29 May 2013

First Impressions | Indiana City Brewing Company

One way for a new brewery to distinguish itself in Indianapolis's ever-growing craft beer scene is to make the brewery's location a destination in and of itself. Indiana City Brewing Company, a production brewery that held its grand opening on Saturday, has done just that. The building at 24 Shelby Street, which now contains the brewery and taproom, once housed the bottling works of the Home Brewing Company, a brewery that was shut down during Prohibition. Further, the taproom showcases the work of local artists. Currently on display is the art of Aaron Scamihorn, who also designed the labels for Indiana City's flagship brews. Add to this the exposed brick, the granite bar top, and the vintage light fixtures and you have one of the most inviting brewery spaces in the city.

But having an attractive and historic space isn't enough for a brewery to survive. The beer, of course, has to attract folks as well. Fortunately for Indiana City, founder/brewer Ray Kamstra and brewer Dustin Dahl have rolled out a solid line-up of beers.

The brewery's flagship beers are Yacht Rock (if you aren't familiar with the term "yacht rock," check this out), Shadow Boxer, and Beyond the Pale. Yacht Rock is billed as a "Belgian-style wheat ale," which might have craft beer enthusiasts thinking of a witbier. But that's not what's going on here, at least not to my eyes or palate. Rather, the golden Yacht Rock reminds me more of a German weissbier with its banana esters, albeit with a faint Belgian spiciness in the background.

Shadow Boxer is a well-balanced oatmeal stout with a faint sweetness backed by chocolate and coffee notes. Beyond the Pale is an American Pale Ale with a unique pine and resin flavor profile. And the seasonal, Dock 7, is a dry American IPA that bears a nice citrus character. All four of the beers are well-done and distinctive. I can see the easy-drinking and flavorful Yacht Rock becoming a local favorite, particularly among folks new to craft beer.

For the time being, Indiana City is brewing on a two-barrel system and has plenty of room to expand the brewhouse. Based on their initial beers, I'd say that they should be prepared for expansion because Indy's beer drinkers are probably going to be making plenty of return visits. The brewery sells growlers and has pint service. I look forward to seeing what the brewery has in store for future seasonal beers.

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