28 September 2008

So what's on the telly? Football, you say? - Updated

It's no secret that several of the KOTBR are fans of The Beautiful Game. I wouldn't call us soccer snobs, though. In other words, we don't hate on American sports like other soccer fans I've met. Heck, Mike is even a Cardinals fan, as misguided as that may be. But he's also down with Fulham FC of the Barclay's English Premier League, so that redeems him in my eyes (and probably redeems him in the eyes of our biggest Cubs fan, Jason).

We aren't soccer proselytizers, either. We're not going to try to convert you to our way of thinking, though that doesn't mean we haven't inadvertently picked up a convert or two along the way (for example, see our beloved founder, Chris Maples, and his relatively new affinity for Chelsea FC).

So what I'm about to say isn't a soccer sermon of some sort. It's just a public service announcement about the intersection of beer and soccer in this city, which is something that's been lacking since the beloved Rob n' Jay's Chippy went out of business in 2005. You see, there are now two pubs in Naptown that are touting themselves as "soccer-friendly." Since the English Premier League season began in August, both pubs have been opening early on Saturday mornings so soccer-starved Hoosiers can catch a game or two. The pubs in question are the Chatham Tap on Mass Ave and the Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple. On top of that, both pubs have a decent beer list that is sure to have at least one offering to satisfy any beer geek (that is, if you like beer for breakfast).

The Union Jack opens at 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays and serves breakfast from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. They update their Facebook page every week to announce the slate of games they'll be showing. Whether the Chatham Tap opens early on Saturdays tends to be more sporadic and not very well publicized. While walking the dog on Mass Ave this past Saturday morning, I noticed that the Tap had opened its doors at 7:30 a.m. for the Merseyside Derby (that's a soccer match, not a horse race to the uninitiated), and it looked like there were about five or six people parked at the bar taking in the game.

The Union Jack posts its viewing schedule every week on its Facebook page. For the Chatham Tap's viewing schedule, I suggest that you call them at 917- 8425.


Update - 09.30.08

After this posting, which I did with complete blinders on, one of our dearest friends wrote to remind us that his most awesome establishment (the location of our second anniversary party, no less), has always been soccer-friendly. In his words, "we don't open early every week.... We do open early for other big matches though. In fact, I think I saw the author at one, so I know he knows we show football regularly."

The author sincerely regrets his omission. For future reference, any complaints should be addressed to our HBG ombudsman.

That's a joke, by the way. We really don't have an ombudsman.

26 September 2008

Random Beer Roundup - I Forgot About Random Beer Roundup Edition

As it turns out, as the day goes on, more stuff rolls in. If you read the roundup Friday morning, you may notice that I've added more info since. I suppose that's the way it'll go..

From Mike at J. Gumbo's (15 E. Maryland Street, Indianapolis):
We have 3 Floyds Munsterfest and Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale on draft now. They are the only kegs of those in Central Indiana. The Sierra was made with hops the brewer hand carried back form New Zealand.
Brewer John at Half Moon (4051 South Lafountain, Kokomo IN) dropped us a line:
I have a Scottish Ale on tap right now that's moving quickly, and an American-Style Octoberfest coming on tap Thursday, October 2nd(O.G.=1060 ABV=6.6% IBU=30). I have also permanently replaced the Pre-Prohibition Pilsner with the Cannon Shot Cream Ale. In a week or two the Old Ben Brown Ale will be permanently replaced with the Hazelnut Brown Ale.
John at Big Red (Bloomington) just sent me an update:
Only a couple new ones this week. Bell's Hell Hath no Fury (Limited qty), Michelob Craft Sampler 12pk (3 each, Pale Ale, Porter, Marzen and Irish Red - Irish red and Marzen only available in sampler pack), and Best of Belgium 18pk sampler (6 Leffe, 6, Stella Artois, 6 Hoegaarden)
This update from Jerry at Rock Bottom Downtown (10 West Washington Street, Indianapolis):
In addition to the regular lineup we have:
Rocktoberfest-Marzen Lager
Indy Dream IPA-ruby grapefruit Simcoe hop juice!
And that's pretty much it for beer news this week. Don't forget the Circle City Socialites debut bout (7 p.m. Saturday, September 27 - doors open at 6 p.m., Ellenberger Park Ice Rink, 5301 E. St. Clair St., Indianapolis, $7 in advance, $10 at the door, kids 10 and under free). It's 100% HBG approved.

Lastly, a question: Any readers headed to GABF?

24 September 2008

Beer and Food Pairing: Rabbit and Turtle

In the past I've done some goofy things with beer - a shandy of Lakefront Cherry Lager, Blatz, and diet soda comes to mind - usually in the vein of not taking any of this too seriously. So when offered up a chance to visit home to sample some interesting rural cuisine, I thought it might be fun (and also kind of stupid) to go ahead and pair those culinary treats with better beer.

That's a lot of rabbit

The event - known to family and friends as "Freezerfest" - features foods collected over the course of year from the the lakes, ponds, streams and woods of the area near my hometown of Trenton, Illinois. On the menu: rabbit, turtle, squirrel, frog legs, and fish.

Fried squirrel looks a lot like fried anything else.

As an avid student of Garrett Oliver's The Brewmaster's Table, I though that the book - which features guides to hundreds of beers and the foods that pair well with them - could serve as a guide into my dining adventure. Surprisingly enough, that wasn't completely the case. While Brewmaster's Table does feature pairings for rabbit, I was on my own as far as turtle goes.

A tiny sample of the selection

Rabbit and beer

In the back (pages 355-361) of my copy of Brewmaster's Table I found a handy reference chart entitled "Beer with Food: A Reference Chart". On page 360, the pairing for rabbit reads "Biere de garde, tripel, Belgian Pale Ale, strong British Bitter (ESB)". I headed to my local "by the bottle" liquor store (Parti-Pak Liquors) and picked up bottles of Two Brothers Domaine DuPage, Brugge Tripel de Ripple, Orval, and Goose Island Honkers Ale to fill this requirement.

Pairing for turtle was not so simple.

A plateful of exotic heart attack

Turtle and beer

Because Brewmaster's Table has no turtle pairing recommendations, I first googled "Turtle Beer Pairings" - if you follow the link you'll quickly realize that there are no examples. My next guess was to find out what exactly turtle tastes like, and go from there.

