Beers In The Barn Brings The Feel Of Harvest To Icy January

Beers In The Barn Brings The Feel Of Harvest To Icy January


By Brooke Elzinga & Amy Wainwright of Northwest Indiana Girls Pint Out

On any given weekend in the summer and fall, County Line Orchard, in Hobart, Indiana is a very popular place to be. From apple picking to pumpkin patches, there is a variety of things to keep you busy, and one must not forget those apple cinnamon and/or pumpkin donuts (delicious). It’s a shame when the barn closes its doors during the winter months, but luckily for us, they opened those doors back up to host Beers in the Barn on January 24th, 2015. This just gave us another reason to enjoy the orchard throughout the year.

This event took place in the big barn at County Line Orchard, which was built and opened in 2012, and was held from 6:30 PM – 10:30 PM. We were lucky enough to have VIP tickets, which gave us one extra hour with early entrance and exclusive VIP tastings on the second floor. At check-in, they provided us with maps of the facility and where all breweries were located, as well, as informing us of the second floor opportunities, with the VIP section, and more breweries to sample.  Everyone in attendance received with their tickets food, unlimited samples, and a mini tasting pint glass. It seemed very crowded right from the start, as many in attendance were standing in lines and focusing on the breweries near the front. We knew we needed a game plan, in order to be able to get the most out of the night with the number of people. We decided to go backwards and start upstairs, so off to the VIP tastings we went.

Upstairs, we were able to experience the exclusive VIP area, which offered a separate location with unlimited food and a special room with a variety of special tastings from different breweries. There were many to choose from, including many IPAs; however one that stuck out to the both of us was an American Pale Ale collaboration between Sierra Nevada and local favorite Three Floyd’s, called Chico King.


The barn at County Line Orchard was wonderfully dressed up for us

This pass got us access to more beers and food. It was a definite must-have.
Brewery: Sierra Nevada/Three Floyds
Name: Chico King
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%

Sierra Nevada Brewing and 3 Floyds produced a “mash-up” to create Chico King.  Chico King being a mash-up, so to speak, was for sure a must try at the brew-fest. as it is not very common that you get to try a combination from two great breweries such as these.  One brewery is from the west coast, the other is locally grown right here in the midwest.  When selecting our option, we had concerns due to the fact that this was still a pale ale and most of the beers in the VIP section were either IPAs or double IPAs, and since this particular collaboration beer is in the style of an American Pale Ale we can admit that we were hesitant to try it because we weren’t sure exactly how much hops we would taste. However, we sucked it up and dove in, and found ourselves pleasantly surprised with the lightness of the hops flavoring.  When Chico King was poured, it is a dark amber color and not too cloudy.  The smell was more fruity than hoppy and not too overpowering.  It was extremely smooth in taste and very palatable. We both agreed that this beer had to be marked as a favorite and was a fabulous collaboration beer with these two breweries.

We continued our adventure on the second floor, weaving through people, gathering more samples, and listening to the live entertainment. One thing that we really enjoyed about the setup at this event was that they had several large tables throughout each level with multiple coolers of water to drink or rinse out glasses, as well as bowls and bowls of pretzels. No need for your pretzel necklaces here, they made sure that they were stocked up and ready for the event. There were a few beers that we tried that stood out as favorites that we would also like to mention.

Brewery: Greenbush Brewing Company
Name: Sotto Voce
Style: Wheat Ale
ABV: 6.3%

We had the pleasure of visiting this brewery a few weeks prior and it instantly became one of our favorite breweries. We tried several beers and bought growlers to take home, so when we heard Greenbush would be in attendance, we knew we would be making a trip to their table. I always enjoy finding a good wheat beer and I found one that day when I sampled their Sotto Voce.  The beer was light in color with an orange hue when poured and was slightly cloudy with a white head. Its aroma consisted with a mixture of orange and spices, almost as if it was a mix of a wheat and pumpkin.  This beer was very crisp and smooth, I loved the orange flavor and it reminded me of other Belgian wheat beers, like Blue Moon, but with a spicy bite that clearly separated it out as their own special take on this style. I will definitely be making future trips to their brewery to pick up a growler soon.

Brewery: Stone Brewing, Co.
Name: Coffee Milk Stout
Style: Stout
ABV: 4.2%

I was very excited when I heard Stone Brewing, Co was going to be at Beers in the Barn. We had the pleasure of sampling their beers the weekend before at JK O’Donnell’s Winter Warmer and couldn’t wait to try some more.  I have recently made the transition to loving dark beers, so give me a porter or a stout and I am a very happy girl. So when I saw that they had a Coffee Milk Stout, there were no other decisions I needed to make. Coffee Beans and Beer. Perfect. Their Coffee Milk Stout was something that, if it wasn’t frowned upon, you could wake up in the morning and drink while watching the sun rise. It’s that good. When poured, the beer is very dark in color, almost pure black, with a brown head. You could instantly smell the aroma of roasted coffee beans with that smoky smell.  It has such a smooth and light taste with a dry malt finish. I didn’t find it too sweet but there was enough that made the taste pop with a bite of fruity flavor.  When looking at the beer, it appeared as though it would be thick in flavor, but in return it was smooth and refreshing. This is definitely one I would stand in line for at future brew fests to grab a sample or two.  

Brewery: People’s Brewing 
Name: Gourdon Pumpkin Ale
Style:  Pumpkin Ale
ABV:  6.8%

I learned a very interesting fact here: while the representative was tapping the Pumpkin Ale, she happened to mention that the pumpkins used in the ale were locally grown right here at the orchard. I was in awe and very impressed to hear that. How interesting that a brewery almost 90 miles away used pumpkins from an orchard I have been visiting for years. I would have never guessed that the pumpkins at County Line were used for anything except carving and pies!

When the Gourdon Pumpkin Ale was poured it had such an aroma of Harvest time I kind of forgot we were in late January and it was chilly outside.  It had a nice light brown, kind of ‘orangeish’ color.  It was the best pumpkin beer poured this evening and I tasted all three that were being offered.  They were all very tasty, but this one stuck out the most and I could have had another.

Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing
Name: Double Milk Stout
Style: Stout
ABV: 7.5%

The Southern Tier Double Milk Stout was one of my favorite milk stouts of the evening.  I tasted several stouts and/or milk stouts but this one definitely stuck out. It poured with an aroma of fresh brewed coffee just like a fresh pot in the morning. It was dark in color exactly like a strong cup of black coffee.  In fact if it wasn’t beer I most likely could drink this in the morning.  It had a light hoppy taste, light chocolate taste, but large on coffee.  Luckily for me, this beer is available year round in 6 or 12 packs!


Live music entertained festival-goers throughout the evening.
It was a fun night, as mentioned, and with local bands playing throughout the night, it seemed that everyone in attendance was having a great time. Last call, was around 9:30 PM and they were sure to have people head out right at 10:30 PM. The event itself was able to raise money with proceeds benefiting the local United Way foundation. This just gave us another reason to enjoy a visit to the orchard throughout the year.

Here’s to apple orchards, harvested pumpkins, and of course beer! 


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