"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 16, 2012

Beer Not in Colorado: Homecoming II--Electric Boogaloo (Pt. 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post.  If you would like to read Part One of Nicole and I’s 2012 Indianapolis beer adventures, click here.  If you would like to read about last year’s journey into Indy beer, click here.

After visiting Bier Brewery, we headed south towards Flat 12 Bierwerks but made a pit stop at Sun King Brewery.  We’d been to Sun King before but it’s a shame to pass on their beer if you’re in the neighborhood.  Plus, Nicole loves their shirts and wanted to pick up another.

Sun King's taproom

While there I sipped on the classics like Osiris and Wee Mac but also had the opportunity to drink tasters of seasonal beers like Naptown Brown, Cow Bell Milk Porter, and Indiana Landmarks Wit.  Again, like at Bier, the tasters were quite small so it’s hard to write a review as it’s near impossible to get a good read on flavor and aroma.   
The beers were, as always, tasty but my beer geek senses started to tingle when I was called over to the little circle of conversation that consisted of my dad, my aunt Suzy, and a Sun King employee that looked suspiciously like Judah Friedlander’s skinnier doppelganger.  Once I arrived the conversation led to Chaka, the collaboration beer between Sun King and Oskar Blues Brewery.  Chaka had yet to be released to the public at that point but—like a sci-fi geek that’s just caught a 20 second glimpse of Star Wars: Episode VI – How Yoda Got His Groove Back—I had the honor of beholding the blue-and-orange, re-sealable majesties that are the Sun King Chaka cans.  For the uninformed, Chaka is or will be available in both Colorado and Indiana and the beer is the same no matter which state you buy it in but the cans have different logos depending on location.  I’ll get the Colorado cans but I need you, Hoosier friends, to get me the Indiana version for my collection.  Or, remind my mom to get them for me.

We gawked at Sun King’s numerous Great American Beer Festival medals, Nicole bought her shirt (as well as a new Indiana Drinking Team shirt for me which, you may recall from a previous post, was taken from me at a Hops & Pie event; I did have it replaced but the blue was not the same blue as the Indiana state flag which it should have been—now I have a shirt in the true blue), and we headed out for Flat 12 in the Holy Cross neighborhood

Flat 12 is pretty much everything I look for in a taproom: exposed brick walls, exposed wooden rafters, big, sliding meat locker doors, and splashes of color in form of paper lanterns hung from the ceiling and purple wheelchairs made from old shopping carts.  It’s a brewery that emits a sense of industrialization while still maintaining a casual, communal feel.  Plus, the giant wooden deck with corrugated steel accents is something I want in my backyard by yesterday.

I had read in Draft Magazine that Flat 12 was known for their porter variations so it seemed a shame to get anything else.  I ordered the Tangerine Porter (5.5% ABV) which, while very good, didn’t have much in the way of the titular fruit.  I suppose the barely-there fruitiness makes sense since the headbrewer “doesn’t like overt flavors and styles.  He likes well orchestrated subtlety.”  I disagree with this philosophy in many regards—I like strong flavor in my beer.  Go all in, I say, but to each their own.  It’s a good porter at any rate, just not really a tangerine porter.

Regardless of the quality of the beer and of the brewery’s positive porter reputation, it was probably a mistake to order a dark, heavy beer since we were drinking on the deck and sweating like Oprah at a ham sandwich factory.  Life-long Coloradoans just can’t imagine how sticky and wet you can get by simply sitting outside in Indiana springtime.  It was weather that called for a lighter, crisper beer than the one I was drinking.

The next stop took us to the Fountain Square neighborhood; an area best described through comparisons to Denver’s RiverNorth (RiNo) neighborhood or LoDo 20 years ago: gritty but tragically hip and undergoing a renaissance.  Like the mentioned Denver ‘hoods, Fountain Square owes some of its revitalization to craft beer—namely, Fountain Square Brewing Co. 

