Indiana Beer News, Oct. 27-28: Festivals, new Beers and more....

Take your pick of Beer Events this weekend in Indiana!


The first ever SunKing CANvitational includes at least THIRTY ONE breweries, all packaging in cans, on Georgia Street and PanAm Plaze from Noon (early entry $75) or 1-5PM ($50) Saturday, September 27. click here for TIX Such 'far flung' brewers as Marble of NM, Sockey of ID, Surly of MN, Tallgrass of KS, and Morgan Street of MO will participate as well as one of my favs, Revolution of Chicago and of course our home-state heros TinMan and SunKing of IN and more. There will be food, music, BEE coffee, and fun.

Within walking distance is the Upland Brewery OKTOBERFEST same day (Sat. Sept. 28) 1-9PM promising all the fun of a Munich beer tent, live music, food trucks, music and tix only $5 click HERE for Upland Oktoberfest TIX at Military Park off of West Street in Indya

BrewBracket Oktoberfest City Market Indy, 6-9 PM, Saturday, Sept. 28. $35, Brew Bracket TIX here/ Tomlinson Tap Room, 7 rounds of side by side tastings, Participating brewers include Upland, Flat 12, Bier, Twisted Crew, RAM, Granite City, Iechyd Da, and #BBPales winner Thr3e Wisemen. A portion of ticket sales will be donated directly to King Park Area Development

Connect with your Irish Roots Well, not exactly a beer fest but beer will be served and there will be hurling - you know, the sport (no not THAT kind, we hope) tonight, Friday, Sept. 27, 7-9PM at Kuntz Park, 1502 W. 16th ST, Indy. Flat12 beer will be served in a beer garden and This is the last night of the season for Indy GAA's Premiere League, which has grown into a great spectator event through the year. Info at IndyGAA

Outside downtown Indy

Irvington Brew Fest, Saturday, Sept. 28 7-10 PM (Music at 6:30), $10, 5333 E. Washington St. Indy, No advance sales, beer by Flat12, Fountain Square Brewery, Black Acre, New Day Meadery (pints $4). music and food Facebook page info

Noblesville BrewFest Saturday, Sept. 28, 3-7 PM, Forrest Park, lost of national and local breweries including Barley Island, Triton, Flat12, Cutters, Fountain Square, Half Moon (Kokomo), Upland, Union, SunKing, RAM, and (not local but....) Chimay + many more! More Info Here

We'd mention the Valpo Brew Fest but it is sold out


Indiana Collaboration Beer: Black Acre Brewing (Indy) and Bloomington Brewing (uh, B'ton,IN) released a collaboration beer yesterday: an American cousin of a German style Roggenbier with a balanced grain bill using a lot of malt including rye malt, chocolate malt and carafa , a hefe yeast strain and variety of German and American hops. This very malty dark beer starts with just hint of yeast esters, delivers a nice rich dark flavor and finishes with a slight spice of rye. This beer is dark in color, rich in flavor and complex. It does not provide much in hop notes like most American ryes and this does not have the graininess of some. We sampled this one on the day it became avaialble and we will be going back for more. It should be on tap both at Black Acre on East Washington St. in Indy and at Lennie's in Bloomington - but don't delay, there are limited quantities.

Meanwhile we've been trying all of the pumpkin beers we can get our mouths on. Yes, we know some do not like beer with pumpkin. It only comes once a year and we enjoy! We had a delicious Pumpkin Ale by Bier Brewery (Indianapolis) the other nite and this is right up there among our favorites - a lot of delicious pie spice coming from addition to fermentation and kegs! Cutters Pumpkin Porter is a tasty spin on the traditional. We hope to get our hands on some Flat Jack Pumpkin Ale by Flat12 this weekend and it is on tap at Flat12 Bierwerks.

RateBeer reports that the top five rated pumpkin styles are mostly not out yet but their number 6 is Pumpking by Southern Tier. We had some last week and loved it but want to do a direct comparison with our favorite so far. After chatting with over a dozen patrons and bartenders at multiple craft beer establishments we select Schlafly Pumpkin as the best so far regionally. Schlafly delivers a wonderful balance of spice with malt underpinning. Smashed Pumpkin by Shipyard is an Imperial that also delivers a mouthful of flavor. Again, we felt the Bier and Cutters offerings hold their own against these widely distributed offerings. If you like less spice we suggest the Shipyard PumpkinHead or the Smuttynose Pumplin Ale (both from Maine). While I rarely rip on a great brewery, I've sampled the Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin twice now (small tastes) and thought it lacked flavor. Clearly more research is needed... and I am waiting for the release of several more.

Upland holds lottery for Lambic's, expands beer to Chicago

Upland Kiwi, Strawberry, and Blackberry fruied Lambic-style ales will be released in limited quantities via a web site open at NOON on October 1 (an d closing at noon, Oct. 8). Lottery winners will receive notice by email on Oct. 9th. Any remaining sours available after Nov. 5th will be sold on a first-come basis in Indy and Bloomington. We had a chance to taste some of the notes sours with Head Brewer Caleb Staton recently in a project looking at flavor over time. It is quite interesting to note the differences in profile based on a few months difference in age! We had not had the chance until then to try an unfruited Upland sour but for those of us who love Belgian gueuze this was a wonderful experience! Upland Sour Lottery site is HERE

Upland beer will hit taps and shelves in greater Chicago in October starting with Upland Wheat and Upland Dragonfly IPA. Seasonals will be rotated in starting with Upland Infinite Wisdom Tripel and the wet-hopped APA Upland Harvest Ale. Upland President Doug Dayhoff shares, "the tremendous reception of Upland's recent wholesale expansion into Ohio and Kentucky has created an opportunity for even more growth....We anticipate strong reception as we move into Chicago." River North, distributors of other national and craft beer, is handling the Illinois expansion.

Daredevil starts canning Daredevil Brewing, Shelbyville, IN, will be making the popular Lift Off IPA available in cans before the end of this year. Lift Off is a well balanced IPA with West-Coast hops and has developed quite a following already in Indiana. Daredevil also has RipCord Double IPA and Seasonals that have included Muse and Carnival, a Belgian Saison now available, as well as a lighter koelsch.

Beers to you! GregKitz

Dribs and Drabs

Upland will start selling the current batch of kiwi, strawberry and blackberry lambics on October 1. The kiwi is my favorite – wonderfully tarty and heck, I’ve seen Return of the King about a dozen times. Since demand is way higher than availability there’s a lottery for one bottle per person. The lottery can be entered at No payment when you enter the lottery. Easier to use the web page than If you’re picked you can pick up your bottle in Bloomington or Indy on Oct 22-Nov5. Good luck.

The Beer Barons have a long interview with Sun King’s Clay Robinson.

BigBeerThere’s a guy in Texas who has enough Saccharomyces cerevisiae in his stomach he blew .37% without drinking any alcohol. A hospital study confirmed his problem – now called Gut Fermentation Syndrome.

Headline: Which NFL Stadium has the Best Craft Beer? (hint – Indy is tied for 7th with Baltimore).

