I had a difficult time finding the place because a major construction project was occurring on Pearl Street, right in front of Lil' Charlie's. As I maneuvered my way through town, I wondered how the construction was affecting business. Apparently not much, because the place was packed at lunch time. I'm guessing the locals know their way around better than I do. And this is probably a favorite place for the business-types at Hill-Rom and Batesville Casket Company.
This was my first time at Lil' Charlie's, so I opted for a flight of smaller pours. They have five beers on tap, and the flight of five cost me five dollars. It looks like these beers are always on and I haven't found any indication that they do seasonal brews right now.
-Batesville Blonde Pilsner: it is 4.8% ABV, clear and golden. There is a clean, almost soapy nose. It has a very malty flavor and a hint of sour lemon. There is just a bit of hops to it, leaving a bit if bitters in the back of the throat. Leaves a filmy mouthfeel.
-Father Franz's Hefeweizen: it is a bit more orangish than the pils and 5% ABV. A slight spicy nose. A lot of spice in the flavor. The coriander stands out. The spice is followed by a strong bit of sour.
-Fire House Red Wheat: bronze and gold in color, a bit cloudy, and 5.3% ABV. It has a wheaty nose but a clean, crisp taste. You get a bit of hop on the tip of the tongue and in the back of the throat. There are some citrus flavors but not so much sour. The mouthfeel is clean on this one. Very enjoyable.
-Bull Ram Bock: it is clear and bronze and is the menu's heavy hitter at 7.0%. It smells and tastes like a lager, if you can imagine. Very little bitters, but it isn't big in maltiness either. An easy to drink beer.
-Harry's Pale Ale: for a pale, I find it to be easy on hops when compared to most pales that I drink. It is golden in color and 5.6% ABV. There is a modest hop aroma to compliment the modest hop kick. The most bitterness that I notice is in the aftertaste. Another easy to drink beer.
A word about the food: Batesville is a small Indiana town but has big business. And I'm sure that they try to provide for the needs of those doing business in Batesville but looking for something more than your typical small town Indiana corner cafe. I'm sure that's why the owners brought in Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Adam Israel, who also doubles as brewmaster. The menu is very large and covers a wide range of foods. They are presented in a sophisticated manner.
The shrimp avocado egg rolls I ordered are obviously handled with care. The skin is fresh and crisp. The inside of shrimp, avocado, cabbage and carrot remain crisp, flavorful, and NOT soaked in cooking oil. The sweet and sour pepper sauce is full of sweet flavor and heat. Based on the large lunchtime crowd, in spite of the massive road project out front, I would say that this place has likely become a Batesville favorite. And I bet that the addition of a solid and standard craft beer lineup is like the icing on the cake.