07 January 2011

Flat 12: Start Your Engines

You don’t have to be a Hopstar to have heard the hoopla about Indy’s newest brewery, Flat 12 Bierwerks. The tweets and meet ups that were leading up to their opening created a lot of fans. And skeptics. But everybody waited with eager anticipation to see if they could live up to their tagline: Great Beer; No Hype.

The answer is beginning to form. Brewmaster Rob Caputo and founders Sean O’Connor and Steve Hershberger opened their doors last week, and the masses received their first views of Flat 12.

Located in the Cottage Home neighborhood east of downtown Indianapolis, Flat 12 has converted a light industrial building into their new brewery. Their signage has hints of art deco; their tasting room takes advantage of pre-existing timber. During warmer weather, there will be a patio for outdoor tasting enjoyment. They are a block off of the beaten path (halfway between New York and Michigan Streets), but they have a nice setup that will certainly be enjoyed by many.

This space now contains the Flat12 tasting room

So what about the beers? When they opened their doors on Wednesday, they had four beers available. First up: the Upside Down Blonde, which is a hybrid beer between pilsner and wheat. Rob admitted that this beer isn’t really brewed for me. It’s a gateway beer, a reach out and get a macro drinker beer. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t all that interesting. I’d like to see Rob brew a pilsner AND/OR a wheat . Actually, scratch the wheat; it’s not my favorite style. Rob, brew a pilsner. I like the pilsners that some craft breweries have been doing recently (i.e. Upland’s Preservation Pilsner).

This space now contains a dedicated growler fill room

Next up: Glazed Ham Porter. When others tried this at meet ups, it had met with some good reviews. I was really interested in trying this. My understanding is that it starts with their Flat12 Porter (which I will talk about in a minute). The Glazed Ham was kinda thin in mouthfeel, which isn’t uncommon with porters but one of my less favorite characteristics. There were tastes of cloves and other spices, which seemed to highlight some of the roasted malt flavors. It’s an interesting beer. One that I would like to try again next year, see if it any different.

Now, the Flat12 Porter is a whole other story. Rob is an admitted fan of porters. He drinks them all year round. And I fully admit that with this porter, I may be drinking this in the heat and humidity of Indiana’s July as well. It is brown and chocolatey with a fuller mouthfeel. In the end: awesome. If Osiris is the flagship beer of Sun King (which it is), I think Porter will be the flagship beer of Flat12 (which it should be). In both cases, the beer illustrates, in my opinion, what the brewer and brewery wants to be.

I don’t understand, though, how the Glazed Ham is the same beer as the Flat12 porter, given the major differences in mouthfeels. Is the Glazed Ham older perhaps? I’m not sure.

Finally, the Half Cycle IPA. I get what they are trying to do: at 6% but with a 104.1 IBU, they are trying to create a more sessionable version of a San Diego Pale Ale (or more commonly known as a DIPA or Imperial IPA) with all of the hoppiness. I like the concept.

And I think it has potential. But for me, it’s a bit off the mark. Someone said “one dimensional” and I don’t disagree. It had a ton of hops, but was almost like a pine forest. I have a preference for the more citrusy notes that comes with hops. I’d love to see the hops adjusted to incorporate more of that into the Half Cycle.

The Flat12 Brewhouse (click to enlarge)

In the end, though, I think Flat 12 Bierwerks are off to a good start. Are they the greatest brewery and beers in Indianapolis? No (I’d have a hard time giving any beer or brewery that designation). But they have potential. And a really good porter.


  1. I give them an A+ for their space. Those are some nice digs. Looking forward to trying their beers; still haven't had time to make it over there yet.

  2. Correction: Flat 12 is in Holy Cross, right across Michigan St from the wonderland that is Cottage Home. We would like to annex Flat 12 though. The numerous Cottage Homies that have sampled are giving rave reviews.

  3. Speaking as a Hopstar, I am celebrating a locally brewed Porter to add to my local beer rotation! I adore Porter in the winter (not as heavy as a Stout) and so far Upland and Oaken Barrel's Porters are good but missing something.

  4. First off, we want to thank HBG, as well as, everyone whose walked through our doors for your support. Less than two full weeks into being open and there is a lot remaining to do. While we are happy everyone likes the beer and sees potential, we will continue to work hard to dial things in. We've had some great comments and suggestions. We will listen to every bit of feedback and act on the ones we can. A Pilsner is a great idea and a fun beer. Thanks for the comments on the IPA as well. Who knows, maybe we will do two types, leaving the dry hopped to the Half Cycle. The Half Cycle for sure is a very distinct beer. Even within the IPA category, there is a LOT of room to explore. One thing is for sure, you will see more interesting and different options from Flat12 as time goes by.