30 June 2008

It was fun, but I'm glad that's over with

Saturday, 10:35 AM, Somewhere on Interstate 465:

A phone rings.

"Did you hear the news?"

"No, Chris... what?"

"Hot Shotz burned down last night."

"Oh come on."


"You're serious?"

"Yeah, Bob Mack called me this morning."

"Okaaaay.... see you there."

"I'm at the storage shed, we'll be there shortly."

11:40 AM, Outlots of the burned out Hot Shotz, 96th and Gray Road

A few Knights of the Beer Roundtable stand under a tent, setting up tables.

"Go figure he tells us to get here at 11 and Chris isn't here yet."

I dial Chris up on his phone.

"Hey, I've got some good news."


"I just saved a bunch of money on car insurance. Where are you?"

"I'll be there in a minute."

"I'm getting lunch."

3:00 PM

Six men are standing in a circle, holding vinyl signs, some rope, duct tape, and a knife

"I think we can just tape it to the rope."

3:30 PM

"Our power just went out."

"Maybe we shouldn't have everything plugged in right next to the water spout?"

4:00 PM

"Now what?"

"I'm drinking."

6:00 PM

"Buy a raffle ticket. That bottle of beer is like $70 on Ebay. But if you sell it there I'm going to kill you."


7:00 PM

"Chris, I'm surprised you were able to pull off this many brewers this late. Especially with Brew Ha Ha last week..."

"Well, I dropped Hoosier Beer Geek a lot. I think that helped."

"Well I hope they're happy.."

8:30 PM

"Can I have some of that beer?"

"You know what? We've been closed for a half hour, you won a trip to Great American Beer Fest... I think you did well enough today. We're done serving."

"Ok, I'll just drink the bottle in my pocket."

8:45 PM

"Chris, you need anything?"

"I think we're good."


* * * * *

I was lazy all day Sunday, so pictures we'll have pictures here tomorrow. Bob Ostrander from Indiana Beer has a few, including some of the fire damage at Hot Shotz.

For those of you that attended, thank you. We'd love to hear whatever comments or suggestions you have.

27 June 2008

Final Hops for Pops Beer List

If I don't post this, Maples has me killed.

Well, Hops for Pops is tomorrow, 4-8pm, on the outlots of Hot Shotz (96th and Gray Road, Indianapolis). Will it be an overwhelming success? An underattended money pit? Somewhere in the middle? Might I be sporting a mustache? SHOW UP AND FIND OUT.

Today's the last day to get discounted tickets, so if that's something you're interested in, click here. They're $30 today, $40 tomorrow.

And here's the as close as we're gonna get to final beer list - lots of interesting and new stuff in there, so I think there's definitely something for everyone.

Weihenstephaner Dunkel
Gaffel Kolsch
Founders Red’s Rye
Stone Ruination IPA
Mad Anthony Old Woody Pale Ale
Boulder Beer Mojo IPA
Sea Dog Blue Paw Berry
Berghoff Dark Ale
Pizza Beer
Original Sin Cider
Celis White
Mad River Steel Head Porter
Fort Collins Pomegranate Wheat
Achouffe Houblon
Clipper City Organic Raspberry Wheat
Butte Creek Organic Pale Ale
Lake Front Fuel Café Stout
Coney Island Albino Python
Breckenridge Summerbright
Corsendonk Apple White

Cannonball Porter
Hazy Days Wheat
Gangster Pale
Harvest Amber

Bell’s Oberon
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Flying Dog Woody White
Avery Collaboration Not Litigation
Victory Prima Pils
Victory Hop Devil
Victory Golden Monkey
Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
Dinkelacker Pils
Wyder’s Pear Cider
Franziskaner Hefe-weisse
Buffalo Bills Orange Blossom Cream Ale

Sheet Metal Blonde
Dirty Helen Brown
Barfly IPA
Count Hopula Double IPA

Preservation Pilsner

Tripel de Ripple

Pale Ale
Dry-Hopped APA
Number 15
Export IPA
Raspberry Hefeweizen

T-6 Red Ale
Mustang Gold Ale
Thunderbolt Wheat
Warhawk Pale Ale

Old Ben Brown
Elwood’s IPA

Razz Wheat
Gnaw Bone Pale Ale
Alabaster Belgian Witbier
Indiana Amber

Elector Imperial Red Ale

India Pale Ale
Lawn Mower Pale Ale

Sugar Creek Pale Ale

Hoppin’ Frog Mean Manalishi Double IPA
Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA
Dogfish Head Aprihop
Coney Island Lager
Jever Pilsener

Hope to see everyone tomorrow.

26 June 2008

Beer Diary #9 - Jim | Puckering up with Sour Ales at the Hopleaf Bar

22 June 2008
The Hopleaf Bar
5148 N. Clark St.
Chicago, Illinois

On vacation in the Andersonville neighborhood on Chicago's north side.

Before I proceed with the rest of this beer diary, I'm going to gush about the nabe for a moment. Judging by our three-day trip, I can say this about Andersonville: if ever a perfect neighborhood was created, Andersonville is it. Well, perhaps close to perfect, if not for Chicago's notoriously crummy weather come the winter months. This neighborhood has nearly everything a city-dweller could desire--an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse population, beautiful turn-of-the-last-century architecture, cozy tree-lined residential streets, close proximity to the beach, and a killer collection of independent bars, shops, and restaurants. Consequently, we were really, really sad to come home. This is not to say that our home sweet home, Meridian Park, doesn't have its charm or that we dislike living here. It's just...well, it's just not a Chicago neighborhood, is it?

After checking in to our B&B (which we highly recommend, by the way), we headed down to North Clark Street and made a beeline for The Hopleaf Bar with its amazing variety of Belgian beers on tap. At 5:00 on a Sunday evening, the Hopleaf was already getting crowded as Andersonville's regulars grabbed a booth, table, or barstool to relax and drink a few. The patrons reminded me of the variety of people you might see at the Rathskeller biergarten--young and old, guys and gals, straight and gay, hipsters and the Dockers crowd, and, above all, laid-back beer drinkers. In short, it was a very diverse group that seemed to have no pretentiousness.

We sat at the bar right next to the servers' station and ordered. My first move was for the beer I'd heard so much about but had yet to try--

Rodenbach Grand Cru. A Flanders Red Ale, served in a tulip glass. Had a beautiful reddish brown color. Nose exhibited oak, apples, and cherries. Mouthfeel was crisp. Flavor was slightly tart, again with notes of oak, apples, and cherries. In addition, I detected a hint of vanilla. An absolute stunner of a beer. Must get a bottle of this from Kahn's ASAP.

As I sipped the Rodenbach Grand Cru and the Lovely Redhead enjoyed her vodka tonic, I took note of the beers that were popular with the other patrons. From what I was able to observe, the bartender was pouring a lot of the following: Delirium Tremens, Leffe Blonde, Saison DuPont, and the most popular, the oddly-named Kwak. Each Kwak was poured in a special "Kwak glass," which was a beaker-looking thing mounted on a wooden handle, much like the yards and half-yards they used to pour at the Irish Lion. I contemplated ordering a Kwak, but I was in a sour ale mood, so my next choice was--

Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus. A Lambic fermented with raspberries. Served in a tulip glass. Poured with a pinkish red color and a pink, fizzy head. Strong nose of raspberries and vinegar. Had a strikingly sharp mouthfeel and a predominantly sour flavor with notes of raspberry and cherry. True to form with all the Cantillon ales I've tried--very, very tart and refreshing.

With that, we decided to take a walk to absorb the night life as it bubbled up along Clark Street.

23 June 2008
The Hopleaf Bar

Our return trip to the Hopleaf Bar for a nightcap. I was still in the mood for sour beers--yes, I have a one-track mind--so I went for an Oud Beersel Framboise. To be brief, it had much the same color, mouthfeel, and flavor as the Rose de Gambrinus. However, there was more sweetness backing up the tartness of this Lambic. In addition, an oak-like character came through in the nose and the taste more prevalently for this beer. On comparison to the Rose de Gambrinus, I can say that I liked this Lambic a little better, but I have a bit of a sweet tooth.