Headline: How Chemistry can Explain the Difference between Bourbon and a Tennessee Whiskey. Self-explanatory.

The Pretentious Beer Glass Company makes a neat half and half glass. Or is that a black and tan glass? Can’t figure out how the ale and the stout don’t mix during the first quaff. At $35/glass, good luck with that.

Meanwhile today’s silly pics are big beers. Skoal.



4th Annual Craft Beer Festival - Deer Park Irish Pub - Fort Wayne

Saturday, October 5 - 1p.m.-5p.m.

Mark your calendar and buy your ticket for this year's upcoming beer festival at Deer Park Irish Pub located at 1530 Leesburg Road, Fort Wayne.

This is the fourth year for this event and it will showcase nationally-known craft brewers to celebrate their art and tradition with local beer enthusiasts.  Enthusiasts can enjoy four (4) hours of sampling 50+ beers and home brewed beer as well!

In addition, there will be live music with several bands, door prizes, food and Riegel's Pipe & Tobacco will host a cigar table featuring fine, imported cigars.

This event will be held rain or shine and in a big tent.  Tickets can be purchased in advance at, at all Fort Wayne area Belmont Beverage locations and at the event ($5 more).

All you idiots listen up:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beer Tasting - one of the Complete Idiot’s series, not to be confused with the Dummy’s series. Alpha Books has grabbed Rita Kohn and “with the Upland Brewing Co” (Caleb Staton) to tell the world the basics of which beers are good, bad and why. It can be somewhat an encyclopedia for the more experienced and a tool to learn about the various styles and tastes of beer.

We’ll run through the chapters and you can see if it’s for you. Each chapter has a “The Least You Need to Know” finish that has a soup-bowl of condensed knowledge. Learning these synopses will let you amaze your friends and, oh, give a start to your advanced education. As Carl Sagan said one night in a pub: “We’re all made of beer stuff.”

Part 1 – A Brief but Fascinating History of Beer

  • Early days - Ancient days of Egyptians to Ninkasi.
  • Beer in the U.S. – A short look at colonists through the giants and Prohibition.
  • Homebrewing starting in 1979.
  • Craft Beer Comeback – Homebrewers go commercial, women join the industry, and modern growth.

Part 2 – Understanding Beer

  • Ingredients (water, malt, hops, yeast and passion).
  • The Brewing Process – About craft breweries.
  • The Basic Styles – Ales, lagers, wheat.
  • American Craft Brewing Industry – Today’s styles, ale, amber, porter, stout, IPA, barleywine, fruit wheat, lagers, lambics. If you don’t recognized all these basic styles you need Rita’s book.

Part 3 – The Art of Beer Tasting – The basis of the book and the middle 80 pages.

  • Experiencing - Temperature, pouring, aroma, about taste buds, mouthfeel, finish. Malt and hop flavor, balance, aftertaste.
  • The Next Level – See, swirl, smell, sip, swallow. Lacing.
  • The Meilgaard Wheel – A four-page heavy-duty perforated guide is included at the front of Idot’s Guide. This traditional “Beer Flavor Wheel” comes in excruciating detail rather than the few-dozen included on web sites and books that you may have seen. It has been expanded by the American Society of Brewing Chemists. If you haven’t seen Morten Meilgaard’s analysis chart you need to buy this book.
  • The Right Glass for the Right Beer – A 20-page section that goes into detail about traditional shapes (and why)
  • Pairing Beer with Food – The five Cs: complement, contrast, cut, cleanse, calm. Food elements: Salt, Acidity, Sweetness, Fat, Spice, Heat.
  • Pairing of food with specific styles.
  • Holding a Craft Beer Event – Whether you are teaching or learning with your friends this is a must-do. Better than a wine tasting since a bottle of beer will feed a half-dozen people while opened bottle of wine is just too much. There’s also theme ideas such as having beer from each city before watching the game.
  • Appendices – Glossary, books, museums.

In all, it’s an interesting reference (not all reference books are nearly as interesting). It talks about the styles of beer and the types of malt, hops, water and yeast that make them.

It can lead you to a better experience with your glass. Hopefully the Holding a Craft Beer Event section will be used by lots of people. Get this for Christmas and you can look smart as you hold a tasting for the Superbowl. Remember, as Rita says: "It's a life-ling quest, not a cram course." $14.87 (Amazon – as low as $12)

Get this for Christmas and you can look smart as you hold a tasting for the Superbowl. Remember, as Rita says: “It’s a life-ling quest, not a cram course.”

Thr3e Wise Men Brewers offer seasonal hits, hand-pull specials!.......Broad Ripple Brew pub passes 2500th batch!

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., with restaurant brewery in Broad Ripple and with beer flowing in Scotty's BrewHouse restaurants around Indiana, has one of Indiana's more experienced professional brewers. Omar Castrellon was a backbone of the downtown Indy brewing scene for 8 years at the former Alcatraz brewery. He now has clearly shown Indiana what he and great brew staff like Keely Thomlinson can do in quality and award winning beers since moving to Thr3e Wise Men. If we can count and drink beer, Thr3e Wise Men won five awards at the Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup in 2013.
We visited Thr3e Wise Men on a couple of different afternoons over the past few weeks chatting with Omar briefly each time. You can take a quick brewery tour with Omar using the YouTube Video below (courtesy of Scotty's/Thr3e Wise Men & YouTube)

The Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. keeps a beer on a hand pull and a few weeks ago we found the 4 bean vanilla porter on the pull. It delivered complex vanilla with a lot of sweetness in a nice porter, perfect delivered this way. The next time we visited we found an American Wheat with Lemongrass to be a delightful beer without what I call the grain taste of some wheats but a nice 'spice.' Lemongrass delivers flavor of lemon without the bitterness. Other Seasonals Tasty Waves California common was the July seasonal still available in September with wonderful malt and caramel characteristics coming in at 5.5% alcohol and 38 ibu for a nice little bitterness at the end.

The September seasonal is the Antonius 1742 Oktoberfest – a 2013 Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup Gold Medal winner. We had a sample and found it a very solid beer. If you can find fresh Oktoberfest on tap at a Scotty's near you or at the Brewing Co. restaurant in Broad Ripple treat yourself.

As for the regular pours, the Bulldog Brown has become one of my favorites as I believe the crystal and kiln coffee malt shine through for a nice rich but not overpowering flavor. As a silver medalist at the 2013 Brewers Cup it is apparent others love this beer, too! We have written about the Two Lucy's Blackberry Wheat from beer fests before, but as usual we had not focused on the blonde, beer that is. The blond offering at some brew pubs is a light beer designed to satisfy the yellow-fizzy corporate beer drinker in search of FizzyLite. This Thr3e Wise Men Snow Bunny Blonde is a delicious beer with a lot of flavor provided by the German spalter hops, giving it 16 ibu but a lot of taste . The Rocky Ripple Pale is a solid offering which we chose as the beer to walk around the grounds of the Penrod Arts Fair a couple of weeks ago (See Story Here) If you love hops, the Centennial Martyr Double IPA with 98 ibu will likely be your choice.

