"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!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Beer Not in Colorado: Homecoming III -- The Drinkening

Please click here to read about last year’s trip to Indianapolis.

Back home again in Indiana,
and it seems that I can see
the gleaming candle light, still burning bright, 
through the sycamores for me.
The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
through the fields I used to roam.
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash
then I long for my Indiana home.

I’m called to the mountains, to the snow, to the canyons of the Western Slope.  I yearn for the crisp, thin air, the alpine meadows, and the springtime blizzards.  I love Colorado.  I love its scenery, I love its people, and—you guessed it—I love its beer.  Alas, I was neither born nor raised here.  I’m from the land of corn and cows, of thunderstorms, limestone, and forests so dense you can’t see five feet in.  I’m of a place where Christianity is the minority faith to the religion of high school basketball and where, if you don’t play Euchre, then leave the table.  A place called Indiana, a place Nicole and I visited about a week ago.
Slippery Noodle
Like our past May visits to The Circle City, Nicole and I were there to compete in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon and, while the main purpose of the trip was one of strenuous physical activity, that’s no reason why we couldn’t unwind with a few local beers after the race (and before).

Shortly after landing at the Indianapolis airport, we were whisked away by my parents to our hotel where, after a brief period of rest, we were ready to hit the town for some pre-race libations.

Our first stop was the Slippery Noodle Inn—Indiana’s oldest bar and the city’s premier blues venue.  Only a smidge removed from hipper-than-you-might-think downtown Indy, Slippery Noodle is a little gritty and a little blue collar what with its neon beer signs, ubiquitous pictures of Jake and Elwood Blues, and other assorted dive bar memorabilia but, even with these decidedly contemporary touches, a pressed tin ceiling, a risqué, wild west-style picture of a lady of the evening, and ornate, wooden bar back keep Slippery Noodle planted firmly in the past.  And what a past!  Slippery Noodle was a stop on the Underground Railroad, an illegal brewery during Prohibition, a bordello, and a place John Dillinger used for target practice.  If you want your drink garnished with a little history, check out Slippery Noodle.

While there, I ordered the Blues Brew by Upland Brewing Co., Slippery Noodle’s house beer.  It’s a middle-of-the-road IPA that’s not too hoppy for the uninitiated but still possessing a mild kick.  It’s a good house beer for Slippery Noodle which, even with a modestly impressive craft beer selection, doesn’t necessarily cater to the beer geek crowd; it’s more a cheap beer and whiskey joint.  Blues Brew is one of those bridging beers that just might make a hop-head out of an unsuspecting domestic-beer guzzler.  I also ordered Half Court IPA from Cutters Brewing Company mostly because the logo of an old-timey barn with a basketball hoop hanging over the door tugged at my Hoosier heartstrings.
Blues Brew
After Slippery Noodle, we walked to Iozzo’s Garden of Italy to carb up for the race and, amidst the shoveling of pasta into my face, I washed my meal down with an Osiris Pale Ale from Sun King Brewery which I claim is the Dale’s Pale Ale of Indiana; it’s everywhere, it’s bitter, and it’s great.  Also, both beers are canned.  It is no wonder that Sun King and the Oskar Blues Brewery crew are so good at collaborating with each other—they are kindred spirits.  On a side note, Iozzo’s is probably some of the best Italian food you’re going to find in the Midwest so check it out if you’re in town.

The next day was race day.  I believe I finished the 13.1 mile race somewhere around 1:37:00 which, being the sixth time I’ve run this race, is neither my best nor worst time.  I’m holding steady, at least.

Post-race, Nicole and I soothed our aching muscles for just a minute for the call of craft beer was too strong to ignore.  Before long, we were on our way to Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, recommended to us by our local beer contact Tamre whom Nicole and I first met at the Indy Beer Bloggers Conference.  It’s tasty pizza made better with a little Alpha King Pale Ale from Three Floyds Brewing Co., a beer I’d almost say usurps Osiris as “Dale’s of Indiana” except it’s brewed in northern Indiana so, really, most of the fans of Alpha King reside in Chicago or southern Michigan.  Of course, it’s still brewed in Indiana but it’s not centrally located like Sun King which would have to travel much further to distribute out-of-state.  Alpha King is great beer, don’t get me wrong, it’s just torn between too many regions while Sun King devotes pretty much all its energy to its home state.  Then again, Oskar Blues distributes in many states outside of Colorado so my reasoning seems to be a bit flawed.  Whatever, I’m still sticking by my original assertion because it was my gut reaction (and because Alpha King doesn't come in a can): Osiris=Dale’s.

Moving on from that tangent, after recommending Jockamo to us, Tamre and her husband decided to eat there, too, and, after meeting up and eating up, we all headed next door to Black Acre Brewing Co.

Black Acre’s interior is comprised of rustic, aged wood boards adorning the walls of the bar area,  chunks of thick, rough, fence post-like stakes forming a stand-up, communal table, iron fixtures, and modern touches such as shiny, flat wood panels and modern art hanging on the wall.  It’s a lovely juxtaposition of rural and urban. 