I know that a number of readers have already been to the Hopleaf, and they can vouch for the quality of the beer selection as well as I can. I'm sure they'd join me in encouraging the rest of you who haven't yet been there to drop by if you're ever in Chicago. Not only will you be greatly pleased with the beer selection, but you'll get to hang out in a great neighborhood with a mellow crowd as well.

A Very Special Random Beer Roundup

Adding "A Very Special" to anything automatically increases interest 100%. Be sure to check out A Very Special Hops for Pops this weekend.

If only there were some sort of prize for something like this..

It's not drinking, it's celebrating Indiana
- The Brewers of Indiana Guild* has posted a calendar up for Indiana Beer Week (July 10-19, 2008). Of special interest might be the cross-tapping of beers throughout Indianapolis (starting Monday, July 14th):

Alcatraz Brewing will have Half Moon Honey Rye
Barley Island Brewing will have Three Floyds Gumballhead and Warbird Shanty Irish
Broad Ripple Brewpub will have Lafayette Brewing Tippecanoe Common
Brugge Brasserie will have Half Moon Honey Rye, Mad Anthony Cream Stout, New Albanian St. Radegund's English Pale Ale and Three Floyds Alpha Naught (in the upstairs addition, opening Saturday July 12 (you guys are absolutely sure, right?))
Ram Restaurant and Brewery will have Turoni's Main Street Helles Bock (anyone got any idea on this beer?)
Spencer's Stadium Tavern will have Shoreline Beltaine Scottish Ale and New Albanian Community Dark

For those of you in Columbus, Power House Brewing will have Brass Monkey Green Tea Pale Ale on tap starting Monday July 14th - this is a tasty and interesting beer, so get it while it lasts.

Also of note is a post beer week (Thursday, July 24th) Indiana Replicale Face-off at Spencer's Stadium Tavern Indy. We're going to make a concerted effort to attend.

For all the Indiana Beer Week details, click here to visit their overwhelmingly eventful calendar.

* * * * *

If somehow you missed the INBEV/Budweiser takeover news, don't worry about Budweiser.. Schlafly is attempting to buy INBEV. (Hat tip, StlHops.)

Of note is that if the INBEV thing goes through, and with MillerCoors actually owned by a South African company, Sam Adams will become the largest American brewery. So I guess that makes Boston Lager "The Great American Lager". Next time someone gives you crap about your choice of craft beer over the Big Two, ask them what they have against George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, Glenn Danzig, Hacksaw Jim Dugan, (vintage) Jenna Jameson and Big Bird (all great Americans).

* * * * *

*Not to be confused with the Brewers Guild of Indiana or the Indiana Guild of Brewers or the Guilded Brewers of Indiana

24 June 2008

More Hops for Pops Details

If you've had enough of the constant Hops for Pops news feel free to drop us a line - I promise none of us will be offended. But in the meantime, he's some more details:

Here is the list of what we will be pouring at the event this Saturday.

Hops for Pops tasting:

Jocky Box 1
Weihenstephaner Dunkel
Gaffel Kolsch

Jocky Box 2
Founders Red’s Rye
Stone Ruination IPA

Jocky Box 3
Mad Anthony Old Woody Pale Ale
Boulder Beer Mojo IPA

Jocky Box 4
Sea Dog Blue Paw Berry
Berghoff Dark Ale

Pizza Beer
Original Sin Cider
Celis White
Mad River Steel Head Porter
Fort Collins Pomegranate Wheat
Achouffe Houblon
Clipper City Organic Raspberry Wheat
Butte Creek Organic Pale Ale
Lake Front Fuel Café Stout
Coney Island Albino Python
Breckenridge Summerbright
Corsendonk Apple White

Greg Blackman
Sales Manager
Cavalier Distributing, IN

Here are the beers I’d like to pour on Saturday. I’ll try to scrape up a surprise or two by Saturday also.

Cannonball Porter, Hazy Days Wheat, Gangster Pale, Harvest Amber

Bell’s Oberon, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Flying Dog Woody White, Avery Collaboration Not Litigation

Victory Prima Pils, Victory Hop Devil, Victory Golden Monkey, Atwater Vanilla Java Porter

Dinkelacker Pils, Wyder’s Pear Cider, Franziskaner Hefe-weisse, Buffalo Bills Orange Blossom Cream Ale

Bob Mack
World Class Beverages
2007 GABF "Craft Distributor of the Year"
I think of particular interest to the veterans of the craft beer game may be the inclusion of 90 Minute (always a favorite) and a nice lineup of Victory's beers, which are new to Indiana.

We really are doing our best to put on a heck of an event, so we hope to see you there.

23 June 2008

Hops for Pops Brewery List and Your Weekend Recap - Open Post

Last week I mentioned posting a brewery list for Hops for Pops. I'm pretty sure Chris Maples did ALL the legwork on this, and he's done a pretty nice job of putting together a list of Indiana's heavy hitters with a special St. Louis guest:

New Albanian
Rock Bottom - Downtown
Half Moon
Barley Island
Oaken Barrel
Wabash Valley
Mad Anthony
Broad Ripple Brew Pub

Bluegrass Brewing Company

It's fantastic to see such great support from the Indiana Beer community. Salute!

Chris left this in the comments for those of you reading via email:
"I'm not sure that we're going to be able to get a complete beer list prior to the event, but Cavalier is pouring Mad Anthony, plus some other stuff yet to be determined. Boston Beer will be represented with Sam Adams (not sure of styles, yet) and Twisted Tea. World Class will be pouring Victory's Golden Monkey, Prima Pils, and Hop Devil, plus Wyder's Cider. We have a limited supply of New Albanian's Elector, and when it's gone, it's gone. We still have a couple of breweries to confirm, but I'm guessing we're going to have at least 20 different breweries represented with 40-50 different styles."
In addition, we'll have raffles for a few items including a bottle of 2008 DarkLord (and if the winner sells it on Ebay I'll personally guarantee that I'll have his/her whole family killed). If I'm not mistaken, there will also be some sort of raffle for a package of airline + event tickets for the Great American Beer Fest in Denver in October.

* * * *

Although we ran listings for Friday's Indy Wine and Brew Fest at The Rathskeller and Saturday's Brew-Ha-Ha, there wasn't a large Knight of the Beer Roundtable presence at either event.

Kelly (and Matt?) did volunteer at Brew Ha Ha - but we're wondering if any readers attended either event. Judging from these pictures at Indiana Beer, there were plenty of folks at the Rathskeller event. If so, how'd it go? Any suggestion or comments that might give us ideas or tips for this weekend's Hops for Pops? Did you drink anything spectacular? Anything horrible? Drop us a comment.

20 June 2008

What's That Beer? - Rogue's Japanese Offerings

About couple of months back, Gina and I stopped in at Kahn's Fine Wine and Liquors to get my first look at their expansive beer selection. While browsing the coolers I came across three Rogue beers with Japanese labels.

Perhaps against my better judgement, I bought them blindly. Who knew what I was in for? Could it be something with the smooth polar bear in a pink speedo flavors of Hoppy?

Perhaps something like Namashibori, but without the lingering dog aftertaste?

Or maybe, just maybe, I was in for a taste equal to that of Japan's finest: Donkey! Bier.

I am not seen in this picture because I was taking a Japanese salaryman-like nap on the sidewalk outside the bar.

Truth be told, Japan is developing a craft beer culture. Surely not to be missed is the Great Japan Beer Festival, featuring more than 120 microbrews, and a policy of "All who say 'I love beer' may to join!".

I'm poking fun. But as someone who's visited Japan twice, I've often found it rewarding to pick up random and/or confusing Japanese foodstuffs - you just don't get that level of mystery and surprise in trying new products at a regular supermarket. So I was quite excited by these Rogue offerings.

