.7%
Thr3e Wise Men, Two Lucy’s blackberry wheat, 4.5%
Bloomington Brewing Kirkwood Crème Ale, 4.9%
Cheating a bit: Upland Blackberry Lambic, at about 5%

So are session beers hard to find? Not really. It depends on when and where you look. For example, New Albanian Brewing Company featured session beers on Session Beer Day, April 7, and had the following list on tap:

NABC Community Dark … English Mild, 3.7% abv
NABC Get Off My Lawn … Session IPA, 4.2% abv
NABC Gold … Blonde Ale, 4.2% abv
NABC Grätzilla … Grätzer/Grodziskie, 3.3% abv
NABC Houndmouth …. Hoppy American Wheat, 4.5% abv
NABC Tafel … Belgian Table/Session Ale, 4% abv
Against the Grain, Louisville, Ludicrously Terse … English Bitter, 4.5% abv
Apocalypse Brew, Louisville, Works Hop Project: Simcoe … American Pale Ale, circa 4.5% abv
Country Boy, Lexington, KY, Nacho Bait … Jalapeňo Blonde, 4.5% abv
Flat12 12 Penny Scottish Ale … Scottish Export Ale, 3.4% abv
Founders All Day IPA … Session IPA, 4.7% abv
Stone Levitation Ale … Amber Ale, 4.4% abv

I personally really enjoy New Belgium’s Loft at 4.2% when it is available.

Now let’s be clear, if I look up the top rated beers on RateBeer or on Untapped or any other source we will NOT find low alcohol beers in the top 50 – unless we consider a lambic at 5%.

Let’s also be clear that if I am asked my favorite beers I won’t start the list with a Scottish 60 or a Mild.

Yet just yesterday I sat at the Bluegrass Brewing Company, Shelbyville Rd., Louisville, KY, and truly enjoyed one of my favorite beers – their ALT at 4.19%, a very flavorful, with nice hop bitterness beer that I enjoy many times when I am at a Bluegrass brewing location!

SO… do I think craft beer drinkers will surge to sessionable, lighter alcohol beers like they have embraced Imperial everything and super hopped beers? No. Do I think many of us will be reasonable by enjoying flavorful, lower alcohol, session beer some of the time, absolutely. Would YOU rather have a nice Mild, Scottish 60, or lighter Alt than Mich Ultra? I think so!

session_beer_day                  session_beer_month


nathansmall From Nathan………….

The one thing almost as certain as death and taxes is the inevitable backlash that follows a break from tradition. So the ascent of double/imperial/palate-wrecking beers that have become so popular in the modern American craft beer movement was ripe for the picking. Led in no small part by a few beer bloggers, this backlash manifested itself into a celebration of “session beers” to save us all from the fate of waking up face down in the neighbor’s yard due to the consumption of <gasp> two IPAs. Session Beer Day was celebrated on April 6th, and apparently that wasn’t enough so May became Session Beer Month in California. And if 32 days of beer bloggers telling you what to drink isn’t enough, you can celebrate year round by flaunting your Session Beer Project panties with the slogan “Thanks, I’ll Have Another” scribbled across the crotch. Nice. Anyway, the whole idea has gained enough momentum for some in the craft brewing community to suggest that session beers are the next big thing in craft brewing.

What exactly is a session beer? Good question - the beauty of getting in early on something is the chance to define your own parameters. Here is what generally seems to be agreed upon:

1) Light, but still flavorful. Sounds good.
2) Alcohol by volume of 4-5% or lower. Still good.
3) Must be balanced. OK, but what about Session IPAs…
4) Does not distract from conversation. Uh-oh.

Defining some of these artificial limitations, which in some cases have little to do with the actual beer, is the problem I have with session beer as the future of craft brewing. The issue of balance would likely rule out the emerging session IPA offerings. And does this suggest it’s somehow undesirable to discuss the beer sitting in front of us? Despite the low ABV, it was certainly difficult not to discuss the barrel aged English Mild we shared at the last group tasting. Besides, have you ever actually tried conversing with a beer geek about something other than beer? It’s not a pleasant scene. Just kidding about that (maybe), but the point is I enjoy talking about beer. It’s not some type of inconvenient distraction to have something interesting in my glass.

