Thanks to a couple of friends dragging me, and paying much of the way, I was able to visit the Indiana Microbrewers Festival in Indianapolis this past Saturday, July 18.
- No limit on the number of tastings.
- Great weather – slightly overcast with a high of 70. Who wants to drink outside in the summer heat?
- Well over 50 brewers (mostly from Indiana) – most present themselves, a few via distributors. There were between 250-400 different brews to sample, making it impossible to sample every one on my list.
- Almost every brew was on tap, no bottles!
- Lots of swag to be had – mostly key chains and coasters.
- Designated driver tickets – with free soft drinks and water.
- Full layout of the festival including a listing of every beer was available in advance of the event.
- The event was a benefit for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Optimist International.
- Firkin Tent! A tent full of cask conditioned brews – o’ my!
- Parking, or lack thereof. Get there early.
- Smoking was supposed to be away from the tents, but in practice it was everywhere. Aroma is such a huge factor in taste, why anyone would want any distractions from this is beyond me.
- Size of the crowd. The event was four hours long and during most of the event you were in line. Get a beer, run and get in the next line – then enjoy your taste.
- Logistics. The lines and crowds overlapped, making navigating extremely difficult. You often could not figure out which line went to which brewer. Most of the crowd did not seem to care, as they could rarely tell us which brewer they were in line for. They really need to limit the crowd more, or do some serious work on the layout.
- Food – although there was food available, the quality was dubious and it was an extra cost.
- Non-alcoholic drinks were available for designated drivers, but cost $2 for drinkers. Do you really want to encourage drinkers not to hydrate? Water should have been freely available. You also had to hunt down the single location in the back of the event to get the drinks.
- No early entry – they opened the gate at 3:00pm, not a minute early. Not much of a problem for us, as we were fairly close to the beginning of the line, but I felt sorry for those in the back as they must have missed the first half hour, or more, of the event.
- Port-o-lets with very long lines. Chalk this up to a necessary evil of an outdoor event.
You can find a mostly complete listing of what I tasted below. But I must, yes must, point out three that demand notice. First, most of you have probably had a Dogfish Head 120 (the best IPA ever) – but very few of you have had it on tap. I encourage everyone out there to hunt down an establishment and try this extraordinary pour. Second, drive to the Upland Brewery in Indiana and have one of the best stouts ever made – Chocolate Stout aged in a 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel. And third, if you ever have heard of Three Floyd’s Dark Lord you certainly know the hype this beer generates. It can only be purchased from the brewery on a single day each year – and you have to buy a ticket to get the right to buy the beer. Now that I have tasted it I can assure you the hype is real – this is indeed the best beer you will ever have. Get on the lottery list now for next years Dark Lord Day.
Alphabetically listed (brewer – brew – rating from 1 to 10):
- Alcatraz Brewing – 1 3/4 Belgian – 8
- Barley Island Brewing – Single White Friar – 8
- Broad Ripple Brewpub – Hefwiesen – 5
- Brugge Brasserie – Bruno – 5
- Brugge Brasserie – Tripple De Ripple – 5
- Brugge Brasserie – Voyageur IPA – 5
- Dogfish Head – 120 IPA – 10
- Granite City – Brothers Benedict Bock – 4
- Hoppin’ Frog – Boris Stout – 7
- Lafayette Brewing – 1998 Big Boris Barleywine – 9
- Lafayette Brewing – 2008 Big Boris Barleywine – 6
- Mishawaka Brewing – Four Horsemen Irish Ale – 2
- New Albanian Brewing – Scotch Cask Condition Community Dark Mild – 2
- Schmaltz – He’Brew ReJEWvenator – 8
- Shoreline Brewery – Beltaine Scottish Ale – 4
- Southampton – Saison – 5
- Three Floyds – Dark Lord – 10
- Three Floyds – Gorch Fock Helles – 4
- Two Brothers – Oh! Brother Belgian Triple
- Upland – Bourbon Barrel Chocolate Stout – 10
- Upland – Rad Red – 4
- 21st Amendment – Hell or High Watermelon – 6