Look! They've got noodles and a map and everything!

But if you come across these beers, don't buy them for the beer inside. Or I should say, don't buy them specifically for the beer inside. Because these beers aren't anything different than the Rogue styles you can find here in Indiana.

Red Fox Ale
= Rogue American Ale

White Crane Ale = Rogue Oregon Golden Ale

Buckwheat Ale = ?

Rogue does offer two Buckwheat beers - the Morimoto Soba Ale and Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale (I prefer the Black Obi). As to which variety - if either - is in the Japanese labeled bottle, NO ONE CAN BE SURE. It's a Japanese legend.

That's not exactly true. But my limited internet research isn't turning up much.

* * * * *

More on Japanese craft beer at Beerscribe.com

19 June 2008

Johann Gottlieb Heileman is probably looking down at me in a scornful manner






These are things that many beer geeks judge a beer by. It seems straightforward. Based on these criteria, you should be able to judge beers in a consistent manner. But then come the intangibles.






Where you are drinking the beer ...and with whom ...and at what time of day ...and what time of year... all of these have an impact on your senses and your attitude. So how you feel about a beer after you mowed the lawn will differ from the same beer at a football tailgate or at a bar with friends.

That has to be the reason why in a blind taste test, I ranked Hamm's much higher than Old Style, a beer that is near and dear to my heart (yes, I'm a Cubs fan), that I described for Indy.com as having a "funky aftertaste". Compared to the other five beers, I said it has "less nose, but funkier".

I'll probably be ranked with Steve Bartman as all time worst Cubs fans for this Old Style faux pas. They'll never let me into Wrigley again.


Also, be sure to check out Indy.com's writing on Mat Gerdenich and Brian Snider of Cavalier Distributing.

18 June 2008

The Story Behind The Story Behind Hops For Pops

This is long-winded, but please stay with me...

If somehow you weren't aware already, in just a couple weeks the people behind Hoosier Beer Geek will also be among the people behind Hops For Pops. As we've put this together, we've learned that throwing a beer festival isn't as easy as we might have suspected.

Being that this is a first time event, we're sure that there's still some surprises in store. But we're going to do our best to put on a quality event, and we're hoping that people show up. Having said all that, we at Hoosier Beer Geek don't have nearly as much riding on this event as (HBG and Dads Inc. founder) Chris Maples does.

In an effort to gain a little empathy from the general public (and to sell tickets), I sent Chris an email:
If you could do a little storytelling about how the dads inc thing started at whatnot - whatever you're comfortable sharing - a lot less formal than the official statement on the website, I think that'd be nice to include. When we were attempting to distribute posters, most folks wanted to know what Dads Inc is first.

I'm gonna do my best appeal to the sensitivities sort of post and and anything you can add in your story will help. Say something about puppies, too. Girls are really into puppies.

Also if you can have some really old people be in love and then have one of them die and then the other one die like two days later, that gets people really involved emotionally.

Ok i gotta go back to writing my screenplay for On Golden Pond 2.

Chris' response:
Mike asked me to talk about the real and personal reasons behind founding Dads Inc. – and not the vanilla stuff that’s on our website. He also asked me to talk about babies, puppies, butterflies, and old people so that you feel all mushy inside and want to buy a ticket to Hops for Pops to support such a wonderful organization. I’ll try to do that, too.

It all started about 5 years or so ago. I had just gotten married to the wonderful women who I want to grow into old people with. We were talking about having babies and all that fun stuff that, and while I wanted babies, I was scared to death of the thought of becoming a father myself. Why, you ask? I mean, such a classy, confident guy as me shouldn’t have cute little butterflies in his stomach or be afraid of a little thing like fatherhood, right?

But yet I was, and for the same reason that so many other guys are – we didn’t have the best role models on how to be good dads because our dads (while we love them) weren’t the most loving or involved in our lives, and so we didn’t really know how to do it for our kids. Hell, I wasn’t even a good father to the two puppies I had adopted, and eventually gave them away to good homes with people that could take better care of them and be better fathers to them than I knew how to. I knew, however, that my friends and I wanted desperately to be better fathers than those that we had. We just needed the skills and support to get it done. And never wanted to appear inept at a chore as simple as child-rearing, I knew men would jump at the chance to get these skills without looking like a wussy.

I figured that there was surely an organization out there that would have some classes for me to take to get my daddy skills on. I looked far and wide. The only organization I could find (while a very good & worthwhile organization) was one that only catered to a more “traditional” non-profit client – young, uneducated, unemployed, poor, and irresponsible dads. While I was young, the other four didn’t really fit (ok, well, I could be irresponsible at times, but not like to the point of just cutting out of my family’s life). I couldn’t find a single class for a guy like me.

At the same time, I was becoming more aware of and tuned into the negative portrayal of men, and fathers specifically, in mass media. For example, other than Cliff Huxtable, name me one television father of our generation that is portrayed as something other than moronic and completely and utterly inept at parenting. If you can actually name me one, I will name you 15 others that aren’t.

And what about the Robitussin commercials where mom is sick and the whole house goes into chaos because dad doesn’t know how to cook, clean up after himself, dress his kids, or provide for them in any way other than doing his job outside of the house (you know, like what it means to be a grown up)? Approved by Dr. Mom, huh? When was the last time you saw a laundry or house cleaning detergent or grocery store commercial that didn’t have a woman starring in it? I don’t know about you all, but the last time I checked my house, I do a significant amount of laundry, almost all of the grocery shopping, and even a good bit of cleaning the house. Now with a son and another child on the way, I change his diapers and get him ready for day care every morning, and I know how to get him ready for bed every night, and how to calm him when he’s upset. Hell, my wife even makes a lot more money than I do (thank God for that!).

What I’m trying to say is that the traditional gender roles have been shot all to hell, but media hasn’t caught up with that. How is this line of thinking helping to provide young boys with any sense of what it means to be a good man in today’s society? So I also wanted to see an outlet that would set the record straight on modern gender roles and the abilities of fathers and men, and to provide an accurate and balanced picture of today’s man. But again, there was nothing out there.

One of my better traits, I must admit, is that when I see something I don’t like, instead of just bitching about it, I try to change it (note, I’m not saying I don’t bitch about it, too, though). It helped that I was already working in non-profits, so I was used to being poor and living with the pressure that relying on other people’s donations for your salary so wonderfully provides. But I still hadn’t found my calling. Does that make sense? I was passionate about many things, and very socially aware of the problems the less-fortunate face. But I hadn’t found the one thing that I wanted to dedicate the rest of the productive years of my life to. It finally dawned on me one day in late April of 2005 what I needed and wanted to do – start my own non-profit that would help any man, regardless of his income level or his zip code, to be a good dad. I wanted an organization that my friends and I could go to and be welcomed at. After all, the bad stuff about not having an active and involved father in one’s life is the same regardless if you’re rich or poor, black or white. There are drugs, pregnant teenagers, and high school dropouts in Carmel just like there is in Haughville. The environment is different, but the end results are the same – generations of broken lives. And that has to change now.

And that’s exactly what Dads Inc. does. We take fathers who want to provide more for their children than just a rough over their heads, and give them the skills, support, and opportunities they need to be active and positively engaged in the lives of their children. Last year, in our very first year of offering our services, 196 dads took advantage of the opportunities we presented to get better at parenting. That’s double the amount of dads that the experts we consulted with while planning said we could expect in our wildest dreams for our first year. And we’re on track this year to blow that number out of the water. Men want and need this service we provide, and they’re proving it by showing up in herds to things we offer.

Over the last three years, I think Dads Inc. has been able to raise awareness of and promote a good civic conversation on the importance of fathers and the state of fatherhood in our community. Through our Fatherhood Hall of Fame, we highlight and celebrate men who dedicate themselves to being the ideal father – or at least coming as close as possible. We want to raise these men and offer them as examples of what is right and good about dads to our boys and girls so that they have a high standard to strive to meet when becoming adults. This work that Dads Inc. does is not just about changing today, but also about preventing bad tomorrows. We see the work we do today as having a positive impact on generations of families. After all, boys get their example of fathering from their own fathers and girls get their example of what to look for in a man from their fathers. If we make sure they have the right example, then they will model the right example for their kids, who will model the right example for their kids, etc.

