Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Wish List to Beer Santa (The Ghost of Indy's beer future)

Dear Santa,

We here at the Beer Barons have been very good this year. We haven't been thrown out of many bars. We have always finished our beers. We've kept spills to a minimum, and we have always invited our friends to share in the splendor that is the Indiana craft beer scene. We're extremely appreciative of that scene, but like all kids (or kids at heart) we want more stuff! So we've put together a short list for Santa of the things that we'd all like to see happen in the Indy beer scene... we don't expect this to all happen by next Christmas, but maybe some will if we're extra good this coming year!

The BrewniBomber:
1. Realistically I would love to see Ballast Point (San Diego, CA) distribute here. Not so realistically- Alpine Brewing Co (just outside San Diego)

2.  For the west side of town (Avon, Plainfield, etc.) to get an actual real-life craft beer bar or high-quality production brewery. Cutter's is here and there's some hope with Cartel Brewing coming early 2014, but a beer bar? Nothing close. I live out here and it sucks having to drive 30 minutes plus to get a decent craft beer on tap. There's a lot of people out here and a lot of new retail popping-up… one could wish for one of those spots to be a decent bar and not another pizza joint (there's a lot of them out here for some reason).

3. For a "destination" brewery to establish itself in Indy in 2014. Don't get me wrong, there's some amazing breweries here in town, but I would like to see someone become a destination that beer geeks flock to. Think Stone, Russian River, Three Floyd's, Founder's, Cigar City, Hill Farmstead, etc. These types of breweries exist in towns large and small, so why not Indy?  I think there are some existing breweries that are on the verge and who knows what one of the 30-plus slated breweries will bring to the table.

The Big Guy:
1. I want world peace and good will towards men.. who am I kidding? Realistically, I would like to see either Jester King or Prairie start selling more of their limited one off beers here (I know I'm cheating a little bit but I'd love to see these guys bring all the amazing beers we have to trade for here with their regular line up). I'd also be giddy with some childlike excitement if Cigar City started distributing to Indy in any capacity. I LOVE Jai Alai.

2. I'd love to see some of the current breweries, like Bier and UBC start bottling, and guys like Flat 12, Fountain Square and Triton do more outside the box seasonal brews in four packs or bombers. There is some great beer being made in the breweries and brew pubs, I just wish it could get into a bottle so I could enjoy it at home.

3. I want Indy to get more notoriety! I want Santa to bring our great state the recognition it deserves as a great place to get craft beer.

El Duque:
1.  My X-mas dreams came true this year when Oskar Blues and Green Flash, my two favorite national breweries starting distributing here, so what else could I hope for?  As much as I would love to see beer flow in from the West even more with breweries like Russian River, Cascade, or Ballast Point, and my new favorite, Cigar City, what I want is more Midwestern beers distributing to the Midwest like Revolution or New Glarus.  Yeah, New Glarus.  Strawberry Rhubarb Lambic: WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF.

2.  I want 2014 to be the year of the six pack for Indy breweries.  I realize that Indiana's liquor laws make growlers such a success, but I want to share and brag and not be forced to drink all that beer, or as I normally do, cook with it.  If Fountain Square Brewing could do a limited bottling of their 1221 stout, I would rip of my shirt and set my beard on fire; a conflagration of joy.

3.  I want a real brew pub.  Upland is trying.  Broad Ripple Brew Pub will always remain mediocre.  Brugge is a restaurant with an inconsistent list of beers.  My dream would be to see a Gastro-pub approach for a brewery's brew pub.  We're looking at you Sun King and Fountain Square.  Both have solid line ups.  Both are bottling.  Both have claustrophobic tasting rooms.  Sun King stands alone in its brand recognition, but the problem with Indy is that it doesn't really have a food or beer culture that is broad enough for a Gastro Brewpub to really take off, but I can dream about pairing pork belly and hops.

1.  I want Toppling Goliath and Surly to distribute in Indiana.  Ever since I heard that a month old pseudoSue blew a three day old Zombie Dust out of the water I have been interested in trying anything from this small self proclaimed stealth brewery.  Let's be Frank, and not Pete, on the second choice...  having regular access to Coffee Bender and Abrasive would make me a happy kid any day of the year!

2.  I know Joe and Josh will hate me for saying this (I empathize) but I would love to have Pinko and/or Big Black Dog 68  more often.  Make a big batch when you brew and store kegs away for release gradually through the year, bottle it, ANYTHING!  I would just love to enjoy it more often than I do currently.

