Hoosier Beer Geek worked with Metromix to create their 2010 Local Brewing Guide. It was published in the November 18th issue and we are republishing the interviews we conducted. Enjoy!
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery – Downtown | established 1996
10 West Washington St., Indianapolis
Phone: (317) 681-8180
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery is one of the largest brewery chains in the country, with 35 locations from coast to coast. The food menu may be similar among locations, but the beer is an entirely different story. Head brewer Jerry Sutherlin feels like he is always fighting the chain stereotype. “That’s one thing that’s hard to get by, because we are, we’re big and corporate, as far as a brewpub goes, and most people just think that they’re all the same. So that’s definitely a hurdle for us.”
Sutherlin has spent time in the brewhouse of many Indianapolis area breweries. After deciding that the business program at Indiana University was not for him, he picked up a job at Oaken Barrel. Through that job (and drinking a hefeweizen named King Rudi,) Sutherlin found his true calling. He quickly learned how to brew beer from the brewers at Oaken Barrel and picked up a job as an assistant brewer, first at Oaken Barrel, then with Dave Colt at Ram. Finally, he obtained a position of head brewer at the downtown Indianapolis Rock Bottom.
In addition to brewing beers unique to the downtown Indianapolis Rock Bottom, Sutherlin especially likes to support local businesses. Take the Java Stout that shows up under the Hoosier Ma Stout moniker. “I’ve used Hubbard and Cravens a few times [to brew the Java Stout], they have some really quality stuff. Last time I got some [coffee] at a neighborhood coffee shop of mine, Calvin Fletcher’s.” When asked what beer he would most recommend, Sutherlin suggested Hop Bomb, a seasonal American IPA. “That’s the one I seem to get the most excitement about.”
Ultimately, if you’ve ever overlooked Rock Bottom with the assumption that they’re all the same, you’re doing yourself a disservice. “You can’t get much more local than 10 feet from the bar. And it’s definitely fresh, especially in our market. We’re pretty busy and depending on what’s happening downtown, it’s a pretty lively market.” The seasonal and cask-conditioned beers change out quickly, and the beers on tap at the downtown Rock Bottom can’t be found anywhere else.
Regular Beers: Circle City Light Lager (Munich Helles), Raccoon Red (ESB), Brickway Brown (Brown Porter), Sugar Creek Pale Ale (American Pale Ale), Seasonal Wheat (rotating wheat), Hoosier Ma Stout (rotating stout)
Seasonal Beers: Fire Chief Ale (portion of each beer sale benefits a local fire charity), American Dream (IPA with Pacific-Northwest hops), Rocktoberfest (Märzen-style Oktoberfest)
Events: Quarterly brewer’s dinners, monthly seasonal beer tappings