As an aside, through my work and study in the field of the fatherhood movement, I started to work much harder at understanding and changing my relationship with my own father. He lives in Kentucky, and so we only see each other a couple of times a year. He’s 65 now, and certainly isn’t getting any younger. I didn’t want to regret not getting to know and understand him better after he passed away when I had the chance to before that horrible day comes. So I decided that during the few times we do get to spend together, I was going to make a very serious effort to learn about his childhood (something he rarely, if ever, spoke to me about), what he was like before I was born, what he was afraid of as a father, what his regrets were, etc. What I’ve learned so far over the last couple of years has dramatically changed the way I view him as a father and our relationship – for the better.

Again highlighting the generational impact of fathering, I discovered that his father, who I only met a handful of times, had untreated and very serious psychological problems and ferociously beat his wife and children regularly. At one point, when my dad was still very young, his father (who was in one of his bouts with his problems) lined very one of his children up outside of their house and threatened to shoot them all with his shotgun. Thankfully, a neighbor came along and stopped it, but I can’t even imagine the scars something like that leaves behind on a little boy’s mind. His father was institutionalized when he was 14, and he left home at 16 to try to better himself, never returning home.

So after coming to understand the example of fathering my dad had, I began to think he actually did a pretty damn good job of being my dad. I’m not saying he was all of a sudden a perfect dad and I’m not making excuses for some of the shortcoming he did have as a father, but I came to see that he probably did the best he could with what he had. It helped me to see how much he did actually love me, even though he didn’t really put it into words so well. Now on every trip to Kentucky, I uncover and learn something new about my dad. We talk more frequently on the phone, and I think we’ve come to understand each other better. I see the affection he shows my son, and how much he enjoys doing it. I have to admit that the little boy in me gets jealous when I see that, not really ever getting a whole lot of it myself when I was that age, but really I’m so happy that he has learned how to show that affection and is getting the chance to now as a grandfather that he didn’t take advantage of as a father.

Now, go buy lots of tickets for Hops for Pops!!
If that doesn't work, we'll have a list of brewers shortly.

17 June 2008

Ménage à Blah

Why Not Try A Threesome?

Those words opened the letter sent to me by the folks behind Miller Light's latest potential product - the Miller Light Brewers Collection. "A triumvirate of craft-style light beers" - each of the beers looks to fill a light craft beer niche by offering fewer calories and carbohydrates than beers with a somewhat similar taste.

The selections: MLBC Amber - a New Belgium Fat Tire doppelganger, MLBC Wheat - a Blue Moon competitor, and MLBC Blonde Ale - a potential Bass Ale replacement.

What's to gain by choosing the Miller Light options? With the amber, a difference of 49 calories and 7.8 carbs per 12 ozs. The wheat saves you 59 calories and 7,4 carbs over Blue Moon. And the Blonde Ale saves you 45 calories and 7.3 carbs over Bass.

In order to give these beers the full and effective test, we drank them in a usual light beer setting - while barbecuing. Comparing the beers to their targets would be the fairest way of reviewing them - but since we're not exactly regular drinkers of any of the target beers - we'll do our best at guessing.


The literature than came with the beer describes the amber: "The color in MLBC Amber comes from specially selected caramel and roasted malts; it offers a mild hop character for a bold yet refreshing flavor." We picked up a metallic zing in the nose, with a watery/corny flavor and a hint of alcohol. My notes also say "blah". So if we're sticking with the threesome theme, and you were hoping "amber" was going to show up wearing this...

Don't be too disappointed when she shows up wearing this:

Does it compare well to Fat Tire? Well considering the low scores (a 2.0 average) we've given Fat Tire before, perhaps it does OK.


Company Line: "The Wheat offers especially appealing flavor dimensions, with a subtle citrus character for a clean, refreshing beer." We got a hint of lemon zest, a light/nothing body, a taste of lemon/corn, and a slightly locker-room nose. So if you're looking at the Blue Moon for a threesome, maybe this is a decent stand-in. Depends what you're into.

Blonde Ale

Surprisingly enough, MLBC Blonde Ale did not make the Brugge glass burst into flames.

Miller (the gigantic multinational monster, not friendly Ted) says:"The Blonde Ale offers a crispness and slight maltiness that's balanced by a recognizable hop aroma." We got a little hop and malt nose, roasted corn flavors, a watery finish, and a lingering antiseptic/footy/paint aftertaste. Having said that, it wasn't undrinkable.

Using google to search for an idea to go with blonde threesome is going to require some private time.

16 June 2008

Aid regarding ales in Andersonville

This weekend, the Lovely Redhead and I are traveling to Chicago for a little R&R. We're eagerly looking forward to this trip, especially because we've decided to stay a little off the beaten path by foregoing accommodations downtown, which is where we usually stay. Instead, we've found a cool little B&B in Andersonville.

Once the center of Chicago's Swedish community, Andersonville is now one of the funkiest and fastest growing neighborhoods in the city. We are amped to explore the independent shops and restaurants that Andersonville is known for. I'm particularly excited about visiting the neighborhood's crown jewel of beer geekdom, The Hopleaf Bar. This bar is a well-known Chicago attraction for beer aficionados, and I'm pretty sure that at least one of our readers has visited (though I can't remember who that is--maybe Rodney or Matt, or both of them).

Anyway, I need some tips on what to drink while I'm there. So, fair readers, if you wouldn't mind, please peruse the draft and bottle menus and give me some suggestions, 'kay? I will be forever in your debt--that is, until I'm able to buy you some Rodenbach Grand Cru when Brugge opens their upper level.

Fancy Snacks with Beer!

We are all aware that twenty dollars does not buy very much, especially at a seafood restaurant. But if you were lucky enough to get a seat for McCormick & Schmicks beer tasting, you soon learned how far a twenty would go. Along with the wonderful pre-dinner appetizers, there were seven (!) different food and beer pairings.


King Salmon with Cumin-Bronzed Tomato Coulis, paired with Brooklyn Brown Ale. McCormick & Schmick's gets off on the right foot with this combination. The Brooklyn Brown has a little more hop bite to it than the typical brown ale. The spiciness of the coulis, when paired with the Brown, reveal the caramel, malt, and chocolate notes of the beer. A well done pairing.

Garlic Herb Grilled Calamari, paired with Bell's Oberon. I've noted before that I'm enamored with the 2008 version of Oberon. It has the perfect mix of spice and sweetness. The pairing of the Oberon with the calamari is good, but not as impressive as the lead-off pairing. The garlic uncovers an aspect of Oberon that I had not noticed before--a touch of butter in the nose. Then again, maybe I am merely getting a whiff of my fingers, which are buttery from the calamari.

Spicy Crawfish Hush Puppies, paired with Barley Island Barfly IPA. It's been awhile since I've had a Barfly. I'd forgotten how good a beer it is, loaded with pineapple and grapefruit goodness. The hush puppies are excellent as well, fried perfectly and covered in a spicy sauce. Unfortunately, the pairing is disappointing. The spice in the sauce and the hop bite of the Barfly cancel each other out.

Shrimp Cocktail, paired with Three Floyds Gumballhead. Just what I've come to expect from Gumballhead--bubblegum, lemon zest, and pineapples in the nose, with beautiful and crisp finish. The pairing with the shrimp is fantastic, with the crispness of the beer mingling well with the brine of the shrimp.

Ahi Tuna and Roasted Red Peppers, paired with Spaten Lager. This is my first sampling of Spaten Lager, and I'm kicking myself for that. A not unpleasant rubbery nose (like an eraser smells) gives way to a light, champagne-like flavor. The tuna is served sashimi style with the red peppers. The tuna is a bit bland, the red peppers sweet. Not an effective pairing with the beer, as the sweetness of the peppers is too similar to the sweetness of the beer.

