30 December 2008

Belgian Champagne you say?

On New Year's Eve many millions of Americans will be popping the cork on a bottle of champagne, sparkling wine most likely, but how about popping the cork on what some call Belgian champagne, (I think this is an American term) better known as gueuze (say Ger-ser while clearing your throat and you've got it). Gueuze is a blend of old and young lambic beers, and it will usually range between 4% and 6% ABV. The young and old lambic beers are usually blended, bottled, and then aged anywhere from 18 months to 36 months depending on the flavors that the brew-master or blender is looking for in their product. An aging time of at least six months is mandated by law in Belgium. The beer provides the complex flavors of young lambic like tartness and spiciness, but then the more mature features of the old lambic round out the beer. The mixing of young and old lambic is a pure art form that will change greatly from cask to cask. It could vary from 30/70 young-to-old or 70/30 young-to-old, or it could end up anywhere in-between.

The beer is also spontaneously fermented. This means that the wild air of Belgium inoculates the wort to create the beer. This beer is not like any other beer you have ever had. The normal hop presence that most beers have is gone, and it is replaced by a myriad of complex flavors ranging from sour, acidic, horse blanket funk, cider, dry fruit, and is carbonated much like a dry champagne would be. If you want authentic gueuze make sure to look for "refermented in this bottle" on anything that you are buying for the real traditional taste. This beer isn't for everyone by any means, but instead of buying that third of fourth bottle of Korbel, try a wonderful traditional gueze instead.

Commerical Examples of Gueuze: Gueuze Giradin 1882 (pictured above), Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze, Cantillion Gueuze 100% Lambic, and Lindemans Gueuze Cuvee Rene. I've personally seen all of these beers at Party Pak, but hopefully others can chime in on where they have any of these around town.

Have a safe and happy New Year


Reminder: HBG New Year's Party at Deano's Vino tomorrow

Hopefully you're already planning on attending, but just in case you're not - don't forget our New Year's Party at Deano's Vino (1112 Shelby St, Indianapolis (317) 423-3154) tomorrow night! Even if you're on your way somewhere else, no cover means it's easy to stop on in and have a pint or two.

We'll be kicking things at off at 9PM in our special way with limited pours of Dogfish 120 Minute IPA and Delirium Tremens ($10/pour), an all you can eat buffet ($15), and DJ Phil.

Hope to see you there.

28 December 2008

Follow up post: What was your favorite beer of 2008?

You've seen our choice for 2008 Beer of the Year - now it's time to tell us about your favorite beer from the past year. It could be the PBR you had after you got a raise at work, the Sam Adams Utopias you bought with your Christmas bonus, or the Three Floyds Alpha King served by a waitress or waiter you ended up sleeping with. Or maybe you just had a really great beer that knocked your socks off. Let us know! Leave a comment!

26 December 2008

The 2008 Knights of the Beer Roundtable Beer of the Year

To arrive at our candidates for the 2008 Knights of the Beer Roundtable Beer of the Year, we took a look back at all the beers reviewed during our our Roundtable sessions in 2008. In some cases, not all the Knights attended, but their familiarity with a reviewed beer allowed them to place it in their rankings.

This isn't science - far from it, actually - as it's possible that we may have decided that we like a beer more or less since the roundtable has happened. In any case, looking back, we've decided that these beers left us with the fondest of memories.

And our fondest memory of them all?


You might be saying to yourself "Go figure, they picked something bottled in 2007. How am I going to get any of that?" Well, there still might be some around if you know where to look. This is a $15+ bottle of beer, which means it usually doesn't fly of store shelves. If you're fortunate, your local beer retailer just might have a bottle. We picked up a bottle in Illinois just last month.

Can't find the 2007? Don't fret - this beer is a yearly release, and the 2008 edition (which we'll be reviewing is on store shelves right now. Is it the exact same beer? Probably not. But Mikkeller hasn't let us down yet - so it's well worth investigating.

We contacted Mikkel with the news:
I'm happy to hear you have voted Santas 07 the best beer of 2008.
From the early start I have created beers for people like you guys - the ones that really care a lot about what they are drinking and I always try and go all the way to give new beer experiences.
Santas is a dark strong belgian ale which is a rather new style to me so being able to brew your favorite beer of 2008 with this style is truly amazing!

Thanks a lot!

Thank you, Mikkel.

Our reviews of Santa's Little Helper 2007 came from our 80's Mikkeller Marathon post, which will explain the references below (posted May 16, 2008):

Santa's Little Helper 2007. Dark brown color. Nose reminiscent of bourbon and coffee. Superb dark fruit flavor, with notes of apple, cherry, and bourbon. An exquisite beer, which was well-liked by the group. One of the best beers we've reviewed, in my opinion. Musical analog: The Clash. The Only Band That Mattered was love at first listen for me. This beer was love at first sip. 4.95 mugs.


Santa's Little Helper 2007 - Dark brown with a tan light head. Tastes sweet, but not alcoholic, which could lead to some trouble at 11% ABV. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure - "EXCELLENT!" 4.50 Mugs

Santa’s Little Helper: While sampling this, I imagined that I was drinking a Cherry Coke (which made its national debut in 1985) and scotch. It was spicy with whiskey flavors but sweet with cherry and caramel flavors. It is sure to brighten any dysfunctional family holiday gathering. I’m sure that Nicole Bradford wished she had a stash of this syrupy beer hidden in her room from 1987 through 1990. It certainly would have made tolerating her “Two Dads” more bearable year round. What was Judge Margaret Wilbur thinking?!? 4.67 Mugs

Matt E:
Santa’s Little Helper – This had an interesting combination of flavors and, surprisingly given the slate so far, none of them was hops. Cherries, apple cider, and whiskey abound, but there was nary a mote of hops to be found. Generally, I like hops in my beers. This time their absence made me appreciate everything else all the more. You don’t have to see or hear Vern to realize that he’s the perfect foil for Ernest P. Worrell. The fact that he’s invisible and mute allows us to appreciate the physical and character driven comedy of Jim Varney. I should know, I’ve seen every Ernest movie ever made. Betcha didn’t know that Ernest went to Africa or joined the Army…Didja?! 4.30 mugs

Individual lists:

Matt R.
1. Three Floyds Dark Lord
2. Deschutes The Dissident
3. Troegs Troegenator Doublebock
Honorable Mention: Allagash Four

1. Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper '07
2. Three Floyds Dark Lord
3. Struise Pannepot
Honorable mention: Rodenbach Grand Cru

1. Oskar Blues Gordon
2. Santa's Little Helper
3. Darklord
Honorable mention: Pannepot, Beer Geek Breakfast

1. Mikkeller To: From:
2. Rodenbach Grand Cru
3. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Honorable mention to Struise Pannepot
Not-just-your-average-beer-blog award to Upland Six-way Lambic

1. Mikkeller To: From:
2. Troegs Troegenator Dopplebock
3. Brookyln Black Chocolate Stout

1. Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper '07
2. Struise Pannepot
3. Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast
Honorable mention: Oskar Blues Old Chub

1. Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper '07
2. Three Floyds Alpha Kong
3. Struise Pannepot

1. Brugge Tripel de Ripple
2. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2000
3. Deschutes The Dissident

1. Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper
2. Oskar Blues Old Chub
3. Three Floyds Dark Lord
most honorable mention indeed: Brugge Tripel de Ripple

Matt E.
1. Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper
2. Brewer's Art Green Peppercorn Trippel
3. Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier

23 December 2008

DarkLord Day 2009 - What We Know So Far

Thursday, 12/18/08 - BeerAdvocate forums user "grynder33" makes a post titled "Dark Lord Day 2009 Lottery System??" on the US Great Lakes section of the forum, in which he states that he has overheard (at a homebrew party) that 2009 DarkLord bottles will be for sale through an advanced registration lottery. He then asks if anyone else can confirm the rumor.

2 hours later - User "yock" says to check the website 3floyds.com, where the following info was posted:
Darklord Day 2009 will be greatly improved to accommodate larger crowds, including expanded parking, more porta johns, shorter lines and more food choices.

In order to facilitate a fair and much more convenient system for buying DarkLord on DLD 2009, we will be implementing a lottery system. Don't worry, you'll have a much better chance of getting a winning ticket than almost any other lottery you can play.

Basically our DLD 2009 lottery system will break down as follows:

* Everyone interested in purchasing DarkLord by the bottle will have to first register here at our website
* We will capture your name and email address and place you into a randomized database
* Once we've determined our estimated level of production for bottled DarkLord, we will then calculate the total number of winning tickets that we will make available
* We will then select, completely at random, email addresses from our databases and send winning registrants a confirmation email informing them of their winning slot in the lottery
* We will then require all winners to confirm their mailing address and we will send out the winning tickets
* All those that fail to respond within the designated timeframe will be dropped from the winning list and new winners will be picked
* All those that have a winning "golden ticket" will be able to get in line, during their scheduled "tee time" as indicated on their ticket, and they will be able to purchase up to one case of DarkLord

While we know that this will upset some of our customers, we feel that this is simply the easiest way to insure that everyone, regardless of geography or budget, will have the best chance to get their hands on some bottled DarkLord this coming April.