There is arguably a certain lost art to making a flavorful session beer in American craft brewing. This is certainly the result of modern craft brewing’s obsession with pushing the overall limits of flavor, but also a reflection of how many brewers have approached their lighter offerings as safe gateway beers to appeal to mainstream drinkers. So rather than the luscious malt flavor of a Scottish 70, English Mild, or lighter Brown Porter; we’re more likely to find a Blonde Ale or Cream Ale in the American craft beer aisle. It’s a good business model, somebody is obviously drinking those beers. It just isn’t me. So in this respect there is plenty of room for growth that craft brewers can explore within the guidelines of session beers.

But the future of craft brewing? That would imply that experienced craft drinkers are so tired of extreme beers they are willing to place artificial limitations on their future options. There are so many new styles and experiences to explore across the broad spectrum of recognized beer styles. I am a self-described “hophead”, and still love those beers, yet one of my current obsessions is finding (and homebrewing) good examples of a Biere de Garde. German Bocks would never be confused as session beers, and these wonderful styles are not heavily represented in American craft brewing. And brewers should also continue to pursue recipes that don’t fit nicely into any established guideline – craft brewing is where innovation occurs.

Craft drinkers are looking for exciting new experiences in their choice of beverage. This can just as easily come from a Berliner Weisse or a 15% Triple IPA. But we already have plenty of options for beers that aren’t remarkable enough to warrant their own conversation. We don’t need more of those, they drove us to become craft beer drinkers in the first place.

Dribs and Drams

If you haven’t heard (and we didn’t until straying on this post), Rita Kohn was awarded the Woman’s Press Club of Indiana’s Communicator of Achievement honor. She writes Beer Buzz for NUVO and the book True Brew. Oh, and plays (Edwin Booth) and books about Native Indianans, steamboats, and more, lots more. She also might well have The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beer Tasting out soon with Upland Brewing.

Choosing a beer is no longer a simple process, as the beverage has gone from a world of relatively small offerings from major brewers to a universe of hundreds of unique styles from around the world. The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Beer Tasting is a comprehensive introduction to the vast styles and complex characteristics of beer, including brewing style, the yeasts and hops that determine taste and character, how the various grains are used in brewing, and more.

Readers will discover how the brewing process can affect a beer, learn to recognize beer tasting notes and aromas, identify unique styles, select the right glassware, and much more.

Two sides of the gas station suit to sell cold beer in Indiana. Pro, No.

Bell’s is suing Enbridge Oil who dumped a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo river.

If only labels could be animated.

DoomBarDoom Bar says it’s the biggest selling cask ale in the U.K. It’s brewed by Sharp’s brewery in Cornwall. It’s a 4.0% bitter that we liked even though it had lots of sharp edges. Oh, did we say Sharp’s is owned by Molson Coors?

Here’s a map of where Beer is Pivo, Cerveza, etc.

We’re not sure about a 5,000 year old beer recipe. This “Hymn to Ninkasi” recipe seems to be a bit old.

How’s your cell phone coverage? It was a bit worse near Melbourne, Australia until a beer fridge was found to interrupt the signal.

Spain’s Joaquin Alcaraz Garcia won a beer drinking contest at a festival with six litres in 20 minutes. Vomited. Died. article

Headline: Beer Festival Closes Early – After Running Out of Beer. Don’t panic, this was in Sunderland, England. It was a three day (Fri, Sat, Sun) fest that had to close on Saturday when they ran out of beer.

Also in England, they’re looking at a synthetic yeast. Yumm or umm? article

EarliestBeerPic-1844 BeerStacker

One picture is thought to be the first ever taken of a beer glass (1844). The subject of the other picture is, with the Octoberfest waitresses, deserving of an Olympic gold medal.

