25 July 2010

Indiana Beer Week Recap - Make It Local: Craft Beer and Food

I moved here in January 2001 and for a long time, I felt like an outsider. People called themselves "Hoosiers" proudly. Indianapolis felt awkward. I referred to the city as "Naptown" and "Indianoplace" and did not consider them terms of endearment.

Lately, though, when I talk about the city, and specifically about local breweries and restaurants, I find myself rooting for a place that has become home. We are lucky to have access to so many talented people and opportunities. I want people to like it here and enjoy the great things that Indianapolis has to offer. When guests visit from out of town, there is a long list of places to show them - many of which are great places to eat and drink. When someone is quick to dismiss the city, I find myself listing 10 things that are great about it.

This whole notion of taking pride in the city was only made stronger at the Make it Local: Craft Beer and Food dinner held at Chef JJ's Backyard on Friday, July 16th. Many thanks to Sun King Brewery and Brugge Brasserie for leading the effort to make this dinner happen, and equally many thanks to Staraya at Chef JJ's for putting this event together.

Beer and Social hour:

The opening hour of the event was a chance for guests to mingle and sample beer from Brugge, Sun King, and Lafayette Brewing Co. Also available for sampling were three different kinds of flatbread prepared by Tyler Hareld from Napolese.

The flatbread and beer pairings:

  • Caramelized Onions with Sottocenere, paired with Lafayette Brewing Co. Star City Lager
  • Braised Pork Belly, paired with LBC Tippecanoe Common
  • Braised Short Ribs with White Cheddar, paired with LBC Black Angus Oatmeal Stout

The flatbreads were a delicious start to the evening, but I didn't get to try them as pairings because I was up and around being, well, social.

Appetizer course:

As we settled into our seats, Ted Miller from Brugge and Chris Eley from Goose the Market spoke a little bit about their offerings. I've had terrine before (pig instead of duck) and liked it. I've tried Brugge Spider before (and REALLY liked it). This pairing had to be pretty good, right?
Appetizer course:

Torchon with macerated Spider Figs, Duck Terrine, Chocolate, Sea Salt, Blackberry Moustarda paired with Brugge Spider

Awesome doesn't even BEGIN to describe this pairing. I swear, the moment I washed down a bite of that torchon with the Spider, the sun shone a little brighter. I am fairly certain I heard birds singing a little bit louder. I think I may have looked at Ted at some point and said "holy shit". The torchon had the consistency of custard which played really nicely with the sourness of the Spider, as did the sweetness of the figs. The terrine was perfectly delicious. As I ate and drank this course, I couldn't (and still can't) find the proper words to describe how much I thought this pairing was perfectly complementary. It occurred to me that I was going to be in trouble if this was a theme for the evening. This pairing alone is worth the price of admission in my opinion.

I was sad to see the last pairing go, but was intrigued by what was coming next. a trio of salads prepared by Tyler Herald from Napolese and New Albanian Oaktimus. The beer is Hoptimus, a favorite of mine, aged with oak chips.

Sun King Naptown Brown marinated Shitake Mushrooms, Summer Sweet Corn and Barley Salad
Grilled Potato Salad with a Roasted Garlic and Sun King XX Rye IPA Aioli
Roasted Beet Salad with a Honey Orange Grapefruit Jungle Vinaigrette

All of the salads were truly wonderful and paired with the beer in their own unique way. The beer's oak flavor was subdued by the beets, leaving a sweet vanilla flavor. The oak flavor played up the candied walnuts, making them extremely flavorful.

The potatoes were great. If I was blindfolded, I might have said that the potatoes could have been a really nice piece of tender steak. The aioli and the rye from the IPA played really well with the oak in the Oaktimus.

My favorite salad pairing was the corn and barley salad. The peppery flavor in the salad really accentuated the hops and oak. It balanced the salad so well you couldn't tell where it ended and the beer began.

Next up was the always entertaining Eli Anderson from H2O and Kevin Mattalucci from Broad Ripple Brewpub.

Halibut sous vide in BRBP ESB served along side Duel Citizenship chips paired with BRBP Kolsch

Fish and beer may seem like an easy pairing, but if the beer doesn't match the delicateness of the fish, the pairing may end up off balance or worse, causing the flavors to cancel each other out and disappear.

The Kolsch that was paired with Eli's fish and chips worked great, I'm happy to say. Both the fish and the beer had a sweet elements that played off each other, allowing for the enjoyment of both. The Kolsch was really bright, the flavors crawled right up the back of my throat into my nose, like a really refreshing soda.

Mike and I must have really been enjoying the food and talking about it because about this time in the evening we were finding that I was falling behind on the courses. I'm a slow eater to begin with, and especially slow when I am enjoying my food. It is good they don't move at my pace or we'd be there all night!

Clay Robinson from Sun King and Chef JJ stepped up to provide the penultimate course of the evening.

It's no secret, I am a huge fan of Chef JJ's food, especially when it is paired with Sun King. Clay and JJ have gotten really good at pairing food and beer, finding creative ways to please the palates of those lucky enough to get to try it.


Das Buffalo Pork Tenderloin with Westy Glaze and Summer Veggies paired with Cream Dream III: The Search for Hops

The CDIII really fills in where the pork ends. Like icing on a cake, it elevates the flavors and provides an extra zing to the food. CDIII contains a blend of Simcoe, Centennial, and my new favorite hop variety, Citra. Citra and Centennial impart citrus and tropical flavors, which work nicely with the grapefruit flavors in Simcoe. The combination of all of these flavors in the beer work with the spicy veggies. Another home run from Chef JJ and Clay.

As the sun started to fade, it was time for dessert. The wonderful Chef Jenna Gatchell from Chef JJ's and Andrew Mason from 3 Floyds worked together to come up with something pretty wonderful.


Dark Lord Tiramisu paired with 3 Floyds Schwarzbier

The description of the dessert is this: Layers of lady fingers, soaked in Three Floyds Dark Lord, surrounding a bourbon, vanilla, and mascarpone filling, topped with a goose fat ganache.

Do I really have to go on?

I hope there are more opportunities like this in the future for people to explore the talents of these and other breweries and chefs in the state. I hope everyone who was there enjoyed it as much as I did and I hope those that were not able to go are interested in checking out some of these breweries and restaurants if they've never been. Thanks Indiana; it has never felt so good to be home.


Tyler Herald - Napolese
Christopher Eley - Goose the Market
Eli Anderson - H2O Sushi
JJ Boston - Chef JJ's Back Yard
Jenna Gatchell - Chef JJ's Back Yard


Lafayette Brewing Co.
Brugge Brasserie
New Albanian Brewing Co.
Broad Ripple Brew Pub
Sun King Brewery
Three Floyds Brewery


  1. Oh goodness - I am soooo sorry I just found your blog because I would have LOVED to have participated - am now a subscriber so won't miss another event! I'm a food blogger and am always looking for great food, great restaurants and great drink - fantastic job!

    And I'll definitely be checking out those restaurants!

    Would love to chat if you're ever interested ~

  2. Sure! Let's grab a beer sometime!