31 July 2008

Random Beer Roundup - Magazines and beer news

This week's Indy.com has a nice article about FBI homebrewer Ron Smith and Homebrewer of the Year, Michael Pearson.

HBG got a mention in the August edition of Indianapolis Monthly - woohoo!

If you're watching your waistline and you wanna torture yourself, there is a book available for download featuring nutritional information for about 1200 beers.

For all you lucky folks living near Louisville, RichO's has some Dogfish Head brews on tap as well as their usual awesomeness. You can read more about that and some new facility information for New Albanian over at Indianabeer.com.

MillerCoors has pulled their test-marketed Miller Lite Brewers Collection for now, even though they note that "consumers who’ve tasted the beers like them." 'Like' is an awfully strong description. Hoosier Beer Geek prefers 'wasn't undrinkable.'

Illinois beer geeks will get Bell's back soon.

English pubs sales are at their lowest level in 75 years.

A funny(but old) article from The Onion about teens and craft beer.

Some Indianapolis events this month:

8/7 - HBG 2nd Anniversary party at Brugge. You ARE coming, right? Have you seen the beer list?

8/15 - B+ART at Big Car Gallery.

8/16 - Symphony on the Prairie, a couple of us will be pouring samples of Abita beer, compliments of World Class Beverages.

8/16 - Beer and Sweat near Cincinnati.

8/22 - 8/31 - Indy Fringe Festival, various beer tastings during the festival.

The Beer List (so far)

Have we mentioned that we are having a second anniversary party in one week?

Along with the wonderful Brugge standards of White, Black, and Triple, there will be New Albanian's Mt. Lee, New Holland's Barrel Aged Dragon's Milk, Two Brothers' Domaine DuPage French Country Ale, and "a thimbleful of Diamond Kings '08".

Have we mentioned that Ted Miller rocks? Yes? Okay.

How about his mom? No? Okay.

Ted Miller's mom rocks.

More updates as they come along...

Illiana Beer Trail (Introducing Jess)

Since this is my first post, I feel I need to introduce myself. I'm one of the smoked beer riffraff and I was on the injured reserve list for the Microbrewer's Festival this year, and a word to the wise - stomach flu and drinking doesn't go well together.

Not so long ago, at the last Rock Bottom Brewer's Dinner downtown, Iain Wilson of the Orland Park Rock Bottom told us of a magical journey starting in Northwest Indiana and ending in Chicago. This journey would take us through a brewery adventure that we hadn't anticipated. It would appear that Three Floyds, Flossmoor Station and the Orland Park Rock Bottom are all conveniently about a 15 minute trip apart, and all along a route to Chicago. Now I won't lie to you, it's a very confusing trip that got us lost multiple times thanks to road names being different in person than they are on Google Maps, but ignore that, you'll want to make this pilgrimige again and again.

We started out at Three Floyds early in the afternoon. Unfortunately, we were immediately met with bad news, Fantabulous Resplendence was not currently on tap. We held back tears (mostly until we saw that we could purchase bombers of Fantabulous Resplendence to go) and Rod ordered a sampler of the standard 4 Three Floyds beers; Pride & Joy, Alpha King, Robert the Bruce and Dreadnaught. All of them were pretty typical except for the Robert the Bruce, which was much more malty (and delicious) at the source.

The beautiful bar area at Three Floyds, more bars need chalkboards with their tap listing!

The Osti Helles was described as a smoked helles.
Jess: I immediately picked out a significant smoked nose, reminiscent of hot dogs. The flavor, however, did not carry as dominant of a smoked flavor. A delicate kolsch-like fruitiness emerged that balanced well against the light smoked flavor. This was a very refreshing summer beer!
Rod: I found a layer of pears underneath the mesquite smoke aroma. The pears carried through into the flavor of the beer that was gradually followed by a fatty smoked meat flavor. At the swallow the smoked flavor almost completely disappeared providing a crisp, clean finish. The first taste proved to be the smokiest, as later drinks became more sweet and developed a German lager level of hoppiness.

The Osti Helles, quite delicious, quite light in appearance

Thanks to Indiana Beer Week, Three Floyds still had on the New Albanian Conesmoker and Brugge Tripel de Ripple. Since we've had the Tripel numerous times, we naturally moved to the Conesmoker. Are you noticing a pattern here?
Jess: This beer had a very faint nose containing traces of roasted malts. The flavor was more hopped than smoked and would prove a good starting point for someone unfamiliar with smoked beers.
Rod: I picked out the trademark Schlenkerla smoked nose. The flavor was a balanced combination of ruby red grapefruit, grapes, cherries, citrus hops and smoke. The finish was quite hoppy for a smoked beer.

Conesmoker on the left, Alpha Naught on the Right

Rod picked out the Alpha Naught as our final beer of the visit since neither of us had tried it.
Rod: The nose was full of evergreen and citrus. The flavor of this beer can only be described as hops. Every kind of hop flavor you can imagine. Citrus, evergreen, herbs, honey, butter and bitterness, all brought out by the hops. If a beer can be complex purely on hop flavor, this is it. Quite well balanced, despite the hop insanity going on.
Jess: A very chardonnay-like nose. The flavor is tart, spicy and hoppy with grapefruit pine notes. Very inviting for the Imperial IPA style while still retaining the hop "bite."

