06 March 2013

KOTBR #149 | North of the Rodney Zone at Union Brewing Company

Jim wrote:

Most of us Knights of the Beer Roundtable have few reasons for venturing north of 86th Street. Almost all of us live south of 38th Street and find what we need for entertainment purposes in Center Township. We're regularly downtown, on Mass Ave, and in Fountain Square. We'll even head to south side haunts like Shallo's every once in a while. Broad Ripple is about as far north as we usually get.

So yes, we suffer from a bit of urban snobbery. But now, Union Brewing Company gives us a good reason to head north. Occupying a space in an inconspicuous Carmel strip mall on Range Line Road, this new brewery and taproom specializes in cask ales. That in itself is a novelty among central Indiana breweries and beer bars. For while places like the Broad Ripple Brewpub and MacNiven's normally have a cask offering ready on the hand pull, no one devotes every tap of their house beer to cask ales.

Union Brewing does, and they do it well. Upon arrival at the brewery on a busy Thursday night, we walked past the small brewhouse into Union's taproom, which was decorated with sort of a backcountry vibe in mind, and found four house offerings on Union's row of beer engines: Miami Weisse, a Berliner Weisse; Apollo's Space Flight, a double India Pale Ale; Honey Boo Boo Chil', a hoppy, sweet golden ale; and P.Y.T., a Black American Pale Ale.

P.Y.T. was quite roasty; it struck me as being very much like a moderately hoppy American porter. Apollo's Space Flight was an outstanding representation of the DIPA style, full of mango and grapefruit notes with a slightly sweet finish. Honey Boo Boo was a chameleon of a beer, marrying a sweetness that reminded me of creamed corn with a piney hop presence.

But the best of the four house beers for me was the Miami Weisse. Berliner Weisse is one of my favorite beer styles, and Union's was a superior version. Lightly tart and refreshing, Miami Weisse's excellent flavor was amplified by the fact that it was a cask beer, thus displaying a somewhat creamy mouthfeel that enhanced the tart flavor. I can think of few Berliner Weisses that I've enjoyed more.

Opening a craft brewery in Indiana these days is a challenging task. To stay afloat, new brewers need to distinguish themselves both in the quality and uniqueness of their beers. So far, Union Brewing has mastered both.

Megan wrote:

Add Union Brewing in Carmel to your list of breweries you must visit soon and often. It's a small, welcoming space and the beer is impressive. I tried three beers and I enjoyed them all.

First up was PYT, a Black APA (not IPA). It had the roasty toastiness I've come to love in this style of beer, and it blended well with the dose of citrusy hops.

Second was Miami Weisse, a Berliner Weisse that had a little funk/tartness to it. THIS WAS MY FAVORITE.

And lastly, the Apollo's Space Flight DIPA. Another very solid beer, the smoothness of the finish belied the big ol' ABV punch on this one.

Don't let the Hamilton County po-po keep you away from this gem!! But drink responsibly...they don't mess around up there.


Gina wrote:

Tucked away in an unassuming shopping center, you'll find a jewel in the form of Union Brewing Co. They are brewing on a small system right now and all of their beers are served from handpulls. They offer guest drafts (some on handpull as well) from other local favorites such as People's from Lafayette and BBC from Bloomington.

On our visit they had four beers on tap and we had to try them all, including the newly tapped PYT Black APA. To start, the Miami Weisse, a Berliner Weisse style beer that included some malts which made the beer come out a bit darker, or "extra tan" according to the board. While traditional Berliner Weisse style beers are very tart, this one was a little more toned down in the tartness. Very pleasant and equally as refreshing.

Second on the table was a golden ale named for a reality television figure. Honey Boo Boo Chil' is as mild as it is complex, if that makes any sense. Each drink seemed to offer a little bit different flavor. It's certainly easier to drink than to order.

By the time those samples were finished, the PYT had been tapped and it was on the table. While most breweries are making Black IPA's, to see a Black APA was a welcome sight. I tend to find Black IPA's pretty intense, almost as if the hop and the malt fight for attention. With the APA, it's still very flavorful, but also very balanced.

The final beer was the Apollo Space Flight DIPA. Everything good you would expect to come from a Double IPA came from this beer. A sweet and citrus balanced aroma, a hefty malt presence, and a clean finish. By this point I didn't expect anything less.

Overall, I am very impressed by what Union has been doing and I am happy to see another great Indiana brewery come on board. Also, my liver thanks them for serving half pints.

Union Brewing Company
622 S. Rangeline Rd., Suite Q
Carmel, Indiana 46032



  1. I visited them for the first time on Saturday and wow, that Berliner Weisse was the stuff of memories. The DIPA had blown by then, so I went with Simcoe Kid from Bloomington Brewing Co - and it was delicious on cask.

    I should note that a few of their pours *are* CO2 (I think there are like 6 CO2 handles).

    Sort of a strange crowd when I was there, but it wont discourage me from repeat visits.

  2. I visited this out of the way establishment after numerous delays in opening. Despite the overzealous tone of this article, found the brew mastering of these pours to have just as many misses as hits. Inconsistent to say the least, even upon the second visit.
    The strip mall location may attribute to the darker, back country, alley vibe of this brewery. As for the description of drawing a "strange crowd" that would be a correct assertion.

  3. We call 'em like we see 'em. We pretty much uniformly enjoyed the experience and thought the beers were fine. One thing you need to keep in mind is that cask ales are notoriously finicky animals. They can change character from day to day, sometimes not for the better.

    Curious to know what you mean by "strange crowd."