We hope that this will resolve much of the confusion and frustration of our patrons who failed to get any DarkLord at the last DLD.

Check back here soon, or go ahead and register now to get yourself on the DLD 2009 Early Bird Notification list.
And that's where the confusion started.

First, the domain - most folks are familiar with the three floyds site at www.threefloyds.com - so the new address at www.3floyds.com seemed like it might be a hoax.

Secondly, attempts at preregistration brought up a wordpress page asking for a username and email address.

So something was definitely "off".

A whois lookup of the domain registrant info looked legit - the domain 3floyds.com was property of the brewery - so what was going on? Was the info accurate?

Well, not exactly.

Sunday, 12/21/08 - Nick Floyd logs on to the BeerAdvocate forums and explains:
3floyds.com is now Three Floyds Brewing Co official website but you can still order things from threefloyds.com .We are having trouble getting our own domain name back?? Three Floyds will be selling DarkLord Day Tickets in the near future to assure everyone that waits in line will get to buy some DarkLord and as always we are trying to smooth out any kinks in the festival so everyone is happy. check 3floyds.com in January for further details.Happy Holidays to all :)
If you're interested in attending (which we highly recommend), there's your heads up.

22 December 2008

2008 Readers Best Of Results

Although we presented you (our readers) with a very short window in which to vote, you turned out, made your voices heard, and demanded results. And here they are.

But first, we offer our thanks to everyone for voting. To the winners, we offer our congratulations. The public has spoken -- and they like you. Keep up the good work. To collect your awards, please leave a comment. If you're extra friendly, I'll order you a sticker or something. Or how about a certificate of achievement? I can do that. You'll have to buy your own frame. Believe it or not, we have even less of a budget than you do.

On with the parade:

1. Demographics

We suspected that most of our readers are from Indianapolis or the areas nearby. But we've also got at least one reader in the Virgin Islands, and a couple in Florida. You're of an average age of 33.29 years, and 19% of you are women. Yay women.

2. Which Indiana brewery is producing your favorite lineup of Indiana beers?

Your Answer:
1. Three Floyds Brewing Company - Munster - 59.8%
2. Brugge Beer and Brasserie - Indianapolis - 12.4%
3. Upland Brewing Company - Bloomington - 8.2%

Our answer: Three Floyds. A lineup that ranges from wild (Dark Lord, Alpha Kong) to mild (Gumballhead, Blackheart English IPA), consistent quality, and a generous dose of hops keep us coming back for more.

3. Which is your favorite Indiana craft beer retailer?

Your Answer:
1. Kahn's Fine Wine and Spirits - Indianapolis - 18.7%
2. (Tie) Crown Liquors - Various locations - 14.3%
2. (Tie) The Hop Shop - Indianapolis - 14.3%

Our answer: No consensus. We all live in different areas of town, which means we all shop different places. But that's a good thing - no matter where you're living in Indianapolis, good beer shouldn't be hard to find. We had votes for Kahn's, Crown, Goose the Market, Stoney's Still, and Parti Pak.

4. Which is your favorite Indiana beer bar?

Your Answer:
1. MacNiven's Restaurant and Bar - Indianapolis - 15.0%
2. Rathskeller - Indianapolis - 13.8%
3. Heorot - Muncie - 12.5%

Honorable mention: J. Gumbo's. Despite the fact that I somehow forgot to put it in the list, J. Gumbo's was just one vote shy of tying The Heorot.

Our answer: Deano's Vino. Despite a widely distributed sample of voting, Deano's Vino came up more than any other establishment. Sure, we'd love to see more taps, but the beer menu is serviceable, the confines are cozy, and (if you catch Nick on Thursday - Saturday) the friendly ribbing of the bartender is top notch. Despite visiting a lot of bars, Deano's always feels like home.

Addition votes for MacNiven's, Shallos, J. Gumbo's, The Heorot, and Rich O's.

5. Which is your favorite Indiana Brewpub?

Your Answer:
1. Brugge Brasserie - Indianapolis - 32.0%
2. Broad Ripple Brewpub - Indianapolis - 13.4%
3. Three Floyds - Munster - 9.3%

Our answer: Brugge Brasserie. A pretty close to perfect brewpub food menu, a friendly staff, fresh Black, White, and Tripel - if they could just get rid of that cantankerous owner/brewer, they'd really have something.

Just kidding - we love you, Crazy Kegs (Ted).

6. Which of the Indiana sister-state breweries (with beer in Indiana) is producing your favorite beer lineup?

Your Answer:
1. Bell's - Michigan - 39.2%
2. Founders - Michigan - 33.0%
3. Goose Island - Illinois - 7.2%

Our answer: In a close race, Founders beat out Goose Island and Bell's by just one vote.

7. Which Hoosier Beer Geek Knight of the Beer Roundtable would you like to buy a beer for first?

Your Answer:
1. You're all a bunch of bums - 54.2%
2. Kelly - 11.5%
3. Gina - 10.4%

Our answer: Everyone.
Though Jason voted for himself, Chris voted for Mike, Rod and Jess voted for each other, and Kelly and Matt voted for each other (though Matt only voted for Kelly so he could drink her beer), "Everyone" received the most votes. I'm guessing that'll be hard to collect on.

8. Are you aware of the Hoosier Beer Geek New Year's Party at Deano's Vino on Wednesday, December 31st, at 9PM(ish)? And that (in addition) we're working on a Hoosier Beer Geek Breakfast with Ted at Brugge for sometime in January? Do either of those sound like something you might attend?

Your Answer:
65.7% of you said yes. We'll hold you to your word.

19 December 2008

Random Beer Roundup - The Do Not Open Until Xmas Edition

Not only is this the last roundup before Hanukkah and Christmas, but also of 2008. With the holidays in full effect, the next Random Beer Roundup will be on January 9th. So if it is too much to wait that long for the next RBR, you may not want to open this one until Christmas. For those, stop reading now and we'll see you later.

For those brave enough to read on, Santa has delivered plenty of random beer goodies for your pleasure. Throw a log on the fire, put Bing on the old hi-fi, grab a mug of wassail, gather your family, and enjoy Hoosier Beer Geek Random Beer Roundup Christmas Special.

On the last day of Christmas, J. Gumbo's gave to me...
On behalf of Hoosier Beer Geek, I propose a toast to Mike DeWeese and wish him a happy new year. We hope that 2009 and beyond finds you well and wish to see you along the craft beer trail again soon. He emailed us some reminders and news:

Our last day is December 28th
$5 Bowls and $2.50 pints until the end
Blow out party on December 27th

We're putting Bell's Consecrator on
for the last 13 days. We're also bringing in a keg of Ommegang Rare Vos.
And a Black Sparrow in a Pear Tree.
John at the Black Sparrow in Lafayette emailed us their latest beer selections:
On Tap:
Bell's Christmas Ale
Founders Red's Rye
Stone Arrogant Bastard
Okocim OK Lager
Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA
North Coast Pranqster
Great Divide Hibernation Ale
Founders Breakfast Stout

Coming Soon:
3Floyd's BrooDoo Harvest Ale (Fresh Hop IPA)
Left Hand Snowbound
Kostritzer Black Lager
Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper Porter
Delerium Nocturnum
Brugge Triple

Founders Rotating Bottle:
Backwoods Bastard
The beer geeks were nestled all snug in their beds, with Winter Warmer Ales dancing in their heads.
Mat at Cavalier Distributing updated us on where Santa is hiding your Christmas gifts:
Check out a new beer friendly Gourmet Store:

Pairings Gourmet Wine & Grocery
4040 E. 82nd. St.
Indianapolis, IN 46250

Below is Pairings' Winter beer line up.

Breckenridge Christmas Ale 4/6/12
Founders Breakfast Stout 6/4/12
Ridgeway Bad Elf 12/16.9
Ridgeway Santa's Butt 12/16.9
Two Brothers Hop Juice 12/22
Berghoff Winter 4/6/12
Belgian Gift Pack 5/5/11.2
Dubission Scaldis Noel Premium 8 x 25.4

The lengthly list of winter and esotaric beer below has been delivered to the Party Pack. Now they have even more rare and hard to find unique beer!