We then proceeded to get lost looking for Flossmoor Station, but after driving around a bit (including going past the Infant Jesus of Prague - seriously did someone name the Church after that bit in Talledega Nights?) and a call to the brewery we got ourselves straightened out. That's right, Rod called for directions, someone should take his man card or something. Flossmoor Station is very unique because it's actually connected to the Metra Flossmoor stop. The interior is done up like some kind of railroad station meets a Rock Bottom, it feels a bit like manufactured but still comfortable. We decided to go with a sampler of all the beers to try as many as we could. As a result, these reviews will be much more brief.

An interior shot of the bar area, there's a train going around the ceiling.

Zephyr Golden Ale
Jess: Light nose, lemony American Pilsner style
Rod: Lemon pilsner nose with a slightly hopped flavor. Standard pilsner

Gandy Dancer Honey Ale
Jess: Hoppy, caramel nose, smooth honey flavor with a rye style hoppiness
Rod: Honey, malt and a bit of..... vomit in the nose. Kind of gross. The flavor doesn't have that last item at all but instead is composed of caramel malt, honey sweetness, rye and a slight bitterness. Tastes better than it smells.

Station Master Wheat Ale
Jess: Lemon nose, hoppy taste for a wheat. Overall a good American wheat, reminiscent of 312.
Rod: Typical hefeweizen nose of yeast, banana and citrus. Lemon and light malt with a sweet, watery finish.

Roundhouse Raspberry Ale
Jess: Dried fruit nose, sweet raspberry taste, very standard for the style
Rod: Getting soap, raspberries and a sock smell in the nose. Odd. The flavor is super raspberry, lemon and honey. Like Oaken Barrel Razz-wheat plus sugar but less fizzy.

ReplicALE Belgian Blonde
Jess: Nose of coriander and orange. A creamy texture reveals a warm, almost wheat taste. Similar to a hefeweizen.
Rod: Orange, banana, lemon zest, coriander and cream in the nose. Cream, lemon, lemon zest, banana, honey and malt in the taste.

Pullman Nut Brown Ale
Jess: Great hazelnut meets porter nose. Creamy, robust nutty taste with lots of caramel. A great dessert beer!
Rod: Roasted coffee bean and caramel syrup aroma. The beer was lighter and more bitter than expected from the nose. Flavors of coffee, dark chocolate and walnuts.

Our impressive sampler tray, we enjoyed the design and descriptions on the mat.

Milky Way Stout
Jess: Basic malt / toffee stout nose. Big lactose sweetness with a very smooth slight bourbon taste.
Rod: Dark roasted malts and a slight coffee and chocolate aroma. Similar to an imperial stout but not as alcoholic. The flavor brought out characteristic sweet stout flavors such as lactose, dark malts and coffee. Nutty flavors were mixed in with a light bourbon finish.

Jess: Perfumey nose. Cherry tartness with the same level of tartness as Diamond Kings' persimmons.
Rod: Hilarious name for a Flanders Brown! Yeasty funk to the nose with cherries, malt and a distinct sourness. The flavors were composed of cherries and persimmons with a caramel maltiness and a balanced sour flavor. Very refreshing and clean finish with a light tartness remaining. Definitely a good session beer.

Jess: Belgian style anniversary ale with a big banana nose. The flavor is a banana-plosion! Like 99 bananas beer. This needs to be aged.
Rod: Tons of banana in the nose with an alcohol sweetness. It tasted of banana candy, alcohol and mint.

Panama Limited Red Ale
Jess: Hops! Very hoppy nose with a slight malt finish. Grapefruit and red ale maltiness with pine needles.
Rod: The nose on this one was very malty and sweet. The bitterness was that of an ESB with caramel malt flavors and grapefruit hops. Reminded me of the Raccoon Red at the Rock Bottom Downtown.

Lady Columbian IPA
Jess: Pine nose, not very strong but a great balance between hops and drinkability
Rod: Big wet cascade hops in the nose. Grapefruit hop flavor with high IBUs. Kind of like the Sugar Creek Pale at the Downtown Rock Bottom but sweeter.

We decided to finish out our visit with a full tulip glass of Leftorium. A great choice by us if we do say so, it was the perfect compliment to the free appetizer bar that we stumbled upon at Flossmoor.

The Flanders Brown "Leftorium" - seriously, we laughed about that for a while. We're easily amused apparently.

After Flossmoor we headed towards the Orland Park Rock Bottom. With 14 beers on tap and after reviewing 12 at Flossmoor we decided to say screw this reviewing stuff, we want to just savor the flavor!

As you can see from the picture, this is a fully equipped Rock Bottom!

You may remember Iain from the College Park Rock Bottom. He was the previous brewmaster up there, and moved to the Orland Park location when they opened (placing Liz at the reigns at College Park). The most impressive beer here was the American Dream aged in Bourbon Barrels. It had a huge bourbon flavor which was very surprising for a hoppy APA. More brewers should do this instead of only using the barrels on stouts! We'll definitely make this journey the next time we head up to Chicago!

Thanks Iain for the idea and starting a tradition on our Chicago trips.

