03 January 2012

A Beer Weekend In Indianapolis

2012 will be a big year for events in the city of Indianapolis, and with that in mind we've put together the following guide for those visitors who might want to spend their time in the circle city the way we would - with a beer in their hand. Welcome to a Beer Weekend in Indianapolis.

5 p.m.
Begin in the Basement

Opened in 2007, Chris and Molly Eley's Goose the Market (2503 North Delaware, (317) 924-4944) quickly became a hub in Indianapolis' growing gourmet and local food movement. In June of 2010 they opened up their basement space to create the Enoteca, "a casual place to drink wine" (and beer), featuring six ready-to-drink beer choices, as well as anything from the well-selected varieties on their store shelves. While the beer selection is nothing to blink at, it's the Enoteca's food that's the star. With selections such as duck rillette, terrine, charcuterie, or one of their highly-regarded sandwiches, there's something adventurous and tasty waiting for you.

6:30 p.m.
Welcome to Broad Ripple Meridian-Kessler

With a focus on local and regional beer selections - "(beer from) the people that I know" - Broad Ripple Brewpub brewer Kevin Matalucci's Twenty Tap (5408 North College Avenue, (317) 602-8840) is one of your best bets for getting a taste of beer from all over the state. It's worth noting that Twenty Tap offers half-pours of any of their beer selections, allowing patrons to moderate their sampling. Chef Rob Coates keeps a menu of expected bar food favorites interesting and upsale, yet remarkably affordable. The vegan bahn mi sandwich is a Hoosier Beer Geek favorite.

8:00 p.m.
But if you want to try Kevin Matalucci's beer...

Despite owning Twenty Tap, Kevin Matalucci still holds down a regular job as a brewer at the Broad Ripple Brewpub (842 East 65th Street, (317) 253-2739). English expatriate John Hill opened the brewpub in 1990, in an effort to bring an authentic English pub experience to Indianapolis. He did more than that, launching the careers of more than one Indiana brewer, and creating an Indiana craft beer monument. Matalucci's English-style ales and an extensive menu help complete the effort. Order whatever is on the hand-pull.

9:30 p.m.
Belgium by way of Broad Ripple

As further proof of the influence of John Hill and the Broad Ripple Brewpub, stop in at Ted Miller (and his wife Shannon Stone's) Brugge Brasserie (1011a East Westfield Boulevard, (317) 255-0978). Miller began his brewing career at the Brewpub before traveling the world, and ultimately returned home to open this Belgian-style Gastropub. Ask your server if there are any sours on tap, and be sure to order the frites (fries), which are among Indianapolis' best.

11:00 p.m.
Topping off

When restaurateur Scott Wise finally got around to opening a brewery to support his local chain of Scotty's Brewhouse restaurants, he wasn't quite prepared for the success of his beer sales directly from his brewpub. Thr3e Wise Men (1021 Broad Ripple Avenue, (317) 255-5151) is that brewpub, and remains the only Wise-owned restaurant to carry his beer. Brewer Omar Castrellon puts his 20+ years of brewing experience to practice brewing styles that live up to Wise's vision. The pizza will come in handy after a full day of drinking.

10 a.m.
Wake Up!

Still with us? After yesterday's effort you'll probably want to wait until noon before you start drinking again. Start your day at Good Morning Mama's Cafe (1001 East 54th Street, (317) 255-3800) a former filling station turned breakfast stop. There's a menu full of the breakfast classics, as well as the Hoosier Loco Moco, a sort of KFC Famous Bowl of breakfast foods, featuring rice, cheesy grits or potatoes, an egg, a beef, sausage, or spam patty, with a biscuit top, all covered in gravy, all for just $7.99. I don't order that, but it's an option.

11:30 a.m.
Say Hi to a Farmer, and Get Drinking

Indianapolis' City Market (222 East Market Street) has gone through many changes over its recent history, but finally seems to have hit its stride with the additions of a Saturday farmer's market and the Tomlinson Tap Room (upstairs in the main hall, west wall). The former can provide produce or baked goods for snacking along the route today, while the latter can get you started on drinking by providing a full list of beer from Indiana's breweries. Partially owned by the Brewers of Indiana Guild, Tom Tap often features Indiana's harder-to-find craft beer selections. Keep an eye out for something from Three Floyds. If you're hungry, check out Papa Roux on the lower level for a po' boy.

1:00 p.m.
A Rainbow of Beer Flavors

Now that you're back to drinking, your first brewery stop today should be at Flat12 Bierworks (414 North Dorman Street, (317) 635-2337). Since opening in 2010, Flat12 has gained a dedicated local following for their "tradition with a twist" approach, leading to a myriad of variations of their house lineup, as well as an adventurous attitude towards their specialty beers.

Heavy Medals

A short trek southwest brings you to Sun King Brewing Company (135 North College Avenue, (317) 602-3702) where - if you get there in time - you can catch a 2 p.m. brewery tour. Sun King recently made big waves in craft beer community, capturing eight medals at the Great American Beer Festival, and showing the country what Hoosiers already knew: Indiana makes great beer.

