12 January 2010

The 2009 Knights of the Beer Roundtable Beer of the Year - Broad Ripple Brewpub's Monon Porter

To arrive at our candidates for the 2009 Knights of the Beer Roundtable Beer of the Year, we took a look back at all the beers reviewed during our roundtables over the past year. In some cases, not all the Knights attended, but their familiarity with a reviewed beer allowed them to place it in their rankings.

This isn't science; this is Hoosier Beer Geek. And it's possible that we may have decided that we like a beer more or less since the roundtable has happened. In any case, looking back, we've decided that these beers left us with the fondest of memories.

And our fondest memory of them all?

Broad Ripple Brewpub Monon Porter (on cask)

When we stopped in at the brewpub back in January 2009, we figured for an evening of smooth, sessionable pints and good conversation. We sat down with brewer Kevin Matalucci, stuck our noses into the beer, and immediately knew that we had something quite a bit better than that on our hands.
"A perfectly balanced mix of nose, flavor and mouthfeel."

"If there were a way to make a milk chocolate cookie, I imagine that it would taste like the Monon Porter. Heavenly..."

"This beer was made for cask conditioning. Its 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."

"[A] beer that you could drink the rest of your life and be perfectly happy."
Our congratulations to Kevin Matalucci and the folks at the Broad Ripple Brewpub for a their continued commitment to great beer.

* * * * *

And here's how the vote came together. We awarded 3 points for a first place vote, 2 points for second, 1 for third, and 0.5 points for an honorable mention:


1. Brugge Bad Kitty (3 pts.) - You can make a sour, but can you make me want to drink pint after pint of it? Because I could to that with Bad Kitty. I think it lives perfectly on the line of sour and repeatably drinkable (mistake or not).

2. Broad Ripple Brewpub Cask Monon Porter (2 pts.) - If this beer always tasted like it did when we reviewed it, it might be my favorite beer ever. But every time I've had it since, it's just been really good, but not amazingly great. So...

3. Lafayette Brewing Tippecanoe Common (1 pt.) - Because when I reached for a beer out of the fridge at home (which is actually a pretty rare occurrence), this was the one that never disappointed me.

I could have voted for the New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart, but I feel like those beers are always gonna be what they are and that giving them an award is like giving the Cubs a medal for being bad--everyone knows it already. So that was my logic.


I agree somewhat with Mike about the New Glarus beers, but that doesn't mean I won't vote for either of them. I'm a lemming following others off the cliff when it comes to Wisconsin Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart.

My top three:

1. Broad Ripple Brewpub Monon Porter (3 pts.) - I agree with Mike on the batch variation (sometimes it's drier and smokier and sometimes it's sweeter and creamier), though I had it two weeks ago and it was pretty close to the cask version that we all raved about back in January. It's my go-to beer whenever I'm at the pub. I could drink it until I exploded.

2. New Glarus Raspberry Tart (2 pts.)
- Yes, this is an unoriginal pick, but I am nutzo-crazy for this beer. I want to cry every time I think about the fact that it's not available in Indiana.

3. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2009) (1 pt.) - Best bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout I've ever had. That's saying a lot.

Honorable mention: Brugge Bad Kitty, for exactly the same reasons that Mike mentioned. If there ever was a sessionable sour beer, Bad Kitty has to be it.


1. Broad Ripple Brew Pub Monon Porter (3 pts.)
. This was the one beer from Indiana that totally knocked my socks off this year. I could drink this all the time because it wasn't too heavy and had a nice chocolate sweetness that went well with lots of food pairings.

2. Firestone Walker Double Barrel Pale Ale (2 pts.). This was at the Indiana Microbrewers Festival and is my favorite pale ale of all time. It is well balanced and sessionable. It also has loads of hop flavor and goes well with spicy foods.

3. Boulevard Smokestack Series Double Wide IPA (1 pt.). I'm a hop-head and it takes a quality IPA to wow me anymore. This one blew me away and made me fall in love with this ode to the trailer park.


1. Broad Ripple Brewpub Monon Porter (3 pts.) - When beers are cask conditioned they change every day. They can improve or degrade or create new flavors entirely. We happened to try the Monon Porter at what I would consider the peak of its development. I've had it since and it's still good, but not as great as that magical night. And I wasn't even drunk.

2. Tyranena The Devil Made Me Do It Imperial Stout (2 pts.)- This was my first beer from Tyranena and I really enjoyed it. Great coffee and chocolate notes without being imbalanced or overly boozy. A really great first impression.

3. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2008 (1 pt.)
- We reviewed this in 2009 so it counts. Every time I had this I thought it had an incredible balance of flavors and was deceivingly drinkable. 2009 is running a tad hot right now but in time it will definitely live up to its brother. If I can't do a 2008 beer then I'll go with Three Floyds 2009 Dark Lord which is deserving of the exact same praises.


1. Three Floyds Alpha King (3 pts.) - I am never disappointed by this beer and as long as this is on tap I will always have something to go to. Extremely hoppy, yet easily drinkable.