30 July 2008

Beer Run Photo Diary - New Albany, IN and Louisville, KY

The full set of Knights of the Beer Roundtable hope to make a visit to the breweries and brewpubs of the greater New Albany/Louisville area sometime in the next month. But because two knights are also members of the Circle City Socialites Roller Derby League (as seen in this week's Indy.com - which, for those of you who don't know, is a newspaper), we headed down to Louisville to watch Louisville's Derby City Roller Girls take on Hunstville's Dixie Derby Girls. To make a full day of it, we also made a couple stops.

Heaven very rarely looks like you might expect. The New Albanian/Rich O's/Sportstime Pizza complex

Mikhail, Ronnie, Missiles and Beer: IT'S SPORTSTIME!

The New Albanian sampler

Part of the decor at Rich O's (next to Sportstime)

A very impressive and atypical selection of lambics

Cozy surroundings and amazing beer make for an inviting experience

From the beer list: Low calorie "light" American lagers were banned from Rich O's Public House on January 1, 1994 and from Sportstime Pizza on November 15, 2002. We tolerate a few fizzy golden industrial megabrews from elsewhere, but only at an outrageous price. Diverse worlds of taste sensations await, but in the end, you must chose to step outside the Bud.

Also on the beer list: Beer list notes: Drinking from an unchilled glass is mandatory, because any container that is "frosted" is suitable only for milkshakes. Lemons and limes are heartily discouraged, but lately I've been thinking that I'll let you ruin the beer (is Corona really beer?) and charge .50 cents more to ease my mental pain. Availability of the beers is subject to our own whimsical efficiency and, more importantly, the iron hand of the legally-mandated, anti-competitive and monopolistic three-tier distribution system. 6% Indiana sales tax is not included in the bottle prices. Carry-out prices are lower."

An Italian craft beer sampler (who knew?)

BBC's very easy to spot Brewpub

The BBC Brewing beer list: Amber Waves of Pain, Rock Out with your BOCK Out, Riley's Rye, Summer Wheat, ALT Beer, American Pale Ale, Dark Star Porter, Jefferson Reserve Stout, Nut Brown Ale, Frambozen, and Raspberry Meade

A view of the bar

The Jefferson Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

BBC's expansive collection of awards

29 July 2008

Hey RSS and Regular Ol' Internet Readers!

If you got the email invite earlier today, sorry for the double. But feel free to answer the attendance poll in the far right column on the site.

Earlier today we sent out email invites for our second anniversary roundtable to a list of email subscribers, media hot shots, political leaders, oil barons, professional athletes, and movers and shakers. We're hoping the email subscribers show up.

If you haven't visited the actual site lately, not only are you missing Elmo - but you may have missed out on twelve event posters advertising the event. Including this one:

We don't want our RSS or internet readers to feel left out - we definitely want to see you too.

The beer: Ted has brought in New Albanian's Mt. Lee. Ted's got a tiny bit of Diamond Kings of Heaven 2008, but we can't make any promises there. You'll find the regular selection of Brugge beer. We've got a few taps to work with. To be honest, we're still working on the highly debated beer list, so expect some other treats as well.

The attitude (or lack thereof): As you probably know, our roundtables are not formal at all. We show up, we drink, and we talk about beer. And football. And that other football (soccer). And John Hughes' movies. And jazz great Grover Washington, Jr. But usually, you can bet on us talking about beer. This roundtable will be even less formal, as we have invited everybody and their grandmother to this shindig.

Other stuff: In addition to drinking great beer, socializing, and doing drawings for prizes (like a bottle of Dark Lord 2008, and some Pannepot), we'll be introducing the newest four Knights of the Beer Round Table: New Chris, the Other Matt, Rod, and Jess. So come out and meet the latest and greatest in our growing beer geek kingdom.

Brugge Brasserie is located at 1011a East Westfield Blvd in Indianapolis. Admission is free (food/drink are not included.. sorry, but we're poor geeks). Action at 8pm.

We hope to see you there!

Jason, Jim, Kelly, Mike, Gina, Matt, New Chris, Other Matt, Rod, and Jess
The Hoosier Beer Geek Knights of the Beer Roundtable

Six Pack interview with Oaken Barrel's Andrew Castner

Before the explosive Indiana Beer Week had our undivided attention, we had visited Oaken Barrel and had the pleasure of talking to assistant brewmaster Andrew Castner and his lovely fiancee Brittney. Both are huge beer geeks. In fact, it was Brittney that first got Andrew interested in craft beers. What a woman!

Between rounds of beer, we took the opportunity to do another Six Pack interview...

1) How did you get into the beer brewing profession?

Well, I didn't do home brewing before working at Oaken Barrel. I actually had my own home business and decided to pick up some part time hours at Oaken Barrel waiting tables, etc. One day I told then brewmaster Ken Price that I would love to learn what's going on. That's how I got started.

I learned on the job and very quickly discovered that 95% of brewing is cleaning. The tanks, the lines, the bottles, the kegs. Cleaning and sanitizing. I never took any brewing classes. I learn best by trial and error, by making mistakes. But someday I would like to learn the classroom side of the profession. There is a lot of technical items to learn. The finer sides of the business.

2) What are your favorite beers at Oaken Barrel? And not at Oaken Barrel?

Snake Pit is my favorite, followed closely by Gnaw Bone. My other favorites go in cycles. Right now, I'm digging Breckenridge 471 IPA and Lost Abbey's Abbey Ale with the raisin puree.