Hidden in Plain Sight

After your tour, head north on College and then north east on Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave to locals), where you'll be spending the rest of your day. Just before the road turns north, you'll run into Black Market 922 Massachusetts Avenue (317) 822-6757) - but only if you know where to look. Cross the sidewalk, find a parking spot, and step into one of Indy's best restaurant spaces. The food lives up to the space, with locally-sourced selections that put a modern spin on traditional Hoosier favorites.

Drink your way down Mass Ave

The following list of Mass Ave establishments provides a little something for everyone, so you can pick and choose who suits you best as you work your way back towards downtown from Black Market.

Best Chocolate in Town (880 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 636-2800): Yes, this is a chocolate shop. But this chocolate shop offers truffles made with Sun King's Wee Mac. Definitely worth a visit.

Mass Ave Pub (745 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 974-0745):  A surprisingly deep selection of craft beer rounds out the experience at this locally-owned neighborhood pub.

Chatham Tap (719 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 917-8425): Like soccer? We do. Chatham Tap is the default choice for fans wishing to catch a bit of English Premier League action. That tap list follows format, with the standard English selections, as well as local taps and a nice bottle list.

The Flying Cupcake (715 East Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 536-0817): No beer here, just a cooler full of cupcakes to satisfy your beer-drinking sweet tooth.

Yats (659 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 686-6380): An Indianapolis cheap food institution, Yats provides diners with a plate of something saucy and cajun in a pile of rice. Chili cheese etouffee, anyone?

The Rathskeller (401 East Michigan Street, (317) 636-0396): If you're the German beer-hall type, Rathskeller is your Indianapolis answer. A full selection of German-made styles await you, as well as a sausage-heavy menu that fits the atmosphere.

Chatterbox Jazz Club (435 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 636-0584): The Chatterbox Jazz Club - a Mass Ave original - is the divey-est of dive bars, with a legendarily dusty interior, the most interesting stage carpet that ever existed, and bathrooms that are either scary or entertaining, depending on your outlook. Your best drink option is probably Sun King in a can. But what an atmosphere!

Old Point Tavern (401 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 634-8943): Something about Old Point is just plain cool. Maybe it's the wedge shaped building, or the girl dancing on the sidewalk outside, or perhaps even the extensive beer menu. In any case, the cozy confines provide plenty of entertainment.

MacNiven's (339 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 632-7268): You might be thinking that a place named MacNiven's is an Irish pub. You'd be wrong: MacNiven's is a Scottish/American Pub. It also features one of Indianapolis' most extensive beer lists, regular and rare tappings from the likes of Sun King, Bell's, and Three Floyds. And I haven't even mentioned the giant folded cheeseburger and the awesome haggis!

Ball & Biscuit (331 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 636-0539): Perhaps the most polished of all the Mass Ave bars is Ball & Biscuit, a cocktail lounge with a very solid beer lineup. The cozy spaces are made even more comfortable by the lack of televisions. This is a bar built for conversation.

Bazbeaux (333 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 636-7662): Once again we end the night with pizza - this time from an Indianapolis institution that provides a full selection of craft bottles to keep you on even keel. They have taps now; some are craft. Opened since 1989.

10:00 a.m.

Act like a tourist, finally.

If you've survived two straight days of drinking, today's the day to catch a few easy local tourist areas. At the center of Indianapolis lies the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (1 Monument Circle), perhaps best known as the only part of Indianapolis they show during national football telecasts. If you manage to make it up to the viewing deck, keep in mind that Hoosier Beer Geek's own Jason Larrison is the architect responsible for those vertical windows you're looking out of.

A bit north of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument lies the Indiana War Memorial (431 East Meridian Street) perhaps best known for this), the American Legion Mall, and the Central Library (40 East St. Clair Street). While I wouldn't normally recommend a library for tourists, ours features one of the best views of the city, as well as a pretty impressive interior.

Lastly, a visit to Indianapolis wouldn't be complete without a stop to Maxine's Chicken and Waffles (132 North East Street, (317) 423-3300) for a stomach full of fried chicken goodness for the drive home. A word of warning, though - show up early and beat the church crowd.

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Indianapolis cab companies: All this drinking calls for either a designated driver or the services of a cab driver. To be honest, Indianapolis' cab companies don't have the best reputation, but they are still, in many cases, your best option.

Yellow Cab: (317) 487-7777
Blue Line Cab: (317) 444-1444
Prompt Cab: (317) 927-7070
Freedom Cab: (317) 244-4448

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Of course this isn't all Indianapolis has to offer - you might also want to check out our Where to Drink in Indy - Hoosier Beer Geek's Guide to Fountain Square.


  1. Don't forget about IndyGo -- almost all of these establishments are serviced by route 17, just another option to not drive drunk.

  2. Shocked to see that you left Bier Brewery off this list--they have some of the best beer in Indy!

  3. There are plenty of other worthy options that I would have loved to fit in, but doing a write-up in this format means that time is an issue. Bier does awesome work indeed, but in this case I wrote about places I frequent. There were discussions amongst the group a out my choices, but they're MY choices - not necessarily the best for everyone, but places I know and enjoy.