Thoughts on new (and returning) breweries in the Indiana market

The recent months have produced some big news for breweries entering or returning to the Indiana market. Smuttynose hit our shelves first, followed closely by Green Flash. Dogfish Head announced a plan to return to Indiana by the end of 2013, while reminding Rhode Island that they've seen a fu!*ng map. And Oskar Blues….what the heck is going on with Oskar Blues? We haven’t heard any new information on a timeline since there was initial indication they would be here by now, but we also have no reason to believe it won’t happen in the near future. I’m still assuming the World Class Beer Spy wouldn’t be listing Dales Pale Ale if there was much doubt about that.

I have at least some experience with the offerings of each of these breweries, and they will all be great additions to our market. But as I considered writing up some thoughts about them, I was a bit surprised at how enthusiastic I felt about certain breweries versus others. So this post will have some thoughts about each brewery, but also my personal ranking of how excited I am to obtain these beers without driving to Ohio. So we can skip the “in no particular order” copout and move on with the rankings.

green flash 1. Green Flash Brewing (San Diego, CA)

This is probably old news to many who have found Green Flash products in their taverns and liquor stores over the past month: Green Flash makes damn good beer. Especially if you’re a hop head. This was hands down my favorite brewery we visited while in San Diego for the 2011 National Homebrewers Conference. It’s true that Stone is like the Disneyland of craft breweries, but Disneyland is overrated. Heck, the most memorable beer I drank at the brewery was an ESB, and you have to do a mighty fine job to make a style like that stand out in a sea of insanely hoppy beers and Belgian styles.

When I started thinking about how to rank these breweries, the question that comes to mind is which specific offerings will really stand out in an ever-expanding market. For me, I can gaze upon a sea of IPA offerings and the West Coast IPA is one that will grab my attention every time. At the risk of plagiarizing the brand name, this beer symbolizes the quintessential West Coast style with an extremely aggressive bitterness that melds into a wonderful cascade of citrus hop notes. Similar things could be said about the Hop Head Red for those who enjoy a little more malt character to balance out what is still a very hop-forward offering. One of the few offerings that hasn’t been overly impressive was a recent taste of their Double Stout. Too big at 8.8% to be an easy drinker, yet lacking the complexity of a Russian Imperial Stout, I would probably opt for Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale if looking for a something in that neighborhood.

There are a couple of downsides to buying Green Flash at your local liquor store. First, there is a slight premium built into the price of these products. Expect a 4-pack of their regular lineup to run $11-12. That’s not your typical 4-pack of pints that is becoming more common. That’s a 4-pack of 12 ounce bottles. Second, watch the bottling dates printed on the bottles. When I would seek out the West Coast IPA in Ohio, finding a reasonably fresh batch was challenging and it makes a big difference with this beer. We’ll have to see how well the chain works to get fresh bottles to Indiana, especially after Green Flash is relatively well established. On the upside, the product comes in very sturdy, uniquely etched glass bottles that are great for cleaning and refilling with homebrew :)

Try these beers: West Coast IPA, Hop Head Red, Palate Wrecker, Le Freak

oskar_blues_logo 2. Oskar Blues Brewery (Lyons, CO)

Given my past obsession with finding Oskar Blues beers in other markets, it seems a bit surprising to sit down and not be able to place them in the top spot. Maybe I burnt myself out on Oskar Blues binges on past trips. Maybe it’s still the haunting experience with GUBNA (more on that later). Regardless, this is still great news for the Indiana craft beer market. Similar to Green Flash, Oskar Blues rapidly made a name for themselves with outstanding beers that have capitalized on the American craft trend of bigger and hoppier. And I’d venture to guess that few nationally distributing brands started out in a town as small as Lyons, CO (population 2067); which is an absolutely charming little town at the base of the Rocky Mountains.

If West Coast IPA is a benchmark for American IPAs, OB’s Dales Pale Ale is certainly in the same category for American Pale Ale. A beer that nicely balances both aggressive malt and hop profiles, DPA was the first beer I ever tried from the brewery and still probably my favorite. A close second would be G’Knight Imperial Red, which was formerly known simply as “Gordon” until Gordon Biersch Brewery jumped into the craft beer cease and desist game. Compared to the Green Flash Hop Head Red, G’Knight has a much more aggressive underlying malt character and can put you down for the night at 8.7%. But while these two beers are standouts in a good way, the GUBNA Imperial IPA is the opposite for my tastes. Heavy on Summit hops, this one comes across with some ammonia/cat pee in the aroma and heavy garlic and onion in the flavor. Yummy.

