27 Apr First Annual Death & Taxes Day Proves more Fun Than Actual Taxes
When I used to think of Bargersville, IN, the first thoughts were of town staples from when I was younger. Going to the outdoor flea market on Saturday, then heading over for dinner at Chicago’s Pizza with my Dad were the first memories to come to mind. Next would be Red’s Place. It is a little Bargersville local’s bar that serves all you can eat wings on Wednesday, and on Monday has Rocky Mountain Oysters on the menu (for those who don’t know, Rocky Mountain Oysters are not mollusks fished from the streams somewhere in the Rocky Mountain range. For further info, I suggest using your favorite search engine). Today when I think of Bargersville, all of those things still come to mind, but now Taxman Brewing is right at the forefront of my thoughts. From Sunday brunch with the family to a stop in for a pint or two during the week, I have never been disappointed during my visits to Taxman. When I saw the announcement for Taxman’s first annual festival, dubbed Death and Taxes Day, I knew that I had to go.
On April 18, 2015, the Saturday after tax day, Taxman opened up their brewery for their first festival that included thirteen breweries, two wineries, and several other vendors, including three food trucks. This was fantastic, since we had not eaten lunch because I kept saying we would stop closer to the brewery and I never stopped. Mile Square Coffee Roaster, Bozinni Pizzeria, and Johnson’s BBQ Shack were onsite and getting set up for the day. I opted for Johnson’s BBQ Shack and the pulled pork sandwich. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a sucker for anything HOT! I immediately went for the Hot BBQ sauce but added a little Bourbon BBQ sauce on the side to try as well. While the Hot was very good, my favorite quickly became the Bourbon BBQ sauce. It was outstanding! The sauce had enough flavor to stand up to the smoke but did not overpower the meat. This may have been a beer festival but the pulled pork held its own and was a great start to the day.
While we were waiting, I overheard there were 550 tickets presold for the event and I noticed several walk-up purchases before check-in began. Being the social butterfly that I am, I began asking people where they had driven in from. I was surprised to hear a large portion were from the north side of Indianapolis including Carmel, Zionsville, and Westfield. From other conversations I would guess that just over half were from areas south of Indianapolis, but it was interesting how many people from such a large geographic area were at this first time festival. It goes to show how much the interest in craft beer has risen in Indiana, and it is also a testament to the quality of the product that Taxman is putting out. I like to think that as the popularity increases so does the average consumer’s knowledge of the beer they are drinking.
After checking in we were given our glass. It was not the typical sample cup that we are all used to getting at beer festivals. It was a glass snifter that was printed to commemorate the day. This was great for someone that loves to collect glasses, such as myself. Once I entered I immediately purchased my allotment of Death and Taxes, and was allowed one bottle of each version versus the one bottle per person that was advertised. This was a pleasant surprise. The two versions of Belgian-Style stout were aged with vanilla beans and the barrel aged version was then added to Kentucky whiskey barrels. I immediately took the bottles to the car as per the rules of the festival. When I returned from the car I began sampling. Quaff On was close to the entrance so I filled up with Hare Trigger while I wandered around to see what everyone else had to offer. I do have to note that since Mark Havens took over the brewing responsibilities at Quaff On I have tried more of their offerings and have become a fan of Hare Trigger in particular. It is not my normal go to style of big bitter IPAs, but it is enjoyable and very drinkable.
Next I was off to sample the beer that the festival was named for, Death and Taxes, from Taxman Brewing. When getting my sample I found myself at a pour station located in the heart of the brewery. Walking past stainless steel brewing equipment and barrels I was in a place that I normally only get to see through the glass on my way from the bar to the restrooms. While getting my samples I asked a lot of questions and the employees were happy to answer and elaborate. Even when I felt like I was holding up the line a bit, I was never asked to move on or felt like I was being pushed out of the way. I really felt that everyone at Taxman was happy to see all of us there. If you have been to some other bottle release festivals you know why I appreciate that so much. The Belgian-Style Stout was very good in both forms, but I am a barrel aged beer fanatic and thoroughly enjoyed the barrel aged version.
There were several other highlights during the festival. Sun King brought four barrel aged beers for people to enjoy. For me the best was Tin Star, the English-style Barleywine that had been aged for nearly a year in Buffalo Trace Barrels with cherries and two varieties of figs. This beer came in at 8.6% but drank more like a 6-7% beer. Very smooth and the fruit was not overpowering. Next up was MashCraft Brewing and the Ancho Annie Amber. This beer included a threesome of chili peppers in Serrano, Anaheim, and Ancho. There were notes of smoke from the dried Ancho Chili, but what I liked best was the green, or fresh, pepper flavor from the other two. There was a tiny amount of heat at the throat, but I am a terrible one to give advice on heat levels. I love the heat!
At 2:00 PMIndiana City released Double Tribute. It is a double pale ale that comes in at over 100 IBUs. Let’s make this simple; it is an IPA, and a good one. This is one of the best beers I have had from Indiana City. It was citrusy, bitter, but had just enough of a malt backbone not to push malt heads away. I made my way over to Oaken Barrel because I kept hearing about a Red Ale that was brewed with Coffee. I was pleasantly surprised by Undead Red. The coffee was strong, which is how I like it, but you could still taste the base beer. I sampled this one twice. After my second taste I ventured down to Danny Boy to give their Ginger Witte a try. I typically steer away from that style of beer. Maybe it is the foodie in me or my love of cooking and using these ingredients, but something about ginger and coriander together make it interesting. With the temperature outside reaching near 80 degrees, I imagined myself working in the yard in the middle of the summer. I consider it a low alcohol beer at 5.4% and can imagine drinking this all day long.
I made it a point to stop at every tent and sample all of the beers I had not tasted in the past and to visit with some old friends. I have been a fan of TwoDEEP’s “They’ve Gone to Plaid” since it was first released. This beer is the beer that kept me going back and trying their other offerings. Planetary Brewing in Greenwood brought their Heliotropic – Citra Amber. Can anyone find anything wrong with a beer that has Citra in the name? Flat 12 brought both Walkabout and Half Cycle to the festival. Half Cycle is my go to local IPA and I always love seeing it at a festival. Scarlet Lane brought a Milk Stout and their Huelsebusch Vacation Pale. Even on a warm day you can enjoy a sample of the Milk Stout. It is very tasty and it was very popular with the crowd. Upland was my last stop of the day. Anytime a Belgian Golden Ale is mixed with an Oatmeal Milk Stout and then has black currants added it has to be weird, right? It is weird, in the best way. Tart, roasty, odd, unique, however you want to label this beer, it is good. I was glad that I waited till the end for this one so that I could try to remember all of the different flavors and notes in “Let’s Get Weird”. I am sure I failed, as there was a lot going on with this beer and all of it was enjoyable.
From the beer to the food to the people to the live band, this was one of the more fun events I have been to. Everyone knew about the beers they were pouring and were happy to talk about them. The crowd was having a great time and was enjoying the event. The parking seemed to be easy, well marked, and there appeared to be plenty of it. The band was fun and played well to the crowd. The people working the event for Taxman did not get overwhelmed and had great attitudes even when asked the same question for 45 minutes straight by 300 different people before the event started. This is an event I look forward to attending every year. My hope is that as this event grows, it grows at a pace that allows the event to continue to feel intimate and enjoyable. There are many events that I have attended that are too large to be as intimate and, though I enjoy them quite a bit, when you go to a festival like Death and Taxes Day it reminds you of what the much larger events used to be like. Maybe I am just being nostalgic while thinking of the memories of past festivals like I was remembering Bargersville at the beginning of this article. Whatever it is, I love beer festivals and I look forward to attending many more.