"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beer Not in Colorado: Homecoming II--Electric Boogaloo (Pt. 1)

Last year I travelled to Indianapolis, my homestate capital, to sample some Hoosier-made beers and write about my journeys in The Crossroads of America.  It was in that post I made the somewhat extravagant prediction that, one day, Indiana would be considered a major hub for American craft beer; maybe not as big as Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, or San Diego County but still right up there with the big boys.  It turns out I missed the mark.  Indiana is not becoming a top five craft beer hotspot.  In my opinion, what with Sun King Brewery totally owning at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, some great wins at the 2012 World Beer Cup, and the Beer Bloggers Conference (which Nicole and I will be attending) being held in Indy this summer, Indiana has already planted itself firmly in the fourth-place position.  And it keeps getting better. 

Like last year, the main reason for Nicole and I’s visit to the Circle City was to race in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (or, “the Mini” to keep it simple)—the country’s largest half marathon.  It may only be 13.1 miles to a full marathon’s 26.2 but it’s still a competitive race and it’s in one’s best interest to prepare for the stress and strain that the body will experience on the course.  A good training program helps, certainly, but so does carb loading: stuffing one’s gut with carbohydrates.  Pasta is usually the food of choice for carb-loading athletes so Nicole and I ate at Iozzo’s Garden of Italy, Indy’s oldest (and perhaps best; seriously, go there if you’re spending any time in the city) Italian restaurant.  But do you know what else has carbs?  Beer.  That’s why, before heading out to Iozzo’s, we had a brief stop at Tomlinson Taproom.

Tomlinson Taproom (or TomTap to the locals) is located on the upper level of the historic Indianapolis City Market and prides itself on serving Indiana beer and only Indiana beer: 16 taps of ever-rotating selections. 

We weaved our way through the ground level chaos of vendors and retailers, ascended the steps to the mezzanine area, tried to avoid eye contact with the crowd of Jedi warriors (it was Star Wars Day), and made our way to the narrow ledge that is TomTap.  TomTap has a great drinking environment.  The exposed brick and metalwork in the historic building adds a lot of character to the space while its location perched above the ground level like The Lion King’s Pride Rock provides sanctuary from the hustle and bustle; only a handrail separates TomTap from the bedlam of City Market but being up high and tucked into a corner makes for a slower-paced atmosphere.    

Hoppy Hoosier
The beer was, as one might assume coming from this up-and-coming beer state, delectable.  My first pint was of Hoppy Hoosier IPA (5.5% ABV) from Bee Creek Brewery in Brazil, Indiana (unfortunately, I just learned that Bee Creek will be ceasing operations soon).  Hoppy Hoosier may be an IPA but it doesn’t smack you around like many of the same style.  The IBU is only 38 making for an approachable—but still hoppy—brew.  My second beer was not so kind to the palate.  Where Lizards Dare India Pale Ale (6% ABV) from Figure Ei8ht Brewing in Valparaiso, Indiana is only four IBUs stronger than Bee Creek’s beer but that’s apparently all it takes to create a bitter hop wallop complete with a woody, chewing-on-chopsticks flavor.  Where Lizards Dare is not quite so approachable as Hoppy Hoosier but it’s definitely a must-drink for the hop head. 
Where Lizards Dare

This was my first trip to TomTap but I assure you that it will not be my last (my confidence coming from the knowledge that the Beer Bloggers Conference will be taking us there for dinner).  With TomTap’s constantly rotating beer list, I know can have a new experience each time I come in for a visit. 

After TomTap and Iozzo’s, it was time to hit the bed; we still had a race to run in the morning and no amount of carbs could justify my drinking more beer.  This was my fifth time running the Mini and each time I'm reminded why I love this race so much; the crowd energy is great, the on-course entertainment is great (I always love the Circle City Cloggers and the bagpipe man but I was scratching my head over why there were so many death metal bands composed of eleven-year-old kids this year), and I finally took the time this year to “kiss the bricks” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  I finished the race with my second-best time of 1:34:56.  Not too shabby; I beat the high school version of myself. 

Although the race had rendered my legs as flexible as an iron rod dressed in a suit of armor, I wasn’t about to let a little leg pain stop me from enjoying Indiana’s breweries.  First stop after the race: Bier Brewery.