3) If you could brew any style, what would it be?

Barley wine. In fact, we put a five year aged barleywine in the State Fair.

4) What are the challenges of working for a brew pub versus for production?

The toughest thing is balance between the two. You can never run out of beer at the restaurant. But you can never run out at the distributor either. If given my choice, I would focus on in-house beers. In the brew pub, with the customers, you get direct feedback. But what's great about sending packaged beer out is that most people know us coming in to the restaurant. Having to deal with both sides has it benefits, in that I get to do something different every day. It never gets boring.

5) What is in the future for Oaken Barrel?

Well, I'd like to put together a system to do 22oz. bottles so that we can ship the Superfly IPA. I'd also like to do a series of bottle conditioned "monster beers", like Imperial IPA's and Barleywines.

Also, Oaken Barrel is the old kid on the block. We're so well known that some might see us as stale compared to others. I'm trying to freshen things up, like packaging, tap handles, and the website. Our relationship with Victory Field has been great and should continue. We are also in the midst of changing the types of kegs we use, so our tap market should be expanding soon.

6) Congrats on your upcoming nuptials to Brittney. Will you be going to Belgium or some other beer centric destinations for your honeymoon?

No, unfortunately. The lil' lady wants to go to Hawai'i. Though, they do have Kona Brewing there...

28 July 2008

KOTBR #51: The strange sexual activities of frogs

Once upon a time, I had a beer called Frosty Frog. It was a winter warmer from Rogue's Issaquah brewery. And it was delicious. Since then, I've wanted to try other beers from Issaquah. If the winter warmer is that good, certainly the others are too, right?

Like Doc Hopper, I have chased after these delicious frog legs. And I finally caught up with them. Or I should say, a friend of mine coming back from Washington, D.C. was able to catch them for me.

I elected to not be stingy and shared them with my fellow knights. Because everybody wants frog legs, right? Everybody? Hello?

Issaquah Menage a Frog is a Belgian Style Tripel with a provacative name.

Gina: I wrote "orangy", but I don't think that fits properly, I think I may have meant fruity. Definitely a lager flavor in there. This was like a watered down Belgian, without the residual sweetness that is usually prominent. It was alright. 2.75 mugs.

Mike: Sweet weird lambic-like nose, with a hint of nail polish. Top of mouth taste, my notes say sweet Belgian party, watery and yet punchy, more drinkable than most Belgians - but I wouldn't consider that to be necessarily a good thing. 2.7 Mugs.

Jim: Lame name with a frog threesome on the label. Golden color. Heavy apple juice nose. Apple cider flavor with a lager yeast aftertaste. Like a sweet Heineken/Belgian Blonde Ale blend (in a good way). I kinda like it. 3.20 mugs.

Jason: Thankfully, it doesn't taste like three frogs. Not that I've ever had a three-some of frogs in my mouth. I have had crunchy frog once. I knew a frog named Jeremiah. Anyway...

It smells like tang, or sometimes apple. It has a dry mouthfeel. It tastes like apple cider, champagne, and wine. It is what I want from a lambic or geuze. Only better (remember, I hate sour tastes. So I dislike lambics. This however wasn't bitter. So I liked it. Get off my back!). 3.10 mugs.

Issaquah Bullfrog Ale is an American Pale Wheat Ale.

Gina: I didn't write anything for this one. So I guess I didn't really think much of it. I'll go with a neutral 2 mugs.

Mike: Lemon colored, bland and grainy. Not bad, not good. 2.0 Mugs.

Jim: My notes: "It's a beer. It's forgettable. It's bland. Meh." 1.75 mugs.

My notes on this came after a long beer drinking night. I know this: there was beer left in the bottle when the night was over. Not a good sign. I found a hint of lemon in it, but not much else. 1.5 mugs.

I should also point out that we noticed bird and campfire logos, which reminded us of scout badges. Matt said he would probably still be molested by scout troop leaders on a regular basis if they gave beer badges.

Twisted? Yes. But wouldn't you?


27 July 2008

Must Have: He'Brew, The Chosen Beer

Jewish-centric blog Jewcy has a brief but informative profile of Shmaltz Brewing Company and its founder, Jeremy Cowan. In the near future, we'll be reviewing Shmaltz's latest seasonal, He'Brew Rejewvenator, and their new line of craft lagers. So, stay tuned!

Previously: KOTBR #36 | L'Chaim! (or, "On the Third Night of Hanukkah, My Friends Brought Beer to Me")

Indiana Beer Week Closing Ceremonies - Replicale Faceoff

What's the story behind the Indiana Replicale Faceoff? Scientists may never know. Legend has it that brewers Dave Colt and Clay Robinson from Ram provided a common recipe for 70 Shilling Scottish that the contestants then prepared in their own special way in a contest of brewing brawn and brainpower. Are there prizes? Who's judging? Who knows? At Hoosier Beer Geek, we don't sweat the small stuff. We just drink.

In case you missed it, there's ten of us now. Nine of us showed up at Spencer's Stadium Tavern (802 South West St. Indianapolis 317-916-8888) last Wednesday and sampled selections from five breweries. We had an added bonus - a flight of five samples only cost $2. Or you could have a full pint of any for that same $2 - and I suspect they'll remain that way until the beer runs out. Perhaps it's run out already? If you've stopped in to Spencer's lately, let us know.