State Fair Scallops, "Corn Dog" Style, paired with Wabash Valley Hazy Days Wheat. Another first-time beer. The beer has a toasty, bready nose, but is disappointingly weak. The scallops, however, are amazing, served fried in a beer batter. They are tender, buttery, and delicious. The beer, however, is too bland to add anything to the pairing.

Mascerated Berries in Beer and Honey, paired with Duvel. What can you say about Duvel? It's a winner. If this beer weren't such a heavy hitter in terms of ABV, this would be a go to beer for me in the summer. The yeastiness of the beer and the sweetness of the berries pair well.

My favorite pairing of the night: the salmon and the Brooklyn Brown.


We’ve seen beer dinners at brewpubs and beer bars. And local restaurants like L’Explorator and R Bistro have been taking on beer and food pairings. McCormick and Schmick’s, a national seafood chain with a downtown Indianapolis location, was next with an event they called “Fancy Snacks with Beer”. Seven courses of seafood snacks paired with a beer from World Class Beverages.

The first snack was king salmon seasoned with cumin on a spoon with a coulis made with chipotle and tomato. The peppery notes of the food brought out the depth of the Brooklyn Brown, bringing out some of its hidden flavors.

Next course was grilled calamari skewers The head, when is commonly sliced into rings, is sliced flat and skewered. It is grilled with garlic and herbs. It was chewy and peppery with buttery notes that matched up well with the Bell’s Oberon. The Oberon also subdued some of the peppery notes.

Crawfish hush puppies
with a chipotle mayo were passed around. I love hush puppies and these were good. I think they could have used more crawfish. But the mayo was nice. It was matched with a Barley Island Barfly IPA, which I hadn’t had before and must say is really good (we need to visit Barley Island again soon). Independently, the food and beer was good. Together, they were about the same. They didn’t clash, but they didn’t bring out anything in each other either.

A big shrimp swimming in a horseradish and ale cocktail sauce topped with a lemon wedge was a pleasant set of bites. Served in a shot glass, the cocktail sauce was thin, which is contrary to what I’m used to. But the use of ale provided an additional flavor and mellowed out the horseradish. The Three Floyds Gumballhead (which McCormick and Schmick’s has on tap, by the way) matched up with the briny flavors of the shrimp cocktail. The citrus from the lemon was a logical connection to the sweet wheat beer.

My least favorite course was next: ahi tuna wrapped with a roasted red pepper. It didn’t taste bad, but it was underwhelming. Either the pepper overpowered the tuna or this particular piece of tuna was just lacking. I’m thinking the latter. But the light citrus notes of the Spaten beer it was paired up with worked well with the roasted red pepper. I’m thinking of pairing Spaten and shish kabobs.

State Fair Scallops were served next. I’m a huge scallops fan and I find that when restaurants bread and deep fry a scallop, they tend to go cheap, which creates a flavorless and chewy bite. Not so here, as the State Fair Scallops were the highlight of the evening! This scallop on a stick had a crunchy crumb coating and wasn’t overcooked. It was very tender and very tasty. It was served with Dijon mustard. It was paired with a Wabash Valley Hazy Days Wheat, which is a good gateway beer. The beer didn’t get in the way of the food, but the label played into the theme with its picture of a state fair midway (whose state fair? they aren’t telling!).

We finished with berries macerated in beer and honey, paired with Duvel. A no brainer.

This was a nice event that will hopefully occur again, and I recommend it to you all. It is not as thought provoking as the Food and Beer Symposium, but it was still delicious and fun. And at $20, it was an absolute steal!


King Salmon with Brooklyn Brown Ale - This beer began with a pretty hoppy kick to it, but was balanced by the spiciness in the salmon. Quite good, indeed.

Calamari with Bell's Oberon. Something about the Oberon reminded me of bubblegum at first blush. With the calamari, however, the beer took on a more spicy flavor.

Hush Puppies with Barley Island Barfly IPA. I liked them separately, but the spice in both the beer and hush puppy seemed to cancel each other out instead of enhance one another. I think I would have liked to see this paired with the Oberon, where the beer may have enhanced the spice in the hush puppy.

Shrimp Cocktail with Three Floyds Gumballhead. I really enjoyed this pairing. The Gumballhead had a grapefruit and lemon zest essence and it really enhanced the spicy cocktail sauce. The cocktail sauce had a wonderfully intense spice that didn't deaden the palate. I think this was my favorite of the evening.

Ahi Tuna with Spaten Lager. I felt that this pairing somehow missed the mark. The tuna was a beautiful color and tasted great with the pepper, but was bland on its own and with the lager.

Scallops, with Wabash Valley Hazy Days Wheat. The pairing of the scallop and the beer was clean. Neither item overwhelmed the other.

Berries in Beer and Honey with Duvel. This course was a spectacular finish. The Duvel had a sweet and musty Belgian nose and tasted wonderful (of course) with the raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries in the dish.

A great event for an amazing price. I am really glad we had this opportunity to visit McCormick & Schmicks, because without knowing their beer selection, it is likely that I wouldn't have even considered it before. It's really nice to see some of the chain restaurants embracing better beer and trying to learn how to make it work for them. I hope other restaurants in the area see how well this event was received (they were turning people away) and try something themselves.

Return of Random Beer Roundup - And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

Ok - I get stuff like this all the time - basically press releases for new beer and stuff that's just come available around here. Usually I don't do anything with it until we actually get a chance to review the beer - I feel a little weird emailing this stuff out to our subscriber list because it is - basically - advertising. But maybe our readers would like to see more of this kind of thing? If that's the case, let us know with the handy poll located on the right. Thanks - Mike

Firstly, and Urgently - If you like $3.25 pints of Schlafly Export IPA - and I'm guessing you've never had it before, but that shouldn't stop you - J. Gumbo's nee* Badaboomz has a special going on tonight. Free pint glass with purchase.

Inquiring West-Side Minds Want to Know - Because I know there are some of you out there on the west side of Indianapolis looking for someone to throw you a bone, I asked World Class' Bob Mack for a few suggested destinations for the beer seeker.

That’s a good question and sometimes a hard one for me to answer, simply because there are somewhere around 10,000 licensed beer retailers in the state, so I don’t always have a good handle on this.

The west side is tough (I live there!) for good drinking spots. I usually end up downtown or at a local brewery. But a thought or two –

Badaboomz at 4930 Lafayette Road has a nice selection. They are franchised by Mike DeWeese, though the selection is not nearly so good as the old Badaboomz downtown.

My Favorite Cigar at 36 East Main in Brownsburg has a small selection, but it is a very nice environment and they do have Delirium Tremens, Belhaven Scottish, Weihenstephaner and a couple other good beers. I think they might add a beer or two in the near future as well. They have a patio out back that we are going to offer them Delirium umbrellas for. The people are very cool there.

The bar at Stone Creek restaurant in the Metropolis complex (Plainfield) has a nice little selection and a comfortable environment. They have a permanent Bell’s line (Oberon at the moment, I think) and last time I was there a couple of weeks ago they had Arrogant Bastard draft plus some good bottles. The food is good and the bar is open to anyone whether you are eating dinner or not. The people are very friendly as well. At one point not so long ago, they had an Ommegang Hennepin draft line also which I would love for them to get back.

The BW3’s across from Metropolis used to have a Two Hearted draft line and I went there for that reason, but they changed it to Oberon (which I can get anywhere!). They have a few good bottles but it is the routine BW 3’s selection, for the most part.

The Union Jack in Speedway on Crawfordsville Road usually has some good beers and seems to be getting better.

Zydeco in Mooresville has all the Abita line (I rather like Jockamo IPA) and they are usually well priced. It’s a restaurant, but a cool place to stop later in the week for a snack and a beer.

