First “Indy Brew Battle” Works to Raise Profile of Indianapolis’ Four Homebrew Clubs

First “Indy Brew Battle” Works to Raise Profile of Indianapolis’ Four Homebrew Clubs

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Indianapolis is blessed with four fine home brew clubs. Midwestern Order of Ninkasi (MONK), Circle City Zymurgy (CCZ), Indiana Brewers Union (IBU), and Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI) have many things in common, including a love of initialisms, but their relationships haven’t been as close as possible in the past. A new event, the inaugural Indy Brew Battle, is a chance for the brew clubs to build community amongst themselves, and to test their brews out against Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judging in an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) sanctioned event. Apparently everyone in beer loves initialisms.

The inaugural Indy Brew Battle will be held at Centerpoint Brewing (1125 E. Brookside Ave.) on September 29th. The judging will take place in the early afternoon, with a public tasting from 4-6pm on the same day. For $10, attendees will enjoy unlimited tastings of home brews from members of all four clubs – not just the judged beers but across all styles. Stick around until the end for the announcement of the competition results and to congratulate all the participants.

The impetus for this first Indy Brew Battle came from IBU, the youngest of the Indianapolis home brew clubs. Started in 2017 and deliberate in their growth, IBU’s president Amanda Wallace is known to most of the Indianapolis craft beer community as the taproom manager for Centerpoint Brewing. Joe Wootton has taken on the responsibilities as chairman of the committee for pub night experiences and for the Indy Brew Battle. Get your tickets here.

image credit: Indiana Brewers Union

The idea for the Indy Brew Battle itself came from a larger wish to bring the Indianapolis homebrew clubs closer together. They all have similar aims, but there wasn’t a lot of connection between them. Joe started contacting the other clubs and going to a meeting or two. A great relationship has been sparked with all the local clubs, especially with CCZ, so that now, if you are a member of one of those two clubs, you are more than welcome at the meetings of the other. This was no brainer, since both clubs have very gregarious members and both are charity based. The Brew Battle is a specific event to help with this community building amongst central Indiana home brewers.

Having a home brew competition is fine, but Joe took it one step further – all the proceeds, every dollar taken in from attendee fees to entry fees for brewer will be donated to Hoosier Veteran’s Assistance Foundation (HVAF). This is possible because everything for the event has been donated, from all the prizes, and there are many, to the space, to the brewhouse where the grand prize winner’s brew will be made and all the printing and graphic design – everything. Joe says, “This is an Indianapolis homebrew competition that is fully Indianapolis supported.”

To make it simple, the competition will be limited to stouts, all styles except RIS and barrel aged stouts. This limitation makes it much easier for all brewers to compete on equal footing; no one needs to have time and money invested in barrels or in huge ingredient costs for an RIS. The extract brewer has a legitimate shot at building a winning beer. The competition is an official American Homebrewers Association event (fee paid for by IBU), and will be BJCP judged, with the judges donating their time and expertise (thanks to Ron Smith and Sandy Cockerham for arranging this).

So far the entries have been moving fast ($5 per entry, one entry per person). Double digit entries are expected from each of the Indianapolis clubs. Beers (3 x 12 oz.) must be submitted at Centerpoint Brewing from Sept. 17-22 and the entry fee paid on the Final Gravity Homebrew Supply website. Judging will be done on the 29th before the tasting event from 4-6pm.

There will be a winner from each of the clubs, with that person receiving multiple prizes, including $100 in various gift certificates from Great, and, multiple bags of hops, as well as some swag, starsan, and PBW (powdered brewery wash).

image credit: Midwestern Order of Ninkasi

There will also be a grand prize winner chosen from the four club winners, and this deserving brewer will be awarded (in addition to the club winner prizes) 55 lb. of Maris Otter hops from Muntons, a Blichmann brew gun, Anvil scale, Anvil thermometer, Blichmann quick couplers, and Blichmann wireless digital thermometer from Blichmann Engineering in Lafayette, a yeast donation from Final Gravity, and their beer will be produced on the professional system at Nailers Brewing in Whiteland and put on tap there.

Here’s a strange parallel to illustrate the importance of homebrewing, but stick with me. Indiana high school basketball is the best in the land, of that there is no doubt. Take a good Indiana high school team out of state and they completely dominate. The main reasons for this is that there is a legacy of great hoops here and because the coaching is better than anywhere else. In turn, those well-coached players will go on to train the next generation of Indiana basketball players. In similar fashion, Indiana craft beer is great for a couple of important reasons, because we have a history of brewing well, and because the community supports home brewers and creates many great professional brewers. There is so much stellar Indiana beer because there are so many stellar Indiana brewers and they support up and coming brewers; it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thanks to IBU for supporting this effort to advance Indiana home brew and craft brew even further, and to the sponsors and partners for donating every bit of the overhead, prizes, and marketing for the event. It is their support that has enabled this fundraising effort for HVAF to be so successful.


banner image credit: Winning Homebrew

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