Thursday, July 31, 2014

Indiana Microbrewers Festival

Every summer thousands of beer enthusiasts gather at the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Center to enjoy samples of craft beer from a variety breweries at the summer Indiana Microbrewers Festival. This festival has been going on for many years, but for me (Kevin) it was the first time I've been able to attend.  
I met up with Russ when I arrived and he showed me around since he was volunteering.  Our first drinking experience came at the cask tent.  Since we were there early we were able to sample many beers prior to the general admission entry time. 
General Admission entry line

In the cask tent my favorite beer that I tried was the Iechyd Da Revolution IPA with pineapple, mango, and orange.  I'm a big fan of Revolution by itself, but these additions just elevated the beer and its flavor profiles.  Would love to try a higher carbonated version, but that's what you get with cask beer.  It was delicious.  Incredibly pure.  
Cask Tent

My favorite in the cask area.  Iechyd Da Revolution with Mango, Pineapple, and Orange

Russ and Me enjoying our first beer of the day from the cask tent
I was also lucky to speak with one of the owners/brewers of Iechyd Da, Chip.  He and I spent time talking about their raspberry berliner weiss, Tata Rosa.  My complaint about that beer last year was that it wasn't funky enough and was fairly mild.  He shared that this year they had a different experience in the brewing process which resulted in a funkier version.  I sampled it and felt that it was far superior to the version brewed last year.  Interestingly he shared that they have had several complaints about the beer being "too funky" which somewhat confirmed to me that the northern Indiana region isn't quite ready for the funk.  Being from that area originally, I am sure it's only a matter of time before they catch up. Iechyd Da continues to be one of my favorite breweries in the state and might be my favorite brewpub as their food and atmosphere are top notch.  Definitely worth a road trip to Elkhart.

Tom Harvey from Iechyd Da and Kevin
We had a great time talking with breweries across the state.  We were fortunate to talk with the folks from Mashcraft, Scarlet Lane, Quaff On, Three Floyds, Upland, Sun King, Flat 12, Black Acre, and many others.  One of the highlights for me was the Flat 12 tent.  This year they placed a suggestion box in their taproom in order to get beer ideas from customers.  Back in May I suggested they brew a high ABV chocolate peanut butter stout.  They ended up taking my suggestion and using it to create the beer called Shelled.  While I wanted more peanut butter from the beer, it was still quite delicious.
They used their base Big Black Dog rye stout and aged it in whiskey barrels with peanut butter and cocoa nibs.  It was complex with lots of chocolate and barrel characteristics and a subtle peanut butter flavor which rounded out the beer nicely.  Overall Flat 12, with their variety of customer suggested beers, executed their flavors quite impressively.

Overall, the festival was a great success.  Mostly because I got an incredibly generous pour of Imperial Breakfast Magpie from New Day Meadery :-) 
mmmmmm....Imperial Magpie

But seriously, the volunteers, staff, and breweries were all incredibly welcoming and helpful  The venue was also fantastic.  Lots of shade, plenty of water stations, and a variety of food options including my favorite, Fat Dan's Deli.  There were a lot of beers that I thought were decent.  For me, the beers that stood out included Bare Hands Citronic Pale Ale which rivals Zombie Dust in my opinion, Iechyd Da Tata Rosa, Flat 12 Shelled, Black Acre Bourbon Vanilla One Ten, Sun King Port Barrel Wee Mac, and Mashcraft Java Deep.
The folks from Black Acre were ready to party!!
I am looking forward to attending the festival in the future.  I encourage people to volunteer if you are able.  You get to help out and as a result you get early entry and are able to have a bit of an easier time getting pours from brewers.  Here are some other photos from the day:
Everyone has to get a little early afternoon Zombie Dust
Russ and Me getting a share of a Cognac De Muerte Dark Lord from a distributor
Masses of people with beers

The Beer Barons....minus Andrew and Brie.

Beer tasting is serious business.  Here is Russ documenting his tastings.

The folks from Rhinegeist brought their Crowlers to show off the next trend in craft cans.

Russ demonstrating the importance of eating during a craft beer festival.

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