19 January 2012

Where to Drink in Indy - Hoosier Beer Geek's Guide to Mass Ave, the Near East Side, and the Near North Side

When I moved to Indianapolis in 1993, Mass Ave was a neighborhood in the infancy of a renaissance. New businesses that are now institutions were starting to sprout up along the avenue, but Mass Ave wasn't a place where many went to do anything after dark. Nearly 20 years later, the neighborhood has blossomed into a key place where locals go to drink, dine, shop, and enjoy art.

If you're looking to explore Mass Ave and some of the nearby neighborhoods, here's our list of establishments to check out, especially if you want to enjoy a good pint or two (or three, etc.).

Mass Ave

The Ball and Biscuit
Perhaps the most polished of all the Mass Ave bars is The Ball and Biscuit, a speakeasy-style cocktail lounge with a menu of excellent small plates and a solid craft beer lineup. The cozy space is made even more comfortable by the lack of televisions. This is a bar built for conversation. 21+ only.
331 Massachusetts Ave.
HBG Visits:
Notes from the Beer and Chocolate Benefit
KOTBR #109 - The Mass Ave Craft Beer Pride Parade 
KOTBR #108 - A Great Divide at the Ball & Biscuit

Opened in 1989, this widely loved pizza parlor has become an Indianapolis institution. Offering a wide array of gourmet pies, Bazbeaux also carries a full selection of craft bottles to keep you on an even keel. The pizzeria added taps last year, and most of them are craft.
333 Massachusetts Ave.

Black Market
This acclaimed gastropub lies at the east end of Mass Ave in a cul-de-sac that juts off the street. Black Market's menu focuses on locally-sourced selections that put a modern spin on traditional Hoosier comfort food. The restaurant also has eight craft taps flowing mostly with locally-brewed beers. 21+ only.
922 Massachusetts Ave.
HBG Visits:
KOTBR #129 - A Local Brew in a Kick Ass Neighborhood Bar

Bru Burger Bar
This restaurant specializes in gourmet hamburgers and has what appears to be an impressive tap and bottle list. We haven't visited yet, but Bru is on our list of roundtable targets. Early reviews are good.
410 Massachusetts Ave.
317.635.4BRU (4278)

Chatham Tap
Like soccer? We do. Chatham Tap is the default choice for fans wishing to catch English Premier League action. The pub's tap list follows suit, with the standard English selections as well as local taps and a nice bottle list. And if you happen to follow the U.S. National Team, the Chatham Tap is where you want to be on match day because the local American Outlaws chapter takes over the bar with their bawdy chants and infectious enthusiasm. 21+ only.
719 Massachusetts Ave.
HBG Visits:
KOTBR #93 | Jingle Bells
So what's on the telly? Football, you say?
Beer Diary #3 - Jason
KOTBR #31 in Review | Wychwood Hobgoblin Ale @ the Chatham Tap

The Chatterbox Jazz Club
The Chatterbox Jazz Club--a Mass Ave original--is the divey-est of dive bars, with a legendarily dusty interior, the most interesting stage carpet that ever existed, the biggest ball of aluminum foil in Marion County, and bathrooms that are either scary or entertaining, depending on your outlook. Your best drink option is probably Sun King in a can, but what an atmosphere! 21+ only.
435 Massachusetts Ave.
HBG Visits:
KOTBR #109 - The Mass Ave Craft Beer Pride Parade

You might be thinking that a place named MacNiven's is an Irish pub. You'd be wrong. MacNiven's is a Scottish/American Pub. It also features one of Indianapolis' most extensive beer lists and regular tappings from the likes of Sun King, Bell's, and Three Floyds. And we haven't even mentioned the awesome haggis (yes, you read that correctly--the words "awesome" and "haggis" in the same sentence), which comes in both regular and vegetarian versions. With the bar's addition of a hand-pull, MacNiven's has become one of the city's premier craft beer destinations. 21+ only.
339 Massachusetts Ave.
HBG Visits:
American Craft Beer Week, Annoying Photo Angles Edition | Sun King/Three Floyds Takeover @ MacNiven's
Scenes from a Tapping: Bell's Hopslam Firkin at MacNiven's
KOTBR #91 - A Second Helping of BCS
KOTBR #54 - MacNiven's Broken Promise
KOTBR #3 - Three Floyds Robert The Bruce

Mass Ave Pub
Located across the avenue from the Indianapolis Firefighters Museum, the Mass Ave Pub is where IFD's finest like to have an after-shift drink. On top of that, proprietor Tracy Robertson (whose husband Stuart is the man behind MacNiven's) always has the pub well-stocked with a deep selection of craft beers in the bottle and on draft. 21+ only.
745 Massachusetts Ave.
HBG Visits:
KOTBR #109 - The Mass Ave Craft Beer Pride Parade

Mesh on Mass Avenue
If you're seeking contemporary American cuisine and a place that's ideal for date night, you'll want to check out Mesh on Mass Avenue. A craft-beer-focused group of eight taps and a well-rounded bottle selection will please beer drinkers as well.
725 Massachusetts Ave.