To the best of my knowledge, Oskar Blues does not play the bomber game and packages everything in 4-packs of cans. Most cans are 16 ounces, while some premium brands like Ten FIDY Imperial Stout are reduced to the standard 12 ounce size. To continue pushing the boundaries, the brewery will begin canning Imperial Pints (19.2 ounces) of their Mama’s Little Yella Pils this year.

Try these beers: Dales Pale Ale, G’Knight Imperial Red, Ten FIDY Imperial Stout, Old Chub Scottish

Dogfish-Head-Logo 3. Dogfish Head (Rehoboth Beach, DE)

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”

“Absence makes my sneakin’ around that much easier”

How the heck did Dogfish Head end up at number 3? Considering their importance in the craft beer revolution, their well-deserved reputation as innovators, and the fact Sam Calagione is Poppi’s dream man; they should have been a lock for number 1. Well, as the initial quotes alluded to, ya left town Dogfish Head and we found other loves.

We’ve lost other great breweries in my market (Avery, Great Lakes), but none had the same effect as when Dogfish Head left Indiana, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wisconsin in 2011. But even for a brewery as unique as Dogfish Head, there were plenty of alternatives at that point. 60 Minute IPA? The field had leveled on that one long before. 90 Minute IPA? Tougher, but still plenty of good Imperial IPAs on the market. Indian Brown? Tougher still, but Boulder Beer Flashback is a pretty nice substitute. The one I really missed was Punkin Ale, but that is just a seasonal and nothing an annual run to Ohio couldn’t fix. Raison D’Etre and Palo Santo Marron were impossible to replace, but those were never everyday beers in my lineup.

For the record, I respect the hell out of the tough decisions Dogfish Head and other emerging craft breweries have made when faced with overwhelming demand. Taking the company public and risking the erosion of your culture and creative control is the easy way out. It was incredibly welcome news that these beers will be returning to Indiana shelves. You always want what you couldn’t ever have, and maybe I’ll start taking Green Flash and Oskar Blues for granted once they’ve been on shelves for a while. Being new to the market doesn’t make your beer any better, but how people perceive such a product can become slightly skewed. I’m not sure what my real point is here, other than trying to figure out how Dogfish Head ended up 3rd in my mental rankings. Words, words, words. Let’s move on…..

Try these beers: Punkin Ale, 90 Minute IPA, Palo Santo Marron, Raison D’Etre

smuttynose_logo 4. Smuttynose (Portsmouth, NH)

Smuttynose makes some good beer, and I can’t claim to have tried everything from their catalog or even a high percentage. But when I come back to asking the question of what specific brand will stand out now among all the current choices, I have a hard time coming up with one. The Big Beer Series, which I’ve seen priced as low as $5.99 for a bomber, offer some good values for you to try some more premium styles. I recall enjoying the Baltic Porter quite a bit. The Big A IPA seasonal offering is a very good, and reasonably priced, Imperial IPA. After that, the Summer Weizen, Pumpkin Ale, Finestkind IPA, and Robust Porter didn’t make the kind of impression on me where I would hone in on them in a liquor store. And sorry dog lovers, but their Old Brown Dog Pinups ain’t the kind of pinup I had in mind.

Try these beers: Big A IPA, Baltic Porter, Robust Porter


So who’s next? Will Lagunitas, with their new regional brewery in Chicago, finally decide to give us a try? Will Great Lakes ever return to Central and Southern Indiana? More California breweries could be a possibility with Bear Republic already in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio; and Ballast Point now in Illinois and Ohio. Or could we really dream big along the lines of say……Russian River? Who would be your pick in the Fantasy Football League of craft breweries?

Cheers, Nathan

Mad Anthony Brewing Company OktoBEERfest - August 5

Saturday, September 7

Mark your calendar(s) for this year's Mad Anthony OktoBEERfest taking place this year at Headwaters Park West in downtown Fort Wayne from 2p.m.-6p.m.

