JK O’Donnel’s Winter Warmer Festival Mixes International, Local Brews In Fort Wayne

JK O’Donnel’s Winter Warmer Festival Mixes International, Local Brews In Fort Wayne


By Jennifer Novotney, Brooke Elzinga, and Amy Wainwright of Northwest Indiana Girls Pint Out

No one in attendance could have asked for a better January day to attend an outdoor beer festival than we had this past weekend. We made the trek to Fort Wayne, Indiana to join in on the fun at the 2nd annual Winter Warmer hosted & held at JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House, held outside in an oversized heated tent off the back patio of the pub. Upon, checking ourselves in, we were greeted by Sandy Lahrman, the manager of JK O’Donnell’s, who graciously took the time to explain the event and introduce us to others who could be of assistance if needed.

Depending on the type of tickets you purchased, each guest was given 10 tasting tickets (with the option to purchase more) and a full listing of all the breweries (with each beer they were sampling, along with ABV & Style details), and most guests that had bought previous tickets received an exclusive small stein with JK O’Donnell’s trademark symbol etched on both sides. With over 30 different breweries attending the event there was a broad range to choose from in many different styles and flavors. The magic happened under the tent, with all the breweries posting up against the walls, with several tables lined down the middle. This provided access for fellow craft beer drinkers to sample with friends or with strangers; it also gave them an opportunity to jot down notes about which beers they may have liked or disliked. The atmosphere under the tent was lively and adventurous, but after a while it was hard to hear when talking with the different breweries and with everyone inside it felt a bit cramped, but everyone seemed to not be bothered by this at all. All the breweries were very gracious to either give tastings without charging a ticket or pouring more than a tasting size.

So many great craft beers under one tent and so many we could mention. But there were a few that stuck out to us that we would like to highlight on:

Brewery: Founders Brewing Co – Grand Rapids, MI
Style: Stout
Name: Chocolate Raspberry Stout
ABV: 7.8%

Founders Brewing’s Chocolate Raspberry Stout was by far my absolute favorite of the afternoon. There is nothing I like more than chocolate and fruit, especially when they are a combination such as this. Founders Brewing has done a tremendous job with this stout. The Chocolate Raspberry Stout was dark, smooth and full of a raspberry flavor. It was as if I was eating a little piece of heaven in a fresh dipped chocolate raspberry. I did not taste a strong dark chocolate flavor but a hint was all you needed, although I definitely tasted the sweetness of the raspberries. It was very aromatic, as it smelled of fresh picked fruit.

Brewery: Two Brothers – Warrensville, IL
Style: Porter
Name: Peppermint Bark Porter
ABV: 6.7%

There is nothing I enjoy more than a good peppermint beverage, so needless to say when I eyed the sign for “Peppermint Bark Porter,” I was really hoping that it wouldn’t let me down. It didn’t disappoint whatsoever. As with most of the breweries, they offered more than just a tasting in exchange for my one ticket. It was dark in color, almost black when poured. The smell was refreshing, not too sweet with the peppermint, and a roasty smokiness aroma of a porter. I instantly knew after my first taste that this was going to be one of my favorites this afternoon. It wasn’t overpowering with the peppermint, even though I felt there could be more. But to some, the amount they used was enough to get a hint of peppermint without losing the true porter taste that didn’t overpower the hops or the malty flavors. This is one of those beers that you can drink all day long on a cold winter day.

