What to drink
The legendary hop kings up at Three Floyds have gained a national reputation for themselves despite only distributing to a handful of states. If you're from North Carolina or West Virginia, there's a strong chance you've never tried their beers. Even if you're from Michigan, the Three Floyds products don't reach you without a quick trip south of the border. For this reason, if you're a fan of hops, Three Floyds is an excellent representation of what Indiana breweries are capable of. Alpha King, Gumballhead, and Robert the Bruce are their easiest to find year-round beers and all great options.
This one is especially for those coming from West Virginia. Since Bell's is available in Michigan (their home state) and North Carolina, I won't spend too much time on this brewery other than to say that Oberon was just released this week. Oberon is a summer wheat beer that is easily their best seller and has a wide following. If you know someone who normally drinks Blue Moon, give this a shot instead while you're in town. There's no contest.
Upland hails from Bloomington, the home of Indiana University, and is one of our largest microbreweries. They currently distribute out-of-state only to a small portions of Wisconsin and Kentucky, so most of the out-of-state fans will find something new with this brewery. Their Wheat is a big summer beer in Indiana, providing more of a lemon-citrus character than Oberon's yeasty orange flavor. Their Infinite Wisdom Tripel was recently released, and while it might not be easy to find, the Tap Room a few miles north of downtown is sure to have it.
The New Albanian Brewing Company only recently started distributing as far north as Indianapolis, and we're very glad they did. Hoptimus is a powerful Imperial IPA, weighing in at an excess of 10% ABV and 100 IBUs. If you're looking for something a bit more sessionable, the Beak's Best has a nice hop and malt balance and will be great with almost any pub food you can throw at it.
Sun King is kind of like the cool new kid on the playground. They opened up about a year ago and are already available on tap throughout the city. Their tap room is home to $5 growler refills on Fridays and is a local hangout on Friday nights, despite everything for sale being in to-go containers. I can't guarantee that the refill special will be going on during the tournament weekend, but the regular price of $6.50 isn't too shabby. Due to surging popularity, they purchased a canning line far ahead of schedule and should have cans available for sale this Friday in the tap room, right in time for the tournament! Stop in and pick some up for the weekend.
Where to drink
We've covered this one before. Rather than repeat it all, check out these awesome posts. In them we cover a lot of the local bars, breweries, and brewpubs, which were not necessarily listed in the previous section. Just because I didn't draw specific attention to them earlier certainly doesn't mean they're not worth visiting. It's going to be busy this weekend, so a lengthy list of bars will be a good thing to have. Hey, we actually have a lot of beer in Indianapolis.
Broad Ripple - 15 minutes north of Downtown
36 hours in Indianapolis - More than simply bars; a good up-to-date guide of things to do in the city
Your Home Team Bar
Michigan State - Champps
Sorry, you guys got a little screwed on the bar selection. Champps is basically an upscale Applebees or TGI Fridays. The food is decent but the beer list is going to leave a lot to be desired. You might see Bell's Oberon on tap here due to its popularity. Luckily there is a Rock Bottom right across the street with a ton of TVs in the bar and downstairs and some really great local beers on tap. You might want to stop in if Champps is looking too crowded. Yes, Rock Bottom is also a chain, but one with all local beer recipes and their own brewmaster.
Duke - Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings is also a chain, but it's one that at one time was famous for almost half of its 35-40 taps holding craft beer. Unfortunately, the owners have recently decided that doubling up on taps of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors would make more sense, and have cut craft beer down to only 6 or so taps. They do still regularly carry things like Three Floyd's Gumballhead, Bell's Oberon, Upland Wheat, Founders Breakfast Stout and Dogfish Head World Wide Stout. That's right, a beer you can't even legally buy in North Carolina was on tap here a couple of weeks back. While you're in town, you might want to pick up some Dogfish Head beer before you head back. Indulge in the 15%+ ABV freedom.
West Virginia - Scotty's Brewhouse
Scotty's is a local Indiana favorite with the recently-graduated-from-college crowd. A family-friendly restaurant that boasts 40 taps, with at least 2/3 of them dedicated to craft and import beers, you'll surely be able to find some local Indiana favorites on. The fried dill chips appetizer and anything with Mofo sauce are the top sellers here on the food menu. You'll be able to order Three Floyds, Upland, People's (out of Purdue-hometown Lafayette), New Albanian, Oaken Barrel, Sun King and many other Indiana beers.
Butler - The RAM
Congratulations Butler! You scored yourselves a microbrewery! Despite its chain status, all of the seasonal beers on tap here are created locally. Actually all the beers are created locally, but the seasonal ones are from local recipes. Burgers are the star of the food menu in my opinion, with a diverse selection of toppings and incredibly large size. Ask for a sampler if you haven't tried their beers before. Try to sit in the bar, as it will give you the best view of their huge TVs.
This guide certainly does not present every option you have in town. Check out the city and try beers you can't get at home. What better way to celebrate your team making it to the Final Four in Indianapolis than with some great craft beer! If you'd like some help on suggestions of bars to try or beers available, check back with our blog on Friday for a segment we like to call the Random Beer Roundup. We will be running all of the local craft beer events for the weekend, new arrivals at local liquor stores, and other news tidbits from the area. The Random Beer Roundup is a great way to figure out which liquor stores and bars are really dedicated to the craft beer crowd.
One last warning - you cannot purchase beer/wine/liquor on Sunday. Do NOT forget this or you may end up very upset. Plan ahead and buy on the right day. Yes it's stupid, but we all have our dumb liquor laws we have to work with. Also, that only refers to carry-out alcohol; you can still drink at bars/restaurants.