31 March 2008

Beer Diary - Mike

Before considering the first review, readers should be aware that I was recently bit by a (possibly) rabid dog and now have (possibly) heightened animal senses.

31 March 08 Location: Home

Victory Storm King Imperial Stout - Purchased at a liquor store in Fairview Heights, Illinois (thanks, STLHops). This one is a ratebeer 100 - surely a beer not to be missed, right? I've written about dark beers before, but I don't think I've ever come across one this dark. A black as paint body supports a thin moon surface of a head. Nose of sweet chocolate milk with just a tiny hint of alcohol. There's not so much a front to this beer as a full on flavor assault - a little bitter on the front of the tongue, but mainly a roasty whole-mouth chocolate flavor. There's a little bit of a tight alcohol and lingering hop bite on the back end. This is a very good beer, but not the sort of flavor enigma that are many highly ranked stouts. Unlike Matt, I wouldn't go out of my way to buy this again.

1 March 08 Location: Home

Kasteel Rouge - A "Belgian Ale with Cherries and Cherry Juice Added". Cream soda body with a cherry Tootsie Pop flavor - complete with hints of that Tootsie Pop center. My notes say "give this to kids, they'll love it." That's a joke.

Lindeman's Kreik Lambic - When drinking cherry beer with children, why not have a comparison? We called over the neighborhood delinquents and got them trashed on this stuff. A finger of head on the light red body - a hint of that lambic funkiness, and light on the tongue. We really didn't get any kids drunk. Cats? I plead the fifth.

25 February 08 Location: Home

Aventinus Weizen Eisbock - Eisbocks are a high alcohol version of the weizenbock style - beers frozen to remove that pesky water from the beer, leaving more alcohol and flavor per volume.

A huge fizzy head sits on a sweet tea body - lots of floaties (leftover yeast) in this bubbly and active bodied brew. A belgian-like sweet bubblegum nose, with just a hint of nailpolish lead to a sweet carmelly body. You may have noticed that this beer was sweet - perhaps the sweetest I've ever had. Definitely worth revisiting - this is a beer we need to roundtable.

30 March 2008

Beer Diary - Jim | Down on the FARM in Bloomington

Back in January, Jason urged readers to visit FARM Bloomington to enjoy their superlative beer offerings. The Lovely Redhead and I did just that yesterday while we were on a long-awaited weekend retreat to Brown and Monroe Counties.

First, however, a brief word about the food: it was phenomenal. We chose to park at the bar and order from the tapas menu. We shared the Minty Green Pea Guacamole with tortilla chips and "The Big Red" FARMpie (that's a tomato, garlic, pesto, and mozzarella cheese pizza in case you're wondering). The guacamole was light and crisp and worked perfectly with the razor-thin torilla chips. The pizza, topped with garden-fresh ingredients, was head-and-shoulders above many "gourmet" pies we've had here in Naptown.

As for the beer offerings, FARM has seven taps in the main bar and two downstairs in their Root Cellar bar. We didn't venture to the Root Cellar, but we did see that the draft selections in the main bar were well-chosen in their diversity and quality. I'm kicking myself for not writing down these selections (FARM's online menu is now out-of-date), but here are the selections I can recall from the main bar:

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Brugge Black
BBC Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout
BBC Nitro Pale Ale (I might have been hallucinating, but I think this is what the menu said)
Upland Wheat
Rogue Dead Guy
Stella Artois

Brugge is getting their word out at FARM because all beers are served with a Brugge Beer coaster, complete with the eye-catching graphics that Brugge has become known for. I had a 90 Minute, which was superb as always. Even the Redhead, who is a malty beer girl when she partakes and is quite hop-shy, found the 90 Minute pleasing. The bottled beer selection appeared to be just as wonderful as the draft beer selection, with craft brews such as Alpha King, Ommegang, and Brooklyner Weisse for sale. And the pint prices were reasonable: $5.00 at the most expensive, with $2.50 pints one night a week (Tuesday nights, I believe).

It's heartening to see another fine dining establishment which recognizes that craft beer is a key element of the menu. Pay FARM a visit the next time you visit the land of Cream and Crimson.

26 March 2008

Indy Craft Beer Festival Update and Random Beer News

It wasn't too long after we ran our Indiana Craft Beer Festival notice that I heard a rumor that the event had been cancelled. So I followed up with event organizer and Hot Shotz hot shot Brian Graham to find out what was happening:
[The Craft Beer Festival] has not been canceled, it has been postponed until the fall. The lack of homebrewer participation is the big reason. May 3 is National homebrew day and they will be brewing.

There have also been some concerns from supporting parties of the legality of having a homebrew festival and being able to charge admission.

I am working very hard to make this a reality.
We support Brian on his quest to make this work and look forward to attending his festival in the fall. We'll be sure to keep you updated about dates as further details emerge.

While we're speaking of Hot Shotz, you might like to know that they'll be tapping a firkin of Bell's Porter tomorrow (3/27/08).

* * * * *

While they're running tap lines, I could use a couple in my kitchen - An Atlanta sports bar now features personal taps at patrons' tables. The article makes no mention of if you can get the Miller Light tap removed from your table.

No more getting drunk while you get your hair did - A chain of Michigan barbershops has been told they'll need a liquor license if they wish to continue to hand out free beer... sounds vaguely familiar.

At 6 a.m., Boston's beer goes the way of the 19th win - Red Sox fans were treated to an opening day without beer in bars throughout the Boston area. The reason? The game (which was played in Japan) started at 6 a.m. Massachusetts law says that beer can't be served before 8 a.m.

And back in Indiana, it's Dig-B with your Wabash beer scoop
- Our buddy Chris has the full list of where you can find the latest product out of Brugge Beer's Terre Haute facility. We've got a case (or was it three cases?) of this stuff in the HBG mystery secret beer vault - look for a review sometime soon if we can ever get a beer attack strategy sorted out.

25 March 2008

Beer Diary - Jim | 4.0 is not just a grade point average in Utah

21 March 2008 - University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

22 March 2008 - Sawadee Thai Restaurant, Salt Lake City, Utah

I'm in the city that is home to Mike's favorite Major League Soccer team at a conference at the University of Utah. It's been almost 25 years since I set foot in Salt Lake, and I've forgotten how beautiful this city is, nestled right up next to the Wasatch Mountain Range. And no, I'm not going to tell any Mormon or polygamy jokes here because (a) that would be way too easy, and (b) I happen to really like SLC.

Day One of the conference is over. I'm at a reception for conference presenters and attendees. Free beer awaits at the bar. I see three bottles of what looks to be local stuff. It is, from Uinta Brewing Company. The selection: Uinta's Gelande Amber Lager, Solstice Kölsch Style Ale, and Cutthroat Pale Ale. I have a feeling that I'll be disappointed by the Gelande, and I'm not into Kölsch-style beers, so I ask the bartender for a Cutthroat.

