On Friday, June 17, we joined Brewmaster Nathan Scruggs of Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant Downtown Indianapolis at 10 W. Washington Street along with several others for a celebration of the 20th year of this solid craft brewery downtown. I realize a lot of craft beer drinkers are often interested in the newest craft brewery, and our current pages profile ‘newest’ MetazoaBrewing . But if you’ve been drinking craft beer at a brewpub or brewery in Indiana for 20 years you really only had 12 choices in the state 1996, some obscure. And if you were drinking in downtown Indianapolis you were likely at Rock Bottom (Alcatraz, now closed, did open in 1995 so that was your other downtown choice).
Fellow beer writer colleague Rita Kohn shares that there were a number of brewers who came and went at Rock Bottom in the early days (including Clay Robinson, now of Sun King fame). Yet the one that clearly stands out was there for half of the twenty, or one decade of the two, Jerry Sutherlin. Jerry left recently to open Round Town Brewery which we will cover when they get open later this summer. Jerry certainly made his mark with so many beers, many awards, and a solid relationship with many customers. We’ve enjoyed brewery dinners, tappings, and just regular hanging out with Jerry over the years! Over the past ten to twenty years I’ve been somewhat of a regular at Rock Bottom to enjoy the food as well as the beer. Looking back at my beer notes whether it was an El Jefe Hefeweizen, the seasonal Rocktoberfest, or the fall Pumpkin ale I find I enjoyed so many good ones. About ten years ago my wife and I even participated in the Miracle on Washington Street, the event where Rock Bottom opens their doors on Christmas asking regulars like us to serve those less fortunate. I was regular enough to get my name on their barrel in their old rewards program. But have YOU been to Rock Bottom lately? We stopped about a month ago and tried samples of many delicious beers. At that time the Bitter really stood out for that evening and my palate.
The saison, which was tapped this month, as well as the Mexican lager, tapped Thursday, June 16, were both available as well as the regular and seasonal beers. The saison, called Broke Vessel saison was deliciously spicy with a fruit character from the French Saison yeast. Coming in at 7.7% it was a big in alcohol beer. The ’96 Lager had a Vienna Lager style base but with slight hop added to give a spice. The current dark beer available at RB is called Jer-Bear’s Brown, as a nod to the longest brewer at Rock Bottom Downtown, Jerry Sutherlin. This beer straddles a spot between a traditional brown ale and a darker, richer porter with plenty of roasted malt characteristic. Happy 20th RB and cheers to many more!