Here's what we thought, complete with beer rankings:


1. RAM - sweet
2. Oaken Barrel - creamy
3. Alcatraz - hot
4. Rock Bottom - smoky
5. Broad Ripple Brewpub - feet


Gina's going with one word reviews. I'm going with two. My rankings and notes, with the clarification that all of these were good beers.

1. Broad Ripple Brewpub. Berries, herbs.
2. Oaken Barrel. Hops, caramel.
3. Rock Bottom. Sweet, drinkable.
4. (tie) Ram and Alcatraz. Balanced, mellow.

New Chris

Agreed that all were definitely drinkable.

4 words (mostly)

1. BRBP - hoppier, chocolate, lightly bitter
2. 'Traz - bitter, creamy (lactose?), balanced
3. Oak B - chocolate nose, marshmallow taste (s'mores!)
4. Ram - toasty malt, whitewash sweet
5. Rock B - passable dirty stinky feet


...and with a personal record turnaround time, I'm submitting my two word reviews.

1. Broad Ripple Brew Pub - pleasant lavender
2. Oaken Barrel - cloudy malt
3. Rock Bottom - pruny nose
4. Alcatraz - yay hops
5. Ram - malt light

Other Matt

1. Ram: Exactly what I wanted.
2. Rock Bottom: toffee and caramel
3. Oaken Barrel: Down in Fuggle hops?
4. Alcatraz - Orville Redenbacher Butter
5. BRBP - Fruity Esters

I was doing some more research on the style as well, and I found that the butter flavor I was tasting in the Alcatraz could have some from malt and might not be diacetyl. I am now really curious if it was from the malt or actually diacetyl.


1. Alcatraz: Dark Chocolate Baby Powder
2. Rock Bottom: Malty Brown Greek Cheese
3. Broad Ripple: Watery Roasted Hazelnut Bitter
4. Oaken Barrel: Blackberry Caramel Light Beer
5. Ram: Nutty Slight Malt Liquor


1. Alcatraz: chocolate
2. Oaken Barrel: berry
3. Rock Bottom: feta
4. Broad Ripple: dishsoap
5. Ram: blah.


1. Broad Ripple: Raspberry, Vanilla.
2. Ram: Grape bubblegum, A hint footy.
3. Rock Bottom: Bitter, Peppery.
4. Alcatraz: Caramel, Soap.
5. Oaken Barrel: Sulfury, Cardboard.

And so by combining all rankings and haphazardly doing some of that math stuff, we come up with final combined rankings that looks like this:

First Place: Broad Ripple Brew Pub
Second Place: Oaken Barrel
Third Place: Alcatraz
Fourth Place: Rock Bottom
Fifth Place: Ram

Of course, we're not judges. But if anyone's asking, that's how our legend of Indiana Beer Week 2008 ends.

25 July 2008

Going for the gold

Haven't you heard? Hoosier Beer Geek is turning two! And to celebrate, there will be a two week international sporting event called the Olympics preceding our 2nd anniversary party at Brugge Brasserie on Thursday, August 7th, 2008 at 8pm. It is free to attend and everyone is welcome.

In case you don't know, Brugge Brasserie is located in the Indianapolis neighborhood of Broad Ripple at 1011a East Westfield Blvd. Their phone number is 317-255-0978. We'll have Brugge's selection of fine, hand crafted Belgians on tap along with a guest beer or two. More details to come.

During the middle of the international sporting event, we will also have our next B+ART at BIG CAR Gallery. B+ART is short to Beer and Art, and is an event meant to highlight creative crafts and bring together art people (to introduce them to craft beer) and beer people (to introduce them to art). It is surprising the number of parallels that there are between the audiences.

Be sure to stop by on Friday, August 15th at 8pm for a free tasting of an international selection of beers (we'll hopefully have a line up for you soon), a viewing of a John Cage film ("Variations VII"), and viewing of art by Judith G. Levy (the show is called "How We Remember: Images Found and Made"). BIG CAR is located in the Indianapolis neighborhood of Fountain Square at the Murphy Art Center, 1043 Virginia Avenue, Suite 215.

24 July 2008

Indiana Beer Week - Day Six - Indiana Microbrewers Festival - Kelly's Best-Of List

Note: as I was only able to hang around this year's Indiana Microbrewers Festival for a couple of hours, I decided to recap the best way I know how: lazily.

Best Indiana beer:
the Green Tea Pale Ale from Brass Monkey. Slightly citrusy, really refreshing on such an ungodly hot day. I went back, um, a lot for this one.

Best regional beer: the Hoppin’ Frog porter poured through coffee beans. Perfect balance of smooth and bitter with a fantastic nose.

Best beer I didn’t get to try: I had to duck out before the Dark Lord and Kentucky Breakfast Stout tappings. Sigh.

Best recommendation: Mat Gerdenich’s recommendation to try the firkin of Clipper City Hang Ten. A walloping weizenbock with a sweet, yeasty cling. Yum.

Best t-shirt sighting: this festival is like Pitchfork, except instead of ironic band tees, you get ironic brewing tees. I especially appreciated the Natural Ice baseball jersey, but the best one was our friend Erik’s Miskatonic Brewing shirt.

