Wabash Brewing Makes Some Big Changes to Taproom, Announces Oktoberfest Charity Event

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

The northwest side of Indianapolis is not as dense with craft breweries as say, downtown or Broad Ripple. But what they lack in numbers they make up for in beer and activities. Deviate Brewing is a small, intimate taproom with some bodacious beers. Traders Brewing at 86th and Zionsville will be offering some great beers from traditional and non-traditional styles by the first of the year. But today we will focus on Wabash Brewing, on 79th Street just east of Zionsville Road.

Wabash was opened by Matt Kriech and Nic Stauch in 2015, with the final parts of the ownership team, Dave Kriech and Damon Carl, coming on shortly thereafter. In recent months the guys have helped Sean Manahan brew up some of his first Kopacetic Beer Factory beers, have undertaken an extensive expansion to the taproom with an under 21 area, and have increased the number of charitable events that they have been organizing and participating in.

Speaking of drinking beer for good causes, Wabash has an Oktoberfest event presented by the 503 Artisan Project coming up on Saturday, October 14th that will benefit two of Wabash’s major charity partners, the 24 Foundation for Cancer Research and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). But there’s a twist for this charity event; the charities have to fight it out for the money, and you get to help determine the outcome.

Wabash Brewing is a true Indiana neighborhood nanobrewery. Their involvement in charity events is second to none in Indiana craft beer. Image credit: Wabash Brewing

When the 14th arrives and you pull into 5328 W. 79th Street at noon (the event will go until 9:00 pm), you will purchase a silipint (a silicone pint glass) of either red or blue color. Team Red is cancer research and the 24 Foundation, while the JDRF is Team Blue. If you just can’t make up your mind, there will be green silipints that will split the money. Yes – Wabash realizes that the middle ground silipints should be purple, but the green ones were on sale!

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of the silipints will go to the charities, as will fifty cents of every pint of beer sold during the event. Throughout the day there will be contests that pit Team Red against Team Blue for points. The pumpkin carving contest team vs. team starts at 3:00. The best pumpkin will win charity points for their faction. And then, before your heart rate returns to normal after the pumpkin judging, the full keg (pony keg that is) carrying races will begin at 4:00. The winning team color racers, along with the winning weiner dog racing team at 5:00, will again earn points for their team.

The points continue with the full stein holding competition at 6:00 and the costume contest at 7:00. Don’t get fooled, holding steins to your side at arms length for as long as you can is a lot harder than it looks. I find that occasionally drinking from the steins allows me to hold them a lot longer – it’s strange that I have been disqualified from every stein contest I have ever entered.

Here is a schedule for the Wabash Brewing Charity Oktoberfest. Click on the image for a readable version. Image credit: Wabash Brewing

Along with all the competitions for charity points, there will be polka music outside and many games to play where the only thing on the line will be your pride and any money you can get people to bet on you. Hammerspiel will definitely be a favorite. In this game you try to drive a nail into a hunk of tree with the fewest strikes of a hammer. The only problem is that you have to use the peen end of a ball-peen hammer. Hey, be grateful your not playing hammerschlagen, where you use the sharpened edge of a hatchet or axe to drive the nail.

The evening portion of the event will include a live band, and food will be served by Between Brews Foodwerks all day long. Not a bad Saturday in my opinion, when you consider that all of this will be accompanied by Wabash Brewing’s beers. The regular Wabash house beers, like the Waapaahsiiki Blonde (the Miami Indiana name for the Wabash River) and the Baconface Brown (my favorite) will be joined by some special beers for Oktoberfest, including a dunkel, a hefeweizen, a roggenbier (a rye beer) and a beer called the Oktober Steam. This is a mash up beer using a märzen recipe and a California Common sort of fermentation strategy. Walter is very intrigued by this, since she is a big steam beer fan, but not a märzen maven.

That detail above about Between Brews serving food may have caught your attention. While you’re at Wabash for the charity Oktoberfest festival, check out the changes to the physical establishment. Nic and Matt recently finished an expansion project in which they knocked a hole in the east wall and annexed the space next door. This is now the under 21 space, with extra room for the table shuffleboard set, more tables……. and an in house coffee roasting company and a food provider. Liberation Coffee Roasting Co. (a fair trade company) is already in place, and Megan McCloud will be on hand making various coffee drinks for consumption and selling beans and grinds.

The new under-21 portion of the Wabash taproom has games (including darts – yes!) and plenty of room for the family. Food is coming in a matter of weeks, not months. Click for a bigger image. Photo credit: Walter

One of the owners of Liberation Coffee Roasting Co. (Andy Hall) is a home brewer himself, so he knows ways to incorporate coffee into beer. Hmmm, this sounds like a coffee beer fan’s heaven;  I know – I’m married to one. Nic and Matt said that it isn’t likely that they are going to have a coffee beer on tap ALL the time, but they will be regular visitors to the draft board.

The food provider is Between Brews Foodwerks (get the name now? – between the beer brewer and coffee brewer). For the Oktoberfest party, the owners/sisters (Kerry Horton and sisters Karmen and Kelly) will be serving locally sourced sausage from hogs raised on spent grain, along sauerkraut, spaetzle, German pretzels and German potato salad. They will be a permanent part of the new Wabash set up, as will Liberation Coffee. The everyday menu is coming together as we speak, and will feature gourmet specialty sandwiches and salads. For example, brie, peppered bacon, basil leaves and pesto mayo will be called the Karmichael, while the mixed greens salad with balsamic reduction, gorgonzola, pears, and chicken breast is the Gorg-ontua. Just another reason to keep going back to Wabash.

What do ya know – you show up for a charity Oktoberfest, and you get to see the birth of a bigger, better Wabash Brewing establishment. It is nice to see that Nic and Matt walk the walk; this Oktoberfest is just the tip of their charitable works. The Wabash Brewing bicycling team is heavy into donations and events for charities, and the Oktoberfest at the brewery will be followed by many future events meant to make a difference. Craft beer is just such an animal, looking to make the world a better place, and Wabash is reaping the rewards of being a good Indianapolis neighbor. And even better, you can be a part of their good works.

 
 

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