Pete - the man behind the food with the preferred mode of preperation

My search brought me to an article by Newt Harlan entitled "Tastes like Chicken". In the article he lists quite a few exotic animals and what they taste like - rattlesnake, rabbit, squirrel, armadillo, alligator, coon, and turtle:
A turtle supposedly has something like seven distinctively different kinds of meat. I've eaten it in turtle soup and sauce piquant and my taste buds identified several of them . . . fish, pork, shrimp, kind of like frog legs and yes, even chicken.
In the interest of having as much information as possible, I continued on and found an article from the website of The New Yorker - listed under their New Orleans Journal section, I thought that this was surely a reputable source.
“You got seven kinds of meat on a turtle. Depending on what part you’re eating, it will taste like turkey, or fish, or pork, or veal.”
Veal? I knew that the sort of people I was dealing with weren't the veal type. The list sounded a little too Yankee for my liking.

I continued my search and stumbled across the site of the Missouri Folklore Society and an article entitled "The Turtle in Missouri Folklore" that contained the following information:
Any hillman will tell you that an ordinary mud turtle contains seven kinds of meat -- pork, beef, mutton, chicken, duck, and fish.
You may have noticed that only six kinds of meat are given. Must be hillman math. And a site using that sort of math was exactly the kind of source I was looking for. With my seven (six) meats in mind, I returned to Brewmaster's Table and began pairing. Because I wasn't sure how my turtle would be prepared, I went with the roasted examples for each type of meat.
Pork: Dunkel, dubble, doppelbock, altbier, Oktoberfest Marzen, Biere de Garde
Beef: Brittish bitter and pale ale, German altbier
Mutton: Dubble, Scotch Ales, strong dark trappist and abbey ales, old ales, biere de garde
Chicken: Biere de garde, dunkel, bock, british bitter and pale ale, british brown, Oktoberfest marzen, dubbel, american amber ale, belgian pale
Duck: Dubbel, strong dark trappist or abbey ales, doppelbock, weissbock, biere de garde
Fish (which fish?): ???
So in the spirit of those hillmen that came before me, I put everything into an Excel Spreadsheet and came up with the following list (which I'll admit is a bit messy here):
Dish | Flavor | Beer Style | Beer
Turtle | Beef | British Pale | Bass Pale Ale
Turtle | Beef | Altbier | Bluegrass Brewing Co. Alt
Turtle | Beef | British Bitter | Goose Island Honkers Ale
Turtle | Chicken | Bock | Berghoff Bock
Turtle | Chicken | British Pale | Bass Pale Ale
Turtle | Chicken | Dunkle | Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel
Turtle | Chicken | British Bitter | Goose Island Honkers Ale
Turtle | Chicken | Belgian Pale | Orval
Turtle | Chicken | American Amber | Bell's Amber
Turtle | Chicken | British Brown | Sam Adams Brown
Turtle | Chicken | Oktoberfest Marzen | Sam Adams Octoberfest
Turtle | Chicken | Dubble | Trader Joe's 2007 Vintage Ale by Unibroue
Turtle | Chicken | Biere de Garde | Two Brothers Domaine DuPage
Turtle | Duck | Weizenbock/Weissbock | Aventinus Weizenbock
Turtle | Duck | Strong Dark Trappist or Abbey Ale | North Coast Brewing Brother Thelonious Belgian style abbey ale
Turtle | Duck | Dopplebock | Spaten Optimator
Turtle | Duck | Dubble | Trader Joe's 2007 Vintage Ale by Unibroue
Turtle | Duck | Biere de Garde | Two Brothers Domaine DuPage
Turtle | Mutton | Scotch Ale | Founder's Dirty Bastard
Turtle | Mutton | Strong Dark Trappist or Abbey Ale | North Coast Brewing Brother Thelonious Belgian style abbey ale
Turtle | Mutton | Old Ales | "Bell's Third Coast | "
Turtle | Mutton | Dubble | Trader Joe's 2007 Vintage Ale by Unibroue
Turtle | Mutton | Biere de Garde | Two Brothers Domaine DuPage
Turtle | Pork | Altbier | Bluegrass Brewing Co. Alt
Turtle | Pork | Dunkle | Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel
Turtle | Pork | Oktoberfest Marzen | Sam Adams Octoberfest
Turtle | Pork | Dopplebock | Spaten Optimator
Turtle | Pork | Dubble | Trader Joe's 2007 Vintage Ale by Unibroue
Turtle | Pork | Biere de Garde | Two Brothers Domaine DuPage
Rabbit | Rabbit | Tripel | Brugge Tripel de Ripple
Rabbit | Rabbit | British Bitter | Goose Island Honkers Ale
Rabbit | Rabbit | Belgian Pale | Orval
Rabbit | Rabbit | Biere de Garde | Two Brothers Domaine DuPage
All beer acquired and iced, I headed back to my hometown to join a couple friends and complete the pairing. And that's where it all went wrong.

The selection expands

We started by getting a plate full of the required meats - rabbit and turtle, along with the surprise inclusions of squirrel, frog legs, and catfish. All fried. We laid the plate out, decided to start with the rabbit, and then pulled a couple of the pairing beers (Goose Island Honkers Ale, Two Brothers Domaine DuPage) out to start. But suddenly the idea of eating rabbit started making me a little queasy. I did start to pick out flavors and notes from the pairings, but immediately aborted that plan.

Probably not what Ted had in mind

On to the turtle. The turtle we ate had been prepared by a thorough steaming, then later the meat was breaded and fried. It's really amazingly tasty, though saying that it tasted like seven other kinds of meat would be a stretch. Frying seems to "dumb down" any subtle flavors we might have picked out. I did try to sample as many beers as possible with the small amount of turtle meat I ate, but eventually the whole idea of eating turtle began to overwhelm the enjoyment of the tasty turtle, and we ended up with a table full of beer.

Believe it or not, there was a hearty crowd in attendence

Not such a bad thing. Between the four of us we managed to sample all the fine fried foods provided, and as the night progressed we also made our way through all the beer. Just not paired together.