Brewery: Figure Eight – Valparaiso, IN
Style: Black Barleywine Ale
Name: Date Night
ABV: 11.2%

One of the best things about these types of festivals is that you can try out new beer styles, whether you like them or not. To be honest, one of our least favorite styles of beer is the Barleywine. Each of us has gone through a stage where we don’t care for a particular style and end up loving it just the same, and this might be one of them. We never shy away from trying a new beer, because with craft beer no beer is equal and are all uniquely their own. Throughout the afternoon, we sampled several Barleywines, but one stuck out to us that had us questioning a second pour. Figure Eight’s Black Barleywine Ale gave us faith in not turning our back on this style quite yet, so that we might be able one day to love the Barleywine. They were gracious enough to give us a full glass at no ticket charge and when poured it appeared very dark in color, more black, but with a dark hue of red, possibly from the cherry & dates. When taking in the smell of the beer, it came across with a very sweet aroma and there were no overpowering hops that stood out. This Barleywine stood out to us because of the taste and flavor for sure; it was rich, smooth, and not as sweet as we were lead to believe by its scent. The beer wasn’t too hoppy and you could really embrace the hint of cherry with the Medjool dates that they were brewed with.

Brewery: Trouble Brewing – Fort Wayne, IN
Style: Imperial IPA
Name: Mindtrap Cubed
ABV: 11.7%

Typically IPA’s are not one of my favorites, but I do still tend to partake in the experience. This IPA did have a strong hoppy aroma, but I was surprised that I did not get the usual high hoppy taste. I was expecting the usual response when drinking an IPA that it was a little too hoppy for me but was excited with Mindtrap. It offered more of a smooth, full body Citrus taste that I enjoyed. It had a nice amber color which complimented the beer perfectly.

Trouble Brewing, is a new brewery opening in the spring/summer of 2015 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They will be located off of Broadway St, a few blocks from JK O’Donnell’s. They were offering all guests samples of two of their beers, DogJaw Peanut Butter Stout and Mindtrap Cubed. 

Brewery: Trouble Brewing – Fort Wayne, IN
Style: Stout
Name: DogJaw Peanut Butter Stout
ABV: 5.2%

First and foremost, there is Peanut Butter in this beer. We repeat, Peanut Butter. That was enough to peak our interest immediately. When they poured our samples, we were intrigued to find that they were infusing the stout with raspberries. The color was on the darker side, amber colored with a reddish tint. You can instantly smell the peanut butter scent with the hint of raspberry, which complimented not only the smell but also the taste. The taste was very smooth and not too rich, with a dry hop malty taste. We personally think it could have used a lot more peanut butter, but then again, we really like peanut butter. It wasn’t overpowering when it came to the peanut butter and the cocoa powder that is brewed in made the flavoring a perfect combination. 

Brewery: Dupont Brewery – Tourpes, West-Hainaut, Belgium
Style: Abby Tripel
Name: Brasserie Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux
ABV: 9.5%

The name of the beer means, “With the good wishes of the Dupont Brewery.” From what we’ve learned it began as the brewery’s Christmas gift for friends and business associates but quickly became so popular that it is now a part of their regular lineup. Before tasting the beer, the first thing that hit me was the amazing aroma, which was very fruity, almost sweet, with a hint of spice. It’s golden amber in color that had a cloudy look. The taste of this Belgium Tripel hits you hard, you can taste the spicy fruit flavors that you instantly first took in with the aroma. It was smooth not overly hoppy and very easy to drink for a beer that has a higher ABV. This was one of my favorites of the day and I can’t wait for the next time I can get my hands on a bottle.

Dupont Brewery is located in Tourpes, West-Hainaut, Belgium. Although, the current brewery was founded in 1950, the farm that it is located on has a significant brewing history, which dates back to the 1700’s. Although, they are known for their Moinette Blonde, the Saison Dupont is what gave them their international popularity.

This was a great experience overall and they had such a great turnout. With the beautiful weather, so much craft beer to choose from, and an Irish Ale house with such amazing food, you couldn’t have asked for a better event. We had the opportunity to speak to so many people and everyone we met was having a great time, laughing, exploring, and chatting with complete strangers enjoying the thing we all have in common: The love we have for great craft beer.

Girls Pint Out is a national craft beer organization for women. Their mission is to build a community of women who love craft beer and who are an active, contributing part of the greater craft beer community.

Find information about GPO, including chapters near you, check out www.girlspintout.org

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