19 September 2011

I'm not from here: Beer from outside Indiana

You might question the relevance of writing about beer from outside Indiana on "A Beer Blog for Indiana, from Indianapolis" - it's a topic of discussion in my household from time to time1. Nevertheless, we pick up a lot of beer from other states on our travels here and there, and we know that many of our readers do the same. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for if you find yourself in a liquor store outside of Indiana's state lines.

Brasserie de Cazeua Saison Cazeau Part of the impetus of writing this comes from the lack of variety in my beer diet - while Indiana's brewers continue to work American styles, the old world styles that brought me to craft beer are not as prevalent as I'd hope for. Saison is nowhere near my favorite style, but variety is what I crave.

Brasserie de Cazeau is one of those old world breweries that has very little reputation in the United States. With just a smattering of reviews on the traditional beer review sites, it's hard to say if Brasserie de Cazeus is in any way popular in Belgium, I'm fond of the idea of drinking something from a tiny family brewery in the middle of nowhere. Is the Hainaut Province of Belgium the middle of nowhere? Is the brewery family owned? I can't be sure. But the farm has been brewing (with a few breaks) since 1753, and that's enough history to pique my interest.

Saizon Cazeau pours a hazy lemon color, with a thin yet pillowy head that leaves a slight lacing on the glass. Flowery hops prevail throughout, never dominating, but galloping through in a refreshing romp across the palate. A slightly tart bite remains and rewards2.

If you're a fan of the style, or just like a nice refreshing summer-time beer, this is one worth seeking out.

Stillwater Artisanal Ales Stateside Saison - Here's a brewery I knew very little about before picking up the bottle. What I knew was that the bottle art was eye-catching, and that I hadn't seen it on shelves in Indiana.

As it turns out, Stillwater is the brewery of gypsy brewer Brian Strumke. If you're not familiar with the term, gypsy brewers move from brewery to brewery, in many cases renting out facilities in order to create their latest brews. If you're familiar with (now gone from Indiana) Mikkeller, the idea is the same. Like Mikkel, Brian doesn't own a brewery, he finds available brewery spaces and makes them his own temporarily.

Stateside Saison was our second saison of the evening, with a similar color as the first, but with a thicker head and heavier lacing. Once sniff at the glass let us know we were in for something different, with huge overripe pineapple notes, in addition to elements of peppercorn. Dipping in brought out a surprise of earthy malt, a slight note of alcohol, and a warming and drying mouthfeel. The burp brought pineapple back.

Something in this beer reminded me of Upland's Dragonfly, but I had no Dragonfly bottle to figure out what.

De Scheldebrouwerij Hop Ruiter - Bonus! Here's a beer you can actually get in Indiana - I've seen it on shelves at Goose the Market, for example. When you combine Belgian breweries with the word "Hop", there's a good chance you're in for something interesting.

Hop Ruiter doesn't disappoint, with a nose that screams out "cheese!" and followed by the sweet fruit flavors one might expect with a Belgian golden ale. Candy! Honey! Magic! A hint of orange! The weird thing here is the ever-looming cheese element in the nose, almost demanding a cheese to accompany. This one's a sipper, not because of the 8% ABV, but because of the rich flavors that come through.

Perhaps a future Hoosier Beer Geek Goose the Market Cheese Club pairing candidate? Cheese beer! Anyone paying attention? Everyone wins.

Cigar City Brewing Jose Marti Porter Aged on French Oak Spirals was our last beer of the night, and the one I anticipated most. Tampa, Florida's Cigar City is currently the shit-hot brewery amongst beer geeks, putting nearly everything into all types of barrels, aging them on anything and everything tasty, and unleashing flavors that are completely new to even the oldest of beer geek.

Jose Marti Porter has a nose that jumped out at me before I even sat down at the table. "Is that the beer?" I asked, smelling cigarette smoke. But with my nose in the beer, the prevailing elements reminded me of Dogfish Head's Palo Santo - tar, licorice, and charred meats, with a hint of rubber. Are those elements that seem rewarding?

It's a dry beer, reminiscent of my idea of cigars (which I haven't touched since I quit smoking forever ago) - after warming a bit, hints of cherry and chocolate come out - but this isn't your typical porter, or even your typical oak aged beer. It's something different. One our guests loved the beer, while the rest of us were appreciative but not exactly in love. If you're a fan of Palo Santo, this one might be up your alley.

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1 I hope your household is this exciting.

2 I'm not sure where the horse-related metaphors came from. I'm embarrassed by the paragraph.


  1. I think someone has visited the Michael Jackson Rare Beer Club lately.

  2. You mean this rare beer club? I don't know anything about it.

  3. We had Hop Ruiter last year at this event. I thought it was outstanding.

  4. That event was a fun night...and the Ruiter rooted quite an impression on us, too.

    Saddle up! Hop Ruiter--that's Hop Rider here in the Wild (mid)West--is back on the Goose shelves on Wednesday.

  5. Oops...Hop Ruiter delayed, cowboys. Will hit the Goose shelves THURSDAY.