A lesson learned. My suggestion to you, should you decide that beer pairing is something you're interested in, is to keep it simple. In our case, the flavors and variety in beer immediately revealed that we'd undertaken too large a project. And while we could have simplified, when presented with that much beer, why ruin the fun?

Signature event can coolies were a surprise treat.

In addition, it would have helped had I been able to minimize my queasiness. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in myself. None of these meats (short of squirrel) were new to me. Perhaps too much city living has made me a weaker-stomached man. I'm definitely not a hillman.

That's ok though. At least I can still count.

21 September 2008

KOTBR #55 - Beer and Progress with the Urbanophile

We might as well call KOTBR #55 "Evel Knievel wannabes take over Broad Ripple Avenue." For those of you who are unaware, last Thursday night saw Broad Ripple Avenue between College and Guilford get shut down for some freestyle motocross. Dudes on bikes flying off ramps. Rad. While that might have been visually stimulating, this event also made the already difficult parking situation in Broad Ripple even worse. Your friendly HBG curmudgeon here got lucky, however, and snagged a parking place next to Brugge Brasserie (a good strategic move, as you'll see shortly).

For our last roundtable, Chris, Mike, and I ended up at Chumley's Beer House (838 Broad Ripple Ave, Indianapolis, (317) 466-1555) to check out what has become a formidable draft beer selection. We were joined by the Urbanophile, who writes one of Indianapolis's most popular urban affairs blogs. Since almost all of the KOTBR live in or spend a lot of time in downtown Indy, we enjoyed chatting with the Urbanophile on his views about Naptown's growth and progress.

As for Chumley's, the place isn't much on atmosphere. If you're in your twenties and enjoy drinking a few Buds while taking in the big game on television, this is your sort of bar. That's not a knock on the place; it's just that this sort of establishment is about 15 years past its sell-by date for someone in my age bracket.

As for the beer list, it is fairly impressive. There are a good number of quality craft beer selections on tap, including Bell's, Left Hand, Magic Hat, Brugge, Victory, and Founders brands. We opted for Two Brothers Oh Brother!, which is a Belgian tripel style ale. This beer pours with a cloudy orange/amber color and very little head. While you expect a tripel to be served in a tulip glass, Chumley's opts for pint glasses, which is fine if you're used to drinking this type of beer but not so great if you want to get a good impression of the nose and if you don't know that you should sip instead of gulp (this is an 8.5% ABV beer). The nose is not unusual for a Belgian--musty and slightly malty. The mouthfeel is pleasantly creamy, and the taste bears notes of cloves, candi sugar sweetness, and malt. For a tripel, it's also very smooth and hides its alcohol content well. The smoothness of the Oh Brother! makes the beer easy to drink very quickly. A solidly made and well-balanced tripel - 3.50 mugs from me.

We left Chumley's after finishing our feature beer and headed to Brugge for one more round, courtesy of the Urbanophile. Ted has two seasonals on tap at the moment--a Helles and a Strong Dark Ale. Mike went with the Helles; Chris and I went with the Strong Dark Ale. The Dark was just as described: strong and dark. A lot of malt and kick in this one. If we were officially reviewing this beer, it would garner at least a 3.25 mug rating if not more.


It was quite the show last Thursday for the Red Bull TNT Freestyle Motocross on Broad Ripple Ave. On this particular night, though, these were not things I was looking for. Well, I might have been interested in hairless monkeys, but I just made that one up. That would have been awesome, though. Who wouldn't like watching hairless monkeys performing daring motorcycle jumps?!

I digress. This evening was about beer and we were drinking at Chumley's. In college, Chumley's would have been my kind of bar. My friends and I played a LOT of pool and darts. And who knows, the wide and impressive selection of beer on tap might have advanced my love of good beer a little faster. These days places like Chumley's get on my nerves. I much prefer to hear the chatter of my companions over the noise of jukebox selections, especially when we've got someone as interesting as The Urbanophile sitting in on this roundtable.

As for the beer? I love tripel. Probably my second favorite style after IPA -- I even attempted a homebrew tripel that turned out drinkable. Two Brothers Oh Brother! is a well done version of the style with a creamier/slicker mouthfeel than many I have tasted. I had a hard time smelling much from the beer but there was at least a hint of banana. That showed up more prominently in the taste, where it linked up with clove, familiar friends in tripels and other Belgian styles. For drinkability, I'd describe this as dangerous. So dangerous that I got ahead of the table and decided to also get a pint of Double DeBockEl, a brand-new beer out of Sierra Nevada. It's an interesting take on dopplebock, with a hoppier bite than many mellower, maltier versions I've had.

I enjoy tripels so much that in my exuberance at trying a new one, I wanted to give Oh Brother! 4.1 mugs. Thinking about it more, I think 4+ scores need to be reserved for the best of the best tripels and this is definitely not one of them. I still think it's interesting and worth ordering again but I'm revising my score down to 3.8 mugs.

Since motorcycles and motocross are my brother's scene and bicycles and two wheeled transportation are my scene, I wasn't as bothered with the motocross explosion happening on Broad Ripple Avenue as Jim was. As it turns out, I saved my lack of enthusiasm for the review.

It wasn't the beer or company that set me off. Those were both quite lovely. First off, the Two Brothers Oh Brother, a beer from Two Brothers' "Artisan Series". Their words:
The artisan beer series is an outlet for our creative/artistic side. These are beers we have been itching to brew but have a hard time getting to while brewing all our regular beers. Most of them are unique in one way or another. We may or may not brew them again at some point, but these limited run beers are all are [sic] fun and fantastic.
Fun and fantastic? Sign me up.

The beer: Sweet (what Belgian tripel isn't?) and bit peppery on the lips and front of tongue. The usual tripel elements of banana and clove come through, and the beer finishes tight on the tongue, dry, and slightly bitter. Not bad. Not good.

I can easily think of two tripels - Brugge's Tripel de Ripple and Victory's Golden Monkey - that are able-bodied competitors, and more likely to end up in front of me the next time around. All told, Oh Brother wasn't bad... I just wasn't memorable. 2.95 Mugs.

I haven't mentioned the bar, have I? Chumley's the every(college)bar. Girls, pool tables, horrible reggae cover versions of police songs coming from the overloud stereo, dudes in baseball caps, a girl drinking alone and texting, 800 televisions, and the added bonus of a clueless waitress. And I quote "do we have that on draft?" Yes. Yes you do.