Best smiling face behind the tap:
Tony at Warbird, who kept chugging along good-naturedly even as lines got 50-60 deep.

Best overheard question:
“so what do you have that tastes like Miller Lite?” (in the firkin tent)

Best girl power moment: Gina, randomly recruiting someone for our roller derby team as we were waiting in line at Hoppin’ Frog

Best boy power moment: Mike, relaying the story of the Diamond Kings of Heaven Great Keg Blowing of ’08… with hand gestures.

Best merch: the “Show Me Your Growlers” shirts. Sadly, I can’t remember where they were from.

Best ‘gotcha’: the empty bottles lined up at the Brugge table. Torturous, Charlie!

Best idea for next year: Hoosier Beer Geek tank tops. In white.

23 July 2008

An Andrus O'Reilly's Overview

You know what’s really stupid? Ordering fresh fish to be picked up on a Friday when you’ve got a full weekend of activities planned, guests staying for the weekend and no opportunity to cook it until at least Sunday. Make that Monday. Expensive dead fish doesn’t like to sit for 3 days.

So, instead of another lazy recovery night on Monday, we had to figure out where to eat. We decided to try someplace new, or at least a place we hadn’t been to in a while. For some reason, my mind immediately went to the area around the intersection of Washington and Pennsylvania Sts. in downtown, which is really starting to pop as a restaurant destination.

For some time, this area has been anchored by upscale steakhouses Morton’s and Mo’s. In recent years they’ve been joined by Coaches Tavern, Vito’s on Penn, Andrus O’Reilly’s, Fogo de Chão and Dunkin’ Donuts. Throw in Adobo Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings and Scotty’s Brewhouse -- all three currently under construction and set to open in the next six months or so -- and there is going to be a LOT of beer flowing in this area in 2009. We narrowed down our selection to Vito’s and Andrus O’Reilly’s and, after looking at the online menus, settled on the latter (AO’s).

AO’s is a nice medium-sized restaurant set up with four seating areas: the bar, the tables, the lounge and the outdoor area. The crowd was pretty sparse on Monday night, with just a single bartender pouring drinks and serving food. We knew we wanted to sit outside but decided to hit the bar area first to see what beer they had available. They have 12 taps with a lot of the usual macro/import suspects. Here’s what I can remember:
Blue Moon
Sam Adams
Miller Lite
Bud Light
Coors Light
Stella Artois
The real shocker came when I looked down behind the bar and saw the selection available in the coolers. It isn’t a huge selection, but very good options compared to the taps:
Three Floyds Alpha King
Three Floyds Robert the Bruce
Goose Island Pere Jacque
Goose Island Matilda
Bell’s Oberon
And many more...
Monday’s are $3 import pints, which unlike other places, literally means the imports: Smithwick’s, Newcastle, Guinness and Stella. We decided to go with the deal and got a Smithwick’s and a Newcastle, easy drinking beers that don't demand a whole lot of attention (remember, we're still trying to relax!). For food, the entire menu is under $10, with the majority under $8. The cheddar bacon burger ($8.49) and the chicken fajita wrap ($7.95) sounded good to us. The burger was about what you’d expect for the money – solid but nothing to write home about -- while the chicken fajita wrap was surprisingly good! Well-seasoned chicken, perfectly cooked peppers and onions and a nice little jalapeno kick to boot. My wife ordered the wrap so I only got a couple bites, but it made a very good pairing with my Smithwick’s, the slightly sweet malt flavor helping to cut the jalapeno heat.

I can easily say that we’ll be back to explore some more of the menu at AO's, though I’ll probably look to the bottled beer selection next time.

(Apologies about no pictures with this post. Luckily, you can get a really good impression of the place from the Gallery on their webpage.)

22 July 2008

Indiana Beer Week - Day Six - Get Out Your Cargo Shorts! It's the Indiana Microbrewer's Festival 2008 Recap - Mike's Edition

Does anyone remember what grown men wore for shorts before the cargo short? Jean shorts? Well, before jean shorts, then. There had to be a time before when we didn't all wear the same thing. What did we wear?

The reason I ask is because I suspect that we may have once went without any sort of shorts at all. And we certainly didn't wear pants in weather like Saturday's. That's why I want to be the first to (re)introduce the idea of a pantless/shortless Indiana Microbrewer's Festival next year.

Someone (I think Mat from Cavalier Distributing) pointed out that there are actually women at these events now - which we can all appreciate, right? So of course the ladies are also welcome to join us in the bottomless at next year's revised event. Maybe we'll get one of those foam machines. I'll get the Brewers of Indiana Guild on the phone.

Ted! Hey, Mike here. I've got a fix for the large crowds. Yeah! Of course you don't have to pay me for the idea! No! I couldn't possibly accept free beer from Brugge for life. We don't even have to limit tickets! It's better than that!

Crowd Control

That's enough brilliant ideas for today.

* * * * *

The new folks have a lot of good things to say, so I'll keep it short from here.

My Personal Highlights:

1) Brugge has bottles! And boxes! Empty bottles and boxes, but at least they're pretty.

