09 Nov If You’re a Craft Beverage Fan in Chesterton – You’re Spoiled
Walter and I drove up to Chesterton this past Saturday to attend the Corkscrew & Brew Festival put on each year by the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. It’s usually held in late March but as with most things, the 2020 version was different. Moved to November, widely spaced booths, masks for everyone who wasn’t actively drinking, and single use cups made for a safe afternoon out of doors.
The day was gorgeous and the craft beverage vendors brought some fine examples of their wares, and as we wandered the beautiful Thomas Centennial Park where the festival was held we realized that Chesterton is in the middle of a craft beverage Eden. It’s not that all the vendors were hyper-local, it was the fact that the park was across the street from three craft establishments, making us consider all the craft that was around us.
Using the downtown park as the center of a circle, a thirteen mile radius gives you access to many more than a dozen craft beverage tap/tasting rooms. Heck, Walter and I live in Indianapolis and it’s more than 13 miles for us to get to some of the breweries in our own town. Any way you slice it, Chesterton has a lot of craft close by.
Closest to Centennial Park are the Main Street Taphouse, Running Vines Winery, 219 Taproom, and Butler Winery’s tasting room. Main Street opened just this year with 24 taps and a full menu. A Calumet Road address gives them a good view of downtown and the park, and right across the street is the Running Vines Winery Tasting Room. Opened in 2015, Running Vines offers a tasting room, a full menu, and a small event space in the cellar.
Down the block from Running Vines are the 219 Taproom and Butler Winery’s tasting room. 219 Taproom celebrated their first anniversary Saturday after the festival, with live music and a full beer menu that including several beers from MashCraft Brewing, HopLore Brewing, Centerpoint Brewing, and Fountain Square Brewing. They were at Corkscrew & Brew and then walked down the block to get back to work at the taproom.
Just to the west of 219 Taproom is Butler Winery. The vineyard for Butler Winery is just north of Bloomington, and they have tasting rooms at the vineyard, in downtown Bloomington, and in Chesterton. The Chesterton location has both a tasting room and a wine garden. There – you have four craft locations within a block of downtown Chesterton, and we’ve just gotten started.
The Chesterton Brewery is just west of the park. They have been open just over a year and specialize in supporting veterans and our troops. They were at Corkscrew & Brew serving four different beers, including the Thin Red Line strawberry beer, but be sure to support them on Veteran’s Day this coming week when they release Best Days Hazy IPA, made as a collaboration with VNA of Northwest Indiana. Another brewery very close is Hunter’s Brewing on the southside of Chesterton. This is Indiana’s only vegan brewery, where all the beers and all the food are made without animal products.
Just 10 miles to the south of Chesterton is Valparaiso, which has a number of craft beverage businesses too. Four Fathers Brewing is there, as is Ironwood Brewing, Misbeehavin’ Meads, Lambstone Cellars Winery, Aftermath Cidery, and (even though they don’t have a taproom of their own) Blockheads Beerworks serves at the Tomato Bar locations. Ironwood, Aftermath, and Misbeehavin’ Meads were all at the festival Saturday and each had a standout product.
I really enjoyed the Flare from Aftermath, a clove cider that would be great served warm on a cold night, Walter picked out the Stake in the Tart from Misbeehavin’ – an oak aged cider with tart cherries and a bit of cinnamon and vanilla. And of course there was the habanero spiked Commodore Porter from Ironwood. The pepper syrup was separate from the beer so you could have it as hot or mild as you wished. I landed on the mild end of the scale.
A bit further away in Michigan City are Zorn Brew Works and Shoreline Brewery. Shoreline came to the festival on Saturday, and as they often do, they brought a couple of their fine barrel aged beers, Curse the Goat and Big Bella. Also located within that 13 mile radius are Anderson’s Winery and Vineyard and the Valpo Pour House (with a great selections of beers). Finally, there is a coming distillery for the area as well. Duneland Distillery is making products and putting the touches on their tasting room on north 8th Street in Chesterton.
With all those places to visit, it’s just icing on the cake to have festivals too. Look for Corkscrew & Brew to be back next spring, and then next fall we’ll have Valpo Brew Fest and Porter’s Perfect Pint to look forward to – both of those returning after pandemic hiatuses in 2020.
And there you have it – if you live in Chesterton and you like craft beverages, you’re spoiled beyond belief. We only talked about those places within a 13 mile radius, but just outside that are you have even more places to go. The Devil’s Trumpet Brewing and (soon) Viking Artisan Ales in Merrillville, Shady Creek Winery and Burn ‘Em Brewing on the other side of Michigan City along with Burn ‘Em’s Bare Bones gastropub in LaPorte.
Always, but especially now, make sure to get out and support your local craft beverage producers. There isn’t a lot of profit in it – it’s a calling, not just job. Do your best to keep them going during the pandemic.