In her defense, she was new. In our defense, so were we.

This place is as advertised, and I think most people know what they're in for in any Broad Ripple Avenue bar. If you're in college, of legal age, looking to pick up girls and get them drunk, there are plenty of big and tasty beers on draft that your special lady might never suspect are 6 to 9 percent alcohol by volume. Or if you're just looking for somewhere to play pool, and actually have the option of decent beer, this just might be your place.

It isn't mine.

Jim: 3.5 Chris: 3.8 Mike: 2.95
Total Avg Score: 3.41 Mugs

19 September 2008

Random Beer Roundup - Jennifer Lopez snubs Heidi Klum Edition

Welcome to another edition of the Random Beer Roundup brought to you by TRESemme hair products and the Bluefly accessory wall1. Were you looking for beer inventory listings? No one sent me anything this week. Maybe next week. But don't go just yet..

Here's something:

Kirk at Mr. G's (2209 E. Connor, Noblesville) with this update: We have 3 Floyds Moloko in.


And now this:

Mike at J. Gumbo's reports that he has the only keg of Three Floyds Munsterfest (a Marzen/Oktoberfest) in central Indiana. Until it runs out.

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Don't forget tonight's B+ART event at Big Car in Fountain Square. Free Beer!

Luckily they all lived to tell the tale:
On Thursday September 4th one of Upland Brewing Co.’s oak barrels exploded during the bottling process. Fortunately no one was severely hurt, though one employee was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. However, nearly all of the highly-anticipated Kiwi Lambic batch was lost in the accident. Only a few cases were bottled before the explosion occurred. There will be four cases (48 bottles) available to individual consumers. The first 48 individuals who reserved Kiwi Lambic will each receive one bottle only.

No Kiwi Lambic will be available for wholesale distribution or for sale through the brew pub due to the accident.
Speaking of that lambic..
Wednesday October 1st will be the Lambic Release Party at the brewery and also the first day you’ll be able to pick up your order. The brew pub opens at 11 am and reservations will be available at this time for carry-out only. Beginning at 5 pm, patrons will be able to order Lambic for consumption in the brew pub.
It's not beer but they mix well...

Elwood, Indiana's New Day Meadery has put out a call for volunteers:
We have just found out that the plums are ripe and ready to be turned into our coveted Semi-Sweet Plum Honey Wine. This means we're having a PITTING PARTY this Saturday (September 20th) starting at Noon here at the shop.

Every luscious plum is pitted by hand...and do we need A LOT of hands to get the job done! PLEASE email or call to let us know if you're willing to lend a hand and be a part of creating something great. Our email is contact@newdaymeadery.com and our number is 765-552-3433.

Feel free to pass this email onto ANYONE you know that might enjoy getting into the PITTING PARTY. As a thank you to all of our volunteers, each one (21 years or over) will take home a bottle of their choosing! So please come on out and join us this Saturday, we'd love to see you!
Random things Chris picked up:
1. Rock Bottom Rocktoberfest tapping is (well, was) Thursday at 6pm.

2. I popped into J. Gumbos for a beer last night. Mike was doing his Monday bartending gig and mentioned that he's going to be getting Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. I think he said he would be sending out an email when it goes on tap. (We'll let you know if we hear anything)

3. ..something else Mike said last night about Mad Anthony IPA (which I think is brewed exclusively with cascade hops). You've probably heard Mike mention that he's the only place in Indiana where you can get Mad Anthony IPA on tap. I always assumed there was an implicit "except for the Mad Anthony restaurants" in there. Apparently not. The MA restaurants do sporadically have it on as a special but J. Gumbo's is literally the only place that regularly gets kegs. Everytime they bottle a batch of their IPA for 6 packs, they also fill a couple kegs for Mike so he can keep it on tap.
Our old friend Traci says hello:
The Fickle Peach in Muncie has had Magic Hat #9 for quite some time. You guys need to take a road trip to Muncie.

Is Rodenbach Grand Cru on tap anywhere in Indy? Heorot in Muncie picked it up a couple of weeks ago. The only other place I've seen it on tap is the Map Room in Chicago.
Anyone seen it? Anywhere? Leave a comment.

Advanced warning for Saturday 9/27: Indianapolis residents and beer lovers can fill their Saturday calendar on 9/27/08. Start the day at Fountain Square's Masterpiece in a Day, head over to Deano's Vino for the 5th Annual Bratoberfest, then head on over to Beautiful Irvington and Ellingburger Park for the Circle City Socialites Rollerderby League Coming Out Party. Our very on Kelly.. er..uh.. I mean Screama Donna will be participating. Gina (ie Extra Special Bitter) would be joining her but decided to break her leg instead. GOOD TIMES.

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Interested in having your events, taps, or new beer inventory listed on Hoosier Beer Geek? It won't cost you anything. Except love. Drop us a line at hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com.

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1This is not an actual endorsement. It's a Project Runway reference. I am secure in my manhood.

17 September 2008

B+ART @ Big Car Gallery | Friday, September 19, 8:00 p.m.

Join us at Big Car Gallery in Fountain Square this Friday night at 8:00 p.m. for this month's edition of Beer + Art, or "B+ART" as we like to call it. As for the Beer part of this equation, we'll have some Oktoberfest style beer available for free tasting (courtesy of World Class Beverages). And as for the Art part of the equation, Big Car will be showing Lynch (One), a documentary about iconoclastic film director David Lynch. Dancing dwarves may be in attendance.

16 September 2008

Fumble: The Beer Menu at Lucas Oil Stadium

It’s Sunday night, September 7th. I am inside the new Lucas Oil Stadium. As a long time season ticket holder, I am very excited about having a new stadium. But my beloved Colts aren’t doing so well. In fact, the Chicago Bears are smacking us around pretty good.

This is not the way I expected things to start in the big L-O. I think it is time for a beer.

There are so many bell and whistles in the new stadium, including a retractable roof and a retractable north window, both very cool features. But just as impressive, there are 778 beer taps at 525 points of sale, which is almost double what the Colts’ old Hoosier Dome home had. And that is good news for beer fans.

Or it should be. As I walk around, I notice that Budweiser takes up about half of the taps. The other taps are pretty well split between Miller and Coors. There are stands selling bottled beer, but they are basically limited to Corona, Heineken, and Amstel Light.