Two Brothers Hop Juice 12/22
Breckenridge Christmas Ale 4/6/12
Breckenridge Christmas Ale 6/1L
Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza 12/750
Mikkeller To/From 6/750
Mikkeller From / To 6/750
De Ranke Pere Noel 6/750
Hop Back Pickled Santa 12/16.9
Mahr's Christmas Bock 10/16.9
Ridgeway Santa's Butt 12/16.9
Ridgeway Lump of Coal 12/16.9
Ridgeway Brewing Warm Welcome 12/16.9
Belgian Gift Pack 5/5/11.2
KerkomBink Winter King 24/11.10
Almond 22 Torbata (peat smoked) 6/750
Alvinne Extra (IPA) 24/11.2
Alvinne Melchior 24/11.2
Le Baladin's Xyauyu 6 16.9oz
Birrifico Barley BB 10 12/12.7
Birrifico Barley BB 10 6/750
Birrificio Barley Friska 12/12.7
Birrificio Barley Sella del Diavolo 12/12.7
Birra del Borgo Ganziana 12/375
Birra del Borgo Te 12/375
BEBA Malto Malto (Double Bock) 12/16.9
BEBA Talco (rye) 12.16.9
BEBA Toro 12/16.9
Left Hand Smokejumper (Smoked Imperial Porter)12/22
Ridgeway Bad Elf 12/16.9
Ridgeway Very Bad Elf 12/16.9
BFM Abbaye De St. Bon-Chien 2007 6/750
Boegedal Dark Ale 6/750
Dansk Mjod Viking Blod 6/750
Birrifico di Como Malthus Birolla 12/16.9
Ducato Nuova Mattina 6/750
Ducato Via Emilia 16/11.2
Einbecker Pils 2/5 ltr
Grado Plato Chocarrubicais 12/16.9
Grado Plato Strada San Felice 12/16.9
JW Lees Harvest Ale 1999 12/9.3
JW Lees Harvest Ale 2006 12/9.3
JW Lees Harvest Ale 2007 12/9.3
JW Lees Harvest Ale Calvados 2006 12/9.3
JW Lees Harvest Ale Lagavulin 2005 12/9.3
JW Lees Harvest Ale Lagavulin 2006 12/9.3
Montegioco Draco 6/750
Regenboog t'smisje Fiori 24/11.2
St. Michaelsberg Kellerbier 20/16.9
Schneider Aventinus 2003 20/16.9
Troll Fume 6/750
Vapeur En Folie 12/750
Wye Valley Dorothy's Goodbody Stout 12/16.9
Mix and mingle in a-beer geekin' beat...
Ted at Brugge knows how to tell a lengthy tale:
What can I say, he has a way with words.

God bless the master of this store. Likewise the mistress too!
Cari at Kahn's invites us in for some wassail:
New This Week:
- Goose Island Mile Winter
- Upland Winter Warmer
- Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
- BFM Bon Chien 2007 Aged in Bourbon Barrels, 1.5 L
- BFM Bon Chien 2007 Aged in Pinot Noir Cask, 1.5 L
- Red Hook Double Black Sout 22 oz.
- Hansens Mead the Gueuze
- Hevelius Polish Strong Lager

Also, on special this week, Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale 22 oz. $4.99 each.

Monday, December 22 from 5-7 p.m., we will have Veronica from Bell's will join us for our weekly tasting to talk about some of their beers. We'll be taking the week off on December 29.
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
HotShotz emailed us not about beer but about their Christmas Day feast:
With family and friends in town over the next week, we know you'll be looking for good meals that won't keep YOU in the kitchen all day! Because of that, we will be OPEN Christmas Day!

That's right, we'll be open 12-7 Christmas Day and boy do we have a deal for you... during your visit we'll be serving our fantastic brunch for ONLY $14.95, In addition, kids 8 and under eat FREE! (One per paying adult)

We'll be offering:

18 Stations
Complimentary Champagne
4-Seafood Selections
Build Your Own Omelet
Eggs Made to Order
Several Pasta Options
Carving Stations
Decedent Desserts
and much, much more!

We will also have a limited menu available all day!
The wearing of lampshades are optional.
Amber at Scotty's Brewhouse mentioned to us that the West Lafayette and 96th Street locations will be having New Year's Eve parties:
Open 11am to 2am. $7 Import/Micro Pitchers. Champagne toast at midnight and free party favors. Plus, we're open at 11am on New Year's Day for watching the bowl games.
And don't forget the New Year's Eve party at Deano's Vino. The Knights from Hoosier Beer Geek will be there doing table dancing. Bring plenty of singles.

Christmas Goodies from around the beergeekernet...
Lots of goodies to check out at IndianaBeer.com including a link to an article about Three Floyd's in Washington, D.C. and info on where to find Ram Beer at Lucas Oil Stadium (spoiler alert: Sections 108 and 135). Plus, a brilliant person wrote a brilliant letter about the often misquoted Benjamin Franklin.

And the latest tap list from Rich O's Saturnalia can be found at the Potable Curmudgeon. Plus info on the Beer Cellar Christmas Shoppe.

Our holiday gift to you deer readers as we finish the last RBR of 2008 is this excerpt from "A Visit from King Gambrinus":
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, "Happy Craft Beers for all, and for all a good-night!"

18 December 2008

KOTBR #63 - Weird Party

For Knights of the Beer Roundtable #63, we met in Jason's private learjet on the Irvington airport grounds and then headed to St. Louis to pick up an assortment of beers from The St. Louis Brewery/Schlafly.

Because of the special occasion, we also brought along a spirit guide, who enabled us to channel a panel of St. Louis' best known and most beloved natives, both alive and deceased, to step into our bodies and write our reviews. We hope you'll enjoy their/our efforts.

Schlafly Pilsner - Our first review was written by none other than St. Louis Brewery owner Tom Schlafly (through Mike). You might find it unusual that we'd ask an owner to write a review of his own beer, but we're all fans of Tom's monthly top fermentation column, and felt he could put a lively spin on our review technique.

December 11th was a good day for the Knights of the Beer Roundtable for a few reasons. First, it marked just two weeks until Christmas. But more importantly, it marked the date when we would share a winter fuel - an assortment of Schlafly beers - gathered while visiting St. Louis.

Those of you familiar with the Christmas Carol "Good King Wenceslas" know that one of the King had his servants prepare flesh, wine, and pine logs for the arrival of a poor man he witnessed gathering his own winter fuel. Wenceslas I was just the first of a long line of Bohemian kings with the name Wenceslas - some 342 years later came the birth of Wenceslaus II Premyslid, who might have been a good king himself had his rule not first been held captive by Otto IV Margrave of Brandenburg and later by his mother's secret husband, Záviš of Falkenštejn.

Wenceslaus II did come to power, though it wasn't until the beheading of Záviš (for alleged treason) that he gained full independent power over the expanded empire, which eventually included Poland. Despite the beheading, Wenceslaus II wasn't all bad - after all, he did grant Plzeň its civic charter in 1295.

Here in the United States we probably know Plzeň better by its German spelling: Pilsen. We may not know that Pilsen is located in the western Bohemia regions of the Czech Republic. If you're reading this I'd say there's a pretty good chance that you've put two and two together and realized the Pilsen is not only famous for being the fourth most populous city in the Czech Republic - it's also famous for its Pilsener pale lager.

Of course the folks at Schlafly don't spell Pilsener that way - my guess is that they'd leave that spelling to the authentic stuff. That's not to say that Schlafly's Pilsner is some sort of poor knock-off - but as an Americanized version of the style, some liberties can be taken. Schlafly's Pilsner is a translucent and fizzy beer, with a sweet malty nose, a middle-weight mouthfeel, and a fruity, bitter and tight finish. This is a beer with loads of flavor, and would serve well as an introduction to craft beer for anyone used to drinking from the foreign-owned big three (AB/Inbev or SABMillerCoors).

If you're looking to be as good as King Wenceslas this Christmas, you might try giving the uninitiated the gift of Schlafly Pilsner - a beer that's palatable for all, but perhaps not a beer a certified beer geek will absolutely lose his or her head over.

Schlafly Pilsner
Mike: 3.0 Gina: 2.3 Jess: 3.2 Rodney: 2.1 Jim: 3.35 Jason: 3.0
KOTBR Average: 2.82 Mugs

Schlafly Hefeweizen and Oatmeal Stout - For our second and third reviews, Rodney asked the guide to call up the spirit of Harry Caray. Harry started his broadcasting career in St. Louis, as an announcer for the Cardinals.

Harry Caray here. Welcome beer fans! These beer geek guys asked me if I'd like to have a few beers with them so of course I said yes. That's the crazy thing about being dead, you don't have much to do once the baseball season is over! All the beers we had were from a brewery in St. Louis that wasn't Anheuser-Busch, so I was a little confused. But hey! St. Louis is where I discovered my two favorite things. Baseball and beer! So all these beers are from Schlafly. Weird name. Schlafly backwards is Ylfalhcs. Try saying that three times. Hey!

So this first beer. What's it? Hefeweizen. Unfiltered wheat? What didn't they filter out of it? Good stuff I hope. Smells kind of fruity. Kind of like apples and pears. Hey! This is beer right? You guys wouldn't mess with me. It looks like Budweiser so I'll trust you. Tastes kind of fruity though. Grapes and lemon and banana. Not bad, I could drink two or eight of these at a game. Good summer beer. Just not really what I was expecting. I'll take another. What! Oh, we're going to do another beer. Okay I'll take one of those!