Upcoming seasonal beer
from Thr3e Wise Men are: October: Milk Stout, November: Dopplebock .......... ..... . (Shown: Oktoberfest, Cali-Common, Am. Wheat)

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing, 1021 Broad Ripple Avenue, Indianapolis, Open daily for lunch and dinner at 11AM


Ask anyone who knows the Indy beer scene about the earliest brew pubs and they will point you to Broad Ripple Brew Pub. We caught up with current BRBP Head Brewer, John Treeter along with author Rita Kohn, the day after this monumental brew day. Kohn, has just released her latest book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beer Tasting

This #2500 new beer which should be coming into the tapped line-up within a few weeks is a double IPA. The beer should have a lot of citrus dimensions.

Treeter shared a Tart Lizzie, a very flavorful and only slightly sour fruit beer that was almost palate cleansing. The Tin Lizzie was an homage to the current Queen Elizabeth of England of which we think she would be proud. This not-quite-puckering offering was brewed with the assistance of nearby Brugge Brasserie owner, Ted Miller, who has sour beer expertise for Brugge.

That has since been replaced on tap with a very smooth Scottish on Nitro! This low alcohol beer gives you a nice smooth session beer at 4%! You will also find their crisp Oktoberfest lager style for the season.

The Pub, as it is affectionately known by locals, ties into local events and will be having a Tales & Ales event September 26, 6-9 PM where patrons meet local dogs rescued from animal control and ready for adoption.

Broad Ripple Brew Pub, 842 E. 65th, Indianapolis, Sunday Noon-10PM, M-S 11-12midnight

Cheers! GregKitz

Brew Bracket: Oktoberfest!


Time for German beers!

And to celebrate and just generally drink good beer and have a crazy good time, Brew Bracket has come back with its bracket style, blind taste judging of Oktoberfest styles of beers.

8 of your local Indiana breweries will be competing at the Tomlinson Tap Room to win the best of the best of Oktoberfests! 

There are 7 rounds of side by side tastings, samples from a couple home brewers showcasing their take on the style, entry into an incredible door prize raffle  and a half pint of your choice at the end of the event.

Participating brewers include

Upland Brewing Co.
Flat 12 Bierwerks
The Bier Brewery
Brugge Brasserie
Half Moon Brewing
Iechyd Da Brewery
Thr3e Wisemen Brewery

A portion of ticket sales will be donated directly to King Park Area Development Corporation (

This is a 21+ event only. ID is required at the door. Designated driver tickets include free soda and water at the event. Additional food will be available for purchase through City Market vendors. Come join us for some great times with an intimate beer crowd tasting some limited edition Oktoberfest style beers.

Doors open at 5:45PM, first round of tasting begins at 6PM. For any more details and to purchase tickets please visit 

you can try to win tickets via by reading our Oktoberfest blind taste testing blog and seeing how you can win two tickets to Brew Bracket: Oktoberfest! 

Indiana Beer Group Tasting and Reviews - Oktoberfests

Originally introduced as a celebration for the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810, the Oktoberfest celebration in Germany traditionally starts the third weekend in September and ends the first Sunday of October. While the festival has evolved to feature modern diversions like amusement rides, Oktoberfest is still all about the beer; featuring a maltier version of German lager that is stronger (by German standards) at about 5.8% to 6.3% alcohol by volume. As a culture that’s always looking for an excuse to party (come on now, do you even know what you’re celebrating on Cinco de Mayo?), Oktoberfest celebrations have gained popularity in America with some local large festivals and enough neighborhood celebrations to make that purchase of Lederhosen or a Dirndl worth the money.

wedding   oktoberfest

To help you prepare for your own Oktoberfest celebration, we conducted a blind tasting of five commercial examples available in the Indiana market. Our past tastings have focused on styles that American brewers can be credited with inventing or taking in new directions. But an Oktoberfest tasting demands the inclusion of some German breweries to gauge if American brewers have caught up to their German counterparts. So the field for this tasting tapped German beers from Ayinger and Paulaner to go with American OFests from Left Hand, Sun King, and Upland. The beers were served in a random order to our tasting panel, and the identity of each was not revealed until after the panelists had submitted their individual rankings. Joining me on the panel for this session were Lafayette reporter Jason Cook and guest panelists Steven Banach and Amanda Civis. Here is a summary of each beer sampled, with the brewery’s description followed by the panel’s tasting comments.

Beer #1: Left Hand Oktoberfest – This is no festivus for the restuvus - on the contrary - we start brewing in the Spring and it takes a full two months to reach lagered perfection. Biscuity, malty goodness dominates upfront while the noble pedigree hops lend a properly spicy, dry finish. Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi. 24 IBU 6.6% ABV

Amanda: Golden Amber in color. Malt forward aroma. Medium to light mouth-feel with a nice level of carbonation, giving just a slight sting on the tongue. Taste reminiscent of raisin bread with some hop bitterness towards the end and a clean finish. Buy a couple and discuss with friends. 
Amanda’s Rank: 3rd
Jason: Light amber in color with a big, sweet, malty nose and body. This example had everything going for it until the finish. Some sort of lingering bitterness (not the good kind) remained that served to undermine what had started out as a nice beer.
Jason’s Rank: 3rd
Nathan: Brilliant copper color with low head and rich malt aroma. The aroma and strong toasted malt flavor with hints of caramel get this beer off to a great start. But it’s all downhill from there. The malt flavor gives way to a bit of lingering bitterness and noticeable alcohol. This is followed by a sulfur note from the lager yeast. This beer was promising, but the lack of clean finish hurts the drinkability and knocks it down on my list. 
Nathan’s Rank: 5th
Steven: Pours a clear, light copper hue with no visible lacing or head. Aroma is a bit boozy with caramel notes. The taste is very malty, light amount of fruity hops, slightly nutty, touch of carmel, with a medium mouthfeel. The finish on this brew is dry, warm, and lingers for awhile. This brew is too boozy for my taste. While high on alcohol content, Lefthand's version would keep you warm on a cool, autumn day. 
Steven’s Rank: 3rd

Beer #2: Sun King Oktoberfest – Sun King Oktoberfest is a traditional German-style lager. Crafted with choice German malts and noble hops, our Oktoberfest has a clean malty start with a slightly earthy hop character and a crisp, dry finish. 5.8% ABV