I had read in the Indianapolis Star that there will be beers from the downtown Indianapolis Ram brewery. But I wasn’t able to find them. And every beer vendor and concession stand worker I asked didn’t know that Ram beer was sold in the stadium.

Obviously there aren’t many points of sale dedicated to Ram. But why just Ram? There are so many great beers in Indiana and the entire Midwest. With so many more taps available, why isn’t the variety of beers available more diverse? That is the question I asked Bob Mack of World Class Beverages.

“[B]reweries have to pay to have their beer served in stadiums and it is very, very expensive. That situation really gears Lucas Oil towards macro brands who have large marketing budgets. Miller and Coors [which is distributed by World Class Beverages parent company Monarch Beverages] pay to be there, but that doesn’t cover any World Class brands. Anheuser-Busch pays well into the millions of dollars each year for their presence.

“I don’t know that any of our breweries are in a financial position to pay the fees involved in being present there, but we have talked to Centerplate about a consortium type approach where the financial burden could be shared, but there is a limit to how many products can be represented, which limits the number of breweries who can help to share that financial burden.”

Call me a naïve beer geek, but I thought teams would (or should) select beers based on what their fans would like to drink. “You are thinking logically and with your palate,” Mat Gerdenich of Cavalier Distributing informed me. “Those guys only think with their wallets.”

But it is not just the big sports teams that are doing this. I asked Andrew Castner at Oaken Barrel about their long time relationship with Victory Field. “In order to have our beer on tap at the field, we buy advertising and signage in parts of the field. As our math has gone, we sell as much beer to them as it costs to purchase the advertising. As a result, we don't make money on that account, but we are able to increase our exposure.”

It turns out that most venues and events that sell beer make their beer selections based on who buys advertising or pays to be a sponsor. “The current Oktoberfest at the Fairgrounds gets money from Warsteiner for their products to be on tap there,” says Mack, “which makes it difficult for us to be involved with brands like Spaten or Paulaner. Though they will bring in some bottles our products aren’t that visible.”

I understand giving a greater presence to those who pay extra. But I’m disappointed to hear that beer brands are not being brought in at all because they don’t have the marketing budget to compete with the big three. So even though the new stadium was paid for by Hoosier taxpayers, you most likely won’t see many Hoosier produced beers being sold there.

(Okay, so maybe I'm being melodramatic. To be fair, the new stadium did just open, so hopefully a deal to have more craft beer will come together in the next season or two. Diana Evans, Director of Marketing at Centerplate, said "Whenever possible, we like to incorporate regional flavors (locally-sourced) and signature offerings to make the fan experience more special. As you've probably seen on the website, we recruit talented chefs and restaurateurs to inform our purchasing, design and menus--and we're always interested in new concepts. " So keep your fingers crossed.)

I know that other NFL stadiums sell craft beers. On Sunday, fellow Colts fan Bryan Haza was in the Metrodome in Minneapolis and texted me that he bought a 21 oz. cup of Pale Ale from St. Paul-based Summit Brewing Company for $7. So we emailed the concessionaires for the 32 NFL teams asking if they would share their beer list with us. Most were happy to share.

It should come as no surprise that in St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome that Anheuser-Busch dominates the beer lineup. They submitted that their beer list includes the Budweiser family of beers, the Michelob family of beers, and the Anheuser-Busch specialty and seasonal beers, plus Miller Lite and Coors Light.

Knowing that St. Louis brewery Schlafly Beer has a presence at Busch Stadium, home of the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals, we wondered why their beer isn’t available at Rams games. Tom Schlafly wondered the same thing in a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Business Journal on June 16, 2008:

“There are lots of Rams fans who like Schlafly Beer. We see them at The Tap Room before or after every home game. There's no doubt that Schlafly would sell well at the Edward Jones Dome if it were available. Cardinals fans can buy Schlafly Beer at Busch Stadium. Blues fans can buy our beer at The Scottrade Center. Why can't Rams fans buy our beer at the Dome?”

We asked brand manager Mitch Turner if there had been any discussion about having their beer at Rams games. He said, “The Edward Jones Dome is run by Sport Service and they declined to serve our beer (I approached them personally). Their official stance was that we approached them too late in the year to get in. We approached them (both through the brewery and our distributor) periodically starting in late spring/early summer. The final answer of "no" was given to us in June.

“The reality is that they do serve Sam Adams, Killians, Blue Moon, and Boulevard,” Turner continues, “and that if there is an enemy #1 to the local AB/IB wholesaler, it is us. So, we are left out due to politics.” So while demand may be there for Schlafly by Rams fans, in this case business practices and politics seem to be getting in the way. But not necessarily money, as Schlafly doesn’t pay to be in any of those venues. “We are sold in Busch Stadium and the Scottrade Center (and the Pageant, the Roberts Orpheum, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Harrah's Casino, etc.) because consumers demand it and we are very active (non-monetarily) in seeking opportunities to be in these venues and helping them achieve their goals.”

Despite some political and monetary hurdles, somehow quality, local beer offerings are making their way into some NFL stadiums. Abita is available at the Saints’ Superdome in New Orleans. Boulevard beers are available in their hometown’s Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs. LP Field serves Yazoo, based in the Tennessee Titans town of Nashville. And the Buffalo Bills serve beers Flying Bison at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Honker’s Ale from Goose Island is available at Soldier Field in Chicago. But you also can drink regional favorites like Old Style and Leinenkugel’s while watching da Bears.

There are also stadiums that have stepped up their beer menus in a major way. At Bank of America Stadium, whose food services are operated in house by the Carolina Panthers, you will find one of the largest beer lists in the NFL, with over 44 beers listed. The local Carolina Beer Company has three varieties of its ABA Carolina Blonde at the stadium, including Carolina Strawberry Blonde and Carolina Blueberry Blonde. On top of these standard offerings, they also brew two beers for the stadium: Gridiron Red and Gridiron Brown.

At the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota Vikings fans take their beer very seriously. In addition to Summit’s Pale Ale, you can also find several varieties of Leinenkugel’s, as well as regional brewer Grain Belt. And Finnegan’s, which is a beer contract brewed for charity by Summit, is also on available.