Schlafly Hefeweizen
Mike: 2.0 Gina: 2.0 Jess: 2.0 Rodney: 1.9 Jim: 2.0 Jason: 2.0
KOTBR Average: 1.98 Mugs

Holy cow! Look at this thing! It's like I'm looking at coffee! Is this a Guinness or something? Oatmeal Stout? Smells kind of like chocolate. I'm getting the oatmeal in there. Creamy oatmeal. Smoky too, like a good barbecue but no meat. You know what I mean? Can I drink this or what? Wow! It might be.... it could be...... it is! Amazing! I don't think I've ever had a beer like this. This is crazy! No way I would drink this at a ball game, but it's darn cold outside and this is darn tasty! I can't believe it! It's nice and smooth but it's like coffee and chocolate and Guinness and nuts. What! I'll say it's like Guinness if I want but it's better than that. This is good! Wow!

Good to see St. Louis is still a great place! This is fun guys, what else do you have? How about that Pilsner? That's baseball beer!

Schlafly Oatmeal Stout
Mike: 3.0 Gina: 3.9 Jess: 3.8 Rodney: 3.81 Jim: 3.7 Jason: 3.7
KOTBR Average: 3.65 Mugs

Schlafly No. 15 - For review #4, Jess asked our spirit guide if it would be possible to channel St. Louis Native Maya Angelou; and after tasting the No. 15 she had this poem to share with us:

Phenomenal No. 15

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not a big beer or built to suit a fashion model's Chelada tastes,
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the banana and clove nose,
The deep, rich amber color,
The sugary, smooth mouth-feel,
Then the holiday spice notes.
I'm a beverage.
Phenomenal beer,
That's No. 15.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's that I lack that boozy kick,
And the flash of my wheaty aroma,
The swing of my earthy hop sweetness,
And the flavors reminiscent of Bells Winter White.
I'm a beverage.
Phenomenal beer,
That's No. 15.

Schlafly No. 15
Mike: 3.78 Gina: 3.3 Jess: 3.4 Rodney: 3.2 Jim: 3.75 Jason: 2.9
KOTBR Average: 3.38 Mugs

Schlafly Pale Ale - In the course of getting to our next review, our spirit guide became drunker and drunker, finally passing out. So Jason got out the Ouija board, and summoned the spirit of Mark McGwire, who immediately began to launch into legal-speak. The following is what his lawyers (also contacted via Ouija board) have allowed us to use.

The following is testimony from Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman from 1997 to 2001, before a Hoosier Beer Geek committee about the enjoyment of craft beers by Major League Baseball players:

My name is Mark McGwire. I have been drinking beer since I was 21 years old. I was privileged to be able to drink lots of beer in the Major Leagues. I even had the honor of representing my country on the 1984 Olympic Baseball Team while drinking lots of beer. I love and respect beer, and I will do everything in my power to help craft beer, its brewers and fans.

First and foremost, my heart goes out to every person who were victims of bad beers. I hope that these hearings can prevent others from suffering. I admire craft brewers who had the courage to appear before Hoosier Beer Geek and warn of the dangers of bad brews. My heart goes out to them.

When I was lucky enough to secure my last major league contract, one of the first things I did was to use $3 million dollars of my own money to buy craft beer. I applaud the work of Hoosier Beer Geek in exposing great breweries so that their qualities are clearly understood. There have been problems with bad beers. Like any business where there is pressure to perform at the most profitable level and there has been no testing to control performance, problems develop. It is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Most importantly, every beer drinker needs to understand that some beers that claim to be good can be bad. I will use whatever influence and popularity I have to encourage beer drinkers to try any beer that is recommended by a beer geek. What I will not do, however, is participate in naming names and implicating specific breweries.

I will not point out that there are better beer choices from St. Louis. I refuse to say that Schlafly is a good example. And I won’t further explain that Schlafly is even available in a stadium named after a really, really, REALLY big St. Louis brewery.

I do not sit in judgment of other beer drinkers – whether it deals with their selection of Budweiser, Miller, or Coors – including whether or not they drink the “craft” brews that come from these breweries. That has never been my style and I do not intend to change just because the cameras are turned on.

Nor do I intend to dignify the beer commercials that talk about things like “drinkability”. It should be enough that you consider the source of the statements and the many inconsistencies and contradictions that have already been raised.

I have been advised that my testimony here could be used to harm breweries. Asking me or any other player to answer questions if they drink Schlafly Pale Ale for its mild but tasty flavor will not solve this problem. If a baseball player answers no, he simply will not be believed, because while the Pale Ale is not as hoppy as the American pale ales we are used to, it still has enough bite to satisfy but enough of a sugary finish to entice those who do not normally drink pales. If he answers yes, he risks public scorn from the breweries who sign them to lucrative endorsement contracts and pay millions for exclusive advertising rights with teams and leagues. My lawyers have advised me that I cannot state the Schlafly Pale Ale, which compares to English-style Pale Ales, is an enjoyable and drinkable beer without jeopardizing the endorsement contracts of my friends, my family, or myself. I intend to follow their advice.

I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject.

Schlafly Pale Ale
Mike: 2.6 Gina: 2.8 Jess: 2.1 Rodney: 1.5 Jim: 2.5 Jason: 3.2
KOTBR Average: 2.45 Mugs

Schlafly ESB - At this point our Ouija board just up and quit. Luckily we had stopped to pick up Rich Little, who does a pretty good version of St. Louis' Own Yogi Berra. Mike asked him to contribute.

For people like me, who grew up in St. Louis, the whole InBev takin' over AB thing felt like the end of something. But someone once said 'it ain't over till it's over', and these Schlafly guys are doin' a pretty good job of buryin' the torch.

You take a beer like this ESB - Budweiser don't make anything like this. First off, it's dark. And it smells funny - I almost get a sort of strawberry thing. A little spicy zap up front, a little grassy on the back... it's confusing. What's extra special bitter supposed to mean anyway? I ain't exactly sure, but they got something here. They didn't make too many wrong mistakes with this one.

Schlafly EBS
Mike: 4.23 Gina: 3.8 Jess: 3.7 Rodney: 3.6 Jim: 4.0 Jason: 3.5
KOTBR Average: 3.80 Mugs

Schlafly Coffee Stout - Rich Little had a gig to get to, but our spirit guide came back around. Gina asked him to use the Ouija board, hoping to come up with something extraordinary. Instead the spirit guide began to rap, and bestowed upon us an excerpt from Nelly's lesser known "Beer wit me"

If you wanna go and drink some beer with me
We can make it a Coffee Stout from Schlafly
Oh why do I love this so? (Hey! Must be the coffee!)

If you wanna go and drink some beer with me
We can make it a Coffee Stout from Schlafly
Oh why do I love this so? (Hey! Must be the coffee!)

At a Knights' on a late night, feeling right
Lookin and tryin beers that are real nice
Lookin for the kinda flavor of some coffee I could make at home (make at home)
The ABV (BV) isn't high at all
IBU's are 40, and that's not small
The mouthfeel isn't thicky thick thick, but still nice and strong (still nice and strong)

I keep smelling something sweet (hey) from the first pour
java and chocolate
Sayin my mug rating is the highest that it could go
So when Mike, can we go, the next time we're back home
The Taproom on 12-26, don't say no.
Yellin, I like the way they make their beer
I wish they brewed it over here
I like the way the light hits the glass and there
is no color coming through anywhere.

If you wanna go and drink some beer with me
We can make it a Coffee Stout from Schlafly
Oh why do I love this so? (Hey! Must be the coffee)

Schlafly Coffee Stout
Mike: 4.21 Gina: 5.0 Jess: 4.25 Rodney: 4.3 Jim: 4.25 Jason: 4.4
KOTBR Average: 4.40 Mugs

Schlafly Christmas Ale - As the party began to wind down, Jim thought it might be nice to relax with the music of St. Louis area legend Miles Davis. Our spirit guide agreed, but once summoned, Miles refused to play - insisting that he had a few things to say first. Jim agreed to interview Miles.

Jim: Linked with your musical renown and vast knowledge of beer is your reputation for a bad temper and rudeness. Would you comment?

Why is it that people just have to have so much to say about me? It bugs me because I'm not that important. Some critic that didn't have nothing else to do started this crap about I don't announce numbers, I don't look at the audience, I don't bow or talk to people, I walk off the stage, I talk trash about brewers, and all that.

Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player and a cat who knows something about beer. I only can do two things -- play my horn and down some suds -- and that's what's at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain't no entertainer, and ain't trying to be one. I am two things, a musician and a cat who loves his beer. Most of what's said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.

You know, I talk straight about brewers because I ain't never gonna pull no punches. Besides, if a cat who makes beer can't take the heat, then you know that saying about getting out of the brewhouse? Well, he ought to do exactly that.

Take the Saint Louis Brewery. You know, them Schlafly cats. I've been honest about some of the stuff they made. Ain't liked some of it too much, and they were okay with that. But other stuff is just damn good. That Christmas Ale they put out every winter? Man, not out of this world good, but still good stuff all the same. Nice orange-like color, smells real spicy and sweet and like orange peels. Tastes spicy and sweet too. Mmmm.

But some of them brewers bitch that I won't talk to them when I'm done after a sitting. That's a damn lie. I talk plenty of times if everything's going like it ought to and I feel right. But if I got my mind on something about my band or the latest stout or porter or something else, well, hell, no, I don't want to talk. When I'm working I'm concentrating. I bet you if I was a doctor sewing on some son of a bitch's heart, they wouldn't want me to talk.