Before I go any further, I have to note that Utah has some pretty restrictive laws when it comes to the alcohol content of beers made and sold in the state. I'm not going to relate those laws in detail (I'll leave that to the Utah Beer blog). Suffice it to say that most beers you can order at a bar in Utah max out at 4.0% ABV. As a beer lover, you might balk at this limitation in anticipation of weak flavor and a minuscule buzz. If you're a brewer, I suppose you might view this restriction as a challenge. After all, how can a brewer really do an IPA justice when you can't go beyond 4.0% ABV? I'm sure that some are able to make a hearty-tasting beer despite the limitation.

I take the Cutthroat from the bartender and am pleased to feel that it's moderately cold, not ice cold. But unfortunately, the bartender has no glass to give me, so I'm forced to drink out of the bottle. I smell a moderate hop presence in this American Pale Ale, but cannot get a good enough whiff of the bouquet through the bottle opening. The first sip yields a caramel-like malty front and a mild, piney hop flavor. This beer is quite dry, mellow, and finishes very cleanly. It's a little fizzy, but doesn't have as much carbonation as I expected. Pleasant, but not fantastic.

The next night, I and some colleagues go for Thai food at a restaurant called Sawadee (also spelled "Sawasdee," which means "hello" in Thai and is also the name of my favorite Thai restaurant in Indy). The restaurant serves the full range of Uinta beers, so I decide to go for another Cutthroat to pair with my fantastic dish of Pad Thai with tofu. This time, I get the beer in a glass. It pours with a nice amber hue and an off-white, finger-thick head that dissipates slowly. This time, I get a nice nose of spicy pine. The glass, however, does not change the flavor at all.

This is a good mellow beer that would serve well as a gateway beer for craft beer newbies. It has also piqued my interest in trying other Utah beers just to see how Utah brewers deal with the hand they've been dealt by the Utah legislature.

Dogfish Head Calorie Information

Once upon a time Dogfish Head listed the calorie counts for most of their beers on their website. Then someone told them they couldn't list the calorie info without listing complete nutritional information.

Surely you'll agree that that's a stupid rule.

Well, we're not Dogfish Head. And maybe I made up these numbers instead of pulling them from the Dogfish site. And if I was going to wildly speculate about calorie numbers, I'd probably make a guess for a 12oz. serving. In any case, here's my best guesses... or not.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA: 209 calories
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA: 294 calories
Dogfish Head Lawnmower*: 114 calories
Dogfish Head Midas Touch: 307 calories
Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale*: 168 calories
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA: 450 calories
Dogfish Head Black and Blue: 290 calories
Dogfish Head Burton Baton: 320 calories
Dogfish Head Fort: 415 calories
Dogfish Head Red and White: 310 calories
Dogfish Head World Wide Stout: 372 calories

*Some of these beers aren't sold in Indiana, so the info here might not be relevant to all our readers.

Help Us Help You

We've been at it for 20 months now, all willy-nilly, not ever knowing what we're really doing with this blog. We think you're here to read about beer - but we don't really know who you are.

So we've put together a survey to try to find out who's reading, what we're doing wrong, and what we're doing right. What we hope to find out with the survey is how to better entertain you - not just through the blog, but also with our occasional parties.

So if you'll just take a couple minutes - it's only ten questions - we can round up your responses and get to getting better.

To take the survey, just click here.


Jason, Jim, Kelly, Mike, Gina, and Matt
The Hoosier Beer Geek Knights of the Beer Roundtable

18 March 2008

A Beer Geek's St. Patrick's Day | Recap from Matt's Beer Blog

We were too lazy to write up a review of the beers we had at our St. Patrick's Day pre-party. Our good friend Matt, however, was not. Read his thoughts here. Thanks to Matt and to our other readers who came out and joined us!

17 March 2008

Back to School # 6 with Bock Beers

Traditionally we haven't paid very much attention to style at Hoosier Beer Geek - our focus is usually first on finding beers that look tasty and drinking them. But a little knowledge never hurt anyone, and accordingly we've started trying to expand our knowledge of style. This is the sixth post in our Beer School series, in which we're passing on what we learned in our meetings at World Class Beverages to you. We continue our beer schooling with Bock Beers.

Or most recent beer school covered Bocks/Scottish/Irish beers as well as a very interesting introduction to the world of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). The BJCP is a very involved and intense process consisting of more than 100 hours of training and study to prepare for an exam to become a certified beer judge.

According to the BJCP website, “the purpose of the Beer Judge Certification Program is to promote beer literacy and the appreciation of real beer, and to recognize beer tasting and evaluation skills”. A beer judge evaluates and scores beers, meads and ciders and makes suggestions for improvements based on style guidelines set up by the BJCP. Scores are assigned on a scale from 0-50, 0 being problematic and 50 being outstanding, and are calculated from five categories: Aroma, Appearance, Flavor, Mouthfeel and Overall Impression.

A score sheet from a beer judge should be objective and contain feedback on how the beer could be improved, leading to better beer for everyone. You can learn more about this program and download their recently updated style guidelines at the BJCP site.


Traditionally these lagers were done as the last beer of the season but are now brewed year-round. The “season” was the cool months of the year, as summertime (no refrigeration) was too warm to allow for appropriate brewing. Bocks probably originated in Einbeck, Germany and also means “billy goat” in German, which may explain why there are goats on many labels.

Bocks are split into four substyles according to the BJCP guidelines; Maibock/Helles Bock, Traditional Bock, Doppelbock, and Eisbock. They should be malty, adjunct free and have an Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of 6% or higher, depending on the substyle. The particulars of this style can be found at http://www.bjcp.org/stylecenter.html.

Maibock/Helles Bock – The most recent addition and lightest of this style, Maibock/Helles Bocks are generally associated with the spring, particularly May (Mai). Aroma should be malty with low to no hops or fruit esters, sometimes spicy, and perhaps mildly alcoholic in flavor. Hop flavor can also be present but malt flavor should be more predominant and the color should remain relatively pale. Some of the highest scoring brews in this substyle are Ayinger Maibock, Mahr’s Bock, and Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus Bock.

Traditional Bocks – As the name suggests, this was the first of the style and originated in the 14th to 17th century. These are typically darker, more malty, and stronger in aroma and flavor than the Maibocks, but not necessarily in ABV. Traditional Bocks are toasty and complex, with Munich and Vienna malts (common in Oktoberfest beers) dominating the flavor. They tend to be smooth with a sweet finish. Some top examples are the Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel, Pennsylvania Brewing Co St. Nick Bock, and Aass Bock.

