13 January 2009

KOTBR #64 - Forgotten Landmarks

A book I once read1 contained a sentiment I'll now do a poor job of conveying: There's very rarely excitement in visiting your own monuments. I'll consider a few vacations I've made; I've been to Devil's Tower in Wyoming, and the Parthenon in Nashville, but I've never been in the State Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in the middle of Monument Circle in Indianapolis. It's a rare thing to appreciate what's right in front of you.

Consider Broad Ripple Brew Pub (840 E 65th St, Indianapolis, (317) 253-2739, indoors smoke-free, smoking section on outdoor patio) - a true monument to craft beer in Indiana. Very few would consider it a "sexy" location, but perhaps it's only because of familiarity. It's cozy, inviting, and everything a brewpub should be. Despite all that, it's rarely our first choice when looking for a place to get a drink.

But it should be. A beer lineup that touches on most styles, a brewer who's been at it longer than most, and a menu with enough variety to keep even a Jewish vegetarian lawyer2 happy mean that Broad Ripple Brew Pub is the perfect kind of place for a rolling group of beer fans like ourselves.

But lets talk about the now on cask Monon Porter ($4.50/pint), the best reason to visit BRBP right now. A cloudy brown beer that laces the glass nicely, a sweet chocolately nose (with a hint of root beer?), a sweet pretzel-like taste, and a perfectly balanced mix of nose, flavor and mouthfeel meant that I knew immediately that this beer deserved a score with numbers I don't throw around lightly. 4.86 Mugs.

I agree with Mike's sentiment that the Broad Ripple Brewpub is a place we tend to take for granted but shouldn't. Case in point: the Brewpub's Monon Porter is undoubtedly one of the best beers we've reviewed. It is so good, in fact, that I had to make a return visit with my wife three days after our review just to get some more (along with some of the Brewpub's excellent vegetarian offerings--I had the delicious garden tacos). The Monon Porter has a luscious, creamy mouthfeel. The creaminess is enhanced by its low carbonation, thanks to the fact that it's a cask ale. And how to describe the flavor? Well, if there were a way to make a milk chocolate cookie, I imagine that it would taste like the Monon Porter. Heavenly...

I wish the Brewpub would have this beer on tap as a year-round offering. But since that's not the case, I'm simply happy to get it when I can. So, good readers, get yourselves to the Brewpub to drink some while it lasts. My rating: 4.90 mugs.

Sometimes when you're really into beer, you get stuck in a rut. You keep going bigger and bolder, more hops, more malt and more alcohol and especially more rare. You forget to enjoy the simple things in beer. Beers that you could drink the rest of your life and be perfectly happy. Personally, I would say those are the kinds of beers Broad Ripple Brewpub brews. Their Monon Porter is a perfect example of one of those beers.

The cask conditioning makes this beer perfectly smooth. Served at just the right temperature (the mountains would NOT be blue), this beer goes down easily. You might have to strain to pick up the coffee notes in the nose, but they are definitely present when you take your first sip. Those coffee flavors blend nicely with dark chocolate, vanilla and a creamy milk-like flavor. A nice dryness follows and keeps this beer from overpowering your tongue.

If you like Founder's Breakfast Stout, you're going to like this. The more relaxed alcohol content and more balanced flavors make me somewhat prefer this beer. If I'm just going to have one, I'd go for Breakfast Stout, but any more than that and the Monon Porter is where it's at. 4.6 mugs.

I've been craving balance lately (sometimes you just want a sessionable beer with a lot of flavor) and with watching the NFL Playoffs I find myself craving a beer with drinkability. Maybe I've just been watching too much TV, or maybe it says something about the state of the advertising industry, either way this beer is what the drinkability concept should be.

The Monon Porter starts out with a creamy, pillowy head leading to a dark brown beer with hints of ruby where the light is able to escape. When you lean in to take a sip you notice the roasted malt, hints of chocolate and a bit of a coffee scent. This is only the beginning of what draws you in, begging for more. Monon Porter is on cask, so it is supposed to have a slightly higher temperature and a slightly smoother finish. This beer was made for cask conditioning, it's smooth creamy mouthfeel coats your tongue with coffee, chocolate and toffee notes. It leaves you with just a hint of nuttiness on the finish and makes you wish you had just one more.

I think Kevin hit the nail on the head with this amazing beer, and it's a shame that it's only seasonal. I highly recommend you get there before it's gone. 4.7 Mugs.

All Scores
Mike: 4.86 Jim: 4.90 Rodney: 4.60 Jess: 4.70 Matt E: 4.80 Gina: 4.40

Final Score: 4.78 Mugs
Currently at fourth place in our all time rankings

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1If this seems familiar to you and you've read the book, leave a comment with the title. It's driving me crazy.

2KOBTR Jim is the Jewish vegetarian lawyer I refer to.


  1. i've been saying the same thing about the brewpub for quite soem time. they are the most underrated and overlooked brewpub in town. they don't have the novelty of the brugge or the bankroll of the ram or rockbottom. but the beer is across the board excellent. they aren't using funky yeast or adding wierd stuff to the fermenter, but they do a great job of balanced, traditional british styles. i've NEVER had a bad beer there. never. never had a bad meal either, the food is equally solid, and they have nice vegetarian choices.

    i'm guilty of overlooking them as well. i went back up there last week after a long absence. i was once again very pleased with my evening. wouldn;t have switched a thing. and that's about as good a compliment as you can give.

  2. KOTBR,

    I am a Jewish gluten free girl that also cannot say enuf nice things about this place. They have a gluten free shepard's pie for me and a gluten free beer to go along nicely with it and even a Vegan shepard's pie for my many friends that dine that way! Truly a unique and special place not to miss!

  3. "...you get stuck in a rut. You keep going bigger and bolder, more hops, more malt and more alcohol and especially more rare. You forget to enjoy the simple things in beer."

    - Glad to see you all grounding your beerselves a bit. Too much of the bigger, bolder and rare (and often unattainable) gets old fast.

  4. I used to think I was boring or lazy for making the Brewpub my first, and sometimes only, option for local beer. Thanks for the validation, haha.

  5. While I am very happy in general with the food choices there (am a vegetarian), the place is a bit dark inside and not very inviting.

    Brewing to style on the English side is a nonplus to me as well, I'll take my big American hops, carbonation levels, and carbon-filtered water...

    That having been said, it is still a fun place to be in the summer...and a solid choice when you are faced with Inbev choices everywhere else.

  6. Interesting - I think Joe and I see things completely opposite.

    I equate dark with cozy (and inviting), especially in a pub. And I think BRBP is more of a winter sort of place for me.

  7. It's been some time since I went to BRBP. I've never been a huge fan, but then again I'm not that fond of most English style beers. I felt the same way after visiting Arcadia in Battle Creek, MI.

    I'll give it another shot though. My tastes have evolved over the last few years. Plus I can always swing over to the Brugge for a pint!