Amanda: Golden color. I used the word light a lot in my notes. Light sweet malt aroma. Light to medium carbonation, no extra tingle on the tongue. Light mouth-feel. Very clean and well balanced taste with no extra sweetness or bitterness. Has a crisp quality to the finish that dries your tongue just for a second before making your mouth water. This was one of my favorites and if I were out all day at a fest eating anything from German-Style Potato Salad with Ham to Every Baked Apple Dessert this is the beer I'd choose. Buy a few for your next tailgate. 
Amanda’s Rank: 2nd
Jason: Deep golden in color with a light nose with some hop presence. The body had a light, sweet malt character with just enough hop flavor and bitterness. Finish was mostly clean with just a slight sweetness that lingers on the tongue. Overall a pretty solid beer that I would definitely drink again.
Jason’s Rank: 2nd
Nathan: Lighter in color and aroma with a moderate level of carbonation. This one has a softer overall profile with moderate toasted malt and a slight minty flavor. Very clean and smooth finish with no lingering bitterness or off flavors. A well made, enjoyable, easy drinking beer that just lacks a bit of the flavor complexity displayed by my top two choices. But it’s definitely a beer I would order again.
Nathan’s Rank: 3rd
Steven: This brew poured a light amber color with a small amount of lacing ring. Aroma is floral hops with caramel notes. The mouthfeel was full with plenty of munich and crystal malt flavor. Spicy noble hops balance out this beer perfectly with a toastiness, crisp finish. Sun King exemplifies a great representation of an oktoberfest beer with the alcohol content, malt, and hop profile dead on for the style. 
Steven’s Rank: 2nd

DSCN1389   DSCN1391

Beer #3: Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier - This beer is an institution: the Oktoberfest Bier® from Paulaner, with its full-bodied, pleasant taste definitely pairs beautifully with the hearty delicacies along with Hendln or Schweinshaxen. Its alcohol content of 6 % volume makes it somewhat stronger than the usual lager beer. With a hint of malty sweetness the Oktoberfest Beer possesses the perfect balance. 6% ABV

Amanda: Golden brunette in color. Initially I had a hard time, picking up flavor and aroma, on this one. My notes from the first pour were little to no aroma, took 3 sips before I got any flavor to stick and when it did all I really picked up was a little bitterness. The second pour was a completely different story. The aroma and flavor were both of slightly burnt toast. It made me want a pat of butter and a jar of spoon fruit. After taste was of bitter hay/grass. I couldn't get behind this one. Buy a bottle and see what you think. 
Amanda’s Rank: 4th
Jason: Pours a light amber in color with a moderately sweet & hoppy nose. This beer didn’t agree with me from the very first sip. I’m not terribly familiar with the noble hop varieties but apparently the stronger hop presence of these is what had me cringing. Not much else for me to say on this one.
Jason’s Rank: 5th
Nathan: Muted copper color with a lasting head and higher carbonation than the other examples. Full-bodied toasted malt character with a clean and slightly sweet malt character in the finish. Plenty of grassy, tea-like hop character in this one that lingers through the finish. The best hop profile of the group in my opinion. Despite the prominent hop flavor, the beer has a slightly stale character from just a touch of oxidation. I really enjoyed this beer, the finish was just a bit too sweet to make the top of my list. 
Nathan’s Rank: 2nd
Steven: Paulaner's Oktoberfest brew turned out to be my favorite of the flight. This beer poured a dark amber color with a malty and grassy hop aroma and was the darkest beer in the tasting. The spicy, noble hops complimented the malty, semi sweet, full body of this beer. Noble hop flavor was very apparent in this pour. Moderate alcohol content throughout from start to a dry, long finish. I would definitely seek this beer out. The flavor of this beer was able to withstand the voyage from Germany to America perfectly and still tasted fresh. 
Steven’s Rank: 1st

Beer #4: Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen - Rich, golden color. Slightly sweet, malty nose. Medium to big body and alcohol. Soft dryness from long maturation. 21 IBU 5.8% ABV

Amanda: Golden brown color. Heavier mouth-feel with nice carbonation. There is a nice complexity and layering of flavors going on. Everything from fruits like peach, grape and apple to more subtle notes of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. But the flavors of sweet malt and hop hold their own and linger on this one. I wouldn't mind killing a day with this beer, friends, a grill, bratwurst and some cabbage to braise. I could also see enjoying a couple of these all by themselves. Buy a few and invite me over. 
Amanda’s Rank: 1st
Jason: This was my overall winner. Deep golden to light amber in color with a mild, unassuming nose. First sip for me and the flavor just seemed to pop. Seemed to have a bit more complex malt character than the others with a nice hop balance. Flavor seemed to linger a bit, possibly from being a bit more carbonated, but for this beer, that was a good thing. Will have to add this one to my beer shopping list.
Jason’s Rank: 1st
Nathan: Golden color that trends toward the lighter side of the style. The toasted malt character was nicely balanced with some herbal hop character. This is complemented by a slight orange peel character that gives this beer a unique twist. There is a slight touch of alcohol in the finish, but this is where the beer really shines. Clean, crisp, and dry with a fuller mouthfeel and flavor profile than the other samples; the beer finishes beautifully and leaves you wanting more. An excellent example of the style. Yeah, go get you some of this. 
Nathan’s Rank: 1st
Steven: The appearance of this brew had quite a bit of lacing around the glass with a copper color. The nose on this brew was very light hops and low munich malt. The first thing I noticed when tasting this beer was the high carbonation level. In addition, Ayinger's representation of this oktoberfest had a light skunky, sour flavor that had a lemon aftertaste. Unfortunately I wasn't impressed with this beer, but it could have been a bit spoiled on its travel.
Steven’s Rank: 4th

Beer #5: Upland Oktoberfest - Our Oktoberfest is a traditional Bavarian lager featuring all-German malts and rare German hops. This dedication to authenticity produces a beer that would be as at home in Munich as it is here in the Midwest United States. The aroma is authentic, the taste sweet and malty, and the finish crisp and hoppy; perfect for a beautiful fall day! 16.5 IBU 6.5% ABV

Amanda: Golden amber color. Malt forward aroma of yeasty bread. Light to medium carbonation. I wanted more malt flavor to come through on the taste of this beer but it's not there. I get a bitter flavor start to finish, if you're a hop head you might appreciate that. Buy a bottle and see what you think. 
Amanda’s Rank: 5th
Jason: Golden color with a moderate lager-y nose. Whole flavor profile of this beer seemed to be a bit thin. Lighter body allowed a more bready, pretzel-y flavor to come through with moderate hop bitterness and higher carbonation. Seems like they were almost playing it a bit safe with this one.
Jason’s Rank: 4th
Nathan: Light colored and highly carbonated with a light malt aroma. A bit more caramel flavor than most of the other examples is balanced some herbal hop character and low toasted malt. A grassy hop character shines through more prominently in the finish. The finish is clean, but doesn’t exhibit the crispness featured in the better examples leaving the flavor slightly muddled. This is a tough one to rank. I would drink this beer again, it doesn’t exhibit any notable flaws, but it’s just lacking anything remarkable in the flavor to set it apart in this field.
Nathan’s Rank: 4th
Steven: The first thing I noticed about Upland's beer was the heavy carbonation and lace ring around the tasting glass. The color was a golden, light amber color. This was also the lightest colored brew in the flight. Aroma was light carmel and a burnt toast aroma. Citra and spicy hops were low that didn't compliment the heavy malt of this beer. The brew had a medium mouthfeel with higher then normal carbonation. The finish was dry with a hint of orange. While I like most of Upland's lineup, this beer was too carbonated and high in alcohol that I prefer in my oktoberfest beers.
Steven’s Rank: 5th

And the results are in…….