Bob Mack
World Class Beverages
2007 GABF "Craft Distributor of the Year"
As for the smoking or non-smoking policies of the previously listed locations, that I can't help with. I'm guessing My Favorite Cigar is a smoking establishment.

If Jew Couldn't Get Enough of Those He'Brew Beers - Call the pun police.

This from Mat Gerdenich at Cavalier:
We just unloaded our first shipment of the two newest Coney Island Lagers. The Albino Python a White Lager brewed with spices and the Sword Swallower a Steel Hop lager. These two new brews are making their way to the shelves of establishments that sell high quality craft beer. The original Coney Island Lager is already out there.


We also got our last load of Rejewvenator. Half Dopple Bock Half Belgian Dubbel brewed with fig juice.! So you better get this while you can.


Mat Gerdenich
Cavalier Distributing
And this from Jeremy Cowan at He'Brew himself:
yoyo mike-
i'll see you guys in indy july beer fest i hope....here's some new beers in your neck of the woods...yummm!!
take it easy!

Doppelbock, Shmoppelbock...REJEWVENATOR is on the loose!
Half doppelbock, half Belgian-inspired dubbel brewed with nearly 500 gallons of the juice of the sacred Fig. Shmaltz Brewing's first ever harvest to harvest offering....a new HE'BREW Beer season to rejoice. L'Chaim!
Here's what those look like:

To Borrow a Line From Schalfly - It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore - We'll be posting our review of Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast shortly, but in the meantime, if you're looking:
We got some in last week and it is making its way to the usual spots Hop Shop, Party Pack Hots Shotz etc. Nothing else new came in for Mikkeller or Struise but we did jet more Jackie Brown, Black as well as others.

Mat Gerdenich
Cavalier Distributing
I'm a Little Late to This Party - Back in late May, the New York Times - surely your #1 beer review source - did a write-up on bitters - a perfect summer beer. Be careful of people reviewing beers in newspapers. Especially if they're named Jason. Oh yeah. Here's that article.

You May Have Seen the Beer, Now See the Youtube Video: Ladies and Gentlemen, Pizza Beer. Which, by the way, isn't bad at all.

*For a good time, check out the nee entry at wikipedia.

13 June 2008

Mr. HoosierBeerGeek,

I am having a big poker party in late July and want to serve a couple beers that remind me of my undergrad days at Indiana University, but do not taste too horrible. Although I am not a fan of Little Kings, it is my first choice. Got another idea? Thanks in advance for your help.


Gordon, thanks for the inquiry - but first a clarification. There are actually six of us - two ladies and four fellows - that are behind Hoosier Beer Geek. So perhaps your question would be better addressed to "Family HoosierBeerGeek".

On to your question: Although it's hard for us to say what sort of beer you might have drank in your IU days, there's one Bloomington-based brewery that jumps out as an obvious choice - Upland.

Sure, Upland doesn't make the cheap swill that's the typical choice for frugal college drinkers, but (if the address listed on their website is correct) they brew about a mile from the heart of IU's campus. And since your poker party isn't until late July, they're a chance you'll be able to snare some of their newest release - Preservation Pilsner - a beer style that isn't all that far in style from the light hybrid category that Little Kings fit in.

Of course we can't say for sure what you drank "back in the day", but college isn't just about drinking - it's also about learning to make good decisions, right?

10 June 2008

It's not advertising - it's public service.

Just got an email that seems worthy of passing along to the general public:
Sarah to hoosierbeergeek

Hi beer geeks.

I haven't seen this on your blog yet - but maybe it's worth a shout-out? I am pretty much addicted this place, but I'm worried that if more beer lovers don't support it, it won't be around too much longer. Can you help?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael DeWeese
Subject: $2.50 Pints All June At J.Gumbo's

The word is "pissed" if you're having trouble. I was.

Anyone that's into beer has a friend in Mike DeWeese, so we're more than happy to do anything we can to help. $2.50 pints? How can we resist?

09 June 2008

For clarification...

By "Hoosier Beer Geek's Second Anniversary Roundtable", we mean "PARTY OVER HERE!"

Yes, it is a party.

Yes, there will be beer.

Yes, there will be prizes.

Yes, you are all invited.

Yes, we can have 500 posters.

No, we won't help you find your car afterwords.. Chris.

06 June 2008

Announcing Hoosier Beer Geek's Second Anniversary Roundtable

Mark Your Calendar...

The Hoosier Beer Geeks'
Second Anniversary Roundtable

Thursday, August 7th, 2008
at Brugge Brasserie in Broad Ripple
more details to come...,

05 June 2008

KOTBR #48 - Dude, where's Chris' car?

The focus of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable review is Brugge's Tripel de Ripple, a beautiful Belgian that is so smooth that its high alcohol is hidden. Hence, Brugge Brasserie limits you to two Tripels per visit.

On a recent visit, a demonstration in why you get only two Tripels occurred, as we tried to help Knight Emeritus Chris find his car, which he thought was down the street. After half an hour, we discovered that it was, in fact, parked right in front of Brugge.

The rules are there for a reason, people! On with the reviews...

Gina's Review:

On our first visit to review the Tripel, my notes consisted solely of "I love Brugge". I am sad to report that my notes the second time around weren't much better, but that's the beauty of Brugge. There's just something about drinking a pint (or more) there with friends. It's always a good time. As far as the Tripel goes...there is just a hint of citrus-like sweetness with a dry finish.

I think that it's a remarkable thing when a beer can pack a heavy punch alcohol-wise, but still be drinkable enough for almost any palate. 4.39 mugs

Mike's Review:

While testing out a wide variety of Belgian and French style ales at our last meeting at World Class Beverages, our host and generous leader, Bob Mack, brought up that the brewers of Orval - a Belgian Pale - suggest aging the beer in the bottle for six months before serving.

While this isn't the case with all Belgian beers, there does seem to be some thought that aging does the beers a service.

More from Bob:
Jef Versele (now head of Van Steenberge and grandson of Josef van Steenberge) has talked to us a lot about high fermentation beers and aging. He finds that Piraat, for example, is best between six months and eighteen months of age. He and I actually visited Kahn's Fine Wines when he was here in town a couple of years ago and he looked at the date codes on the Piraat bottles checking for the best month of vintage. Knowing that I am a Piraat fan, he was picking them out for me and giving me some Piraat education for my own enjoyment.

Of course, Piraat is bottle conditioned and I expect that the beers are generally devised by recipe to peak after several months since much of Van Steenberge's market is in export to North America and other continents.
What's all that got to do with Brugge's Tripel de Ripple?

Well, I've had the beer at least four times - once during the Indiana Craft Beer and Food Symposium (where you'll see that everyone immediately thought "banana"), once a few months later at Badaboomz (now J. Gumbos), then twice in the past two weeks. What's the difference? The first two times, I got a full-on banana explosion, and would have easily rated the beer at around 4.5 mugs.

But now that now that we're officially rating the beer, I wouldn't go that high. Why? Because the banana has gone away.

Is this an aging thing? Ted has admitted that the Tripel on now is a bit "green". This time around I got a nose of bubblegum, vanilla, apple, a hint of that smokey "beer poured on an open grill" thing... but I really had to go digging to pull banana out. The same elements were there in the taste - apple and a hint of vanilla, but also a lot of grape, butter, biscuit maybe?

But I really liked the banana.

In any case, I'd have to give the beer as we had it this time around 3.5 mugs.

But in being fair I think it's best to average my earlier 4.5 - a score I was pretty sure of then - with my current 3.5. I have a feeling this beer only gets better. 4.00 Mugs

Jim's Review:

Finally...something out of Terre Haute that smells good.

Served in Brugge's trademark goblet. Pours with a cloudy yellow-orange color and a nice white head that dissipates into a fine ring at the edge of the glass. Nose evokes bananas, apples, and a bit of mustiness. Flavor is a wonderful combination of apples, bananas, and spices with a touch of caramel and sourness. Mouthfeel is silky. As the goblet warms, the caramel character of the taste becomes a little more prevalent.