Old Point Tavern
Something about Old Point Tavern is just plain cool. Maybe it's the flatiron building's wedge shape, or the girl dancing on the sidewalk outside, or perhaps even the extensive beer menu. In any case, the cozy confines provide plenty of entertainment. 21+ only.
401 Massachusetts Ave.

The Rathskeller
If you're the German beer-hall type, the Rathskeller is your Indianapolis answer. Located in the historic Athenaeum building (designed by writer Kurt Vonnegut's grandfather Bernard), the Rathskeller offers a full selection of German-brewed beers as well as a sausage-heavy menu that fits the atmosphere. In the warm-weather months, the Rathskeller's outdoor biergarten offers an unparalleled Mass Ave experience; the biergarten band shell hosts an eclectic group of bands. Grab a stein of Spaten Optimator and get ready to polka!
401 East Michigan St.
HBG Visits:
KOTBR #119 | A Toast to the Original - The KOTBR & Paulaner Salvator
KOTBR #81 - The All-Request Line
KOTBR #28: Roll Out The Barrels
KOTBR #2: Spaten Optimator

Ralston's DraftHouse
Opened in 2012 by the Chatham Tap's proprietors, Ralston's DraftHouse is named for Alexander Ralston, the engineer who designed the city's layout. While we don't know whether Mr. Ralston liked to imbibe after a long day of platting the Mile Square and the surrounding area, we do know that Ralston's DraftHouse sports 24 taps of foreign and domestic beers. It's also a great place to crank up a game of darts or table-top shuffleboard. 21+ only.
635 Massachusetts Ave.

The Near East Side

Dorman Street Saloon
Also known as The Hog, this beloved dive bar is nestled among the Victorian-era shotgun houses in the Cottage Home neighborhood, which is a hop, skip and jump from Mass Ave. Dorman Street's bottle and tap list is quite nice, and legend has it that John Dillinger liked to drink there. 21+ only.
901 Dorman St.
HBG Visits:
KOTBR #67 - Reader Submitted Locations - Ralph's Great Divide and Dorman Street Saloon

Flat12 Bierwerks
Flat12 Bierwerks is located in Indianapolis' historic Holy Cross Neighborhood, which has gone through a revitalization with the recent additions of Flat12 and Goose the Market's Smoking Goose Meatery. Since opening in 2010, Flat12 has gained a dedicated local following for their "tradition with a twist" approach, leading to a myriad of variations of their house lineup, as well as an adventurous attitude toward their specialty beers. 21+ only.
414 North Dorman St.
317.635.BEER (2337)
HBG Visits:
Flat12 Bierwerks
Flat12: Start Your Engines

Indiana City Brewing Company
Located in the former bottling works building of the long defunct Home Brewing Company, Indiana City Brewing Company is Indianapolis's newest production brewery. With the brewery's beautiful historic location comes a nice lineup of house beers, including Yacht Rock Wheat Ale, Shadow Boxer Oatmeal Stout, and Beyond the Pale APA. The brewery also features art by local artists and a rotating lineup of DJs spinning on the weekends. 21+ only.
24 Shelby St.
HBG Visits:
First Impressions | Indiana City Brewing Company

Sun King Brewing Company
Since opening in the Cole Noble District in July 2009, Sun King has skyrocketed to brewing success. Aside from being the first production brewery to brew in Indianapolis since Indianapolis Brewing Company closed in 1997, Sun King made big waves in the craft beer community in 2011 when it captured eight medals at the Great American Beer Festival. In doing that, Sun King showed the rest of the country what Hoosiers already knew: Indiana makes great beer. 21+ only.
135 N. College Ave
HBG Visits:
KOTBR #130 | The Super-Secret Sneak Preview Review of Sun King's Johan the Barleywine
KOTBR #125 - Three Kings vs. Eight Knights
KOTBR #111 - Polka, Wieners, and Beer
KOTBR #102: The Island of Misfit Beers
The Hoosier Beer Geek 2009 End of Year Readers Survey: RESULTS! (Part 3) - The Rise of Sun King
The Sun King Rises Over Indy, Part 2
The Sun King Rises Over Indy

The Near North Side

Goose the Market
Opened in 2007 in the Fall Creek Place neighborhood, Chris and Molly Eley's Goose the Market quickly became a hub in Indianapolis' growing gourmet and local food movement. In June 2010, they opened up their basement space to create The Enoteca, "a casual place to drink wine" (and beer), featuring six ready-to-drink beer choices as well as anything from the well-selected varieties on their store shelves. While the beer selection is nothing to blink at, it's the Enoteca's food that's the star. With selections such as duck rillette, terrine, charcuterie, or one of their highly-regarded sandwiches, there's something adventurous and tasty waiting for you.
2503 North Delaware St.
HBG Visits:
KOTBR #122 - Nøgne Ø Dark Horizon 3.edition
KOTBR #115 - Hanging Out with Bears in the Basement
Notes from the Beer and Cheese Benefit
Beer Diary #20 - Mike - Goose the Market's Enoteca
A Lesson on Beer and Cheese

Previously in our "Where to Drink in Indy" series:

Where to Drink in Indy - Hoosier Beer Geek's Guide to Fountain Square

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