Unlike a few of our past tastings, a pretty clear pecking order began to take shape based on the ranking from our individual panelists. To determine the overall results, we used a model where the lowest number of points would win (a 1st place vote = 1 point, a 2nd place vote = 2 points, etc). After tallying up the scores, our collective rankings determined the final order:

Fifth Place: Upland Oktoberfest (18 points)
Fourth Place: Left Hand Oktoberfest (14 points)
left hand oktoberfest
Third Place: Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier (12 points)
Second Place: Sun King Oktoberfest (9 points)
sun king oktoberfest
First Place: Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen (7 points)



While we could generally say the Germans schooled their American counterparts in our results, credit Sun King for delivering a pretty authentic version that scored consistently high with our panel. But Ayinger was our clear winner with three 1st place votes, which is consistent with high rankings on sites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. The reviews ended up a bit more mixed on Paulaner, and seemed highly influenced by how much an individual enjoys more pronounced noble hop flavor. Left Hand and Upland seemed to take different recipe approaches with Upland staying close to a traditional flavor profile; while Left Hand was going for a bigger, slightly “Americanized” version similar to a few other local examples I’ve tried recently.

When evaluating cost, our rankings suggest you get what you pay for as Ayinger and Sun King were the most expensive per ounce. Ayinger is only offered in single 500ml (16.9 ounce) bottles. At around $4 a bottle, that’s great when you’d like to try just one, and not so great when you’re trying to stock up for a party. Sun King was close behind at about $13 for a 4-pack of 16 ounce cans. I might personally make an argument for Paulaner as the value pick here at $11 for a 6-pack, but Amanda and Jason would probably disagree based on their rankings. Overall, I think it’s safe to say we recommend giving the Ayinger a try, especially if you’re in the market for just a few bottles.

Big thanks to Amanda, Jason, and Steven for serving on the panel and a bigger thanks to you for reading this far. Enjoy a few Oktoberfests at home and/or hit up an upcoming event like Upland Oktoberfest, Herron-Morton Place Oktoberfest, or Brew Bracket Oktoberfest on the 28th.

Prosit! – Nathan

BREW BRACKET OKTOBERFEST TICKET GIVEAWAY: We are giving away two passes to the upcoming Brew Bracket Oktoberfest on September 28th from 6-9pm at Tomlinson Tap Room in City Market! To enter, leave a comment on this post letting us know what you think of our panel’s rankings, or just leave a comment to brag about your personal favorite Oktoberfest. We’ll do a random drawing of everyone who enters, so feel free to offer dissenting opinions. Comments must be received by Monday, September 23rd to be eligible. And remember, if you don’t win, tickets are available here for only $35 to what should be a fantastic event.

Lafayette Brewing Company Celebrates 20 Years!

  What does 20 years mean to you? Sadly, for me, it means harkening back to my glory days of being 21 years old and in my prime. For some of you readers it constitutes the vast majority of your life and, if you're reading this, that means your taste buds are more refined than mine when I was in my early 20's. If you're Greg Emig, owner of the Lafayette Brewing Company, it means that you've managed to do something that nearly all of Indiana's craft breweries can only aspire to. This third week of September 2013, Lafayette Brewing celebrates 20 years of crafting beer.

  Having just attended LBC's Beer & Bites, a ten course food and beer pairing event that helped to kick off their anniversary festivities, I find myself contemplating, with a slight buzz mind you, what the Lafayette Brewing Co. has meant to me over the years. Regretfully, I've really only been big on the craft beer scene for the last ten or so years. Go back to 1993 and it could easily be said that Lafayette Brewing was craft beer before craft beer was cool. Fast forward to today and I'm not really sure what life would be like without it, certainly a bit less palatable to say the least.

  For me, over the years, Lafayette Brewing Co. has been a (an): gathering destination for meeting out-of-town friends, neighborhood pub for grabbing a beer (or two) and some dinner, great place to catch a live show, place to have a beer (or two) and play some free pool on a slightly slanted table, place to enjoy a beer (or two) and watch people attempt to parallel park from a front window vantage point, comfortable atmosphere for relaxing with good people, excuse to eat scotch eggs, perfect place to grab Sunday beer, integral piece of Lafayette's downtown revival, amazing venue for a high gravity beer sampling that'll knock your socks off, the only place (at least in my opinion) to grab beer at a Mosey, aaaaand I'll stop now 'cause think you get the picture. LBC will always be my home field no matter where I end up.

  So please, head on over to 622 Main Street for the next day or two or, if you're ambitious, the rest of the this week to join in the celebration of LBC's 20 years of crafting beer. Please check out the schedule below and don't miss $2 pints of LBC beer on Tuesday and $2.50 pints and a free Michael Kelsey show upstairs on Wednesday starting @ 8pm. I'd rattle off the rest of the schedule but I'm fairly confident in your reading abilities if you've made it this far.

Congratulations Lafayette Brewing! Here's to another 20 years of crafting beer for our community!

Jason C.

Mad Anthony Brewing Company OktoBEERfest Recap

It was a hot, humid day, but that did not stop me or the sizeable crowd which was larger than last year's event from attending this year's Mad Anthony Brewing Company's OktoBEERfest that was held in downtown Fort Wayne at Headwaters Park Pavilion West.

The beer tables were located in the covered pavilion shaded from the sun and heat where the thirsty attendees had access to unlimited samples of 100+ beers, ciders and meads.  There was a very wide variety of beer styles available to appeal to the newcomer to craft beer to those that are no strangers to the world of craft beer.  There was beer swag available at most of the brewery's tables ranging from cardboard coasters to beads, to key chains, to stickers and more.  Since I collect the cardboard coasters, I was able to add to my collection which made me a happy camper!

Again this year there was a drawing for two tickets to this year's GABF being held next month in Denver, CO.  Unfortunately, like last year, I did not win; however, congratulations to the winner and I hope they have a very beery time at the event!

It was nice seeing a few new breweries in attendance this year.  They are:  Chapman's Brewing Company (Angola, IN), Tin Man Brewing Company (Evansville, IN) and Union Brewing (Evansville, IN).

The M.A.S.H. (Mad Anthony Serious Homebrewers) brought Meads and Ciders for the attendees to sample and as always they were very tasty!  If you are at a beer event and see their sign, by all means sample what they have available.

I sampled ten (10) rateable beers and two ciders (I am a beer rater at throughout the event.  I am not a "hophead" per se so I tend to drink beers that are more smoother, maltier tasting than those that are hoppy and bitter tasting.  I sampled/rated beers/ciders from the following breweries:

Bloomington Brewing Company - Ruby Bloom Amber
Chapman's Brewing Company - American Ale Cider
Cutters Brewing Company - Monon Wheat
Evil Czech Brewery - John the One Eyed (Abbey Dubbel)
Fountain Square Brewery - Workingman's Pilsner
Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery - Stoplight City Red (Amber Ale)
Mad Anthony Brewing Company - Peach Wheat
McClures Orchard/Winery - Farmhouse (Dry, British Cider)
Tin Man Brewing Company - See my rating below
Union Brewing Company - Cannon Ball Doyle (Dry Irish Stout)

Of the beers/ciders I rated, the Tin Man Rivet Irish Red Ale was my favorite and a beer that I would drink again.  It has a malty, caramel, lightly hoppy, and lightly fruity aroma.  The taste is sweet, malty, caramel, lightly hoppy, hint of toffee, and banana.  The ABV (Alcohol By Volume) is 5.1% which makes this a nice session beer.