Someone (I think it was Mike) once asked if Ted has ever brewed a bad beer. My answer: Hell no! 4.20 mugs.

Jason's Review:

I leave for my beach vacation in 16 days.

What the hell does that have to do with Tripel de Ripple?

Because a common theme between my notes when drinking this elixir during my past two visits to Brugge Brasserie includes "I smell clams or shellfish" and "I taste salt; something briny". I'm not saying it stinks of fish, but when I drink this, I am taken to the ripples of the ocean. And I mean it in the most complimentary way possible.

It's probably in my head. Or maybe it is the aroma of Brugge's mussels that bring this out. I don't know. But I enjoy it. It is the beach in a glass for those who can't make it to the shoreline this summer.

Other notes of mine: cloudy, orangish-gold in color; clean, slightly sweet smell, an itty bit of banana (unlike the aged bottle we drank a few months back that was full of bananas), apples, slightly sour; alcoholly bite; dry mouth feel; and flavors and aromas gain strength as it approaches room temperature. 4.30 mugs

04 June 2008

Six Pack Interview with Brugge Beer's Charlie

A little while back, the Knights sat down with Charlie at Brugge Brasserie and talked all things Brugge and threw back a few (dozen) beers. A note for you single female beer geeks out there: he's single.

And yes Charlie, it really did happen, you didn't just dream it. And here is photographic evidence...

1) Who are you, where do you work, and what is your title?

I'm Charlie Midgley and I work at Brugge Beer. I don't have a title, probably because this is a shoestring operation. I wash dishes and give tours at the Brasserie. Oh, and I am in charge of marketing and sales for Brugge Beer.

2) What is your favorite beer at Brugge?

The Brugge Black. It has a nice malty, creaminess to it. It's not abrasive or offensive. It's rich and smooth.

3) What are your favorite beers outside of Brugge?

Well, I'm not a beer guy like the rest of you. Negro Modelo is my everyday beer. When I'm at a bar alone (which is to say when I'm at a bar...I'm a single guy without a date...ever), I order New Castle. I just got a keg-o-rator and have Brugge White and Brugge Black in it. I also like Delirium Tremens, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Paulaner Salvator Doppel Bock, and Gulden Draak.

My dad would buy 6 packs of Schaffer for 99 cents when I was a kid. If he saw how much I was paying for beer, he'd kick my ass.

4) What style would you like to see at Brugge?

I don't like the hoppy, bitter stuff. If Ted [Miller, Brugge brewmaster] had said "I'm making IPA's", I wouldn't have joined Brugge. The market is saturated with IPA's and hoppy stuff right now.

You know, I like what the Broad Ripple Brew Pub is doing. The best thing about microbrewers is that they have no competition. Having your "competitor" doing well is good for everyone. Three Floyds knows that; they were one of the first to put Brugge on tap.

It's a kinda like the community that drinks together, stays together.

But I like what we have a Brugge. We are filling a void in Indiana's microbrew scene.

5) What kind of marketing stunt would you like to do? What more do you want for your marketing push?

You know, I don't want it. I don't want marketing stunts. I don't want tons of marketing dollars.

I had $30 million when I was doing marketing in Taiwan. I'm having more fun doing the marketing for Brugge Beer with no money.

The goal is to home-grow the name. Because the restaurant has done so well, the Brugge name has grown. You don't need a lot of cash to spread the name.

6) What question should I ask that I haven't asked yet?

Where are the fuckin' bottles? When can I get Brugge at my liquor store goddammit?

For the record, I asked him the question he suggested, but Charlie said that I had asked six questions, so he would not answer me. So we have no clue when you'll see Brugge Beer on your beer store shelf.

03 June 2008

The Complete Works (so far) of Ted Miller (abridged)

It is a Wednesday afternoon at Brugge Brasserie in Broad Ripple. Normally, the crowd would be sparse as most people would be at work. But today, there are over 50 people filling the dining room and bar. Some are still in their business attire, but a select number are wearing blue and red jerseys. Those in blue support Chelsea, this year’s runner-up in the English Premier League; those in red support Manchester United, this year’s Premier League champions. The two clubs are playing each other in the UEFA Champions League final, and Brugge is a common gathering spot for soccer fans to take in games of this magnitude.

In the dining room, a young Chelsea fan is standing up against the wall, wearing a blue jersey sporting the name “Miller” on the back. This is Hunter. He is the son of Brugge co-owner and brewmaster Ted Miller, with whom we will be meeting after the game.

Mike leans over to me and asks, “Why in the world is he a Chelsea fan?”

I shrug my shoulders, unaware of the inner workings of the boy’s mind. But I jot it down as one of 11 questions I want to ask Ted. Maybe he can shed some light.

It would be a while before we could talk, as the match goes into penalty kicks. But Man U finally wins, and most of the crowd disperses. It quiets down inside Brugge, looking like it normally does on a late weekday afternoon. Ted eventually sits down with us.

“I have a list of questions to ask you,” I say.

He says to bring it on.

“So what’s the deal with your son being a Chelsea fan?”

“Really? That’s one of your questions?” I show him my list. “That really is written down! Okay. Well, he likes winners. It’s like when I was a Cowboys fan in the 1970’s.”

“So why not cheer for Manchester United?”

“They are the Patriots or the Yankees of the Premiership. Evil.”

As a Colts fan, I can really appreciate that.

So who is Ted’s team? “Everton,” he says. Everton is the English Premier League club where first string USA goalkeeper Tim Howard plies his trade.

That Brugge has become a gathering spot for soccer fans is not an accident. With its Belgian beers and European gastropub cuisine, the restaurant has a bit of a European flair to it. So it is a natural fit for fans of European soccer.

But Ted and his partners are big soccer fans as well. In fact, after he saved my note book from falling on the floor (it was sitting on my lap while I was trying to snatch the last mussel in the pan; the notebook was saved thanks to Ted’s “cat-like reflexes”), we found out that he played soccer.

And by playing soccer, I mean he was on the national World Cup qualifier team as a goalkeeper. Twice. And he spent several years playing professional soccer in Asia. These days, he spends more time dealing with his kids’ sports activities than his own (just don’t ask Ted about the waitress in Lexington, Kentucky, with whom he chatted while traveling with Hunter’s soccer team; that’s between Ted, Hunter, the waitress, and the Hoosier Beer Geeks; we’ve been sworn to secrecy).

After his soccer days were over, Ted turned his energies to beer. He spent some time working for John Hill at the Broad Ripple Brewpub, where he really cut his teeth on brewing.

He then spent several years globe trotting, installing and starting up microbrewery systems all over Asia. He was in Taiwan working with a couple of bar owners. These publicans told a mutual friend about the great beer recipes that Ted was producing for them. Ted met their friend Charlie Midgley in 2001.

Charlie was in Taiwan working as the sales and marketing guy for an upstart Taiwanese telephone company. He was born and raised just outside of New York City, on the New Jersey side of the river, and had spent time in Dallas and Los Angeles. He was offered a job with a $30 million a year marketing budget in Taiwan. Immediately, he was taken in by Asia and its culture.

“It’s good to get old in Asia,” Charlie says, eventually joining us for a few beers. “Over there, age doesn’t matter. Thirty, forty, fifty, seventy, a hundred. It doesn’t matter. There, I’m a young man. And I like that.”

The expatriate community in Taiwan was small, but really tight. And Charlie and Ted hit it off.

Ted and his wife Shannon wanted to move back to Indiana when their first child Hunter reached school age. They told their friends of their plan to open a restaurant and start a brewery. They spoke about it all the time, to the point that Charlie says he “gave [Ted] money so he would go away and shut up about it already!”

In April of 2005, Ted and Shannon’s dream came true, with a little help from their friends, of course.

They knew it wouldn’t be easy to succeed. And we all know the three secrets to success in business: location, location, location. Before opening Brugge Brasserie, Ted called his former mentor John Hill about suggestions for locating his new restaurant and brewery.

