27 Jan DOn’t forget where we came from: some of our favorite and readily available Indiana beers
The great thing about having 100+ professional craft breweries in Indiana is we have LOTS of options. The bad thing about having 100+ professional craft breweries in Indiana is we have TOO MANY options, and we often overlook great beers on our shelves in search of something “new” or “different.” And that’s okay – even with all these great breweries around, Indiana is still somewhat of a desert to rare beers or great beers made elsewhere, with old laws regarding transportation of alcohol preventing lots of great beers from making their ways to our shelves. That reason alone is enough try something different every time you hit the bottle shop. But in doing so, we often forget we’ve still got great, consitent craft beer options right under our noses. So Cory Huffman and I got together to talk about a few local options that are readily available and just as great as (or better than) they’ve ever been.
Triton Rail Splitter IPA – Triton Brewing Co.
Often, we overlook beers on our liquor store shelves that we just happen to see a lot of. I think a lot of that has to do with our mind tricking us into thinking that quality suffers as quantity/production increases. That’s not always the case, though, because Triton Brewing’s Rail Splitter is a consistently great IPA.
The story goes that Lawrence, unlike Indiana, has pretty clean water, and that’s why Rail Splitter, a 7.0% IPA, always tastes so crisp and clean. This beer is balanced to a T between its malt build and its citusy (including a bit of lemon) hop profile. And it’s suped-up big brother Head Splitter is one of my favorite double IPAs.
Railsplitter is available just about everywhere, including liquor stores and big brand bars, and maybe that’s why we don’t always talk about it as an exceptional local option, when I fimrly believe it is. It is always a welcomed guest in my pint glass and fridge.
Flat12 just celebrated its 5th anniversary, and not many breweries make it that far without making damn good beer. Yes, there were some consistency problems here or there, but Brewmaster/Director of Brewery Operations Sean Manahan have smoothed those bumps out and consistently put out some of the more delicious beers around (I’m looking at you, Bleeding Heart IPA).
Walkabout Pale Ale is the Indianapolis brewery’s take on an Australian pale ale, as well as one of the first local beers I remember trying when I moved to Indy. It’s single-hopped with Galaxy hops, and has a clean finish full of passionfruit flavors.
I find that Walkabout fights the same battle as Rail Splitter – we see it so much, that even the sight bores us, or pushes us to maybe more rare of different beers (I think part of that comes from Indiana being a rare beer oasis, for the most part, but that’s a different story altogether). Whatever the reason, I like Walkabout a lot. You probably too, if you think about it.
Circuit Bohemian Pilsner – Tin Man Brewing Company
A couple summers ago, my wife (then girlfriend) and I would spend a lot of our time riding bikes around downtown Jeffersonville. It was during that time that I discovered how wonderful a beer Circuit is. At this time I was riding the insatiable highs of nothing but IPA’s (nothing wrong with that), and one lucratively hot day day we peddled into the local liquor store and grabbed a 4-pack of Circuit on a whim. We were not let down in the least.
Circuit tips a can to Czech pilsners with its light and crisp metallic finish. It clocks it at a very sessionable 5.1% ABV and its thirst-quenching flavor is mostly derived from heavy use of Saaz hops, meanwhile it boasts an amazing head retention for such a light beer.
Tin Man brews a couple of my favorite beers in Overlord Imperial IPA and Alloy Pale Ale. Most often when I’d go to the bottle shop I’d go straight for them. Circuit Bohemian Pilsner is another beer that is part of their Precision Series and should not be overlooked. Next time you want a break from hoppy or roasty, give it a whirl.
Sometimes when we make a stop at our favorite bottle shop we have the notion to try something utterly different. We peruse the beer coolers in search of that unique beer to try. I urge you to turn your attention to the bomber section of your local bottle shop and give New Albanian’s Black and Bluegrass a try. After all, it certainly fits the bill of different.
Medium-bodied, fruity and spicy, excellent beer with all kinds of food. Black and Bluegrass clocks in at a warm 6.5% ABV and is described as a Belgian-style spiced ale. However, do not automatically categorize it as a Saison…because it’s not. No. This is a beer that is entirely unique in its own right.
Black and Bluegrass has, over the last year, become one (if not my favorite) local Southern Indiana staple and I am more than happy to grab a couple bombers to bring along to any bottle share. It’s always consistent on draft and from the bomber. Hoptimus or Elector from NABC might arguably be the overwhelming choice as the most popular beer(s) from NABC, but I would recommend picking up a Black and Bluegrass next time you see it.
The ingredient list for Black & Blue Grass includes North American barley malt, wheat, German hops and Wallonian yeast. Blue agave nectar from south of the border is used as a fermentable sugar, and black pepper and lemongrass (as opposed to blue) are added for spicing.