Dopplebock - This style was first brewed by the Bavarian monks of St. Francis of Paula in the late 1700's as an alternative to food during lent. The German Beer Institute website says "Because the monks believed that liquids not only cleansed the body but also the soul, they would make plenty of liquid instead of solid bread from their grain, and then drink it in copious quantities...the more, the holier." This "liquid bread", named Salvator (after the Savior), was originally intended to be kept for the monks, but the unlawful sale of the brew to the commoners eventually led to the demise of the brewery (thanks to Napoleon).

Fortunately, but with much legal trouble, this substyle was eventually resurrected into today's Paulaner Salvator. Some breweries pay homage to the original, keeping the "ator" suffix in the name of their Dopplebocks, like Celebrator, Troegenator, Optimator, and Maximator to name a few. The color range of this substyle is wide and there are more opportunities for variation in aroma and flavor. These "double" bocks are dark and strong, even more so than the Traditional Bocks and are stronger now than they've been in the past.

Eisbock - A specialty beer from the Kulmbach district in Bavaria is made by partially freezing then subsequently removing ice from the beer, concentrating the alcohol. These beers may not necessarily be stronger than Dopplebocks, but they are indeed strong. Examples in this category include Kulmbacher Reichelbrau Eisbock, Eggenberg Urbock Dunkel Eisbock, and Capital Eisphyre.

14 March 2008

Join us tomorrow as we chase the snakes from Deano's Vino

This is just the last reminder that our first Hoosier Beer Geek St. Patty's party is taking place tomorrow (3/15) at 6PM at Deano's Vino in Fountain Square.

What's in store? Great beer at fair prices. For those of you who have concerns over pint costs (which was a problem at our last event), I can assure you that nothing coming out of the taps tomorrow (Three Floyd's Brian Boru Irish Red, Barley Island Black Majic Java Stout, and Rouge's Brutal Bitter) will be more than $5.

Having sampled the beer last night, I feel pretty good saying that it's great stuff. So come on out, say hello, and get your St. Patty's on a little early this year.

13 March 2008

KOTBR #41 | Hot Shotz, Part Deux

Editor's note - The title of this review comes from a somewhat dreadful film released in the early 1990s starring Charlie Sheen, and from the fact that this was our second visit to Hot Shotz. Our apologies for this lame attempt at humor, but the title just seemed to fit.

And so, to the reviews--

Mike -

In tribute to the excessive use of the letter Z in Indianapolis bars and restaurants - including two bar/restaurants I'm quite fond of - I will be using the letter Z in the place of the letter S in my review. Let me know if that gets annoying really quick.

I'm not zure whoze idea it waz to revizit Hot Shotz - but I'm zure that it waz a good one. Our bartender, the highly regarded Hanz, treated uz very well once again.

Firzt came a zample of Tröegs Nugget Nectar - a beer Hanz pulled from zomewhere behind the bar. Thiz one waz by no meanz bad - but it zeemed like a more watery verzion of Bell's Hopslam - all of the bitter hop bite without the creamy full balance the Hopslam providez. Next up from the zecret zelection waz Highland Tasgall Ale, a beer whoze flavorz were obzcured by the fantaztic BBQ zauce that came with a really great pulled pork zandwich. I don't know what I mizzed here, but that zandwich waz worth it.

Tröegs Nugget Nectar

Highland Tasgall Ale

Finally from beer geek friend Tamre came New Holland's Night Tripper Imperial Stout - with a zweet and punchy noze with notez of pine and rubbing alcohol, and a dead black color, thiz beer provided an aromatic warning that it wazn't to be toyed with. A ton of alcohol on the front faded to pine - with the obviouz coffee and chocolate notez that ztoutz generally provide. Thiz beer reminded me of hard alcohol ztolen from my parentz' ztazh when I waz much younger - overpowering, and not the experience I expected with that firzt zip.

New Holland's Night Tripper Imperial Stout

Alright enough with the Z's already.

And now, finally, we're at the beers for review.

Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine

Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine - A pumpkin-orange colored body supports half a finger of head. A bitter hop bite on the front of the tongue sticks with you in a way that makes the beer seem almost chewy. A hint of apple comes in on the back - but this one is hard to pin down. My notes say "I just don't know". But I did give it a score. 2.5 mugs. I've had other barleywines that I've enjoyed more.

Cantillon Brouscella 1900 Grand Cru

Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru - As I put my nose to the glass something hit me immediately - the smell of Herr's Heinz Ketchup flavored potato chips. The body had an apple cider look with a bit of oil slick for a head. Taking a sip, the ketchup chip element went away, leaving a taste not unlike a sour sweet tart - but without the sweet. Mouthfeel was watery, but upon taking a drink the tongue collapses upon itself. This is a sour black hole of a beer that has it's own gravitational pull and sucks your face in through your mouth.

The last thing I noted was "taste like a doctor's office smells." Looking at my handy wheel o' beer, I'd say this one has a very high astringency.

The question I like to use in ratings is, "Would I buy this again?" - and I think I would as a one-off. I liked it for no particular reason at all - perhaps it was just that it was so different than the usual selections. 3.34 Mugs.

Despite what I suspect may be fairly average scores from the rest of the Knights, before we left Hot Shotz we all noted that we needed to visit more often - once a year isn't nearly enough. We know the beer selection is on point, but the food was really the star of the evening for me.

Gina -

It's always a treat to go to Hot Shotz. The beer selection is always great, the food is delicious, and they have one of the best bartenders in the city to boot (the beloved Hans). The last roundtable was, of course, no exception.

My night started with Jim's current favorite, Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout. The last time the Knights were at Hot Shotz, so long ago, I had the very same beer. I liked it then and I like it now. The intense blueberry aroma is not replicated in the flavor; instead, it is mellow and tres drinkable.

To our surprise and delight, we sampled a couple brews that were brought in by our friends Hans and Tamre. The Tröegs Nugget Nectar was a smooth, highly drinkable IPA and was followed by a Tasgall Scotch Ale from Highland Brewing Company, also good. Tamre brought us some New Holland Night Tripper, an Imperial Stout that was warming and chewy.

For our reviewed beers, the Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru reminded me of apple cider vinegar. The taste was sour at first, but that sourness dissipated and turned dry. I think this would benefit from a pairing of food, fruit or cheese perhaps, yet there was something I couldn’t quite identify that made me return repeatedly to the glass. 3.15 mugs

Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine – This had a complex aroma that initially reminded me of the mango soap in my shower. As it warmed, though, I got bubble gum and fruit in the nose. I can’t say I am a huge fan of barleywines in general and the ones I do like have been aged, so I may like this in a year or so. 2.5 mugs


Being in the midst of the season of Lent and quickly approaching Easter, a word comes to mind:


And believe it or not, beer geeks have a calling to sacrifice themselves for the common good, probably because we have a deep philosophical connection with the centuries of monks, Trappist and otherwise, whose practice of self-denial and sacrifice went hand-in-hand with the production and consumption of those delicious suds we all enjoy.