3.  Third and final wish for the year... Competition.  I am tired of hearing about this brewery or that brewery "coming soon" to the Indy Craft Beer Scene.  Grow some balls and open for business already.  Competition breeds creativity.  When brewers and Breweries are creative it makes being a craft beer junkie a fun ride to be on in Indy!

The Little Lady:
1. I've been lucky enough to sample some really great beers over the past year at different events and with the trades the Big Guy has been getting. We've also had a chance to visit some of those breweries in person. The top two on my list- Revolution and TallGrass.

2. In 2014, I want to get more involved in the Big Guy's home-brewing. You'll notice that isn't on his list anywhere ;-). Now that my BJCP exam is complete, I really want to get a better idea for the process and the science involved. I'd like to experiment more with flavor combinations and what goes in to making the beer I like to drink. I totally admit that opening our own brewery is kind of a pipe dream- but this is a good first step.

3. I want to keep discovering new breweries next year. Maybe that will be some of the new breweries opening up in Indiana next year. Maybe that will be taking some more quick weekend trips to see new things. We're already going to Kentucky later this winter and you know that we'll be sampling some local favorites- beer and bourbon. Other trips we've talked about are Michigan and Chicago, and I'm sure we'll make it out to Ohio at least once. Maybe Pennsylvania? Yeah, those last two are really just excuses to go visit family. There's a lot of great beer out there, and I want to see more of it come to me, but until that happens I'll go where the beer is.


  1. Great article guys and gal! I think the brewpub attached to outliers "the owners wife" might fill that gastro-brewpub hole in Indy. Whenever they open that is.

  2. Several things here.

    First, make sure you know your beer styles. New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb is NOT a lambic. It's a fruit beer. There is a difference. And I totally agree that it would be awesome for them to distro here.

    Second, you gotta give us more description on the whole Gastro Pub want in Indy. What do you mean by "gastro-pub"? What exactly are you looking for. Not everyone will know that term when they read and you want to keep the reader here on your page instead of making them leave your site to read about what a Gastro Pub is. Also, you guys are the "Indiana" beer barons, not the Indianapolis beer barons. Iechyd Da and Three Floyds are phenomenal brew pubs. There is plenty of food culture in Indy for an awesome brew pub to exist.

    Sun King is not bottling.

    Broad Ripple Brewpub is a great space. The pub reminds you of what you would see in England. It's an english style brewpub. Focus on English style beers and dynamite food. It's a founding father of brewing here in Indy. It's fantastic for what it's trying to be. Mediocre is not a word I would use to describe it....but if you are looking for a pork belly and hops pairing in your brewpub you may struggle to appreciate the broad ripple brewpub for what it is. which is OK, but I wouldn't call it mediocre, just not something you are looking for in a brewpub.

    Define what you mean by "inconsistent" with Brugge. They've historically never had shitloads of beer on tap. Their beers are great examples of Belgian styles and they always have a couple of their own on tap. Not sure what else you could want from Brugge.

    Toppling Goliath is not "self proclaimed", so be careful on how you describe them. Beer geeks are the ones who push the hype. If I am a brewer at TG and I read that I would be slightly offended by the notion that they toot their own horn to push the hype train. However, they very much are "stealth" which is due to them being incredibly tiny.

    I think calling out new breweries by saying "grow some balls and open" is completly misguided. By saying and writing that you come across as having zero understanding of what it takes to open a brewery. Most breweries have huge balls for even attempting to start their business...but starting a business takes a shit ton of work...more work than you or I could possibly understand and take on. And many of the breweries that start up don't always have a handle on all the business issues that come up along the way. AND they have to make great beer along the way. So I think the message of eagerness to have more breweries was what you were going for, but I think it could have been done a lot differently.

    I for one would like to see Firestone Walker get here, which I've heard grumblings about, but nothing substantial. I've also heard that Cigar City has a good relationship with someone at an Indiana Distributor, but they have a hard enough time supplying their beer to their own state, so that may be a pipe dream.

    I'd also like to see Flat 12 step their game up at the tasting room. They need a bar. Better furniture. Stop with the plastic cups and folding tables. Make it like an actual tasting room. They have been open for 3 years...time to step that game up a notch.

    Other than those things I mentioned, this is a great article. It's always fun to see what people are looking forward. to.

  3. Thanks for the great comments. I really appreciate the time you're taking to give us some feedback. Only two I'm not sure on, where did we say Sun King was bottling? Totally need to change that but I'm not seeing it. The second is that O-Dawg called TG a self proclaimed stealth brewery, because they call themselves a stealth brewery on their about us page No reference to quality just that they are stealth.

    As far as opinions differing with the writers, I'll let them hash that out =) Thanks again dude for all the work.