Bier is a microscopic brewing operation whose taproom—with its decorative steins, mounted boar’s head, couches, and sports banners—looks more like your uncle’s rec room than a bar but, as I’ve said in many previous posts, I always enjoy simplistic and familial taprooms over the decked-out, restaurant-style taproom.  I like a taproom that says, “stay awhile” not one that says, “drink, pay, and get out.” 

Regrettably, Indiana has some very antiquated liquor laws.  The folks at Bier weren’t allowed to sell us full-pours of beer; the only options were growlers for take-out and free, Dixie cup-sized tasters.  Growlers were uneconomical for our current situation and I never pass on a free beer even if it’s just sample-sized so the bartender poured us Special KÓ§lsch (4.9% ABV), Genuine Cooter (5.5% ABV), Persephone (4.9% ABV), Roggenschnizzel (5.8% ABV), Witbier (5.6% ABV), Belgian Blonde (6% ABV), Dred Brown (5.6% ABV), and Rye Pale (6.2% ABV).

All the beers were honestly quite tasty but, since they were in small containers and because there were so many to taste, it was hard to write an assessment with any semblance of accuracy.  I would like to mention a few standout observations, though.  First, “Genuine Cooter” is an awesome name for a beer especially when the bartender asks you, “How’d you like that Cooter?”  It’s also an awesome beer because it is, essentially, a crappy MGD-style beer brewed to craft beer’s high standards; they elevated the white trash beer to something beer geeks can enjoy.  Also, the rye in Rye Pale comes through with more strength than any other rye beer I can remember.  Beyond that, you’ll just have to go there yourself and experience what Bier’s beer is all about.

We moseyed about the taproom admiring the impressive amount of accolades this tiny brewery has earned (not to mention the recent World Beer Cup awards which coincided with our Indy trip) and commenting on how our friend Robin, who hates cutesy bathroom door signs, would hate the way Bier has labeled theirs Stouts and Blondes.  I mean, both men and women can be blonde and both men and women can be fat, right?  I assumed I was a Stout.  I hope I was right.   

Nicole and I also chatted with an employee who had lived in Denver for some time.  We talked a bit about the Rockies and how Bier and Colorado’s own Dry Dock Brewing Co. are interstate buddies in the craft beer world; they share beer with each other and generally support each other’s businesses any way they can.  So, next time you’re in Aurora, go to Dry Dock and mention Bier’s name—you’ll look like a person with insider information.  Also, if you see some Bier stickers plastered around Colorado, I probably put it there because they gave me a stack the size of a dictionary before we left.  

The story doesn’t end here, no sir!  Stay tuned for the rest of Nicole and I’s Hoosier beer adventures.



I thought that running a race at lower altitude would give me a boost but the high humidity proved me wrong. When we walked off the plane I was instantly hit with a wall of humidity. I have to admit, it was nice at first having come from a semi-arid desert but that thought was fleeting once I realized that it would mean my race time wouldn’t be what I’d hoped for.

Chris and I carbed up for the race at Iozzo’s. I was skeptical as to whether or not we’d actually get to eat there because our reservation time came and went and we were still waiting to be seated (slow eaters). They had a special four-course meal for the Mini which included some delicious-sounding choices. I kept it simple with a Caesar salad and spaghetti and meatballs. It was an excellent choice as the meatballs were delicate and flavorful. I hope Chris and I can go back when we visit Indy this summer so that I can try some of the other dishes—especially their tiramisu.

The race was exhausting (even more so for the people I saw passing out along the course because of the heat and humidity) but we were able to recover with some post-race beers. When we walked into Bier Brewing, I was drawn to the t-shirts featuring the Bier logo—the name of the brewery shaped into the state outline of Indiana. My favorite beer at Bier was the Dred Brown. It had a sweet malty flavor that was light enough to enjoy on a hot day.  The people at Bier were extremely friendly and proud of their product. Talking to the bartenders, I felt like I had known them for years rather than minutes.


Neat wood engraving at TomTap

Boar's head at Bier

The Bier brewing equipment

1 comment:

  1. Cooter...I like it. Craft beer in the style of cheap ass beer...