20th Annual Indiana Microbrewer’s Festival

The sun was shining, the temperatures were rising, and it was time to drink some great beer at the 20th Annual Indiana Microbrewer’s Festival.

I haven’t been to the festival as a sampler for a while, usually my roll is behind the scenes, volunteering, but since this year it landed on a concert date I went to have some pre-concert beer and to take pictures and chat with fellow beer lovers.

This year was the first year that the festival moved from it’s quaint space in Opti Park by the Indianapolis Art Center to all the way downtown to Military Park. I know there were a lot of objects to this move, however I felt that it was actually a really great idea. With the growth that Indiana is having with all the breweries plus the growth of nearby states and out craft buddies wanting to join us in this big beer celebration, the festival needed a new venue.

I thought Military Park was spacious. The tents didn’t overcrowd each other, the lines moved fast. Granted I was in Early Bird beer drinker, but even when the floodgates opened it still went by quickly.  With an admission amount 8,000 beer drinkers, the venue held its own. Only downfall is due overuse of the venue there were worn  grassy areas turned to mud, and the rainy weather we have experience, many places had boards and cardboard to help.

But that isn’t beer related.
We talk about about beer here.
And sometimes food. Which speaking of – Kudos to the Brewer’s Guild for a really good mixed selection of food trucks and having some great merchandise vendors

On to the beer!

I had to be smart with my beer choices. Because there were at least a thousand different beers that I could try.  I actually used a little bit of Greg’s pre festival advice when it came to trying beers at the festival.

  1. Go for the firkin tent
  2. Try new breweries you can’t travel to
  3. Go to your favorites
  4. Don’t drink house beers you can get anytime

That was my strategy.  I knew going on though, that I would be stopping by for sure at the Bare Hands Brewery table. They have slowly become a favorite for mine and not surprising a favorite for a lot of others.  Since I am already talking about them I will start with what I had there. I actually only had two of the impressive list on tap. On a flashback note, I was happy that they brought so many different beer choices just like they did at Winterfest.

As I was waiting for Bare Hands, an enthusiastic drinker next to me suggested the Thai Peanut. The notes under the description made it sounds like a liquid alcoholic Pad Thai and when I took that first scent under my nose  – smelling that delicious light peanut aroma waft up, and then that drink which was lightly peanuty that melted away into a tender spice i had to agree that it was light a beer version of Pad Thai.  After Thai Peanut I tried their beer called Corn Dog. – A mix of corn, smoky pecan malts, ghost pepper, scorpion peppers and chipotle peppers.  It was a slow build of heat but it hit you. The smoke flavor was first but that fire came through and it was really well balanced. I absolutely loved Corn Dog.

Bare Hands wasn’t the only brewery out there and certainly wasn’t the first to incorporate insanely hot peppers in their brews. I’m happy that there was a significant increase this year of beers with peppers.  Would it be hipster to say I liked spicy beer before it became cool? Yeah, I went there.

Let’s continue down the spicy route.  I popped by Burn ‘Em Brewing. I remembered their crazy ways at Winterfest with their very yummy Red Velvet Stout.  I had at their booth the Hail Saison. A black saison with a little zing of spice. Compared to Corn Dog, nothing else was significantly as spicy, but it was still great to drink.  The firkin tent had a few spicy beers. Bloomington Brewing Co tried a hand with their Jalapeno Lemon Kolsch, but where the spice was in the nose, it did not follow through at the taste.   My second favorite though came out of that tent with Iechyd Da’s Revolution IPA with lime and habaneros. The lime hit you right up front and then the habanero heat happily danced behind. It was a very significant taste change which was replicated every taste. I thought that was so brilliantly brewed.  I rounded up my spicy taste with my retired favorite of Zwanzigs Ghost Pepper Infused Imperial Stout.. Still good, but Zwanzigs will have to ramp it up to compare to this new generation of spicy beers.

Now comes the new guys –  I tried Central Brewing Co’s – House Noyau, which was delicious.  I’m glad to see Josh Hambright coming out and brewing for himself.  St. Joesph had a solid kolsch.  After having a lot of crazy beers, I’ve gone back to appreciating a simple, solid good beer.
Headed over to Function Brewing and tried Divergent because it was suppose to have lemon and ginger in which is close to a saison I am hoping to brew. I wish it had a little bit of more ginger in the taste.  I hit up a few more newbies, but couldn’t recall anything special about them but was glad to give them a shot and hope to see more of what they can bring to future festivals.

Another highlight was the HopCat tent. Sampled “ Smell’s Like Grahamma’s Tarts”, which was really neat having it randalized through sour lemon heads. I also tried my first radler at that tent. A collaboration with Oaken Barrell and Chilly Water. It was like alcohol Sprite but I loved it as a great light summer beer.

So much positive writing about so much creativity in beer, but I feel like I should comment that sometimes too much in a beer really is too much. I tried one beer, and I’m not going to call out the brewery but I will say some of the ingredients. Sea Salt. Chamomile. Raspberries???? I took one sip and actually did not swallow it. I’ve never done that with a beer. I’ve pour out beers after a sip but never spit it out.  I think it was just a case of too much, is really too much.

Overall, great time. Great event. Wish the Brewer’s Guild could control the weather and cool it down a bit.  I look forward to the 21st festival and in the mean time to fulfill any festival desires, I could always pop down to Gnawbrew this Saturday!

Hope you all had a great time at the festival. Shout out your favorite beers! Share you pictures to our page.

We want to know how you enjoyed the 20th annual festival.

Until next time,