Anybody wants to believe all this crap they hear about me, it's their problem, not mine. Because, look, man, I like people. I love people! I'm not going around telling everybody that. I try to say that my way -- with my horn and my love of beer. Look, when I was a boy, 10 years old, I got a paper route and it got bigger than I could handle because my customers liked me so much. I just delivered papers the best I could and minded my business, the same way I play my horn and drink beer now. But a lot of the people I meet now make me sick. Too bad for them.

Schafly Christmas Ale
Mike: 3.25 Gina: 3.6 Jess: 3.6 Rodney: 3.3 Jim: 3.8 Jason: 3.75
KOTBR Average: 3.55 Mugs

Our selection of Schlafly depleted and our spirit guide exhausted, we brought Jason's jet back to the hanger. Irvington had a different look about it - or perhaps, having touched the other side of the void, our lives would never be the same. Or maybe it was just the beer. Our suggestion? Try some and find out for yourself.

16 December 2008

Beer Run - St. Louis, Mo.

One of the challenges we face at Hoosier Beer Geek is getting everyone together to hit the road and hit some of the fine beer establishments outside of Indianapolis. It is kinda embarrassing the places that we haven’t been to.

The fine folks at Schlafly have been inviting us over for a visit for a while, so a St. Louis visit has been on the drawing boards for a while. A few months back, we finally said, “Dammit! Let’s set a date and go!” And most of us were on board.

Personally, not only was it a chance to drink beer all weekend, but also an opportunity to get my better half, the lovely wife, out-of-town and away from parenting duties for a weekend. And since she had never been to St. Louis, she was on board, despite the fact that she doesn’t like beer and would eventually become the group’s D.D.

A babysitter was found. A hotel room was reserved. An itinerary was set. Guests were invited. The road trip was on!

As the weekend approached, people started dropping out. The economy played a large part as somebody became busier at work, somebody started losing commissions, and somebody lost their job. Add to it illness and family issues, the large gathering became smaller. The lovely wife and I were joined only by Mike and Gina, who are St. Louis-area natives.

But we wouldn’t let that rain on our parade (though it did rain the entire time we were driving through Illinois, which prompted the creation of a new state motto: “Illinois Sucks!”). After arriving in St. Louis and checking into our hotel, we met up in the Lafayette Square neighborhood.

First stop: Square One Brewery. The food was pretty good. We ordered pretzel breadsticks which were very fresh (read: hot) and served with a mustard and cheese sauce for dipping. I ordered a bowl of their flank steak chili, which is great for a cold wet day, and their burger of the week, which was suppose to be lamb, but ended up being kangaroo. Yeah, kangaroo. To answer your question, a lot like beef only drier, like meatloaf consistency. Not gamy at all.

Mike was a copy cat and ordered the burger too. The lovely wife had pot roast, which was a bit tough. And Gina had a salad. I’d go into more details, but who cares. It was a salad.

More importantly, we had beer. I had their IPA, which is a standard tasting IPA, though one of the better IPA’s that I have had from a brewpub. I followed that with an Imperial Stout, which was big on flavor but not on mouthfeel. Very watery, which was a bit shocking given the intensity of the flavors. Gina had the Pale Ale, which was okay. Mike had the Dubbel and the Christmas Beer, which is a Dubbel with added spices. The Dubbel was lacking, but the Christmas Beer was tastier.

After dinner, we went a couple of blocks down the street to Bailey’s Chocolate Bar, a dessert bar with an expansive drink selection, including a wide variety of beers on tap and in the bottle. It is rated well on many beer review websites, including Beer Advocate. Unfortunately, we caught them in the middle of completely revamping their beer menu. Normally they have around a dozen beers on tap. On this night, only four taps were flowing. Well, piss.

That didn’t stop us from eating and drinking though. I had a shake made with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and cinnamon ice cream. I’ve never had such a combination. And I was delighted. A very tasty concoction that I will attempt at home for friends in the future. I also had a very large and rich bread pudding. The lovely wife had an ultra rich triple chocolate milkshake. Gina had a Don De Dieu from Unibroue and Bailey’s signature dessert, a chocolate cake layered with Bailey’s butter cream and drizzled with chocolate. This was definitely meant for two. She took half of it back home with her. Mike ordered a float made with Hitachino Ginger Ale and green tea ice cream, which he had a previous visit here and enjoyed greatly. Instead of Hitachino, he got Left Hand’s Juju Ginger, which has a much stronger ginger presence. He didn’t enjoy it as much initially, but warmed up to it after a while.

After a quick tour of town, we headed back to the hotel and passed out. On Saturday, we headed to Anheuser-Busch for a tour of their massive complex. We were joined by Dave and Barb, who are St. Louis friends of Mike and Gina. We had previously considered doing the Brewmaster’s Tour, which is more extensive but also $25, but elected to take the standard free tour. I’ve done the Miller tour in Milwaukee. This tour was far more entertaining.

The short version: beautiful horses, beautiful old buildings, vessels bigger than air craft carriers, bottling lines that bottle more beer in a minute than I have consumed so far in my life (and based on my beer gut, it is a lot), and free samples of beer at the end.

In the tasting room, there were about a dozen taps that they apparently rotate what they serve. You are limited to two samples, but an added benefit of having a wife who doesn’t drink beer: you get her samples. I had an American Ale (Bud’s answer to Sam Adams has a strong metal taste to it, but is my beer of choice at Lucas Oil Stadium whenever the team forces me to drink), Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale (tastes like Cream Soda…but where’s the bourbon?), and Shock Top (Bud’s answer to Blue Moon; easy to drink but not a really great witbier). I didn’t use the lovely wife’s second sample. Ultimately, the tour is very worthwhile, even if the beer isn’t.

We had some time to kill before our scheduled appearance at Schlafly’s Tap Room, so we headed to the Morgan Street Brewery, a brewpub “at the landing” (near the river in the shadow of the Gateway Arch…of course in St. Louis, what isn’t in the Arch’s shadow? The Arch is EVERYWHERE!). Everybody who was drinking beer ordered a sampler of the five beers on tap. Today, they were three wheats (honey, pumpkin, and dark), a golden pilsner, and Decades, which is a India Pale Lager.

That’s right, a lager. It wasn’t nearly as strong as most IPA’s I’ve had, but it was different. The hoppiness of an IPA in a lager. Basically, a watered down version of an IPA. Interesting and, for me, enjoyable. The Pumpkin Wheat was my favorite there and, so far, my favorite pumpkin beer. Full of pumpkin pie flavor and a full mouthfeel. Very satisfying.

We left Morgan Street and headed for Schlafly’s Tap Room. There are two Schlafly brewpubs in town. The Bottleworks contains their fancy, schmancy German bottling system. This is where the majority of their beers are brewed. They serve a California-style menu there. The Tap Room is their first brewery and currently produces seasonal beers that are served in kegs or in bombers. Their menu was more gastro-pub in style. Between the food and the wider variety of beers, we opted for the Tap Room.

Along with Dave and Barb, we were also joined by another of Mike and Gina’s friends, Nate. Mike of STLHops was suppose to join us, but he had to back out due to illness. Sorry Mike, maybe next time.

Our host for the afternoon was Mitch Turner, brand manager for Schlafly. We’ve often had the opportunity to talk with Mitch via email, but this was our first face-to-face meeting. He is an intelligent guy who knows the beer business, especially from a marketing and brand development/expansion point of view. And he is very entertaining to listen to. Even the lovely wife enjoyed our time at Schlafly.

Mitch spoke of many things, including the pending InBev purchase of A-B and how it will affect St. Louis and its residents. Even if you hate the beers they produce, you have to be somewhat concerned about this purchase. The jobs that could be lost (especially the better paying jobs) and the philanthropic concerns in St. Louis could be felt all over town.

He spoke of a Schlafly employee who is married to a front office A-B employee. She may lose her job, and since there isn’t any other jobs like that in St. Louis, it is possible that Schlafly will lose an employee if the family moves. Negative impacts on St. Louis are felt by all.

But the InBev/A-B merger has prompted Schlafly to accelerate their expansion schedule. This means a larger distribution area for Schlafly in the future (they are successfully expanding into Kansas) and a greater presence in Indiana.

At the bar, we sampled from their on-tap lineup of Pilsner, Hefeweizen, No. 15, Pale Ale, APA, ESB, Oatmeal Stout, Coffee Stout, Belgian Dubbel, Porter, and Christmas. I won't go into much detail on these beers as we have some St. Louis guests reviewing these beers very soon.

On top of the taps, Mitch brought out some of their Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout and Oak-Aged Barleywine. We've reviewed these beers before. This time, we sampled the 2008 and 2006 Barleywines and the 2008 and 2007 Imperial Stout.

The 2008 Barleywine was woody with a strong flavor. But aged, like the 2006, the scent becomes a complex blend of aromas and ends up with a smooth, but strong, caramel flavor. The 2008 Imperial Stout has a strong alcohol nose and taste while the 2007 mellowed and finished like butterscotch. I really enjoy tastings like these where fresh and aged are sampled side by side.