Raiders Nation has a taste for craft beers as the Oakland Raiders serve an impressive selection at McAfee Coliseum. California originals like Gordon Biersch, Pyramid, and Sierra Nevada are available, as well as New Belgium’s Fat Tire and beers from Hawai’i based Kona Brewing Company.

In Denver, Invesco Field at Mile High offers plenty of hometown Coors to the thirsty Denver Broncos fans. But they also offer other Colorado brews: Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Grill and Brewery, Fat Tire from New Belgium Brewing, and Hercules Double IPA from Great Divide Brewing Company. This is on top of a large collection of domestics and imports, including Sierra Nevada.

There is a monster beer selection in Monster Park, home of the San Francisco 49’ers. Five Golden State beers can be found. Gordon Biersch and Sierra Nevada have been mentioned at other stadiums. Anchor Steam beer, not surprisingly, is available, as is fellow San Fran brewery Speakeasy. Top it off with Lagunitas IPA and fans will leave happy, no matter the score.

But when Hoosier Beer Geek reviewed all the submitted beer lists, the NFL stadium that impressed us the most is the home of the San Diego Chargers. Qualcomm Stadium has a line up of 37 beers, with 9 craft brews and 11 imports. Anchor Steam, Fat Tire, Gordon Biersch Hefewiezen, Gordon Biersch Marzen, Kona Fire Rock, Kona Long Board, Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Ballast Point’s Yellowtail Pale Ale make up 1/4th of their beer menu.

It goes to show that demand drives supply. Given that in California and Colorado craft beer has a much larger market share than here in Indiana, it isn’t surprising that the NFL stadiums in those states serve up big craft beer menus.

Hopefully, as demand increases, the supply of craft beer in Lucas Oil Stadium will also increase. Until then, might I suggest to my fellow beer geeks that you tailgate with your favorite selection of beers or visit J. Gumbo’s, Spencer’s, or one of the microbreweries before kickoff.

And pray that during the game, the Colts on-field performance doesn’t drive you to drinking.

15 September 2008

KOTBR #54 - MacNiven's Broken Promise

We originally set out for MacNiven's with the promise of Brooklyn's Grand Cru and Magic Hat #9 on tap - but upon arriving there was not a drop to drink of either, and so we set our sights elsewhere.

Matt R (profile photo next time): I usually don't care when a bar is out of a particular beer. I want to think it is because they are turning their beer properly, and when it comes to craft beer I like to think that it means that craft beer is taking hold and people are interested in drinking different beer, but I really had my heart set on trying the Magic Hat #9, but all the more reason to go back to MacNiven's in the future. I've personally always enjoyed MacNiven's. I've always gotten great service, great beer, and the food is pretty tasty as well. I also have a penchant for all things Sean Connery, and the walls of MacNivens are a tribute to the Scotsman, and why not have a Scottish beer in his honor?

Behold Caledonian Golden Promise

I wasn't sure what to expect from Caledonian. This is my first beer from them. This is also the first organically brewed beer in Britain. So, in case you are on beer Jeopardy you will know that bit of useless information. This beer poured a nice golden amber color with a tight frothy head on it with an abundance of carbonation bubbles. I am getting ripe fruit in the nose like apricots and peaches as well as some fingernail polish. The main flavors are of toasted grain with just a slight hop addition to the flavor. The mouthfeel is good, but leaves quite the dry finish. This was a fairly decent beer, and I would come back to it again. I think it is worthy of a solid 3.3 mugs.

Although Chris is fairly new to the party, he knows his Hoosier Beer Geek history. That's why he didn't hesitate in using the old KOTBR beer review cop-out: the haiku.

Spur of the moment
So silly in retrospect
Damn inspiration:

Smells strongly of pear
Tastes of Granny Smith Apples
So easy to drink

3.6 Mugs.

When rolling with a pack of eight thirsty Knights, you run into problems not normally encountered. Problems like "yes, we have that. No, we do not have eight of them." Craft beer isn't always stacked so deep.

And that's after making a decision on what to drink.

"Have you had that?"
"Yeah... I'd rather not."
"What about.."
"Hey has anyone.."
"What the hell is Caledonian Golden Promise?"

Apparently the golden promise lies in a minefield of organic whozits and whatnots:
The first organically brewed beer in Britain. Golden Promise is named after Scotland's most famous malting barley - which is prized by brewers and distillers for producing a delightful rounded sweet malt flavour, reminiscent of Ovaltine.

Organically grown aroma hops like First Gold are added to Caledonian's unique direct-fired open coppers to create this award winning beer. Certified by the Soil Association it is a 5-times winner at their Organic Food Awards and winner of a Silver medal at the 2005 International Brewing Awards.
Certified by the Soil Association? I don't know about you, but I feel like if there's anyone I can trust on beer, it's got to be the soil association. You know, with their love, dedication, and expansive knowledge of soil.

Whatever. Golden Promise had a sweet fruity nose - I got apple, pear, and banana - with a front that echoed those same elements. Light bodied, a little tart, a hint vinegary. Agreeable, drinkable, nice.. but..

Taking into account the $7 price of the bottle, I'd wouldn't exactly hurry to pick this one again. But it was pretty good. 3.25 Mugs.

Mike: 3.25 Jason: 3.4 Jim: 4.0 Gina: 4.0 Matt E: 4.0 Kelly: 3.65 Matt R: 3.3 Chris: 3.6
Total Score: 3.65 Mugs

12 September 2008

Random Beer Roundup - I Can't Fight This Feeling Any More Edition

Folks, even as I wander, I'm keeping you in sight. You're a candle in the window on a cold, dark winters night. And here's your beer news.

Just a reminder - If there's not enough news for you here, you can always check out bear news instead.