My photographer, aka my husband, took approximately 40 pictures throughout the event and here are some chosen at random:

The beginning of the line of attendees
M.A.S.H.  Homebrewers

Tin Man Brewing Company
Flat 12 Bierwerks
Fountain Square Brewery


Summit City Brewerks
Chapman's Brewing Company
Blooming Brewing Company
Drawing for the GABF Tickets
As a final note, Mad Anthony Brewing Company President, Blaine Stuckey, thanks all the breweries for their attendance at this year's event and for all the beers they brought.  Blaine also thanks all the attendees for coming out to this year's event and sampling some very good Indiana brewed beers, meads and ciders.

See you next year and keep supporting Indiana breweries!!

Grab some Evil.. Evil Czech, Culver, Indiana (and beyond)

Evil Czech brewery of Culver, IN, came onto my radar screen based on some excellent beers I have had at several beer festivals. It seems one way to stand out as a brewery today is to be local and to brew a few unusual, high quality beers. Evil Czech does all this not only for little Culver, Indiana, but also for the South Bend/Mishawaka area and is part of a larger restaurant business. Expect to see more Evil Czech soon.

Evil Czech Brewery seems to be founded on the passion and search for flavor and for fresh local ingredients. That passion has resulted in truly unusual and flavorful beers from low abv to peppery spice. Owner George Pesek started his life journey in what was Czechoslovakia, lived multiple times in Europe, lived and increased culinary skills in the U.S. from Napa Valley, to St. Louis, to Chicago as Executive Chef for fine restaurants and now has settled in Northern Indiana to bring fine dining to several establishments accompanied by fine beer with finest ingredients. Currently they own two restaurants in Culver including the Brew Pub and one in Mishawaka Indiana. They plan to add another facility Mishawaka to include brewing capacity. Currently they brew on a 7 barrel system in Culver.

But let's talk beer.

What's my favorite beer at Evil Czech? Voodo, no wait... Dracula's Bite, um no maybe White Reaper, um wait.... You see that is the fabulous problem. I mean you figure the Blonde at most brew pubs is there to give the Bud Lite drinker something to try. But the Blonde Czich has a flirty attitude with Sorachi Ace hops and a nice bite (Hey, Evil Czich, bite! think Dracula'esque).

So let's start a list of my view of the top beers here: and not in any order....

Dracula's (Hot) Bite: Evil Czech does a great Black IPA called Dracula's Bite with Warrior hops and a nice almost malty smooth deep dark malt. Imagine adding smoked habaneros to this one. A very sell balanced beer with a nice bite. This is a specialty beer.

I love it when 'session beers' or lighter alcohol beers carry big flavor. This Vanilla Rye Porter carries, you guessed it, the sweetness of a lot of Madagascar vanilla, the spice of rye, in a light porter that delivers only 4.6% alc. Love it and this is a year round beer.

The White Reaper is.... a white IPA, or a hopped Belgian Strong. Belgian yeast combined with Bravo, Centennial, Cascade, and Citra hops give this beer a huge flavor. The dry hopping of the Simcoe and Citra gives that musky, woody, citrus like plus passion fruit flavors. This is a favorite of a beer bar owner we know.

Okay, let's go the other way. Let's consider the sessionable beer that is tough to keep on tap at the brewhouse since it is so popular and provides a lot of flavor with 3.6% alc and 22 ibu. Bobblehead unfiltered American wheat avoids the 'grainy' characteristic of some Am Wheats but is smooth and full flavored with a lemon crispness

Or the Gypsy, Chamomile American Wheat at 5% delivering a nice spice of Egyptian Chamomile.

But then there are the breakfast beers: you could start with a 7AM oatmeal milk stout that is a bit sweet with lacto but deep with chocolate and hint of coffee (7.5% alc). Not awake yet? Then cold press Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee to add a nice coffee bitterness for Rasta's Smokey Esspress Wake up and enjoy the toffee/coffee goodness at only 5.5% alc.

What drew me to this brewery at beer fests was Stalin's Dark Side (did he have another side?) Russian Imperial Stout released annually on March 5, the date of Stalin's death (reason to celebrate) aged for 3 months in a nano-distillery bourbon barrel.

And....John the One Eyed Belgian Abbey Ale that undergoes revisions partly because the yeast supplier (one most of us know and love) has actually had some issues with this yeast and Evil Czech was savvy enough to call them on it. But I am still very willing to try each iteration!

We can add:
Golem - a nice amber with a nice malt base and some nice toast
Rooster -- an American brown with a nice nut flavor
Chucky -- a double Imperial IPA (8.55 abv) with mango notes and a hop finish with Polaris hops, Simcoe Citra
Lucky Dog -- American Pale with Citra and a Cascade bitterness
2 Fingers English IPA -- well balanced with 63 ibu

The good news is that not only will there be an expansion in the South Bend/Mishawaka area in 2014, we expect to see Evil Czech with increased distribution in Central Indiana soon. They've already done a few feature tappings at such places as one of my home hang-outs, The Tap Beer Bar Bloomington, and we expect to see more!

Did we mention that they are a farm-to-fork restaurant raising their own bison and other produce so that the Evil Czech awesome tap handles are actual bison horns, a byproduct of the bison meat.

Where: Evil Czech Brewing (daily 5-9, 10 FS) , 530 S Ohio St, Culver, on tap at Corn Dance Tavern, 4725 Grape Road (daily 5-10pm, 9 Sunday), Mishawaka, IN, and look for it soon in other locations

The Taps ....................... ........................... The BrewPub

I am glad we ventured to Culver, IN, to visit the brewery but even more glad they are becoming more widely distributed!

Cheers, GregKitz

Northern Indiana Brewery Tour

Is there a better way to spend a three-day holiday weekend then to head north for a brewery tour? OK, maybe we can think of a few things that aren’t suitable to print here, but a brewery tour still ranks pretty high on the list. For our group, making this trek has been an occasional outing that used to involve a stop at Three Floyds before leaving Indiana behind and heading into the brewing Mecca of Michigan. But through recent beer festivals and other tastings, we’ve learned that northern Indiana has a lot more to offer than a mere diversion on the way to Bell’s or Founders. So this Labor Day weekend, we designed an itinerary that focused heavily on visiting some new Hoosier favorites in the burgeoning northern Indiana scene.