I had both the Wedlock Belgian-style porter and the Saucy Intruder, a rye IPA, and, as we caught-up with old friends, the question of why Black Acre was named as such crawled into my dad’s head and refused to leave so, before we left, we had to slake his curiosity.  Apparently, many of the people behind the brewery’s creation were once involved in real estate or property law or some such similar thing and, in that realm of business, a “black acre” is essentially the property equivalent of “John Doe.”  It’s a placeholder name for a location that doesn’t yet have a designation and, before the brewery had a name, they just called it Black Acre until they realized that’s a pretty cool name and simply kept it.  There, now go impress your friends with your astounding real estate knowledge. 

The rest of the day involved a lot more eating and drinking throughout Indy: Workingman’s Pilsner by Fountain Square Brewing Co. (pretty decent) and a Wee Mac Scottish Ale by Sun King Brewery (best American-made Scottish ale in the eyes of this beer geek) at Scotty’s Brewhouse where we kept a few-years-old tradition alive by placing $1 bets on the Kentucky Derby (my dad won; don’t even mention the word “Orb” around him lest you set him off on a bragging frenzy), Dragonfly IPA by Upland at Mikado Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, and a Batch #1 Bourbon Barrel Oatmeal Stout (would need more body and more Bourbon flavors before I really got into it) by Triton Brewing Company at the Indianapolis Colts Grille

We called it a night so that we might finally rest our tired, marathon-haggard legs on something other than a bar stool.  But the adventure wasn’t over yet; we still had a whole Sunday to enjoy Indy’s beer scene.

The next day, legs feeling even more sore than the day before, we hopped in the car and drove to the Broad Ripple neighborhood and Brugge Brasserie—a brewery, as I recall, that, along with Sun King, helped Indiana win the most medals of any state at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival.  With an accomplishment like that, you know you’re in for a treat.

Brugge—residing in a monolithic brick building with an over-sized Belgian goblet cut from metal hanging on the side—is a more refined brewery.  No cinder blocks, fluorescent lighting, or grain bags hanging on the walls here; Brugge features polished copper table tops, hand-blown glass light fixtures, and draperies over the windows.  There’s a touch of class present at Brugge. 
Neat table at Brugge
Brugge didn’t have a wide selection of their own beers on tap—mostly guest brews—but the one’s they had were extraordinary; quality over quantity, as they say.  Pooka, a sour beer made with boysenberry, absolutely blew my mind!  What a wonderful, lemony, summertime drink!  Any brewery with the cajones to brew sour beers immediately has my attention and any brewery that brews good sour beers has my undying respect.  Props, Brugge; you hit it out of the park with this one.  I also had the Soul Brother #1, a brown ale, which was, y’know, pretty good but it had a hard time following Pooka’s act. 
One last thing on Brugge: if you’re wondering why all the tables have holes in them, they’re not there so you can scrape off debris (although, looking through the holes of our table, it sure seemed like that’s what patrons thought they were for).  Order some of Brugge’s excellent fries, which come in conical, wrapped paper, and you’ll understand the holes’ purpose.

We popped over to nearby Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., a brewery Nicole and I had visited two years prior, and indulged in a few more beers.  Namely, Centennial Martyr Double IPA and Two Sisters Carolina Saison which were both quite nice but I especially enjoyed the Centennial Martyr—great example of the Double IPA style.
Soul Brother #1 & the purpose of the table holes
After leaving Thr3e Wise Men, we took a much needed rest.  Dinner that night was at St. Elmo Steak House, almost certainly the fanciest and most famous restaurant in the city; the place where you’d have the best chance of seeing a local celebrity (remember the Guitar Hero episode of South Park when Stan and Kyle went to the exclusive party rife with “celebrities” like Jake Jabs and Ron Zappolo?  Those are the types of celebrities you’d see at St. Elmo).  Normally, I wouldn’t go to such a high-end restaurant but I’d never been before and, like Slippery Noodle, it’s an Indy institution so everybody from Indiana really ought to go at least once in their lives.

I don’t have much to say about beer when it comes to St. Elmo.  They do have a pretty decent craft beer menu so I had the STLIPA from Urban Chestnut Brewing Company (the only non-Indiana beer I had the whole trip) and it was quite nice.  And, of course, the steak is great, too, but, oddly enough for a landlocked state, the biggest standout on the menu is the shrimp cocktail.  People don’t talk much about the shrimp themselves but more about the sauce in which it comes slathered.  Good God!  I love spicy food but the excessive amounts of horseradish in this cocktail will make flames shoot out your nostrils!  Definitely go to St. Elmo if you’ve got a head cold; they’ll hollow your head out with quick burst of fire.

With that, we concluded our weekend in Indy.  I’m glad to be back in Colorado, there’s no doubt about that, but being home for short periods of time is, I think, good for the soul.  It is a time to remember where you come from, how you were raised, and to reconnect with your roots.  But, with all due respect to the moonlight on the Wabash, when I dream of a finely-crafted Hoosier beer, then I long for my Indiana home.



We stumbled upon a church auction Saturday night raffling off a Colts helmet. Unfortunately, it was signed by Coach Caldwell which, to Denver fans, is like a Broncos helmet signed by McDaniels; the coach we want to forget

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