That is why, for your entertainment and education, we at Hoosier Beer Geek sacrifice our livers and credit scores by consuming as much beer as possible. That’s right: we do it for you, our loyal readers.

In the benevolent brother(and sister)hood of beer geeks, we also tend to sacrifice our stash in order to further spread our gospel of beergeekdom. That is why people like Hans and Tamre share their beers with us, and in some ways, with you as well. As we write about these beers, you get to taste them with your eyes and your mind.

Certainly, this isn’t the best way to “consume” beer. If you want to fully experience the balanced hoppiness of the Tröegs Nugget Nectar (an Amber Ale that pretends to be an IPA), the deep, earthy tones of Highland’s Tasgall Ale (a Scotch ale that is more than a wee heavy), or the schizophrenic flavor profile and Sammy Terry-like label design of New Holland’s Night Tripper Imperial Stout (chocolate, coffee, malt…all the flavors are invited to this party), you’ll need to procure some bottles for yourself…or really buddy up with some beer geeks.

For me, the sacrifice continues as I sacrificed my taste buds in order to review Cantillon Brouscella 1900 Grand Cru for you. Why I feel the need to continuously taste these lambics, I don’t know. Maybe I’m hoping that someday I’ll magically enjoy these sour concoctions. I had high hopes as the nose was very apple ciderish, but I couldn’t get past the Lemonheads-like reaction that I had to this with each taste. Here is how hard of a time I had with it: I couldn’t finish it. So obviously I didn’t sacrifice myself that much. Perhaps it is the fact that these lambics I’ve tried have been unblended. That Frank Boon Gueuze I had last week was definitely better for me. I will give this beer a 1.0, as I would probably drink this over Chelada. But what kind of personal hell would that be if those were my only two options?

In comparison, the Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine seemed like heaven to me. If lambics are the real champagne of beers, what would that make barleywines? Some sort of red wine, I’d guess. I like red wines. And I am growing very fond of barleywines. Much like red wines, barleywines seem to improve with age. The 2008 has a lot of floral notes that overpower the malty notes. So I’m giving this a 2.75 mug rating right now, with the understanding that this will certainly go up if allowed to age a year or more. If you buy a bottle now, I’d sacrifice time and let it sit in a cellar for a while. You will be rewarded, I am sure.


Ah, the Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru. I thought when I first stuck my nose in the glass that I was in for a sour cider-y brew. What I got when I tasted it was like vinegar. It had a wine-like finish, and I know there's more to this one, but I just couldn't get past the sourness. It reminds me of A-1 in that I couldn't taste it without the lymph nodes in my neck shrieking for mercy. I gave up after wincing through two thirds of it and moved on to the next beer. If you could see me now you'd see me sporting two downward pointed thumbs and blowing a raspberry. Maybe some day I'll appreciate this style, but there are plenty of other styles to explore in the meantime. ¼ mug

Stone's Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine. This I can get excited about. I think that the barleywine style might be growing on me now that I've had a chance to sample a range of them. This one in particular had an interesting blend of hops and caramel. It was bite-y enough (if you'll pardon the stretch I'm going to for this reference) that reminded me of the largest of Homer's opossums who had taken up residence in the monorail. I wasn't as sensitive to the alcohol flavor that some folks mentioned (perhaps due to the super-sour lambic reviewed above), but I certainly felt it, even from this one sample. Of course, I had participated in a ritual bloodletting earlier in the day, which might have something to do with that. 3.3 mugs


As the aggregator of our reviews, I bring up the rear and have very little left to say that hasn't already been said by my compatriots. Consequently, I'll simply supply my ratings--

Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout. We're not officially reviewing this beer, but if we were, I'd give it 4.25 mugs.

Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru - 2.5 mugs.
I have a feeling that this beer would be fantastic with the right food pairing.

Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine - 2.5 mugs.
This sucker needs at least a year of cellaring, if not more.

12 March 2008

Reader Submission | My First Beer by Mark Mitchell

As part of our new My First Beer series, we invite you to submit your story for posting to hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com. Today we're honored to post our first reader submitted story. Our thanks go out to Mark Mitchell.

My first beer was actually a "craft" home brew

As a kid growing up in Indiana, every summer vacation we would make our annual pilgrimage to go visit my Grandparents and Great Aunts and Uncles back in Beckley, West Virginia. We would usually try to coincide our visit with visits from My Uncle Jack (my Dad's brother) and Aunt Eleanor's family from Georgia, And my Aunt Nancy (my Dad's sister) and Uncle Jim's family from Maryland, all converging on my "Granny's place" mid to late summer. When we did ALL make it in to visit at the same time my family would stay with my Great Uncle Jack and Great Aunt Madge, who raised my mother in nearby Harper Heights. And every summer part of that visit would be to spend at least one day fishing with my Great Uncle Wilson and Great Aunt Marie (my Granny's sister). They were both avid sports-persons (can you even say sportsmen these days, when it also refers to a woman?), who fished and hunted all the seasonal game available in the mountain state. I had been going out with my Dad and my Uncle Jack on these fishing outings since I was about 8 years old. We would fish various places, below the dam on New River and Flat Rock lake being a couple of my Uncle Wilson's favorites. Days of fishing began early, either out in their john boat or shore fishing. But come mid-day it was time for one of Aunt Marie's famous fishing lunch feasts.

She would always have a basket full of massive sandwiches and either a bowl of her mustard potato salad or her famous coleslaw. She would offer me a root beer while the rest of the "fishermen" drank some of her home made beer in Ball mason quart jars. She grew her own hops, hanging on the trellis off the back porch of the old family home on top of the mountain above Beaver, WV, and made a batch of beer each summer just for these special occasions. After 2-3 years of participating in this ritual mid-day feast I began to ask about the beer. It was usually a little cloudy and you could see "stuff" floating in it. But Dad and Uncle Jack always smacked their lips with an appreciative "Ummmm" when they took there first drinks each year. (As an aside, you should know that my Dad and Uncle grew up in a tee-totaling family, Granny didn't approve of "drink" in the house. But in later years she did tolerate my Uncle bringing in a 6-pack occasionally when visiting, and later, the rest of us heathens too.)