Liquor Stores/Better Beer Retailers

From John at Big Red Liquors, Bloomington:

New this week
  • BELLS Oktoberfest
  • BLUE MOON Harvest Moon (Pumpkin)
  • BROOKLYN Octoberfest
  • BUFFALO BILL Pumpkin Ale
  • CLIPPER CITY Oktoberfest
  • DOGFISH HEAD Punkin Brown
  • FOUNDERS Breakfast Stout (Limited quantity available)
  • UPLAND Sampler 12pk
  • UPLAND Oktoberfest

  • From Courtney at the Hop Shop (3855 E. 96th Street, Indianapolis) comes a nice list of seasonals:

    Here is a list of the Oktoberfest Beers that we have in now. More to come soon.
  • Bells Oktoberfest
  • Leinenkugels Oktoberfest
  • Upland Oktoberfest
  • Breckenridge Autumn
  • Coney Island Freaktoberfest
  • Spaten Oktoberfest
  • Clipper City MärzHon
  • Paulaner Oktoberfest
  • Brooklyn Oktoberfest
  • Weihenstephaner Festbier

  • This just in from Gabe at Goose the Market (2503 N. Delaware St, Indianapolis):

    The Goose has a gaggle of new beers in stock including some great Octoberfest selections.
  • Left Hand Octoberfest
  • Scmaltz Coney Island Freaktoberfest
  • Weihenstephaner Festbier
  • Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale
  • Atwater Brewing Blocktoberfest
  • Ayinger Oktoberfest
  • Brooklyn Octoberfest
  • Dogfish Head Punkin'

  • Some other great new additions include:
  • Founder's Breakfast Stout!
  • Rogue Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale
  • St. Peter's Cream Stout
  • Three Floyds Rabbid Rabbit
  • Wabash Valley Cannonball Porter
  • Scmaltz Coney Island Sword Swallower
  • Left Hand Twin Sister Double IPA
  • DeBlock Satan Belgian Golden Ale
  • Two Brothers Bitter End Pale
  • Jever Pilsner

  • Kirk at Mr. G's Liquor (2209 E. Connor, Noblesville) stops by:

    New to our shelves:
  • Great Divide Titan IPA
  • Founders Breakfast Stout
  • Breckenridge Autumn
  • Shipyard Pumpkin Ale

  • Restaraunt/Brewery/Brewpub

    In not exactly beer news (though they have plenty of great beer), Mike DeWeese at J. Gumbo's drops a line:

    Live Crawfish Boil, Saturday Sept. 13th
    $15 single serving, $20 all you care to eat
    8 PM until they're gone
    Price includes Abita Tasting, Cajun Sausage, Corn and Taters
    Reservations recommended but not required
    Crawfish races at 7:30pm

    Bell's Brewery is on the cutting edge in terms of customer contact and sent out a message on Twitter this morning saying:

    Look for our first ever Christmas Ale after Halloween!

    Word on the street is that their Christmas Ale will be a Scotch Ale.

    Super Random

    The latest Mikkeller newsletter (no. 8), Mikkel makes mention of three beers I believe we haven't seen here yet - It's Alight!, Not Just Another Wit, and Simcoe Single Hop IPA. Beernews.org reports that the 2008 releases of Santa’s Little Helper - (our #4 ranked current beer -reviewed KOTBR #46), Not Just Another Wit, and From To (not to be confused with Mikkeller To From - reviewed KOTBR #53) are on there way to the states. If we hear anything about them hitting Indiana shelves, we'll let you know.

    Out of St. Louis and the Post-Dispatch comes news that our friends at Schlafly know when to seize an opportunity:
    The buyout has rocked St. Louis. Managers of bars around town say they have been peppered with questions from drinkers about which "American" beers are still available.

    "We have this unique situation with A-B in St. Louis," Kopman told dozens of bar managers, grocers and restaurateurs at a beer panel at Bottleworks last month. "It probably doesn't go beyond 50 miles. But people are saying, 'I want to drink something else.'"

    The folks at Schlafly smell an opportunity: The company's accelerated expansion plans are aimed at capitalizing on the turmoil and angst caused by InBev's ascension.
    Fresh Hopping Done Here - The Denver Post with an article about the Great Divide Brewing Co's use of fresh hopping. "It's one of the things we can do in the brewing world that is timely," said Brian Dunn, owner and founder of Great Divide. "It's a unique thing, and our brewers get to stretch their creative muscle."

    And when you see this on shelves, let us know - Chicagoist Beer of the Week is Three Floyds Moloko Milk Stout - a beer we should be seeing very limited quantities of in the Indianapolis area. "Moloko isn't your typical Three Floyds hop bomb. Actually, it's the complete opposite. Moloko is far and away the sweetest beer Three Floyds brews." Sounds tasty.

    If you're wondering, Moloko is in World Class' Beer Finder,but is showing none available as of Wednesday afternoon. According to World Class' Bob Mack:"The central and lower parts of the state of Indiana do not have it yet, but we are expecting a shipment from Three Floyds late this week. After that, we can start shipping to retailers so you'll probably start seeing it next week (Sept. 12th and beyond)." Hey, that's today!

    Lastly, you may remember Chris from our "GABF on the cheap" post a while back. Or maybe you met him at our anniversary party. In any case, he's still got two spots open for the GABF trip - so if you're interested, check out the old post and drop him a line. Further details:
    Hey, it's Chris from beer meetup. I learned that you have posting days on Friday, and was wondering if you would post an update for my GABF trip. I have to spots left for the trip. Interested beer geeks could either do the whole package for $395 per person, or just the airfare for $159 RT. The flights are nonstop each way. We leave on Thursday morning Oct 9, and return Sunday night Oct 12.
    * * * * *

    Interested in having your events, taps, or new beer inventory listed on Hoosier Beer Geek? It won't cost you anything. Want to complain about the abuse of REO Speedwagon lyrics? Fair enough. Drop us a line at hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com.

    09 September 2008

    From the Mailbag - A Question on Glassware

    I've got some ideas on this one, but I'm sure I'm missing a few:

    Figured since you guys seemed to be the experts1 in the Indianapolis beer scene, you might know the answer to this question. I've been looking around for some different logo'd beer glasses. I'm especially interested in finding tulip glasses or chalice style. I've already tried the Hop Shop but they were currently out of stock. Do you know of any places that carry this type of item?

    The first place that came to mind was Parti Pak (2633 E Stop 11 Rd, Indianapolis (317) 889-7452‎ - click here for directions), where at one time you could find a vast array of different styles of beer glasses spread across the tops of the craft beer coolers. Then Parti Pak remodeled - which I think most folks would agree was a good thing (better lighting certainly is a nice addition) - but I have no idea what they did with the glassware. I'm sure it's still there, somewhere.