After the drinking and facility tour, we had dinner where I enjoyed a barbecued pork belly sandwich (pork fat, gottaluvit). And that point, we had consumed plenty of booze and called it quits for the night, retreating the hotel pool and hot tub.

There were plenty of things we didn't do while there: game at the new Busch Stadium, museums, visiting the top of the arch... There were other beer joints that we didn't get a chance to visit either. But we hit some good places. And we brought back a bunch of beer. It has been a couple of weeks since our trip, but I still occasionally look over my shoulder, half expecting the Arch to be following me...

14 December 2008

Details of the Hoosier Beer Geek New Years Party at Deano's Vino

We know you've been anxiously awaiting the details of our New Years party at Deano's Vino.

This just in!

We finally have the beers worked out for New Year's Eve. I hope it is to your liking:

On tap at opening:
Brugge White
Bells Two-Hearted
Dogfish India Brown Ale

At 9 PM we will take the Brugge and the Bells off and put on Delirium Tremens and Dogfish 120 Minute IPA

These are both mini-kegs (about 60 pours each), so once they are gone, we will put the Brugge and the Bells back on.

Looking forward to seeing everyone. If you have any other questions, just let me know!
So there you have it - our new year's party will have two limited run huge beers. A word of warning: these will be $10 pours.

I know what you're thinking: "Ten dollars!?!?!?" I was thinking that too, at first. A few things to consider: 1) It's New Year, and our party has no cover charge. 2) Dogfish 120 and Delirium Tremens normally go for a pretty steep price - a bottle of 120 at a local retailer shows $8.99 on their website. In fact, 120 goes for $10.50 at Dogfish Head's own alehouse in Falls Church, VA. And Delirium Tremens retails for near $10 a bottle1.

These are not normally cheap beers. And it's new year! Have one big beer, and enjoy the $4.50 Brugge, Bells, and Dogfish India Brown for the rest of the night. Or drink yourself into a stupor. It's New Year!

Another thing to remember - Deano's has an extensive and very reasonable priced beer list. So no matter what you're after (even if it's PBR...), Deano's can take care of you.

So that's it - No excuses! Come on out - 9 PM, December 31st, Deano's Vino, Fountain Square.

Beer details:

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Too extreme to be called beer? Brewed to a colossal 45-degree plato, boiled for a full 2 hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month & aged for another month on whole-leaf hops!!! Our 120 Minute I.P.A. is by far the biggest I.P.A. ever brewed!

At 20% abv and 120 ibus you can see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads!

20% abv
120 ibu
In case you care... the average 12 oz. serving has 450 calories.

Delirium Tremens
On December 26th 1989, the famous "Delirium Tremens" was born. The particular character and the unique taste of "Delirium Tremens" result from the use of three different kinds of yeast. Its very original packing, which resembles cologne ceramics, and the colourful label contribute to its success. The label depicts the different phases of the production of "Delirium Tremens" the "Pink Elephant" was up and ready to conquer the world. To celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989, the topical beer "La Guillotine" was launched.

9.0% abv

Brugge White
Brugge White has a quenching tart background with sweet fruity finish reminiscent of tangerine and lemon.

Seafood on the menu? Pasta night? Or maybe you just finished mowing the lawn?
White is the answer to all these questions.

Ted’s Take: “This beer is ridiculously delicious!”

4.5% abv

Bell's Two-Hearted
India Pale Ale style well suited for Hemingway-esque trips to the Upper Peninsula. American malts and enormous hop additions give this beer a crisp finish and incredible floral hop aroma.

7.0% abv

Dogfish Head India Brown Ale
A cross between a Scotch Ale, an I.P.A., and an American Brown, this beer is well-hopped and malty at the same time. It is brewed with Aromatic barley and caramelized brown sugar.

7.2% abv

* * * * *

1Granted, it's a big bottle.

13 December 2008

Back home again In Indiana, and what beer should I buy?

From the mailbag:
Hey folks,

I am from Indy, but live in Boston... and am coming home for the holidays. I'm looking to pick up some bottles of 'that which I cannot find out east'... what are the best package stores to find most local (midwest) micro brewings in Indy these days? All I really know if is Kahn's on Keystone. I will be picking up whatever I can find of FFF, and some Brugge bottles...anything else I shouldn't leave without?


For some reason the first things that popped into my head were Barley Island's Beastie Barrel Stout and Barley Island/Mark Schiess' GABF Pro-Am beer, Single White Friar. Both are pretty big beers, so depending on what Joe normally drinks, that may or may not be a good recommendation. As for stores, Kahn's is a pretty good place to start.

I asked the rest of the Bums of the Beer Roundtable, and Matt R. responded:
I would also suggest Party Pak for him.

In terms of beers he cannot get on the east coast might include Founders, Two Brothers, Jolly Pumpkin, BBC (at least Jefferson Reserve) and thirsty dog.
Matt's list is good - my favorites from that list would include almost anything from Founders - though their IPA is just ok - and BBC's brown (a personal favorite) and the Jefferson Reserve.

I don't know Kahn's attitude toward mixed six packs, but Parti-pak allows you to mix whatever you'd like. The Hop Shop up north also does that, but their selection isn't quite as varied as Party Pak. And if Joe's already shopping at Party Pak, a stop in at the southside Crown Liquors (on 31, next to Borders) is a good idea - their prices generally seem to be a little cheaper than Party Pak's. Lastly, if you're on the north side, Mike at the Meridian and Carmel Dr. Crown can take care of you.

I'm sure we're missing something, though - so I'd appreciate it if our readers would weigh in here. What beer should Joe not leave home without?

12 December 2008

Random Beer Roundup - HBG snubbed by Heisman Trophy committee Edition

I don't know if you have heard about the controversy or not, but the Heisman Trophy committee did not invite Hoosier Beer Geek to New York for the pomp and circumstance on Saturday. It is really disappointing, because we really feel that we should be in contention.

In spite of this insult, we will continue on with our weekly Random Beer Roundup. Because we are just THAT dedicated. So saddle up, cuz here we go...

What do you get the football star that has everything, including a Heisman? Beer Gear! Yesterbeer has a limited time discount offer for Hoosier Beer Geek readers:
Give the gift of "Beer Nostalgia" with a t-shirt or sweat shirt from Yesterbeer! These great holiday gifts feature vintage logos from historic breweries.

Yesterbeer would like to offer a special discount to the friends and supporters of Hoosier Beer Geek. Enter promotional code HBG in the "apply coupon" section of our shopping cart to receive 10% off your entire purchase. This promotion expires 12/31/2008.

Be sure to check out the Last Call section of our website. We recently reduced prices on several items to make room for new designs in 2009!
All-American Andrew Lewis at the Brass Monkey gives us an update:
15 gallons of Brass Monkey dry hopped Double Down Brown Ale will go on tap at Half Moon this Friday evening.
The Old Town Ale House sends in this play:
New on Draft... MadRiver John Barleycorn, Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA, Harpoon IPA

Growlers are coming soon as well as a tasting series in January!
Goal Line Gabriel at Goose the Market chimes in:
The Goose has supplemented our beer-filled stockings with the following brews:
Affligem Noel
De Koninck Winter Koninck
Rogue Ales Santa's Reserve
Rogue Ales Yellow Snow
Atwater Block Brewing Winter Bock
Brewing Black Chocolate Stout
Spaten Optimator
Touchdown Todd at Keg Liquors in Clarksville sent us this...
Here's a few new things:
· Upland Winter Warmer
· Brooklyn Winter Ale (Scotch Ale)
· Alba Ebulum
· Alba Grozet
· 3 Floyds Gorch Fock (GABF Winning Helles Lager)
· Acme California Pale Ale
· Two Brother’s Northwind Stout (now is 6 packs!)
· Two Brother’s Hop Juice
· Jever Pilsner
· Left Hand Warrior IPA
· Affligem Double
· Sam Adams Winter Classic Sample 12 Pack
· Keg Liquors Holiday Sampler 12 pack (12 different holiday & winter beers)

We are also holding our 4th Annual Holiday Insanity Beer Tasting featuring 23 different holiday and winter beers, with representatives from World Class Beverages, Cavalier Distributing, and Schlafly Brews on Wednesday, December 17th from 5 - 8 PM
Smashmouth Mike at J. Gumbo's gives us the latest:
J.Gumbo's is adding Left Hand Milk Stout to the lineup Thurs. for the homestretch. We are closing Dec. 28 after the post-Colts Game rush. $2.50 pints until they're all dry. Growlers filled 12/27 at negotiable prices. Further details to follow.
Fellow Knight Chris intercepted this rumor that he heard about the coming-soon Scotty's Brewhouse Downtown:
I heard that waiters, bartenders, etc. are already training for a Scotty's opening on Jan. 6th. If anybody has been near that building recently (right near Fogo de Chao), that's a little surprising to hear -- since it's all torn to hell right now -- but apparently the ground floor retail space for Scotty's will be done shortly. Scotty's has a pretty decent beer menu to begin with, but there are some rumblings that with the closing of J. Gumbo's, they might bump up the beer standards at the downtown location to grab that high-end beer market. Fingers crossed.

