Every Anniversary Celebration At Broad Ripple Brewpub Is An Important One

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

A couple of years ago, near the date of Broad Ripple Brewpub’s 25th anniversary, 25 brewers who represented just a portion of John Hill’s brewing tree showed for a surprise brew day. They each brought ingredients for a beer (Last Day of Camp) they would brew with their old teacher – or their teacher’s teacher. John Hill’s and BRBP’s legend has only grown since then. Now it is time for their 27th anniversary party (Nov. 11, from 11 am – 11 pm), and head brewer Jonathan Mullens has some favorite beers of the past year to bring out for the occasion, including the bourbon barrel-aged version of Last Day of Camp.

Beer will be poured via cask (a tad warmer and a tad less carbonated), from the inside taps, and from taps from a trailer near the patio seating. Cask beers will include what I consider to be the best ESB in the state, and the multi-syllabic Lord Treacle Bumbright Esquire IV. Other beers from this year will that will be poured are the ESBourbon, Tart Lizzy, Pumpkin Ghost, Lost Red Glove, and Beerdy McBeardface and Ron Swanson’s Last Day of Camp. Traditional BRBP beers on tap will include Lawnmower, Bennett’s Pale, and Hard Target. In all, there will be a dozen and a half beers (or ciders/meads from Blake’s and New Day). This makes for quite the tap list.

The kicked up boots are a symbol of BRBP’s motto – leisurely brewed. image credit: BRBP

But it isn’t just the beer that has made the brewpub a landmark for more than a quarter century. BRBP is a complete entity, restaurant and brewery – a brewpub in the very best sense. The beer they make has always aimed to be part of a home cooked meal from locally sourced ingredients, or an accompaniment to good conversation with good or new friends. “Without community there is no beer and without beer there is no community,” said Mullens in a piece by Rita Kohn in Nuvo in 2016.

And that is why the anniversary party on Nov. 11th will include some of the brewpub’s most popular dishes as well. The food specials will be on all week in the run up to the anniversary party. There will be the Cheese Crock Bacon Burger and the Brewpub Tenderloin – this is Indiana after all. The Creamy Tomato Vegetable Balls and Vegan Burger will be joined by the Leek & Cheese Pasty, a traditional pub dish if ever there was one. However, I’m looking forward most to getting some more that Crawfish Pie, boy was that good.

What goes better with good food and good beer than good music and conversation. Many BRBP regulars and guests will be on hand to provide stories and talk, and the music will be just as good. Robert Rolfe Feddersen, a Chicago native who now lives in Crown Point, plays many breweries, taprooms and brewpubs throughout Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. He is a singer/songwriter with hits and albums under his belt. When you see him play at BRBP, take a close look at his guitar and see if you notice something different.

Those are the details of the 27th anniversary party for BRBP to be held in mid-November. True, a 27th anniversary doesn’t hold the cache of a 25th or a 30th, but it important that we understand why every anniversary is important for BRBP. John Hill, an Englishman from Yorkshire, opened BRBP in 1990, making it the first beer craft brewery to open in Indiana since Prohibition. Already a part of the Indianapolis restaurant scene as the founders of the Corner Wine Bar in Broad Ripple, John and Nancy Hill (a native Hoosier) opened a whole new niche of restaurant in this state at a time when craft beer was on no one’s radar.

The father of Indiana craft beer, John Hill.  photo credit: Indianapolis Monthly

But that wasn’t enough for John, he went one to help found the Brewers of Indiana Guild, and then populated it with the many brewers that he trained or that his brewers trained. Along with Ram, BRBP is the brewery that people almost always name when talking about the head brewer tree in Indiana. When you add in the Guild, John Hill is truly the father of Indiana craft beer. As such, every anniversary of his brewery is worthy of celebration.

When Broad Ripple Brewpub opened, any style of beer it made was new and fresh to Hoosiers. Traditional English recipes and styles, ESBs and the like, were so outside Indiana’s traditional palate for beer that these came across as exotic. Now there are so many breweries and so many styles of beer, that the traditional styles BRBP makes so well might be considered staid by those that prefer juicy IPAs with haze and citrus flavors.

But traditional styles have not defined BRBP, instead of only going forward with the times and fads, they have expanded in both directions, making American IPAs and saisons, but also branching out into ancient beer styles with alternative bittering agents, such as in sahtis and gruits.

But that isn’t only thing brewing at BRBP as they enter their 28th year of operation. The Mayfair Taproom is under renovation at the corner of 10th St. and Hamilton Ave. Alec Hill, son of John and Nancy Hill, will be managing, cooking for, perhaps brewing at, and even living over the top of. This is just one more piece of evidence of how the Hill family has molded, and continues to mold, Indiana craft beer. Twenty-seven years isn’t nearly enough.

 
 

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