Armed with insatiable thirst and cheap hotel reservations, Indy reporter Nathan Compton, Lafayette reporter Jason Cook, and the gal with the friendliest smile in the Midwest, Miss Poppi Rocketts, headed on our way to what we all hoped would be an epic Labor Day weekend. Our first stop was……

Three Floyds Logo

Three Floyds (Munster)

You might have heard of this place, we’re told a few people like their beer. OK, so we’ve been stopping off here since Three Floyds was selling growlers straight out of the brewery with a lemonade-stand style setup. Attempting to learn from our last attempted visit, where there was something like a two hour wait to get in, we planned to hit the brewpub about a half-hour before opening. Traffic on US30 turned that into about 20 minutes, and we arrived to a full parking lot and a healthy crowd already arranged outside the door. To say we waited in line would be a misnomer, as that would give the patrons credit for line-building skills they clearly lacked. We correctly judged our spot would still gain us admittance before capacity was reached, and a table was claimed in the back room overlooking brewery operations. For those who have not walked through the legendary brewhouse, tour signups are still offered when you enter the brewpub on Saturday. We skipped this option and headed straight for the beer and food.

While it’s difficult to pass up Arctic Panzer Wolf straight from the source, we focused on the rarer offering that were available on our visit. Razor Hoof dry-hopped Saison easily topped the list with an American hop character that perfectly complemented, but never overwhelmed, the Belgian yeast character. Side note: Bombers of Razor Hoof should be released to Central Indiana soon. It depends on your tolerance for price, but I’d recommend giving it a try if it can be found around $10. Evil Power was billed as a straight-forward European Pilsner that actually was somewhat overpowered by a decidedly un-European hop character. An Imperial pint of this beer grows on you nicely, but ultimately doesn’t rank in the upper echelon of what this brewery is capable of producing. Likewise, the Annica IPA (a collaboration with Chicago’s Half Acre) was good, but not the mind-blowing experience one might expect at the salty price of $5 for a half-pint.

The brewpub food menu had changed quite a bit based on our recollection from past visits. One new item for us was the homemade sausage plate, featuring sausages flavored with red curry, maple, and spicy bacon. This plate, especially the red curry, was just as freaking epic as a pile of meat at Three Floyds should be – highly recommended. Decidedly less epic was paying $6 for a relatively modest portion of spiced caramel popcorn. But when Poppi is in the house, spiced caramel popcorn will be on the agenda.

Be forewarned if you go – our server mentioned expecting a long line out the door all day. After departing and sitting in more traffic on 80/94, we questioned if making this a destination was ultimately worth the hassle. Maybe we’re just not “crowds are fun” types of people. Maybe the playing field in the area has been leveled more than the faithful realize. The cult that has become Three Floyds was well earned, but we enjoyed spending time at other places like……..

9750 Indiana Parkway
Munster, IN 46321
Mon-Fri: 11:30am-2am
Saturday: noon-2am
Sunday: noon-midnight

Try these beers: Razor Hoof, Arctic Panzer Wolf, Zombie Dust, heck… know the rest

Bare Hands logo

Bare Hands Brewery (Granger)

It’s not often that you expect a new brewery to steal the show at one of the largest beer festivals in the state. But that’s exactly what happened at this year’s Winterfest when Bare Hands earned a special mention from everyone on our staff with their Mole Bride, Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout, and Thai P.A. The brewery/taproom is located just northeast of South Bend in the town of Granger. So with Bare Hands on our “must-visit” list, and the taproom closed for a special event on Sunday, we bypassed several options to head straight there from Three Floyds.

While the bigger, unique beers may have initially caught our attention, the taproom featured a nice mix of styles and alcohol strength ranging from a 5% Session Pale to the 10.2% Russian Imperial Stout. Several standout were found in between, including an outstanding Oatmeal Stout style that is too rare of a find in craft breweries these days. The Galaxy DIPA is like Flat 12 Walkabout on steroids, a great showcase for this increasingly popular Australian hop. But the Thai P.A. is probably their signature beer. Just when you think a craft brewery can’t put out something truly different than anything you’ve ever had, along comes this remarkable twist on the ever-popular IPA style with ginger and lemongrass. While we weren’t looking for food at this point in the trip, sandwiches and munchies are also available to complement the beers on your next visit.

We had the opportunity to chat with brewer Chris Gerard and were very struck by the infectious passion he has for the craft. Bare Hands clearly shows a tendency to push the envelope and there are a few new special projects for beer enthusiasts to look forward to in the near future. There is an interesting relationship of mutual respect between Bare Hands and nearby Iechyd Da, as Bare Hands has experimental leanings while Iechyd Da focuses on doing traditional styles well. Which is a nice segue to……..

12804 Sandy Ct.
Granger, IN 46530
Tues-Thurs: 4-11pm
Friday: 4-midnight
Saturday: noon-midnight
Sunday: 12-7pm

Try these beers: Thai P.A., Oatmeal Stout, Galaxy DIPA, Session Pale

iechyd da logo

Iechyd Da (Elkhart)

The location of Iechyd Da in downtown Elkhart makes it a convenient 20 minute drive from Bare Hands for your own mini-brewery tour. On our more convoluted route that included stops in Michigan, Iechyd Da was the first stop of the day on Sunday. Named after the Welsh (brewer Chip Lewis’ heritage) saying that translates to “Cheers”, Iechyd Da focuses a bit more on sessionable, English-style ales than most craft breweries. While this may limit the “wow” factor that many are hoping will make their beers stand out, Iechyd Da featured arguably the most consistent level of quality we found in beer flights on this trip.

True to their mission, two English-style beers were standouts in the flight. ESB (Extra Special Bitter) is a style often difficult to find in craft breweries these days and one that has seems to have a difficult time finding an audience in distribution. Iechyd Da’s Garden Gnome ESB is an outstanding example of the style, nicely balancing rich caramel malts with floral English hops. Possibly the best craft example since Arcadia’s now defunct Lake Superior ESB. Likewise, the Big Pit Porter is an exceptional example of the easy-drinking English Brown Porter style with lower bitterness and rich toffee and chocolate flavors. The Revolution IPA and 13 American Black Ale prove they can also do big American styles, as their Gumption Imperial Red did at this spring’s Bloomington Craft Beer Festival.

The food menu focuses on creative pizzas and sandwiches. We started our day with The Kidwelly pizza featuring ham, mozzarella, smoked gouda, balsamic vinegar, and a healthy layer of arugula. It was a winner in our book, but several of the others sounded good as well. Overall, the laid-back atmosphere and high-quality beer and food were a great way to kick off our day after a long Saturday night. So feeling ready to jump back on the horse again, we headed off to…….

317 N Main St.
Elkhart, IN 46516
Tues-Thurs: 3-10pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm
Sunday: 12-8pm

Try these beers: Garden Gnome ESB, Big Pit Porter, 13 American Black Ale, Mohawk Steam Cali Common


Greenbush Brewing (Sawyer, MI)

We’re cheating a little here by throwing in a Michigan brewery, but Greenbush is worth a mention as it sits near the Indiana border; just 15 miles up I94 in the town of Sawyer and easy to work into your own brewery tour. Sawyer is a very small harbor town (population 1619 in the 2000 census) that includes an old-fashioned hardware store and scattered specialty shops along the main road. In case you’re not sure where to go, one of these buildings prominently displays “BREWERY” in big block letters above the entrance. In this quiet little town, we were surprised to walk into a completely packed house and wondered where all these people came from in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. We were about to find out why Greenbush has become a local destination.