Future home of Scotty's Brewhouse is "torn to hell"

Cheerleader Cari at Kahn's updates us on a ton of upcoming happenings:
First of all, I got a call last week and we were able to get another run of Sierra Nevada Harvest 24 oz. bottles, probably the last bit. We're going to run them on special for $4.99 each, down from $5.99, starting Tuesday, Dec. 16. We have other specials too that are part of our ad that week, so keep an eye out.

Secondly, our regularly scheduled Monday Night Beer Tasting will be Porters and Stouts with Ryan from Cavalier, so come out and join us from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, December 15.

Last but certainly not least, we have a special second beer tasting on Thursday, December 18 from 5-7 p.m. We are featuring Oaken Barrel and Andrew Castner, one of the resident brewers, for this complimentary tasting, including their winter seasonal Epiphany, a Belgian-style Abbey Ale. Andrew Castner and Mark Havens, both of Oaken Barrel, recently were named 2008 Indiana Craft Brewers of the Year, and have been named "Best Brewpub in Indy" by Indianapolis Monthly.

Kahn's will also have special pricing for all Oaken Barrel beers that evening, $8.99 (was $10.99) for their regular selection and $9.49 (was $10.49) for Epiphany Abbey Ale depending on availability.
Ted-who-will-not-get-a-football-nickname-because-he-prefers-the-football-we-call-soccer-to-the-football-we-call-football at Brugge Brasserie updates us on their tap list:
Alpha King
Gorsch Foch
Ommegang Stout
Monks Cafe Sour Red
Bell's Third Coast Old Ale (really old - like a

Thunder Monkey coming soon!!
I'm REALLY disappointed that he didn't get Chelada on tap.

Goalline John at the Legend Irvington Cafe updates us on the latest additions to their bottled beer menu:
Christmas Beers:
Breckenridge Christmas Ale $4
Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of
Christmas Ale $5
Great Divide Hibernation Ale $4.50

Indiana Beer:
Warbird T-6 Red Ale $4
Mad Anthony Ol’ Woody Pale $4

Additions to Beer List:
Hoegaarden Bier Blanc $4
Red Hook ESB $3
Left Hand Brewery Milk Stout $5
Butte Creek Organic Pale Ale $5
Lakefront Brewing Eastside Dark Lager $4
Blackthorn English Dry Cider $5
MVP Mat at Cavalier Distributing updates:
A very limited quantity of Left Hand Smoke Jumper arrived late this week! Should be hitting the shelves of the top Left Hand stores next week.

Many of Christmas / Winter beers from the long list sent to the Hoosier Beer Geeks recently are low or out of stock! It is time to stock up. While you are stocking up for the Holidays be sure to load up on plenty of Hebrew beer for Hanukkah especially the Jewbelation 12!
That is all we have at this roundup. And don't feel bad for us, dear readers. No we won't be hoisting the Heisman Trophy on Saturday. But we'll probably be hoisting a couple of beers. And doesn't that make all of us the REAL winners?

10 December 2008

The Hoosier Beer Geek Best of 2008 Readers' Poll

It's the holiday season, and that means it's time for our first ever "Best of" poll. You may remember our readers' survey from a while back - this isn't like that. It's totally different - because this time we're handing out awards.

You may be asking "what's the award look like?" Well, it looks like an email of congratulations. Or maybe a window sticker. What the award looks like doesn't matter. Everyone wants to be a winner, and we're going to work to make that happen for some deserving folks. With your help, of course.

So here's a link to the survey. Just eight simple questions.

Jason, Jim, Kelly, Mike, Matt, Gina, Matt, Chris, Jess, and Rod
The Hoosier Beer Geek Knights of the Beer Roundtable

08 December 2008

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack: Gerald Wyman, Gella's Diner and Liquid Bread Brewing Co, Hays, KS

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack is a feature where we run six questions by the folks behind the scenes at breweries to get a little more insight into what they do and like and how they got their start.

Back in October while on our way to the Great American Beer Festival, we stopped off in Hays, Kansas for a pint our two at Gella's Diner/Liquid Bread Brewing Co. To say we were rewarded for our stop would be a vast understatement. Just one stop at Gella's/Lb. Brewing drastically changed the way I felt about the entire state of Kansas.

When we returned home I began to wonder how it all happened. How does one of the best brewpubs I've ever visited end up in the middle of Kansas? In order to find out, I followed up with Gerald Wyman, the award winning brewer behind the fantastic beer at Lb.

1) The story of Gella's and Liquid Bread Brewing Co. on your website provides a little insight into how the company got started, but I guess my first question would be "How does a farmer from rural western Kansas (Brownell) get into craft beer?"

I homebrewed for eight years and enjoyed it very much. My wife and I sold off some farm assets and invested in the Brewpub.

2) You went from homebrewing to opening your own brewpub to winning GABF silver with your Oatmeal Stout all in the course of what looks like less than a year - I don't mean this as a slight, because I'm sure there was a lot of work involved, but were you surprised at your success?

You're right, it was alot of work and the medal was a very nice surprise. It made it all worth it.

3) Your website states "Along with 53 local investors, Gerald and Chuck brought Hays, Kan. its own microbrewery and diner in the summer of 2005." How does that ownership group function? How are decisions made?

It is owned by a group of investors with a board of directors in charge.

4) One of the things that impressed me most about your whole concept, from the interior of your restaurant to the look of your posters, beer logos and website, was that good design seemed to be a priority. Who's behind all of that? Is your design talent local?

Brandon Duncan is an employee of one of our partners. He is behind most of the designs.

5) We've seen all types of microbreweries here in our own state; ones that just want to be a neighborhood pub with good beer, ones that aspire to bottle and distribute to a large area and ones that want to expand with multiple locations. What are your long term goals for Liquid Bread? What about the investors, do they share your vision or have you had to compromise to make everyone happy?

Our goals have never changed. It is to be a profitable Brewpub with great food and beer.

Photos by Lb. Brewing Co, also available as desktop wallpaper.

6) Founders Brewing uses a great mantra: "We brew beer we like to drink." What's the philosophy and approach you take in developing new staple beer or seasonal brews?

The one thing I like the most about brewing is experimenting with new beer styles. We do a new seasonal every month.

Bonus Question: What's the weirdest beer you've brewed?

The weirdest beer I brew is based on a sweet potato dish that my wife makes. It's called Colonial Ale and is on tap right now! I brewed it using sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. This is a Thanksgiving beer I made as a homebrewer.

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All of us at Hoosier Beer Geek wish to thank Gerald for taking the time to answer our questions, and for his dedication to good beer. If you're ever in Kansas, or even just driving through, don't hesitate to stop in at Gella's/Lb. Brewing Co. And when you do, tell them your read all about it on Hoosier Beer Geek.

05 December 2008

Random Beer Roundup - They realized that booze is helpful during the holidays edition

Thanksgiving is over, Christmas (and Hanukkah for you members of the tribe...Jim) is yet to come. But the Random Beer Roundup is year round fun.

Let us not forget, though, that 75 years ago the twenty-first amendment was ratified, marking the end of that dreadful eighteenth amendment. I suspect spending the Thanksgiving holiday with family drove the last few states to ratify the amendment. I don't know about you, but this much extended-family time is a bit much.

Enough with the smart ass commentary. If you just awoke from a tryptophan-induced coma, who might have missed a couple of Hoosier Beer Geek news items, such as the Brass Monkey in Kokomo being on a temporary hiatus or the announcement of Winterfest '09 by BIG (Brewers of Indiana Guild).

Baby, it's cold outside... There will be other opportunities after Winterfest '09 to warm up inside, including:
Lafayette Brewing’s Winter Warmer, Feb. 7th (tickets go on sale December 15th)
Alefest Indy, March 7th (more info to come)

Here are some other stocking stuffers of note from around the state...

Tired of turkey leftovers? Try the Goose. Gabriel from Goose the Market offers some advise:
Goose your holidays with the following brews:
Boulder Obovoid Empirical Stout
Breckenridge Christmas Ale
Two Brothers Avalon
Two Brothers Bohnfire Dunkel Weiss
Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout
Two Brothers Hop Juice
Brasserie Achouffe N'ice Chouffe
Corsendonk Christmas Ale
Du Pont Avec Les Bon Voeux
Mad River John Barleycorn Barleywine
Meantime Coffee Porter
Left Hand Milk Stout
Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus

We will continue to bring in gobs of holiday seasonals over the next month or so.