Now I do remember specifically, I was 12 years old (this was back in the summer of '64, yes...I'm old) and we were fishing below the dam on New River that day. We already had a good stringer of yellow mud cats waiting for that evenings usual fish fry at my "Granny's place". We had pulled the boat in to a rocky bank and were preparing to indulge in yet another one of Aunt Marie's fisherman's feasts. As the food was being distributed I noted a series of nods between my Uncle Wilson, Aunt Marie, and my Dad, but had no clue. When she went to the cooler, expecting to be handed my usual root beer, I instead received a cold mason jar, just like my Dad's. It was full of a lightly clouded and particulate laden golden yellow elixir. I asked my Dad, "Really ?" and he just nodded. Aunt Marie cautioned me to be sure to tip it slow and to drink it through my teeth, I didn't want any of the solids to get through. Serious instruction to be heeded, especially when coming from the Great Aunt who made this wondrous brew. With anticipation everyone watched as I carefully unscrewed the Ball jar lid and ever so slowly (as instructed) tipped the jar up to my pursed lips for that first drink. The ensuing rush of the bitter tang and mellow smoothness twisted my lips, widened my eyes and put a mile on my face as I smacked my lips and let out the obligatory "Ummmmm" to jovial laughter and a pat on my back from my Uncle Jack. I had joined the ranks of "the fishermen" with that first swallow. I continued to nurse the beverage with my summer sausage, tomato, and lettuce sandwich, with some of Aunt Marie's mustard potato salad. I don't recall if I actually finished the whole quart that day or not (somehow I doubt it), but I do recall that Uncle Jack laughingly told the story of being the afternoons entertainment that evening at our catfish dinner, much to the chagrin of both my Mother and Granny. I think all the other "fishermen" were in trouble that evening.

From that time on, until I was about 18, and our days of fishing ended with the advance of age and infirmity of my Great Uncle Wilson, and the intrudence of "other" interests of my own, I was a full fledged fisherman on those family outings. Always enjoying Great Aunt Marie's beer, a treasured libation through those years, going from mysteriously forbidden to anxiously anticipated in my youth. That alone made it special. But as my tastes have improved and experience expanded I don't think there will ever be another beer quite a important, or tasty. as those first "Great Aunt Marie's Ball Jar Beers".

11 March 2008

Hops for Pops Needs Help

As you may have noticed before, Dads Inc. (with the help of Hoosier Beer Geek) is throwing a beer festival! Except none of us know how to throw a beer festival.

We're looking for a few great men and women to help us along the way. If you've got any experience with how these things work, we want your input. Please send an email to (Dads Inc. main dude and HBG founder) Chris Maples (maples@dadsinc.org) if you're willing to help. And if you know what you're doing, that's even better.

Ebony and Ivory, live together in perfect harmony...

Sorry for inflicting upon you the lyrics from the worst duet in history.

Charlie from Brugge Beer has this update on where you can find Brugge's Black and White on tap.

Go enjoy...

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Ed Wank geeks up the classic Black and Tan

With St. Patrick's Day quickly approaching (and the Beer Geek's St. Patrick's Day at Deano's Vino approaching even more quickly), it seemed like a good time to look at other traditions commonly associated with St. Patrick's Day and how we can geek them up a bit. Guest blogger Ed Wank takes a look at how a beer geek can get their black & tan on...

Greetings, fellow Beer Geeks! Wank here from ‘The Wank & O’Brien Show’, mornings on 97.1 HANK-FM. Listeners of the show or readers of the sadly-now-defunct ‘Indy Men’s Magazine’ might’ve noticed that I’m a micro/craft/import beer geek myself, hence my sudden appearance on the site as a guest blogger.

With Saint Paddy’s day mere moments away, and as if you NEEDED another excuse to quaff a pint, might I suggest a spin on the classic Black & Tan? The basic model is, for my money, one of the finest inventions ever to come out of, er, Britain. It’s not an Irish delicacy, although I’d consider it something of a sacrilege to float any other dark beer besides Guinness on top of a pale or bitter draw.

The name itself has been applied to coonhounds and Irish paramilitary troops from the early part of the 20th century, but most Yanks apply the moniker to a draught of Harp or Bass Ale with Ireland’s most famous stout drizzled atop to cascade gently down into the paler brew. Physics and appearance are not congruous in the Black and Tan – dark stout is, of course, in reality less dense that the lighter draw that lies beneath, hence the division of color in the middle of the pint.

For years I’d ordered Bass on the bottom and Guinness on top, since the Ale gave my personal palate a more satisfying finish than Harp. A few months back on a winter night at Binkley’s, a new inspiration suddenly struck. My tastebuds couldn’t make up their minds between a creamy Guinness or a snappy, Cascade-crisp Sierra Nevada. So I ordered a Sierra and Guinness Black and Tan.

The barmaid’s reaction belied the fact that I’d not been the first to propose this blend. The result was decent, but still a little thin on the finish. My second order put a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale in the lower half of the glass. Boom! This one ranked a ten on a scale of one through five. Further experimentations have led me to drop Three Floyd’s Alpha Kings (thank, you Munster, Indiana!) and Delaware’s Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA below the most famous of the Emerald Isles, both equally tasty experiments.

The results of layering the world’s most famous stout over any of these burly US micro-ales is downright symphonic: the gentle, almost mocha-tinged notes of the stout giving way to a crescendo of carbonation, hops, bitterness and body. Of all the combinations, though, the most satisfying had to be my second order: Kalamazoo’s Two Hearted with Vitamin G drizzled on top. My requested 60-40 mix of Michigan to Ireland made for the perfect Americanization of a drink from across the pond. Good medicine to steel oneself against an onslaught of snakes. Cheers!

Schlafly Repeal of Prohibition Beer Festival - April 12

Speaking of getting Schlafly Beers, I learned about a very cool event coming to Schlafly's Taproom in St. Louis while visiting Friday night. On April 12, between noon and 5pm is the Repeal of Prohibition Beer Festival. And why should this interest you, Indiana beer lover? Well it will not only have Schlafly's fine selection, but also local favorites including New Albanian, Mad Anthony and Brugge Brasserie/Wabash Valley. All in all, over 20 different styles will be available for unlimited sampling, plus you get a commemorative tasting glass. Check out Schlafly's site for more details.

10 March 2008

Hey, where can I get that? | Schlafly Beer

I think that Mike and Jason have already done a top drawer job with their take on AleFest Indy, so I won't rehash what they said other than to note that I had a great time as well. I also have to say that I find it encouraging to see so many women showing up at these events. It's great to know that Kelly and Gina have a lot of company in their love of craft beers and that being a beer geek is no longer the sole province of dudes.