2. Sun King Java Mac (2 pts.)- Another beer I could drink anywhere, anytime. I love when the rich coffee flavor dominates the malty Scottish brown base.

3. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2009 (1 pt.)
- This beer completely blew me away. I'll be honest when I say that I wasn't expecting the beer to be so damned delicious, but it was! There were layers of chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon. Like drinking an incredibly rich and decadent cake. My biggest surprise, and one of my favorites of the year.

Honorable mentions to BRBP Cask Monon Porter, Brugge Bad Kitty, and Three Floyds Dark Lord.

Man, Indiana beer was was awesome this year!


1. Bell's Two Hearted Ale (3 pts.) - My desert island beer. A perfect balance of malt and citrusy hops.

2. Founders Double Trouble (2 pts.)
- A rare, highly drinkable double IPA.

3. Upland Wheat (1 pt.) - As shocking as it sounds, I don't think I had EVER tried Upland Wheat until this year. I fell head-over-heels in love with this witbier over the summer and regularly had a six pack in my fridge. Light and crisp with a refreshing zip of lemon, I could drink this beer all night.

Honorable Mention - Sun King Java Mac and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (give me any aged bottle as my "last beer before I die")


1. BRBP's Cask Anything (3 pts.): Whether it be the highly rated Monon Porter or the recently lusted after 2001-A Stout Odyssey, I can blindly order from BRBP's hand pulls and know that I will be extremely happy. Honorable mentions in hand pulls: Anything from Lafayette Brewing Company's hand pull, including the Weeping Hog IPA.

2. Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout (2 pts.): I could have filled my top beers list with nothing but barrel-aged beers. But the top barrel-aged beer of the year for me was GI's BC Stout. Plenty of bourbon without being too hot, this beer had a beautiful balance of flavors. Honorable mentions in barrel-aged beers: Barley Island Oak Aged Barfly ($3.50 for a goblet makes this one of the very best values), Founders KBS, and Founders Backwoods Bastard.

3. Sun King Osiris Pale Ale (1 pt.): This newcomer has quickly become a favorite go-to beer for me. You will find a growler of this in my beer fridge on most weekends. It's wonderfully tasty, beautifully hopped, and on Fridays, $5 refills. I'm looking forward to seeing Osiris in tall boys this summer. Honorable mentions in sessionable beers: Upland Preservation Pilsner (an extremely underrated beer...more places should be putting this on instead of Miller or Coors) and Three Floyd's Gumballhead (it is a wheat and, therefore, very sessionable in my mind).

4. Brugge Thunder Monkey (0.5 pts.): This spiced Belgian has become a quick favorite of mine. This oddly named seasonal beer comes around just in time to satisfy my seasonal beer needs. Honorable mentions in seasonal beers: Bell's Hopslam (when I'm tired of winter, this gives tastebuds a hoppy wakeup call), Schlafly Irish Stout, and Schlafly Pumpkin Ale.


1. Founders Imperial Stout (3 pts.) - I love this beer for several reasons beyond the flavor of the beer. I like that Founders is still bucking the rest of the beer world by selling a big beer in 12 oz. bottles. This is also one of the imperial stouts that I've had that is ready-to-go fresh from the brewery into my snifter, but it also improves with age. I like my malty beers but this one has a great balance between roasted grain, coffee, dark chocolate, and a nice alcohol twinge as well.

2. Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow (2 pts.) - I love Dreadnaught from 3F and this beer tasted like Dreadnaught with a thick and full body on it that helped accentuate those great mango and passion fruit flavors. I hope they make this an annual release.

3. Brugge Diamond Kings of Heaven (1 pt.) - I wasn't in the DKoH Mafia from years past who have all told me what an amazing beer I've missed out on, so my bar was set pretty high when I finally was able to try this beer and it did not disappoint. I normally think that sours are not very good after about 8 ounces, but I could drink many pints of this and still keep wanting more.

Final Standings:

1. Broad Ripple Brewpub Monon Porter 11.5
2. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 5.5
3. Brugge Bad Kitty 3.5
Bell's Two Hearted Ale 3
Broad Ripple Brewpub Cask Anything 3
Founders Imperial Stout 3
Three Floyds Alpha King 3
Sun King Java Mac 2.5
Firestone Walker Double Barrel Pale Ale 2
Founders Double Trouble 2
New Glarus Raspberry Tart 2
Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow 2
Tyranena The Devil Made Me Do It Imperial Stout 2
Boulevard Smokestack Series Double Wide IPA 1
Brugge Diamond Kings of Heaven 1
Lafayette Brewing Company Tippecanoe Common 1
Sun King Osiris Pale Ale 1
Upland Wheat 1
Bell's Hopslam 0.5
Brugge Thunder Monkey 0.5
Schlafly Irish Stout 0.5
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale 0.5
Three Floyds Dark Lord (2009) 0.5

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