Man in the Big Red suit shops here. From John at Big Red Liquors, some new beers and other new news:
Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas
Two Brothers Bonfire dunkel weiss
Founders Back Woods Bastard
Founders Curmudgen
Great Divide Fresh Hop
Great Divide Hades Strong Golden
Stone Double Bastard 3L
Barley Island Beastie Barrel Stout ( Bronze medal GABF2008)
Shiner Holiday Cheer

New store Opening In French Lick Dec 22nd.
Deano's: home of the other jolly fat man. A quick reminder from Deano's about something we reported earlier:
Christmas isn't just for the children. It's for beer lovers too! Join us! 5 PM 'til Late Saturday, December 6. On Tap:
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus
Three Floyds Alpha King
Three Floyds Pride & Joy
Tell Mr. Klaus what you want for Christmas!!
$15 TASTY Buffet
Pet a reindeer
Giveaways for the Naughty & Nice
Live Music: Last Drop Juggers, 8 PM, No Cover. Featuring our good friend, Jude

Ghost of Christmas Beers Past. Mike at J. Gumbo's updates us on his tap list and the upcoming vintage beer tasting:
We just flipped a bunch of lines at J.Gumbo's. We're still doing $2.50 pints all month. The new beers are Ommegang Stout, Abita IPA, Breckenridge Xmas, Ayinger Oktoberfest, Harpoon IPA, Magic Hat No. 9, Three Floyds Gumball Head and Murphy's Irish Red.

I've also decided on the menu for my vintage tasting this Sat. at 7:30.
$15 per person. Reservations required: 317-522-2666.

King & Barnes Xmas '99
Harvey's Xmas '00
Gale's Millenium '00
J.W. Lee's Harvest '99
Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout '02
Dogfish 90 min. IPA '04
Bells' Batch 5,000
DeDolle Stille Nacht '96
Northcoast Anniversary '98
Northcoast Old Stock '01

Crown for a king; beer from the Crown. Mike at Crown Liquors has new stuff and new specials:
A few things are new or back in stock.

Dogfish head World Wide Stout
3 Floyds Alpha Klaus
Rogue Yellow Snow Ale 22oz and new 5L's and Santas Pvt. Res.
2 Brothers Northwind Imp. Stout and Avalon Spiced Ale
more Pannepot '07 almost out of the Reserva
Avery Ale to the Chief
Brooklyn-Schneider Hopfen Weiss
Ridgeway Pickled Santa
Mikkeller and Olfabrikkens Seasonals

We will also be running Barley Island, Flying Dog and Wabash on sale what will work out to be $2-$3 off a six pack starting next week.
The (Christmas) Wrap of Kahn. Apologies for the lame attempt to tie Christmas and Star Trek together. Looking for beer geek gifts? See Cari at Kahn's:
We have a nice assortment of seasonal and holiday beers both domestic and imports in stock, including some lovely Belgian gift sets, like Tripel Karmeliet and Corsendonk.

Monday, December 8 from 5-7 p.m. we have a Belgian tasting with Matt from World Class Beverage, too.
Mr. C. likes Mr. G's. I'm running out of creative headlines, can you tell? Latest from Mr. G's:
New this week

Two Brothers Hop Juice
Two Brothers North Wind Imperial Stout
Schlafly Christmas
Schlafly Sampler

Can we call it the "Bah Humbug Brew"? Rock Bottom (both Indy locations) have their Old Curmudgeon tapping on 12/11 at 6:00PM. We assume it's a barley wine.

Look for this gift under your tree Mat at Cavalier Distributing sent us this email:
The 2008 limited edition one liter flip top bottles of Breckenridge Christmas Ale arrived in Indiana this week just in time for the Holiday's. Once again the 1st case was deliverd to the Party Pack! Only 1,400 liter bottles were shipped this year and only 150 were shipped to Indiana.

Malty Christmas! Straight from the mouth of bartender Rudy at the Legend to the ears of Mike:
Currently on at the Legend:

Brugge Black
Sam Adams Winter Warmer
Three Floyds Robert the Bruce
BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout

It's a maltfest over there.

Also he wanted me to know that they're now open late on Saturdays and will have live music.

Unfortunately, part of the Brewpubs of Christmas Past. Sad news from Indiana Beer:
The Brew Pub Ltd. restaurant located at 3703 North Main Street, Mishawaka will be closing at the end of business on December 3, 2008...

It should be noted for those who are not familiar with our structure that The Brew Pub Ltd is a corporation separate from The Mishawaka Brewing Company and The Pub (located at 408 W. Cleveland, Mishawaka at the corner of Grape & Cleveland).

The Mishawaka Brewing Company has continued to grow and in 2006 we opened a production brewery in Elkhart, IN. We will be consolidating the two brewing operations at our Elkhart location. Distribution will continue unchanged.
It came from the heavens... And one final item of note from the international scene: Space Beer


03 December 2008

No Matter Where You're Watching Football, You're Probably Being Screwed

Beer and football; two pleasures inextricably linked, but at a time when fans are tightening their belts and trying to cut down on frivolous spending it seems that the evil, money-grabbing football clubs in the Premier League are conducting a booze shakedown.
That's the latest news out of England, where a study by the Liberal Democratic party has found that only three of England's Premier League clubs are charging below the national average of £2.96 ($4.37) for a pint on stadium grounds. In fact, the average pint price in the Premiership is £3.19 (or $4.71).

But wait, it gets worse!
They claimed West Brom could be making a whopping £117,000 each season with Villa making about £60,000 per season - just from the extra profits which come from the high cost of beer.
That's the news from the Birmingham Post.

Profits from beer sales at stadiums? That IS an outrage. No wonder the government is getting involved. Of course if you're reading this in the United States, you're probably wondering what they're complaining about.

Back in 2007, Sports Illustrated put together a survey titled "NFL Fan Value Experience" in which they ranked ticket prices, food and souvenirs, accessibility, team performance, tailgating, stadium atmosphere, and neighborhood. Included in the food and souvenir section of that survey were beer prices.

Not every NFL team serves beer in a convieneint 16 ounce pint, though. So we've got to do a little math to find the average NFL pint price:

No surprises here as the NFL once again offers an amazing value (sarcasm!) - a $5.47 average pint - only 76 cents more than the pints in England. One thing worth looking at is the highest NFL pint price - $7.00 at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. The highest pint price in the Premiership? Chelsea FC with a (converted) $5.92 pint.

But are we comparing apples to apples? One way to be sure it to compare the pint price at Old Trafford, Home of Manchester United, and the Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams. Both teams are sure to be pouring Budweiser - as the official beer of Manchester United, no other beer is being poured at their ground. It's also safe to assume that the very same Budweiser recipe is being poured in St. Louis, home of AB. The difference? In the home of AB, that pint will run you $5.33. In Manchester, it's only (converted) $4.44.

Regardless of where you live, you're likely to be ripped off if you're buying a beer at the game. Even at $4.00 (the cheapest price you'll find a pint in both the EPL and NFL), there's a couple hundred percent of markup in your pint price. When was the last time you paid $4.00 for a Budweiser in a bar?

Someone call the government.


2007 NFL Fan Value Experience Ratings at SI.com

Liberal Dems Accuse Villa and West Brom of Beer Rip-off

Counting the Cost of a Pint

Currency Calculations completed 12/03/08 at XE.com

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More NFL/Beer reading here.

02 December 2008

Kokomo Temporarily Loses a Gem

It is with a heavy heart that we bring news from the folks at Brass Monkey Brewing Co. in Kokomo. The following statement was recently found on their website:
Due to the recent closing of The Marketplace, Brass Monkey is forced to take a hiatus. Plans are currently in the works for a reemergence in '09. Till then, stay tuned and stay thirsty!
For those of you not familiar with Brass Monkey, they are probably best known for their interesting and stylistically varied small batch brews, many of which have been showcased at Indiana brewfests. Many of the knights have visited Brass Monkey before, and there's always been a crowd, so this news came as quite a shock.

The good news is that Brass Monkey will be back.

In order to get a better understanding of what happened, I sent Brass Monkey brewer extraordinaire Andrew Lewis an email, and he was pretty quick with answers.

The former home of Brass Monkey Brewing Co.

Is this the case (sort of like they recently had at Goose Island Clybourn) where you're just leasing the space and have no control over what they do with the building? How was business before this happened?
Andrew: The Marketplace was a restaurant that had been in business for 4 years. This past May, we moved in and began renting space and selling our beers exclusively through them. This was a win/win because it allowed me to open on a shoestring budget and it gave them the opportunity to advertise that they had an on-site brewery.

Business was always good for us and I would frequently brew up to 10 times a week or more just keep our regular lineup on tap. This wasn't helped by the fact that I was literally brewing on my homebrew setup and was only turning out 10 gallons a brew. Mid-November I actually upgraded to a 40 gallon system, but only got to use it twice before receiving the news that The Marketplace was closing (sadly, they are currently closed). It does sound similar to the Goose Island incident in that sense.
Are you looking at staying in Kokomo? (And if not, there are plenty of open spaces on the south side of Indy...)
Andrew: We've got a lot of options we're looking at right now and most of them would involve staying around Kokomo. My wife's pregnant with our first baby due in Jan. so I'll probably lay low until then. In the meantime, we may have some of our surplus kegs on tap at The Half Moon in Kokomo.

I definitely appreciate all the support we've received from you guys up until this point and will certainly keep you up-to-date on future plans.