Mashcraft Celebrates The Glorious Stout With Weekend Bonanza

Mashcraft Celebrates The Glorious Stout With Weekend Bonanza


By Mike Hartung for Indiana On Tap

I love all styles of beer, my favorites being Stouts and IPAs. The former is a beer that I love year round, especially in the cooler months. For those who aren’t familiar with the noble Stout, it’s basically a dark ale developed in Britain and Ireland and is a direct descendent of the Porter. I like Stouts far more than Porters usually because they have stronger aromas and flavors. Like all styles of beer, Stouts can take on many shapes and forms and are often the go-to style when it comes to choosing a beer to age in (usually) whiskey barrels. The beer can stand up to the strong whiskey flavors and the resulting concoction is often delicious.

Again, every Stout (aged or not) is quite different so being able to try a bunch side by side would be a great experience. Lucky for me,MashCraft Brewing in Greenwood decided to host such an event this past Saturday. The event was to be called Mariana’s Stout Bonanza, and I was excited to have been in attendance. 

This was to be my first time at Mashcraft, but I wasn’t unfamiliar with the brewery or its head brewer Andrew Castner. Living in Noblesville I have frequented the Ram in Fishers and have always enjoyed their beers. Being that the Ram is a chain of breweries, their standard beers are brewed consistently from location to location. I was, however, always struck by how much I enjoyed their seasonal beers and was recently told that the head brewer (for the Fishers and Indianapolis locations) was given license to use his own recipes on the seasonal side. That brewer was Castner, and when I heard he was opening up his own place I was more than willing to make the trip south.

I showed up Saturday with an adventurous spirit and two good friends in tow. I immediately headed to the bar to have some of their IPA before the Stout onslaught began. This was the only beer of MashCraft’s I have had before and I was happy to be able to have it again from the source. After a few samples of non-Stouts, Castner welcomed everyone to Mashcraft and explained the rules. Basically, a lucky group of people were to blindly sample a bunch of Stouts in a back room, and then eliminate their least favorites round by round. After a beer was eliminated, one could then get a sample of that beer from four different stations set up around Mashcraft.

These judges had a tough job. There wasn’t a bad beer or brewery on the menu and the choices ranged from national greats to Indiana favorites. Oskar Blues, Great Divide and Founders (amongst others) were there, as were 18th StreetBlack AcreDaredevilFlat 12Oaken BarrelPlanetaryTaxmanTriton and Scarlet Lane from Indiana. The atmosphere was relaxed, with people sharing opinions amongst themselves on these new favorites or old standbys. All the beers were great and people voiced their disbelief with every new beer that was cut by the judges. There wasn’t a bad beer to be had, so I’m sure a lot of conversations among attendees was akin to debating why someone was left off an all-star team or out of a hall of fame. There were a lot of “oh’s!” and “no’s!” with each elimination…and strangely even a few “how’s?!”, courtesy of my friend Jay. 

The quality and diversity of these Stouts was amazing! There were coffee Stouts, milk Stouts, and of course those of the bourbon barrel variety. It was great to revisit beers I’ve had many times, followed by a new beer I hadn’t tried before. It also was a great measuring stick event for Indiana breweries and those in attendance who love Indiana beer to figure out how we (Indiana) stacked up against the big names in the industry.  North Coast’s Old Rasputin, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout and Yeti by Great Divide are great beers I’ve enjoyed countless times over the years and again on Saturday, but what dawned on me that day was that even though I’ve championed Indiana beer for years, I hadn’t really sampled our best side by side with those previously mentioned. 

My opinion? Indiana represented itself well on Saturday and showed that our beers deserve mention with anyone.

So who won? I think Indiana as a whole was the big winner, but votes were tallied and…Daredevil’s JWP took 3rd, followed by Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout(2nd), and 18th Street’s Barrel Aged Coconut Hunter claiming the top spot. For me, my top three were: Oaken Barrel’s Java Stout(3rd), Mashcraft’s Mariana(2nd), and 18th Street winning for me as well. The Coconut Hunter is honestly one of the best beers I’ve had and the coconut flavor was so present yet not overwhelming. Even though it’s only 10 a.m., I would kill for another taste right now! If you read this 18th Street, you can send any Coconut Hunter you have lying around to my house anytime you’d like. My second favorite was Mariana, and I’m not just saying that to make the host brewery happy. It was incredibly smooth and drinkable and my two friends actually thought it deserved first. Finally, I love coffee and beer, but typically coffee beers under-deliver in the coffee flavor department. Not Oaken Barrel’s Java Stout; it was absolutely delicious.

To sum it all up, I learned three valuable lessons at Mashcraft’s Mariana’s Stout Bonanza:

1) Indiana’s Stouts can hang with the national “big boys”

2) I need to drive to Greenwood more often to visit Mashcraft and Oaken Barrel

3) I need some dirt on Andrew Castner so I can blackmail my way into that exclusive judging room next time!

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  • Toby
    Posted at 14:50h, 11 March Reply

    Mike, anytime you want to head to mashcraft, let me know!

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