With the Sour Fest this Saturday, we unofficially kickoff that time of the year where thoughts turn to fancies of sunburns, rampant dehydration, and patrons begging for an extension of last call (seriously, don’t be that person). Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Summer (Spring/Summer?) Beer Festival season. There are a lot of great events on tap in many areas of the state, so here is our guide to help you sort out where to spend your beer-sampling dollar:
|Sour + Wild + Funk Fest
Saturday, May 12th 2-6pm
5525 Winthrop Ave, Indianapolis
Tickets: $45 (Sold Out)
The first, and certainly not the last, festival in Indiana to capitalize on the growing popularity of sour ales. Our friends at Upland have put together an event with over 30 styles of sour ales from around the state, country, and world paired with foods designed to accentuate the unique flavors found in these beers. The list of participating breweries includes Indiana flavor from Brugge, Mad Anthony, Sun King and Upland along with Bell’s, Jolly Pumpkin, New Belgium, Rivertown, and Saint Somewhere. International flavor will be provided by Brouwerig Van Steenberge, Brouwerij Bavik, Brouwerij Liefman’s, and Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. Tickets are sold out, so start looking for someone who owes you a favor if you still want to get in.
|Indianapolis Monthly Beer Fest
Wednesday, May 16th 6-8:30 pm
Tomlinson Tap Room in City Market
222 East Market St, Indianapolis
Tickets: $25, $10 Designated Driver
If you were left out of the Sour Fest, the next opportunity for beer sampling comes just around the corner from Indianapolis Monthly in celebration of local beer. It features unlimited sampling from central Indiana breweries including Barley Island, Bier Brewery, Big Woods, Black Swan, Bloomington Brewing, Flat 12, Fountain Square, Oaken Barrel, People’s, Ram, Sun King, Three Pints, Thr3e Wise Men, Triton, and Upland. Free parking is available and City Market food vendors will be open. Admission is limited to 500 tickets, which can be purchased here.
Saturday, May 26th 2-6pm (VIP entrance at 1pm)
Lake County Fairgrounds
889 S Court St, Crown Point
Tickets: $45 VIP (Sold Out), $30 General Admission, $5 Designated Driver at the gate
Moving away from Indianapolis, we find a little sumpin’ for the folks of Northwest Indiana. The 3rd Annual Illiana Mayfest will be hosted by Crown Brewing (recent gold medal winner at the World Beer Cup) at the Lake County Fairgrounds. Your ticket entitles you to four hours of sampling from 24 breweries including such favorites as Crown Brewing, Figure 8, Flat 12, Goose Island, Lafayette Brewing, People’s, Sun King, and Upland. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Arc of Northwest Indiana. Tickets are on sale now and General Admission is available here.
|Keg Liquors Fest of Ale
Saturday, June 2nd 3-7pm
St. Anthony’s of Padua
320 N Sherwood Ave, Clarksville
Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at gate, Designated Drivers admitted free
Next we move to the southeast for the 7th Annual Keg Liquors Fest of Ale. This festival features both beer and wine with more than 150 craft and import beers from more than 40 participating breweries along with samples from six fine wine distributors. Be sure to visit the House of Hops with a tent dedicated to fulfilling your desires for hoppy bliss. The St. Anthony’s Men’s Club will be cooking up hamburgers, brats, and hot dogs for hungry patrons. Proceeds from the event go to the WHAS Crusade for Children, who received over $7200 from last year’s event. Tickets are on sale now and available here.
|Bloomington Craft Beer Festival
Saturday, June 9th 4-7pm (3pm entrance for VIP)
Historic Woolery Stone Mill
2200 West Tapp Rd, Bloomington
Tickets: $50 VIP, $35 General Admission ($40 at gate if available)
The Brewers of Indiana Guild bring the buzz back to Bloomington at the 2nd Annual Bloomington Craft Beer Festival. The setting at the Woolery Stone Mill provides a unique setting from sampling over 100 craft beers. Details on participating breweries were limited at press time, but it’s a good bet that you can count on finding most of your local favorites. Parking at the mill is limited and costs $10, but a free shuttle service will be provided from designated pick-up and drop-off locations. Tickets are on sale now and available here.
|Fishers on Tap
Thursday, June 14th 6:30-9:30pm
Forum Conference and Convention Center
11313 USA Parkway, Fishers
Tickets: $40 General Admission, $20 Designated Driver
The inaugural Fishers on Tap festival is brought to us by the Fishers Rotary Club as a first-of-its-kind fundraising event in Hamilton County. The event will be held at the Forum Conference and Convention Center and offers beer sampling from Barley Island, Bier Brewery, Flat 12, Sun King, Triton, and Upland. The event will be a flat-out Thursday night celebration including Hor d’oveuvres, beer education sessions, live music, raffles, and games of chance. The Fishers Rotary Club has donated over $650,000 to over 85 non-profit organizations locally and around the globe, and all proceeds from this event benefit local service agencies in Fishers and Hamilton County. Tickets are on sale now and available here.