Not Pictured: Actual Beer

2) Founders knows us!
3) Firkin firkin firkin.
4) Dark Lord! Although I'm not the hugest fan, there's really nothing that comes close. And when you're in the mood, there's nothing better.
5) Backwoods Bastard. Founder's Aged on something Dirty Bastard was an early highlight.
6) Schlafly India Brown and Schlafly husband and wife team Brennan and Natasha (right?)
7) Kentucky Breakfast Stout

After the week we had, Saturday really was a blur. I'd be remiss if I forgot to thank all our friends at Brass Monkey, Cavalier Distributing, Brugge, Oaken Barrel, Schlafly, World Class, Jeffery T and Bonus Beer Bob at Good Beer Show, Founders, and (in particular) Lincoln at Three Floyds who put up with me insisting that I had had an email interview with his brother*.

The Good Beer Show's Bonus Beer Bob and Jeffery T. with a lovely young lady from Bell's whose name I misplaced.

* * * * *

*They are not brothers. Or even relatives, I'd guess.

21 July 2008

Indiana Beer Week - Day Six - Indiana Microbrewers Festival (Introducing Matt2)

What goes better than hot weather and beer? How about hot weather and craft beer? Initial numbers coming in are that they sold around four-thousand tickets for the event. Don't get me wrong, I had a fantastic time, but I think the number should be limited, and there is already talk of limiting the number of tickets for next year's event, but I am sure by then I will have already forgotten about the amount of people that were at this years event. Without much fanfare here are my highlights of the day:

What crowd?

Best new beer to me: Brass Monkey Green Tea Pale Ale. It was nice and crisp with a hint of fresh citrus fruit that came in nicely.

Best Indiana Brewer: New Albanian Brewing Company. I didn't have a bad beer from them, and it looked like they brought at least six beers with them. I've only just started to have beer from them, and I will be having more based on the beers I had at the festival. Roadtrip anyone? My two favorites were their saison and Hoptimus DIPA.

Best Firkin: Bell's Two-Hearted. If you are a fan of Two-Hearted you need to try it out of a firkin.

Tapping a firkin

Best Brewer of the Fest: I have to give it to Founders. Every single beer I had from them was a real treat. Backwoods Bastard, Red's Rye, Devil Dancer, and finally Kentucky Breakfast stout from them were all top notch, and every single beer would go in my tops list for the day.

Best Beer of the Fest: Three Floyd's Dark Lord was my favorite beer of the day. My palate was shot by the end of the day, but I was still able to pick up on so many of the nuances of the beer. I could still taste chocolate and coffee notes that were helped by dark fruit and lingering toasted malt in the finish. It was a nice way to finish out my day. I wasn't complaining about them filling our glasses with alpha king in line either.

I had a great day, and I want to say a big thank you to the people that put this together every single year, and I am very excited that Indiana beer is heading in the right direction.


Indiana Beer Week - Day Six - Indiana Microbrewers Festival (Introducing Rodney)

I'm new to this extreme blogging action, so I didn't carry a camera with me on Saturday. What I did bring is a decent memory and a high tolerance for alcohol. Here are my highlights and commentary on the festival:

The pre-event crowd line

Get there early!
We've been showing up an hour early for a couple years now and always end up at the front of the line. If you're not as insane as we are, it appears that 30 minutes early is a pretty good compromise. You'll end up just outside of the parking lot and easily one of the first few hundred in. Don't show up 5 minutes after it starts or you'll end up waiting in line for half an hour anyway. That's quality drinking time you're losing!

Cheap food is awesome.
To be honest, I didn't eat anything at the festival on Saturday. I did have friends who did, and through them I observed that King David Dogs is offering up superb drunk food at a great price for a festival. They also have great food when you're not drunk, but their stupid restaurant isn't open on the weekends and closes at 4PM. Jerks. I think it goes without saying that cajun food is also awesome festival food. I love Yats as much as the next guy, but I've heard they're kind of inconsistent to deal with for festivals, so kudos to J. Gumbos for filling the void this year.

Not much light gets through Dark Lord

Dark Lord is not a 90 degree heat beer.
Also I don't know what happened, but there was a crazy amount of yeast suspended in it. More than last year and definitely more than the bottle. Still delicious, but I think the Kentucky Breakfast Stout made for a better festival beer this year. If only Founders brought more than a couple bottles of it (or at least it ran out so fast I assume that's what they did). I would fully support a Winter Microbrewer's Festival held indoors and featuring Imperial Stouts, Barrel aged beers and Belgian Strong Ales. Hang on, I'm emailing Bob O.

Hooray beer!
I had a lot of really good things this year. Here are some highlights:
  • Backwoods Bastard was probably my favorite of the day. Bourbon aging the Dirty Bastard balanced it out a lot better than most things that get barrel aged. I would love a bottle of this in our cellar. There was a ton of bourbon and vanilla flavor in this, but not an overpowering alcohol taste.

  • New Albanian performed well as usual. I loved the sour notes in their Phoenix Saison and their firkin of the Kentucky Komon. That said, I really wish more sour ales came to the party considering how hot it was. I was sad to see the Saison was out when I returned later in the day.

  • Brass Monkey's Green Tea Pale Ale is great. I've had some West Coast green tea pales that were awesome so it's nice to see the trend making its way here.

  • Stone Russian Imperial Stout was very nice, as usual. Lots of dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and hidden hops in here.

  • Schlafly's Biere de Garde was very good. I had not tried this one, which is the first in their bottle conditioned series. Starts out a little fruity but ends a little malty. The alcohol sticks out a tad, but they recommend aging it so that will probably help.

