Broad Ripple Brew Pub is one of those places you forget how much you like until you go. It was a warm haven on a rainy night made even better by a full meeting of round table including guest Keith. Even better, we had a long exclusive chat with Brew Master Kevin who answered all our questions about his beers, his beer list, his brewing process, how often he turns batches over on tap, and the landscape of brewing in Indiana and the midwest. Bonus? A preview before dry hopping of his upcoming barley wine!
Having missed the Hopsia which ran out earlier in the week, we took Kevin's advice and tried his English style, more lightly carbonated Cask Ales. (I was disappointed because I've now tried the infamous Hopslam a couple of times and I'm becoming a convert, although the Hopsia isn't exactly the same, but it's an excuse to go back.) But first, the warm-up.
ESB: I warmed up with Broad Ripple Brew Pub's Extra Special Bitter. I liked this beer much more than some commercial ESBs which I find too bitter and too dry. With a lovely amber color, this beer has a nice nose with some holiday spice, roasted grain, and even some mellow fruit like oranges. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a sweet beer but it's not the off-putting difficult strong, bitter than some might be used to if they're just starting out with ESB's. 4 Mugs!
Diving Duck American Brown: While the guys ahead of me started with the Wee Alec, I opted for the other cask ale (and also what Kevin was drinking, always a good sign), the American Brown. If you're put off by dark, black beers (ala Guinness), don't be anymore. This unintimidating beer is a light, lovely mellow drinking despite it's heavy coloring. Mine came to the table with a nice Guinness-like foam head and after the beer settled, I was rewarded. The nose? Caramel, dark roast, and cocoa. The taste? Lighter than expected, smooth, and not nearly as heavy as some much lighter beers. This is not a dark beer that people would label a "meal in a glass." It's not overwhelming and frankly, would be a great beer if you're just starting to venture to the dark side. I highly recommend it: 4.5 Mugs!
A few other notes: If you're just starting out with BR Brew Pub's offerings or more complex beers, Kevin recommends the BR Brew Pub's Lawnmower Ale. (It's their most popular beer in the summer.) Most people move next to the Red Bird Mild which is a beautiful amber beer with lighter hops, more malt, and less heaviness. (The Red Bird is one of my favorite beers at BR Brew Pub.) The ESB is a nice choice in winter as it's a bit heavier, more hearty, but not overwhelming. The cask ales are a perfect choice if you're exploring dark beers for the first time. We'll be back -- we still have to taste the Hopsia!