|History on Tap
Friday, June 15th 6-10pm
13400 Allisonville Rd, Fishers
Tickets: $25 General Admission, $12 Designated Driver
If you didn’t get enough “on tap” entertainment the previous evening, head on over to History on Tap at Conner Prairie. There will be the requisite beer sampling from Bier Brewery, Flat 12, Fountain Square Brewery, Sun King, Upland, and more. But since you’re at Conner Prairie, there will also be the unique offerings of a keynote by Douglas Wissing, an evening adventure through 1836 Prairietown, and the 1859 Balloon Voyage. Aspiring brewers can witness craft brewing demonstrations by Tuxedo Park Brewers and food will be available at an additional cost. Tickets are on sale now and available here.
|Phoenix Theatre Brew-Ha-Ha
Saturday, June 23rd 3pm
Outside the Phoenix Theatre
749 N Park Ave, Indianapolis
Tickets: $30 in advance, $35 at the gate, $10 Designated Driver
The original, albeit by a small margin, beer festival in Indianapolis returns to bring the 17th annual celebration to devoted fans in central Indiana. Unlimited samples of over 50 different beers will be available along with live music and great food. The current posted list of breweries is clearly applicable to 2011 (RIP Bee Creek), but you can expect a lineup that has hit 20+ breweries in previous years. This event takes place in a classic street setting along the 700 block of North Park Ave (translation: limited shade, wear sunscreen). Proceeds from the event benefit the unique art of the Phoenix Theatre. Advance tickets can be purchased on the Phoenix’s website here.
|17th Annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival
Saturday, July 14th 3-7pm (VIP entrance at 2pm)
Optimist Park and Indianapolis Art Center
E 67th St and Ferguson (Broad Ripple), Indianapolis
Tickets: $50 VIP, $40 General Admission
The Brewers of Indiana Guild will unleash the Big Dog of the summer beer festival season on July 14th. Back for its 17th assault upon Optimist Park in Broad Ripple, and expanding the chaos to the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Center, this is the largest craft beer celebration of the season. Expect to see all your favorite Indiana breweries, regional favorites like Bell’s and Founders, national selections from local distributors, and special features like the Firkin Tent. The expanded grounds offer some opportunity for finding shade, unique settings for live music, and completely losing track of your friends. Tickets are not on sale yet, but watch for updates and plan to buy early as this event is a very good bet to sellout. Practice up on your keg throwing skills!
|Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Festival
Friday, July 27th 5-9pm and Saturday, July 28th 1-6pm
5 E Cross St, Ypsilanti
Tickets: $30 Friday, $35 Saturday (the website mentions gate tickets at a slightly higher rate, but I wouldn’t count on many being available)
OK, so this is an outlier from Indiana, but it makes for a great weekend road trip and I wanted to share some insights after attending the last two years. The good: this is an amazing festival consisting exclusively of beer from Michigan breweries (no interlopers allowed). You will have the chance to sample beers from breweries that may be current favorites (Arcadia, Bell’s, Dark Horse, Founders, Jolly Pumpkin) along with those you may be in the process of discovering (Arbor Brewing, Kuhnhenn, Liberty Street, Odd Side, Short’s, The Livery). The bad: Archaic local laws require the use of tokens for samples. You will be allocated a certain number of tokens with your ticket, but will be able to purchase more once inside (and the enforcement of token exchange can be…uh…lax). Similar to our festival in Broad Ripple, there are no hotels within easy walking distance, so factor in some cab rides to your travel budget. The Friday night crowd size is a bit more sane, but Saturday will bring out more opportunities to sample rare brews. This event proves the level of respect for the Michigan beer scene has been well-earned. Advance tickets are on sale and available here.
|Brew Haven 2012
Saturday, August 4th 2-6pm (VIP entrance at 1pm)
Downtown New Haven
Tickets: $60 VIP Package, $35 General Admission ($45 at gate), $5 Designated Driver
Staking their claim for the premier festival in Northeast Indiana, the Trion Tavern returns with Brew Haven 2012 in downtown New Haven! They already have more than 30 breweries lined up and you can expect more to be added as we approach the event date (find the latest list here). There is currently a healthy mix of Indiana and Michigan breweries including Bell’s, Founders, New Holland, Mad Anthony, Crown, and Figure 8. As an added bonus, the local homebrew club MASH will be serving up 50 of the finest homebrews the state has to offer. Advance tickets will go on sale June 1st and can be purchased here. The VIP package will get you one hour earlier admission, an event t-shirt, and access to VIP-only pourings.
|Beers Across the Wabash
Saturday, August 25th 12-4pm
John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge
Over the Wabash River (between downtown Lafayette and West Lafayette)
Details are limited at this time, but we have it on good authority that Lafayette’s new summer beer festival is moving forward. The event is being planned as a precursor to the Uptown Jazz & Blues festival that starts at 5pm on the same day. A little pre-party should make the jazz crowds a bit more interesting! Stay tuned for future updates – we will share details as soon as they’re available.
Whew, that’s a lot of festivals……thanks for sticking with me to this point. Of course, there is still time for new events and additional details to pop up. Remember that you can “Like Us” on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates! Stay safe and enjoy the events!