Taste more than 100 Indiana beers poured by the brewers who craft them. Spend the afternoon with over 30 regional craft brewers serving their brews for your beer enjoyment.

Tickets are just $30 in advance and $35 the day of the event.  The ticket price includes a tasting glass, unlimited beer samples and live music.  Food will be available at an additional cost.  Tickets can be purchased at any Mad Anthony location or at this link:

A list of the breweries will be forthcoming.  Also, for more on what is going on at Mad Anthony Brewing Company, please visit their website at

There are also other beer-related events leading up to the OktoBEERfest:

Wednesday, September 4

Indiana Craft Beers & Hors d'oeuvre at Old Crown Coffee Roasters, 3417 N. Anthony Blvd, Fort Wayne (260) 422-5282.


Tickets: $20 available at Old Crown Coffee Roasters, Fort Wayne


Thursday, September 5


Vintage Ale Release Party


Location: Mad Anthony Lakeview Ale House, 4080 N 300W, Angola, IN

(260) 833-2537

They will offer a range of aged vintage ales that are available for purchase throughout the evening. This event is open to the public - come and enjoy!



Belgian Beer Dinner @ BakerStreet (Fort Wayne) - August 5

Enjoy Belgian beer AND great tasting food?  If so, you won't want to miss the upcoming Belgian Beer Dinner at BakerStreet on Monday, August 19 starting at 6:30p.m. 

The evening will include Belgian craft beers that will be paired with six (6) food courses that will be prepared by BakerStreet's talented culinary staff.  I have dined at BakerStreet numerous times and I personally attest that their food is outstanding not to mention the good selection of beers that they have available. 

The cost of this event is $60 which is all-inclusive.  BakerStreet's beer dinner events typically sell out within days, so don't delay in purchasing your ticket(s)!!

The website link for this event is:


Green Flash adds to Local Choices on National IPA Day!

Seem only fitting on National IPA day to write a blog about beer! And one that many in Indiana awaited is Green Flash and their West Coast IPA. On the day they introduced to Indiana, July 16, I enjoyed the four that first made it in on tap.

Green Flash West Coast IPA: This four hop big beer (7.3% abv; 95 ibu) is multilayered with Simcoe hops for grapefruit, Columbus for earthiness, hop aroma, and some bittering, Centennial to add pine notes and Cascade for floral balanced with a slight caramel tone from malt. Often considered the flagship of this brewery.

Hop Head Red IPA, still pretty big (7%abv, 70 ibu) with Columbus, Nugget and dry hopped with Amarillo -- ample Amarillo so, you guessed it, floral and slightly orange in a nice Red. (GABF Silver 07, Bronze 09)

Citra Session IPA, yep sessionable at 4.5% abv and only 45ibu, as a single hop ale delivering orange, grapefruit and grassy notes with Maris Otter and Vienna malt underneath.

Saison Diego Ale, unfiltered farmhouse ale brewed with Seville Spanish style orange peels, Chinese ginger and grains of paradise delivers bright spicy deliciousness at 20ibu. Certainly one I could enjoy a couple of pints of!

The bad news is that apparently Rayon Vert (Green flash in French) is not only not coming here but not being brewed and that 7% bottle conditioned Belgian Pale is one I'll need to look or trade for before they are all gone.

Of course the local Indiana scene has plenty of local IPAs.

The Brewers' Cup this year awarded Gold to my local Roof Top from Bloomington Brewing, Silver to MoonKing from Half Moon in Kokomo, and Bronze to SuperFly (an Indy Southside favorite) from Oaken Barrel, Greenwood.

In mentioning BBC locally I must give props to Ten Speed Wheat IPA as another very drinkable complex beer.

So what are YOU drinking on National IPA DAY? I must admit I had to enjoy Stone RuinTen (wow, the complexity at 110 ibu and 10% abv) with tropical fruit leading to bitterness and still the underbelly of malt! Then a small sample of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous BLACK IPA with a slight sweetness and wonderful hoppy character at "only" 90 IBU.

Hoppy days!

Greg Kitz