  • Notable Firkins included Founders Double Dry Hopped Pale, New Albanian's Kentucky Komon and Clipper City's Hang Ten. Rock Bottom's American Dream and the Bell's Porter weren't too bad either. A lot of the others felt like they just recently pulled it from the keg and dropped in some live yeast, without giving it time to develop.

  • Hoppin' Frog's Porter through the coffee beans was an interesting and tasty experiment, though the end result did have an insanely overpowering coffee taste.

  • Sam Adams was doing a little voting experiment for their next beer, which was cool. Unfortunately the options were a way unbalanced super fruity Blackberry Wit and a generic Coffee Stout. I voted Coffee Stout by default. It wasn't bad, it just didn't stand out.
And a few regrets...
  • When I first arrived, Dark Horse didn't have anyone pouring for them. When I came back later, they were out of beer.

  • I completely missed Left Hand and Two Brothers. I took a break just before we got to them and then never came back.

  • Brugge didn't have this year's Diamond Kings at the festival. It was so good on Friday night I was itching to come back for more. Unfortunately, there was no more.

  • I also missed Founders Dumbo Head. I was there early enough to try some but it didn't even click with me that it would be a limited quantity beer. Oops.

Indiana Beer Week - Day Six - Indiana Microbrewers Festival (Introducing Chris2)

It's all over?

That’s how I felt Sunday afternoon, after a week of beer drinking events, concerts and weekend visitors in my apartment. I don’t think I’ve been this active since college! Mrs. Chris2 and I decided to rest and recover with a very lazy Sunday evening of eating pizza while watching movies (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Shaun of the Dead) and TV shows (Mad Men – second season starts July 27th!). This is likely to continue tonight.

You've already read about the Hoosier Beer Geek escapades earlier in the week, but Friday night found me at The Lawn to see a double-bill of Umphrey's McGee and Sound Tribe Sector 9. This probably sounds crazy but I actually consider myself lucky that the beer selection there was less than stellar. After four straight days of drinking craft brew, including an especially hearty night on Thursday, I was feeling a little bit beer fatigued. Sucking down $6 Coors Light tall boys really put me back in the mood for something with more flavor on Saturday!

If you’ve been to the Indiana Microbrewer's Festival in recent years, just plug in your memory of the forecast: HOT AND SUNNY (with choice flowery words for fun). There were decidedly more people than previous years -- estimates are around 4000, about 25% more than last year. Just an hour in, hardly any tables had fewer than 10 people in line, with many more at the most popular breweries. Luckily, most lines moved fairly quickly and forced waiting between samples isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

Some favorite beers of the day:
  • Favorite 'hit the spot' beer: Founders Dumbo Head (a tribute to Three Floyds Gumballhead)
  • Favorite 'special for the fest' beer: New Albanian Porter aged in a special cask (anybody out there remember the cask type?) UPDATE: from Roger Baylor at New Albanian: "It was a pin that originally poured JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (Port Barrel Conditioned), into which we racked Bob's Old 15-B Porter from NABC."
  • Favorite 'they did WHAT?' beer: Hoppin Frog Porter 'dry beaned' through coffee beans
  • Favorite 'tapped and kicked while I was waiting to piss' beer: Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (fun fact: 5 gallons divided 4000 ways is 0.16 oz/person)
  • Favorite 'new' beer: Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout (previously reviewed here)
  • Favorite 'caveat' beer: New Albanian Phoenix ("but you better like sour...")
  • Favorite 'perfect timing' beer: Three Floyds Alpha King (served by a 3F staff member from a pitcher while waiting in the HUGE line for Dark Lord)
Most disappointing moment of the day (you know, besides missing out on Founders KBS): realizing that I had missed an entire side of one tent, including Indiana new-comers Brass Monkey and Half Moon. Better luck next year.

Some photos of the day:

The Electric Boogaloo crew and friends recover
from various Friday night activities and pre-load
at Qdoba for the Microbrewer’s Festival.

Chris2 (right) with bro Brian, enjoying an Alpha King (or two).

For once, Rod (right) is the one looking normal in a picture.

Charlie@Brugge with the “Coming soon....coming
soon....coming soon....” Tripel de Ripple bottle.

Leaving the fest....yes, that guy is wearing a box on his head.

20 July 2008

Indiana Beer Week - Day Six - Indiana Microbrewers Festival

Can we take a break from drinking now?

If you've been reading all week, you know we spent Monday evening at Broad Ripple Brewpub and Bruuge, Tuesday at Spencer's Stadium Tavern, Wednesday at Oaken Barrel, Thursday at J. Gumbos, Rock Bottom, Alcatraz, and Ram on the downtown pub crawl, and Friday at the VIP Brewmaster's Dinner at Opti Park. So to reach Saturday with a still present desire for more beer says a lot about the quality of both the company and beer we've spent the week with.

Very shortly you'll be reading posts from our newest Knights of the Beer Roundtable - the KOTBR2 Electric Boogaloo Crew: Matt2 (previously known for his work at Matt's Beer Blog), Rodney (gold medal chili beer brewer), Jessica (frequent commenter, contributor, and blogger), and Chris2 (well known for his work at DIG-B). But in the meantime, here's some crowd photos from Saturday's big event.