If session beers are the future of craft brewing, someone needs to get the memo over to Greenbush ASAP. With nearly 15 beers on the taproom menu, not a single one (even the Cream Ale) weighed in under 6% ABV. The short beer names are eclectic and interesting without relating much to the style. Some appropriately set the mood such as Anger (Black IPA), Closure (Pale Ale), Retribution (Belgian Hybrid), and Unicorn Killer (Pumpkin Ale); while others like Starchicken Shotgun (IPA) and Cabra Perdida (Imperial Blueberry Cream Stout) will just make new visitors scratch their head. The brewery earns special bonus points from Jason for applying a Twin Peaks reference (There are Owls in the Roadhouse) to their Imperial Raspberry Porter.

The beers in our flight ranged from decent to outstanding, but mostly trended towards the latter. While the multitude of fruit beers were a bit hit or miss, the big hoppy beers including Anger, Dunegras IPA, and Starchicken Shotgun were consistently exceptional (and how cool is “Anger” for a beer name anyway?). Another standout was the Red Bud (Copper Wheat Ale) that had an interesting malt profile while maintaining a refreshing character that fit well on a warm day. We ultimately walked away with a 6 pack of Dunegras for Jason, a 6 pack of Anger for Nathan, and a feeling that Greenbush had easily earned a recommendation for your next foray into Michigan.

5885 Sawyer Rd
Sawyer, MI 49125
Sun-Thurs: 12-10pm
Fri-Sat: 12-11pm

Try these beers: Anger, Dunegras, Red Bud, Starchicken Shotgun


Hunter’s Brewing (Chesterton)

When mapping out our route to Valparaiso, we were fortunate to learn that Hunter's Brewing was going to be open on this Sunday afternoon (check their Facebook page for updates, as they aren’t open every Sunday afternoon). Hunter’s is one of the newest nanobreweries in the state, and we had already received a couple suggestions they were worth a visit. Brewing on a one-barrel system that resembles a larger homebrew setup, you can stop by Hunter’s for tasters and pints or carry out a 32 ounce half-growler. The menu on our visit featured a diverse mix of American, Belgian, and English styles. While we’d already heard of Threadsplitter (a very solid American IPA), the standouts in our flight were the Bashful English Mild and Mild Child English Brown Ale. Not quite as mild as the Mild Child name may suggest, it’s a rare treat to find a good craft example of a Northern English Brown (aka Nut Brown) with smooth nutty, biscuit, and chocolate notes. Check out Hunter’s the next time you’re in the area and tell your friends about this up and coming new brewery!

1535 S Calumet Rd
Chesterton, IN 46304
Thursday: 5-9pm
Friday: 4-9pm
Saturday: 12-9pm
Sunday: Variable (check their Facebook page)

Try these beers: Mild Child, Bashful, Threadsplitter IPA

Figure 8 Brewing (Valparaiso)

Figure 8 Brewing in Valparaiso was pegged as our destination spot to finish up Sunday’s activities. Our last tour featured a stop at the brewery when they had a small place on the outskirts of Valpo best suited for carry-out sales. The opening of their new location downtown with expanded brewing operations and a full brewpub is indicative of the popularity earned on the strength of their products. The facility is located in an old Sears Automotive Center building, with brewing operations spread out in the automotive bays and a basement area for bottling and special projects. The upper-level brewpub offers samplers, snifters, and pints of twelve Figure 8 beers on tap; along with a full menu that covers the gamut of appetizers, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and entrees.

We were fortunate enough to find Date Night, a seasonal Black Barleywine brewed with Medjool dates, available on our visit. A unique twist on their Jumbo Love Barleywine, Date Night is exceptionally flavorful and dangerously easy to drink at 10.8% ABV. Continuing what started at Hunter’s, the Camp 4 Brown Ale is another seasonal that is a nice example of the Northern English Brown style. Our favorites from the brewery’s year-round offerings continue to be the hop-focused Snake Pro Double IPA and the Ro Shampo Imperial Red, which offers a more balanced blend of bold malt flavors and American hops. We tried the Shaun’s Pizza, a spicy mix that features taco meat, black bean salsa, jalapenos, and sour cream on a pita crust; and the Chips & Guacamole – always a great complement to craft beer (or pretty much anything for that matter).

In addition to their wide range of year-round and specialty offerings, Figure 8 has a barrel aging program with a number of special projects in the works. The next to be released is a version of their Raven Tor Oatmeal Stout that was bourbon barrel aged for a full year. Bottles of this beer will be available for purchase at the brewery starting at 11am on September 11th.

150 Washington Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Wed-Sat: 11am-10pm
Sunday: 11am-9pm

Try these beers: Date Night Barleywine (just one if you want to stay upright), Snake Pro DIPA, Ro Shampo, Camp 4 Nut Brown

crown brewing logo

Crown Brewing (Crown Point)

Crown Brewing was one of our favorites from the last tour, but they were pushed off until Monday out of a matter of necessity. The necessity comes from most places being closed on Labor Day and our need for a good place to enjoy a little food and beer after two long days of visiting breweries. We also had to save a good one for last, as the group’s enthusiasm for drinking more beer would predictably begin to wane at this point. Despite their growing reputation as a craft beer destination, Crown is not easy to spot when you roll into town as their small brewery and tap room is subtly tucked in behind Carriage House Pizza on East Street. The advantage of this for the beer traveler is the opportunity to get great pizza and pasta from Carriage House while enjoying Crown beers.

Behind this humble setting, you’ll find a craft brewery that has won World Beer Cup awards for their Crown Brown and Industrial Porter; while also emerging as a serious competitor in the Indiana Brewers Cup with 8 medals in 2012 and another 4 in 2013. Seasonal beers on our visit included DerAler, a very tasty and well hopped American Pale Wheat, and the recently tapped Ignis Fatuus Pumpkin Ale. These new offerings complemented our two flights quite nicely alongside traditional favorites like Special Forces IPA, Java Porter, and Crown Brown. Along with the beer, Carriage House’s Barbeque Chicken Pizza - originally recommended by our colleague Wilk - has proven to be a artery-clogging, heart-stopping winner each time (hey, you only live once). Crown offers the opportunity to fill growlers of any current tap beer, along with carry-out bombers of Crown Brown, Ignis Fatuus, Industrial Porter, and Special Forces IPA.

211 South East St
Crown Point, IN 46307
Sun-Thurs: 11am-11pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-midnight

Try these beers: Special Forces IPA, DerAler American Pale Wheat, Java Porter, Crown Brown

The trip confirmed what we already suspected – northern Indiana is quickly becoming a craft beer destination in its own right. Thanks for reading and we hope your next beer adventure is as enjoyable as ours. Cheers!

Jason, Nathan, and Poppi