    The second place that came to mind was Kahn's
    (5341 N Keystone Ave, Indianapolis (317) 251-9463‎ - click here for directions), which also has a nice selection.

    I asked the rest of the Knights and Chris (CorrND) weighed in:
    Yeah, Kahn's has a ton of glassware on the ledges that run above all the beer coolers. I bought a Sam Smith imperial pint glass there once and I remember thinking it was surprisingly cheap. Something like $3.
    So that's the places we could think of, but I'm willing to bet those aren't the only locations for beer glassware in the city. If any readers have seen glassware for sale around town, drop a comment - let's help Rob out.

    * * * * *

    1We are not experts.

    08 September 2008

    Photo Diary - Indianapolis Colts Tailgate, Week One

    The original idea for this diary was to walk the parking lots around Lucas Oil Stadium, check out what people were drinking, and take photos of those folks who were breaking the football beer tradition by drinking beer that wasn't mass produced and foreign owned. It seemed like a decent idea at the time.

    As I made the walk from our South and Delaware Street tailgate headquarters towards the N.K. Hurst parking lot, I quickly realized that it wasn't going to be as easy as I had expect. Miller Light? There's a LOT of Miller Light out there. Bud Light? Same thing. The occasional Coors product? Sure. Anything else? Not until I got to the Barley Island sampling tent.

    Are you out there, Colt-loving craft beer fans? What are you drinking on? Where are you hiding? I'd like to try this again soon - hopefully with better results.

    How we roll: At least one opposing team inspired beer choice - Three Floyds (Gumballhead) is a lot closer to Chicago than Indianapolis - then a bottle of BBC Jefferson Reserve, Schlafly Coffee Stout, North Coast Brother Thelonius, and Founder's Breakfast Stout. I expected colder weather.

    Rodney represents Chicago with a bottle of Goose Island Honker's Ale

    Primo Tailgate Dining

    Beats walkin'

    Jason's pre-game face

    Jason's long lost brother

    Not everyone in our party is on the Hoosier Beer Geek program... Yet.

    Leiny is closer to the right track

    An entrepreneur near our tailgate has started a business of issuing day-passes to porta-potties. $3 covers you for all day. And this is the stamp that proves you've purchased a pass. When I asked to take a picture, the gal asked "you know what this is for, right?"

    While we're on the subject, this is pretty much what you can expect for beer choice near the stadium. Unless..

    What's this? Four yellow taps in the shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium?

    Barley Island and World Class Beverages brought out four kegs of their finest for free samples of true Indiana beer. They set up shop just south of the stadium in the N.K. Hurst parking lot. The Indiana beer theme will continue all season long, so you can look forward to free samples from other great Indiana breweries at all Colts home games.

    "We match!" "We DO NOT match." "We do too match!" "Shut up and help me with the cooler."

    05 September 2008

    Free beer sampling for Colts fans

    From Bob Mack at World Class Beverage:
    We have secured a free beer tasting tent outside of the stadium in the Hurst Bean Company parking lot (which is in the stadium south parking lot). This Sunday, Sept. 7, Barley Island will be present and on Sept. 21 Brugge will be present. Both will be giving free samples of their beers.

    Here’s a map of the tasting location. The blue
    marker is where out tent will be.

    The Session #19 Deutsches Bier

    This months session revolves around all things beer from Germany. It is hosted this month by Lootcorp, and is inspired since this month also starts the worlds largest gathering of beer drinkers at Oktoberfest in Munich.

    I had a hard time trying to decide what exactly I wanted to write about. There are so many things things that Germany has given to the world of beer. Just off the top of my head I am thinking about the Reinheitsgebot, or the German purity law, which at one point was the oldest consumer protection law in existence. I am also thinking about how many varieties of beer the Germans make. Everything from Marzen, Eisbock, Pilsner, Roggenbier, Berliner weiss, Altbeir, Kolsch, weiss, and many more I can't think of right now. There are just so many to choose from, and without the Germans I honestly think that American craft beer or American beer culture wouldn't have really taken off. Many of our oldest beer institutions were started by German immigrants, and who knows what America's beer culture would look like without them. With so much to choose from I finally settled on writing about Rauchbier or smoke beer. It is also an inside joke with the HBG's because all of the new beer geeks really enjoy Rauchbiers, but the other members of the HBG's are not fans of the style. I am also a sucker for traditional brewing methods, and this style also fits right in line with that.

    I have to imagine that before the age of massive kiln drying for malt a vast majority of beer probably had a slight smokey flavor (I am certainly no expert on this, and if anyone has any ideas of more reading material for this I would love to read it). The way I understand it is malt was either dried in the sun or over open fires that would impart a certain smokiness to the malt. It wasn't until the kiln was the major device for drying malt that this method all but died out. Rauchbier almost died out entirely. The German town of Bamberg though had several breweries that kept the tradition alive. The one that I am drinking as I finish writing this is Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock from Brauerei Heller-Trum. I am pretty sure that Schlenkerla is the most visible Rauchbier in the United States. They have been brewing this style of beer in Bamburg since the 1500's.

    Rauchbier isn't for everyone, and I think is certainly an acquired taste. I wasn't a big fan of the style when I had my first offering, but I tried it again and the smokiness becomes more inviting just begging for you to take another drink. I think this beer really hit its stride for me when I paired it with BBQ ribs, and since then I enjoy Rauchbiers so much more when I pair them with food. The nose smells of smoked meat, and the flavor profile adds several kinds of smoke. I can distinctly taste several different kinds of smoke. I am reminded of campfire smoke when I was a kid, smoked sausage from my neighboors smoker, and the liquid smoke flavor from my homemade jerky. The beer underneath provides a malty chewy sweetness that compliments everything so nicely. It really does remind me of the taste and smell of smoked meat. That may not sound inviting, but with each drink I keep wanting more.

    While certianly smoke beer isn't the crowning achievement of Germany's contribution to the beer world, but I am certainly very happy that the town of Bamberg is still producing beer that keeps this beer geek pretty happy.


    The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community which was started by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. On the first Friday of each month, all participating bloggers write about a predetermined topic. Each month a different blog is chosen to host The Session, choose the topic, and post a roundup of all the responses received. For more info on The Session, check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin’s nice archive page.