There is, however, one loose end that needs to be tied up here regarding AleFest. We received one question many times that we couldn't answer with certainty: "Where can I get Schlafly Beer in Indianapolis?" Here's your answer from Scott Shreffler of Schlafly:
Kahn's is a great answer for where to find our beer. Many United Package Liquors and Crown Liquors stores also carry us. As for non-chain accounts in Indy, Brandywine Liquors, The Hop Shop and Vine and Table also carry us.
For more information on these vendors--

Kahn's Fine Wines
The Hop Shop
Vine & Table
Brandywine Liquors
United Package Liquors
Crown Liquors

AleFest Indianapolis | Mike's Notes

As part of our massive conspiracy and plot against all things good in the world, Jim, Jason and myself headed down (or up) to the Murat Saturday to volunteer for AleFest Indianapolis.

When we arrived we were given direction by AleFest's organizer, Mr. Joe Waizmann. The rules for volunteers were as follows:

1) Make sure you have a server's license
2) Make sure you take tickets
3) Pour to the top of the logo on the glass

He then said thanks, told us there would be free beer afterwards, and left us to our own devices.

We took a look around the room, and decided it best that we serve from the Schlafly table - a beer we're fairly familiar with, and a brewery that has sent the Hoosier Beer Geeks free beer before.

Schafly was a good choice. The nine varieties of beer (Pale Ale, American Pale Ale, No. 15, Unfiltered Wheat Hefeweizen, Extra Irish Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Coffee Stout, Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout, and Oak Aged Barleywine) provided plenty of choice for anyone, and allowed us plenty of options when pouring our own.

A few thoughts:

1) It was really great to hear from our readers - your compliments are greatly appreciated, and it's really good to know that people are reading and enjoying the site. We hope to keep the good work going.

2) While I'm sure the ticket method makes the lawyers happy, it's not very effective. While we were sure to take tickets for every drink we poured, there were more than enough spare tickets to be found on the floor throughout the room. If you were desperate enough, all you had to do is look down.

3) There was more than enough variety in the beers through the room, but (despite the fact that they're not all distributed by World Class Beverages) it would have been nice to see more members of the Brewers of Indiana Guild at the fest. I'm sure that's up to World Class, though.

Of course this was the first time for this event, and it's bound to be better next year. I would seriously doubt that anyone left unhappy. I know I saw plenty of people that were perhaps a little too happy.

My last note: When the six o'clock hour rolled around, I made my way to the restroom, where I overheard the following conversation while waiting for a urinal.
Guy #1: "Is yours yellow?"

Guy #2: "Mine's yellow."

Guy #3: "Yeah, mine too."

Guy #1: "Well, we were drinking that good shit. That wasn't Miller Light."
No, it wasn't.

09 March 2008

My First Beer | Jim's story

We strive to provide you with variety and novelty here at Hoosier Beer Geek. Consequently, we now offer you a new HBG feature, "My First Beer." In our My First Beer series, we'll each provide you with a tale of two beers--the story of our first beers and the story of our first craft beers. And because we love our readers, we invite you to submit your My First Beer story for posting to hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com. Stories including debauchery are a plus (sorry to disappoint you, but my stories don't include any of that).

On with the show...

My First Beer

"Here. Try this."

This was my father speaking, and I was 12 years old. While 12 is young for someone to try beer for the first time, it was not unusual in my family because I grew up being invited by my parents to have a nip of something during big family meals, especially at holidays. From the time I was 10, I was used to having a small splash of wine or a little champagne at Thanksgiving and New Years. It didn't hurt that my great grandfather had been a bootlegger during the Great Depression and was still making some sweet red table wine when I was a kid.

But my dad's offer was unusual because it didn't occur during a holiday. There Dad was out on the deck, barbecuing some steaks on a summer evening, holding a Stroh's in his hand.

"Take a sip," he said as he held out the can of lager to me--the vintage tan-colored can, not the late-model blue one.

Hesitantly, I took the beer from him and sipped. The first thing registering in my mind was "putrid wheat." My face crinkled in disgust. It was the same face that bar/bat mitzvah kids make when they take their first slug of kosher wine after reciting the kiddush.

"That happens to everyone the first time," he said. "Try it again. You'll get used to it."

Frowning, I raised the can to my lips once more. I managed to suppress the strong urge to make "the face" a second time, but my taste buds were still reeling. I thought that if someone had soaked a loaf of bread in some rubbing alcohol and then squeezed out the "bread juice," this is what it would taste like.

"What do you think?"

"I don't think I'll ever want that stuff again," I answered, clearly demonstrating my utter lack of clairvoyance. But then again, I was only 12.

My First Craft Beer


The craft beer industry was in its infancy, and I was in graduate school in The Region, my boyhood home and, at present day, the location of two fine breweries. Mom, God bless her soul, knew about this wonderful restaurant in Chicago that happened to brew its own beer. She wanted to know if I wished to head up there with her (yes, parental influence again). I was always eager to venture into the city, and I was in sore need of a break from my studies, so I took her up on the offer.

The restaurant/brewery was a fairly new place at the time (three years old). According to Mom, it was called Goose Island and was located on the Clybourn Corridor, a section of Lincoln Park that was going through a gentrification phase.

So, on a warm Saturday night that summer, we headed up the lakeshore to see what this place was about. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. By this time, I had developed a taste for beer (of course), largely due to my college days of drinking the classic American macrobrewery swill. But a few of my college friends and I were a little more adventurous than that, occasionally indulging in the limited number of imports that were available in the late 1980s, including Grolsch, St. Pauli Girl, and Guinness Extra Stout.

I suppose I expected to drink beers at Goose Island that were a lot like these imports. Once we arrived and were seated, we went right for the beer sampler tray. If memory serves me well, here was the lineup of the sampler tray--

Lincoln Park Lager
Honkers Ale
Hex Nut Brown
Oatmeal Stout

There were five of us, so each one of us took a sampler. Because it looked to be the most radical of all of the samples, I grabbed the Oatmeal Stout before anyone had a chance. I wanted to challenge myself right away.

I was in love after my first sip. I was expecting a beer much like the Guinness Extra Stout, but this was richer, not as dry, more like coffee and chocolate, and slightly sweet. I was already developing a one-track mind for malty beers because I didn't even try the others, and when the server returned to the table, I ordered a pint of the Oatmeal Stout, savoring it all the way to the bottom of the glass. The experience was similar to a first kiss--thrilling in its newness, leaving an indelible mark that colors my taste in beers to this very day.


Speaking of that indelible mark, a recommendation--please, please, please head up to Hot Shotz and get a pint (or two, or three) of Dark Horse's Tres Blueberry Stout while it's still on tap. I was skeptical about this beer because I don't think fruit and stouts mix all that well; however, the Tres is quite a notable exception to this rule (another notable exception: New Albanian's Thunderfoot Cherry Imperial Stout). The nose is full-on blueberry scone, and the dark chocolate flavor is enhanced, not overwhelmed, by the berries. Truly awesome stuff!

07 March 2008

It's Hoosier Beer Geek Reader Participation Weekend

Hello, audience* of 130+, I've got a question for you. What's your favorite beer?