I have a number of points to make about the Fountain Square taproom and I’ll start with what’s praiseworthy.  First, I love the corrugated scrap metal ceiling—very cool, very edgy.  The open spaces, couches, and metal-and-cinder-block work on the bar where also a nice touch.  There was, however, one aspect of the space that really irked me—the artwork screamed, “I’m trying too hard to be cool!”  I liked the painted logos of the beers on tap; they were funky, psychedelic, and worthy of any man-cave.  The rest, though, was faux-rebellious; I hate to be so Internet-hip but it  has Condescending Wonka meme written all over it: "Oh, you have an American flag made of tampons hanging in your taproom? You must be so counterculture."

The same can be said for the out-of-focus picture depicting what appeared to be a certain oral act (if it’s not a certain oral act and I’m mistaken then Freudian psychology would have much to say about me and this assumption).  Give it a rest, Fountain Square; too many people erroneously lump the unpretentious craft beer culture with the pricks of the hipster movement and your overly trendy art isn’t doing anything to change their minds.  But, to be fair, I did giggle at this misogynistic piece of work found below:

You tell me what's going on here

On a positive note, the beer at Fountain Square is quite nice.  I forget the name of it and said name isn’t on the website but I had the pale ale.  I’d describe it as an Anglo-American pale ale—it’s mildly bitter like an English pale ale but the presence of citrus hops makes it an all-American.

Pale Ale
After Fountain Square, we caught some minor league action at Victory Field where the Indianapolis Indians defeated the Louisville Bats (I’m guessing the Bats were in town due to the fact that Louisville was likely a cluster due to Derby-goers).  More importantly, I got a taste of Sun King’s Victory Lager—a special brew made for the Indians.  I’d describe it much the way I’d describe Genuine Cooter from Bier: redneck beer made for the craft-minded.  It’s simple, straightforward, and a great drink for watching the game but made to a higher-standard than typical ballpark fare.

That pretty much summed up the beer portion of our Indy trip.  We also visited the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (bigger and cooler than most adult museums) where I must have sounded like a nostalgic old man to Nicole: “When I was a boy, they used to have a mummy here.  That whole front area we walked through?  That’s new.  Hey, where’s that T. Rex statue they used to have outside?  I used to love that thing.”

Go, Indians, go!
Look at this ballpark line-up; the MLB stadiums could learn a thing or two from the little guys

We’ll be back for the Beer Bloggers Conference, Indy, and I can’t wait to get back.  You’re an under-the-radar beer Mecca and more people will realize this in time.  Until then, keep churning out that liquid gold.



The humidity hung around just long enough to cause people to pass out during the race and make it almost unbearable to sit on the patio at Flat 12. As Chris sipped his porter in 80 degree weather, I enjoyed people-watching which included a hipster dude wandering around in some incredibly short shorts that made the middle school teacher in me want to tell him to call home for a change of clothes. I also noticed the meat market across the street (the beef and poultry kind, not the Thunder from Down Under kind) which reminded me that I needed to find a local market when I got home. My students are reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma which has me thinking 24/7 about what goes into our food. Does organic beer exist? There has to be a market for that, right [Indeed!  Boulder’s own Asher Brewing Company ~ Chris]?

The drive from Flat 12 to Fountain Square Brewing Co. revealed a neighborhood that looks like it has stories to tell. I don’t know why but old theater marquis fascinate me and this neighborhood was rife with them. When we got to Fountain Square Brewing Co., I was relieved to feel the air conditioning. As I sunk into the couch, I did a double take at the American flag that hung in front of me. It was made with some non-traditional materials which made me wonder how someone even conceived of using feminine hygiene products in making a flag. I did like the painting that used the periodic table to spell out the name of the brewery.  That’s the science geek in me.

Luckily, the humidity moved on so that we could enjoy a pleasant night at the ballpark. We watched the Indianapolis Indians take on the Louisville Bats. This was probably the highlight of my trip. I love baseball and enjoy the opportunity to visit different ballparks. Even though this was a minor league game, it was still a fun experience.


And here's a bunch of pictures I couldn't fit anywhere else:

I don't know where this is but I want go there
I'm pretty sure that's in the Bible

If you recognize this, you attended an Indiana middle school and went on at least one field trip

More impressive than the blue bear at the Denver Convention Center

Chihuly art at the Children's Museum

Underneath Chihuly

At the head of the Indianapolis canal system

Make new friends...

...but keep the old (stay classy, Indianapolis)

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