“Ted told John he was looking at downtown,” says Charlie, “But professionally, John is like a father to Ted, and John told him, ‘I want you to be within walking distance from me.’” They decided to set up in Broad Ripple. Not on the main drag with the college-student style bars, but a bit off the beaten path.

“When we opened this,” Ted says, referring to the restaurant and brewery on the first floor of 1101 East Westfield Blvd., “we had $47 in the bank. All of our money was invested in this space, and we needed it to open fast.”

Between the restaurant, the bar, and the patio, Brugge seats 74 people. Given the unique menu and specific style of craft beers they produce, 74 seats seemed like a lot of seats to fill in 2005. Today, they have two hour waits on weekends.

Upstairs in a former computer café space, the expanded Brugge Brasserie will have a second kitchen and an additional 101 seats. Because they are doing so well downstairs, this time around, they can afford a softer launch. They are hoping to start opening around June 6th in the near future.

“Upstairs will be very similar to down here. Same feel. Same tables from Mexico. What people come to expect of the original will continue upstairs,” Ted says.

But what about the boob theme?

“The boob theme?” Ted asks.

I point to the lights and artwork on the walls, making note of the sensual styles.

“I’ve heard them called mermaid boobs before. I’ll just say the light fixtures upstairs will be nice and creative.”

Gina ponders out loud if they will be penis shaped to balance with the downstairs boobs.

Ted knows he will have a new challenge filling those additional seats. So while it will be Brugge upstairs, it will also be more.

“Upstairs, we will have six to eight Brugge beers on tap and four or so different taps rotating beers of other styles from other breweries. There will be 20 to 40 different varieties of bottled beers. It will mean a broader selection. And by broader I mean hoppier. The beer variety will, hopefully, bring in new customers as we’ll see current customers return more frequently.”

But while Ted is supplying the demand for greater beer variety in his restaurant, he is also supplying the demand for more Brugge Beer. Last year, he and some partners purchased the former Champagne Velvet brewery in Terre Haute and now produces all of Brugge’s White, Black, and Tripel de Ripple beers there.

“You know, a lot of people like our beers, but they don’t always want mussels. A Brugge Black goes well with a burger, but you can’t get that here. But if they can get a Black at another bar, then I think that’s good for me, good for the other bars, and good for the consumers.”

Ted is apparently right. Mike DeWeese of J. Gumbo’s at 15 E. Maryland Street in Indianapolis is a fan of Ted and likes having Brugge Beers on tap. “I like the different take Ted has on the classic Belgian styles,” says Mike. “Not all Belgians are alike within their loose style guidelines, but Ted pushes the envelope with each one. I think the Black is a one-of-a-kind beer. People come to us because they can get Brugge Beer without having to travel to Broad Ripple, which is a win for us.”

Mike was one of the first to have Brugge Beer outside of Brugge Brasserie, as was Three Floyds in Munster. “We had Brugge on tap and it went over really well,” says Three Floyds president and head brewer Nick Floyd, “and we need to get more of it! I think they are well made and compare well and exceed many other Belgian-style beers.”

Starting up the brewery and supplying the DeWeeses and Floyds of the world didn’t go as easily as Ted thought it might. “The appeal of the Terre Haute brewery was that it sits on top of an aquifer. We thought we would have a great supply of water. Turns out that the water is incredibly hard. Full of calcium deposits. We couldn’t use it, so we use the city’s municipal water.”

The city water is still hard, and they have to filter it, acid treat it, and boil treat it at the brewery before using it in their beers. So how have the beers turned out using Terre Haute water instead of an Indianapolis source?

“It’s doing fine. The Tripel and the Black can be challenging at times, but it works out. Oddly enough, the one we thought we would have the most trouble with is the White, and that recipe is behaving well.”

Water quality wasn’t the only problem they were having. Brugge Beer couldn’t afford a good marketing and sales guy. Charlie, who had retired (“paid to go away”) from the telephone company, eventually moved to Bangkok. He had invested money in the Brugge dream, but he knew it was time to add some sweat equity. In the spring of 2007, Charlie came to Indiana to handle the marketing aspect of Brugge Beer (as well as occasionally wash dishes at the Brasserie). He still winters in Bangkok, though.

“If you don’t have your beer sales for the holidays and the Super Bowl lined up by November, then you don’t stand a chance,” says Charlie. “That’s why I go back to my apartment in Bangkok in November, December, and January. I’m not really needed at that time.”

Kegs have been making their way out of Terre Haute, and bottles of Brugge Beer should be making it into bars and stores soon (just don’t ask when yet).

But don’t expect the kettles in Broad Ripple to collect dust or seats and tables to take the space where fermenters now sit. “The Pale Ale [that is currently on tap] was made in there. And we have some other funny stuff we are working on. We’ll do stuff that is only available here at the Brasserie.”

And beer is not the only thing coming out of Brugge. They have been making soda. Showing their philanthropic side, Brugge gives 84 cents of every soda purchase to IPS #84 in Broad Ripple. To date, they are pushing five grand in donations.

“They hit three 7’s,” Charlie says of Ted and Shannon Miller’s dream. “They wanted to open a great restaurant that served and supported their brewery. Then they wanted to expand the brewery. And they are now expanding the restaurant. They have done what they wanted to do, what they talked about back in Taiwan.”

And if you think that running a restaurant and brewery is enough, Ted was recently elected president of the Brewers of Indiana Guild, or BIG. “Ted the First,” the title that Nick Floyd gives to Ted Miller, “will take advantage of being in the state capital and he will try to get Indiana breweries the same rights as Indiana wineries.”

“I think Ted brings a little bit different perspective to the BIG board,” says member Mike DeWeese. “He is very aggressive on his vision for BIG.”

With the bigger restaurant, the bigger brewery, and the BIG presidency, Ted Miller has a lot on his plate. But don’t expect quality to suffer with any of these ventures. As Charlie says, “Ted is a quality maniac.”

And he has to find time to be a good family man. Frequently, he had to stop our discussion as one child or another came up, each starting their sentence with, “Mom says…”

Despite having so many irons in the fire at once, Ted demonstrated on Wednesday that he still has his priorities straight, as Ted’s time hanging with the Hoosier Beer Geeks was cut short. It was time to take Hunter home and fix him dinner.

02 June 2008

And so, finally, we've got concrete Hops for Pops info

As it turns out, planning a beer festival sort of thing isn't all that easy. So after a venue change, an unending rotation of sponsors*, and a date change, Hops for Pops is a go.

The details:

The inaugural Hops for Pops charitable beer festival is being held on Saturday, June 28th from 4:00-8:00pm on Indianapolis Northside in the outlots of Hot Shotz (4705 E. 96th Street). Hops for Pops is a charitable beer event along the lines of AleFest - but benefiting Dad's Inc., the Indianapolis-based and Chris Maples founded organization with the following mission statement:

The mission of Dads Inc. is to provide support and education for fathers in order to develop healthy relationships and involvement in their children's lives.

So much like Wu Tang*, Hops for Pops is for the children! You like children, don't you?

In all seriousness, we're hoping to put on a nice event, and we'd love to have you out. Tickets are available here, at Deano's Vino, or at Hot Shotz. And maybe some other places too.

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This note fresh from the comments - as left by Chris Maples himself:

Actually, tickets aren't at Deano's yet. They are at Hot Shotz, Barley Island, The Hop Shop and Rock Bottom - Downtown. I'm hoping to have them at Deano's & J. Gumbo's, and at least one place on the southside, too. We should know all of that by Wednesday.

The easiest way to purchase, though, is online at www.dadsinc.org. With gas prices they way the are, save the special trip and use that money on beer or the kick-ass raffle of a roundtrip for two to the 2008 GABF!!

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*Wee! Sponsors!

*Not like Wu Tang at all, actually. Well, maybe a little bit. Chris Maples is our original ODB.