*This means you too, RSS or email subscriber.

04 March 2008

How it works: AleFest Indy

We've been running an ad for the past couple weeks about this Saturday's AleFest Indy - "A charitable craft beer festival showcasing the finest beer styles in the world." You might be wondering exactly what "charitable craft beer festival" means: Who's running the show? Who's benefiting? How much is going to the charity? And why the limit on samples?

With those questions in mind, I contacted our inside guy - World Class Beverages' Bob Mack - who was happy to provide us with some answers.

Who's running the show?
Ale Fest is organized by a long time home brewer and beer business veteran from Dayton, Ohio, Joe Waizmann. Joe has been an advocate of great beer his entire life and when he says that his mission with Ale Fest is to promote great beer, he’s very sincere about that. He’s worked for years as a representative for Merchant du Vin, perhaps the premier beer importer in the United States and importer of beers like Samuel Smith, Ayinger, Rochefort, Westmalle, Orval and many others. In short, Joe has some serious credentials and is very, very sincere about promoting great beer.
Who's benefiting?
The charitable beneficiary of this event is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), Indianapolis chapter. LLS has been a part of many beer related events and World Class Beverages, Monarch Beverage Company and the Brewers of Indiana Guild all have a working relationship with them. Joe Waizmann will donate a portion of each ticket sold to LLS so the overall amount of the donation is based on attendance at the event. The percentage of the donation will be about 5% of the revenue. It some respects, that seems a small number but it is pretty typical of amounts involved in charitable contributions for this sort of thing and we do not ask anything of LLS in return.

As for the money involved, I have to emphasis that there will be more money spent on this event than is taken in. This is not a profitable event and is being done because World Class Beverages is using this event as a marketing tool for the brands that will be involved. For example, if 500 people attend the event at $30 a piece, that’s $15,000 in revenue. The facility (Murat Centre) will cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of two thirds that amount and advertising/promotion will cost us most of the rest of that amount. Additionally, a huge cost involved in this event will be beer and I would conservatively estimate that it will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7,000 just to supply beer for the event. Add those costs together and you’ll get to $20,000 pretty easily for an event that will bring in $15,000 (with 500 people attending) and you’ll see that there isn’t much money left to go around, particularly after you subtract the money that LLS will receive.

Of course, these are estimates based on attendance levels and some of the overall costs have not yet been identified. And this doesn’t include any time, travel or other expenses that are personally incurred by the people directly involved in the event or the 50 or so volunteers who will be pouring beer at the event. With additional attendance, revenue would increase and that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but we are still a long way from breaking even on this event. But that really isn’t the intention of this event, either.

I’d also like to mention that if it was our sole intention to make money, we’d remove the sample limit because we are aware that some people will not attend the event when there is limited sampling. Money is not the goal of this event, education about great beer is.
Why the limit on samples?
I think it’s important to point out that Ale Fest is not intended to be a “drinking competition” and that some people are rubbed the wrong way anytime that a sample limit is present. But the goal of this event is to promote high quality and often high alcohol beers and for a wide variety of reasons unlimited consumption and high end beers don’t usually go hand in hand. There are still events out there that allow for unlimited sampling and I don’t have anything against those, per se, but there are also many very successful high end beer events that do limit sampling. Limiting samples avoid many insurance and legal issues and it tends to separate these events into more elite, somewhat educational and informative tastings versus drinking competitions where the message of better beer is largely lost in favor of larger volumes of beer. We’re aiming for the former.

We’re very openly promoting the “responsible drinking” nature of the event, so I don’t think that anyone is going to be surprised by this at the event itself. Additionally, the mission of World Class Beverages (which is quoted on the Ale Fest website) is to promote beer knowledge and passion in a responsible fashion, so this is the type of event that we feel fits our purpose.

Special glasses are being designed for the event. They are 6 ounce glasses so you can pretty easily get a 4 ounce + pour into them with foam. Additional samples will be available at an additional cost. But at the 20 sample level, you’re paying almost exactly $4.50 for a 12 ounce serving, which is rather low on the price end for these types of beers. For comparison sake, check out the price of a 12 ounce serving of Ayinger, Chimay, Allagash, etc. at a good bar the next time you’re in. Yes, we’ll have Barley Island, Bell’s and many others that might normally be priced at or below $4.50 for a 12 ounce serving, but many of these beers would run much more. With a 4 ounce sample, you’re also getting just short of 7 - 12 ounce beers and again, at higher alcohol levels, that is not a small amount.

I’m not going to knock anyone else’s beer event, but I think we’ll have a very, very strong beer selection. What other event would you go to taste four of the seven Trappist beers, for example? I think the list of breweries stands on its own.
* * * * *

As for our take - We'd like to think that we're not naive at Hoosier Beer Geek; We understand the World Class is in business to make money. But in dealing with the folks at World Class we've found that they're genuine people who really love beer - they just happen to be lucky enough to make a living dealing with a product they love.

Four of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable (Kelly, Jason, Jim, and Mike) will be in attendance Saturday - in fact, we'll be serving. Stop by and say hi - we'll give you beer.

* * * * *

Thanks KJ

03 March 2008

A very Hoosier Beer Geek St. Patty's

A little while back, we posted a poll asking our readers which sort of beers they'd prefer for St. Patrick's day: Ireland's finest - Guinness, Harp, and Smithwick's - or something a little more "geeked up".

The results came in strongly towards something a little more geeked up (this is Hoosier Beer Geek, after all) and with that in mind we've put together a little something special for our first St. Patrick's celebration.

As you can see from the event poster, we'll be throwing our party Saturday, March 15th at 6 pm at our usual stomping grounds, Deano's Vino. With three American brews that fit the St. Patty's mood - Three Floyds Brian Boru Irish Red, Rogue Brutal Bitter ESB, and Barley Island's Black Majik Java Stout - there's sure to be something tasty enough on tap to get you feeling green.

So come on out and enjoy St. Patrick's with us on Saturday - and leave those watered down old traditional beers for Monday, when you know you've got to work the next day.

First Annual Craft Beer and Fine Food Symposium | Jason's Notes and Grainy Photos

Anyone who lurks around the local foodie blogs and websites know that Chef Neal Brown's L'Explorateur is a well regarded contemporary restaurant that has quickly become a favorite of many. So I was excited to attend the Beer and Food Symposium, not only for the beer dinner, but to experience Chef Neal's culinary creations for the first time.
Not wanting to look like a bunch of rubes, we opted not to bring in the big cameras. But thankfully, my training from being a former CIA operative came in handy as I had my little camera phone with me and took many recon photos of the evening. Including this very grainy photo of who I believe to be Ted Miller of Brugge, who collaborated with Chef Neal on the beer pairings.
I could probably sell this photo to the National Enquirer as a photo of Bigfoot. Damned low lighting!

First Course
Frank Boon Geuze from Belgium's Brouwerij Boon. Gueuze is a beer style that mixes old and new lambics, a common practice that is paralleled in the scotch world. The old lambics provide a well aged flavor while the new provides the bubbles and little extra sour flavors. I'm not big into sour flavors, but this Boon Geuze (which how the brewery spells it) has been my favorite lambic to date. A light champagne aroma with fruit notes, it is still sour to taste.
Rabbit Sausage Meatballs (shown missing a meatball) on a slice of pear with "stinky Italian cheese" and Chimay beer fondue. The meatball had more fattiness than I was expecting, which is a good thing; the flavor is in the fat. The fondue wasn't THAT stinky and had a very deep flavor.

The pairing was inspired by a traditional cooking of rabbit in gueze. The beer cuts through the fat of the meat and cheese; the fat of the food cuts through the sourness of the beer; and the pear works with the fruit notes of the beer to pull it all together.

Second Course
Black from Brugge's Terre Haute brewery. It has a very clean smell with notes of chocolate, fig, raisins and plums. There was a bit of sweetness to the fruit.

It was paired with a trio of oysters, which I don't have a photo of. Because I ate the photo after I ate the oysters. I love oysters. I was excited about this course. I wanted more. So I ate the photo as well. And it was delicious.

But imagine: a small raw oyster on a half shell with a bit of shallots on top sitting on top of a bed of sea salt. To the right of it is a deep fried oyster in a tempura batter with a dab of black caviar on top. And to the right of that a cup of black oyster stew with carrots, celery, and onions in a velvety soup with a dash of Black.

Oysters, mussels, and dark beers are a traditional combinations. Ted explained that they were brought together by the use of oyster shells in the process of buffer the pH of the water in preparation for brewing. Ted is a regular Bill Nye of the brewing arts. The saltiness of the oysters cut through the roastiness of the Black, giving way to the beer's dried fruitiness, which paired well with the oysters.

Third Course
Krusovice Imperial Czech Lager from the Kralovsky Pivovar Krusovice (or the Royal Brewery of Krusovice...which is why "Imperial" is in the name). Classified as a Czech Pilsner at Beer Advocate, this is what Budweiser and other domestic mass produced American beers should taste like. A very light beer, it has some light fruity notes, making is like a watery lambic without the sour notes. This could be a regular summer beer for me.
Chef Neal prepared a loup de mere, which was pan fried with the skin side down. For presentation purposes, the fish was sliced, serving the crispy skin on top of, but separate from, the moist meat, which caused Chris to ask if he was actually eating two different fishes. But serving them apart like this emphasized the different ways of preparing the fish. They sat on top of asparagus and a beautiful buttery sauce. The fish was topped with a crab salad that could stand to be served on it's own on a crusty roll. It was topped with a piece of popcorn.

This was an interesting pairing, in that half of the geeks said the malt of the beer came out more with the fish dish and the other half felt the fruit flavors came popping out of the beer. I sided with the latter, making them right. We discussed what other beers would go well with this dish. Many were suggested: lambics, IPA's, German wheats. I suggested a dark beer, like the Brugge Black, which pairs well with the saltiness of the fish and crab. Ted and Broad Ripple Brewpub's Kevin agreed with me; smart move on their part.

I'm such a cocky bastard...

Course Four
Ankle Biter Barleywine from Broad Ripple Brewpub. Tasting this, I though of Rice Krispies, not because of the cereal, but because of the ton of the sugar I would throw on it before eating it. The barleywine has a sweet, fruitty, and floral aroma. It tasted of caramel and butterscotch and was so, so smooth. My favorite stand alone beer of the night.
It was paired with leg of lamb, covered in curried, cooked rare, served of a bed of lentils and a tomato sauce. This dish brought out the carnivore in me. I love curry. I love meat. And I loved the tomato sauce served with this. After discussing the protocol of manners in a fine dining establishment, everyone agreed that since this is a beer dinner, and beer is the drink of the common man, it was more than appropriate to pick up the lamb bone and gnaw the remaining tidbits of meaty goodness of it.

This was a bold and challenging pairing, which Ted gave all the credit to Neal on this one. Most think IPA or other strong spiced beers to go with curry. But instead of complimenting, they fight for your attention. In this pairing, the beer brings out the complexity of the food's spices and the food deepens the caramel flavor of the beer. Neal added to the marriage of beer and food by using currants in his dish to further compliment the beer. By far, this pairing was the most successful of the night in spite of the degree of difficulty.

Course Five
Tripel de Ripple from Brugge. At this point, we are all having a great time and are a bit silly. All we could say about this beer "This shit is Bananas! B! A! N! A! N! A! S!". Apologies if the song is now stuck in your head.
Banana Pot Creme. Banana Creme covered with chocolate, topped with whip cream and a graham cracker. I'm thinking Boston Cream Pie deconstructed.

This is a pretty easy pairing, though oddly enough, the dessert cut the banana flavor of the beer and brought out the other fruit and spices of this wonderfully intoxicating Tripel.

At first, the $65 may seem like much. But I'm telling you, it was a BARGAIN! This is, by far, the finest complete meal that I have ever had, with each course bettering the one that came before it. Chef Neal and Ted are brilliant yet approachable guys who are happy to talk about their thoughts and answer questions.

Over the course of the evening, I felt as if I were a judge on Bravo's Top Chef. Every course was beautifully presented. Descriptions were given by our hosts. And we carefully dissected and discussed what we were consuming. If all of Neal's dishes are like these, then it is no wonder that L'Explorateur is frequently discussed by the local foodies.

Immediately, I asked if we really had to wait a whole year for this experience to happen again. For all of you who didn't attend, you missed out on a great experience. And while I'm certain that next year they will try to be better than this year, they have a tough task ahead of them, as this was spectacular.

02 March 2008

First Annual Craft Beer and Fine Food Symposium | Gina's Notes

No words could properly express just how great I thought the dinner was provided by Chef Neal at L'ex. The food along with the beer chosen by Ted was in spectacular combinations. To say the least, I was blown away.

Each course outdid the one before, which was impressive considering the first course of rabbit sausage meatballs and stinky fondue was already better than just about anything else I've ever tried. I've already found myself daydreaming of the velvety oyster stew and Shannon wasn't the only gal that Wednesday night wanting to gnaw on the bone of the curry lamb. By the time dessert arrived, there weren't many conversational exchanges, just oohs and mmm's.

I am so happy and so grateful that Chef Neal and Ted took this opportunity to this food/beer pairing menu. It was amazing and I really can't wait to do it again.