Mixing it Up – A Blend of Craft Events and A Blending of Beers

Mixing it Up – A Blend of Craft Events and A Blending of Beers

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

I think Walter and I finally proved it this past weekend – every beer blends well with Founders’ Rubaeus. We spent Saturday (June 29th) late afternoon and evening at the Summer Sippin’ Craft Brew Fest in Plymouth, and event that blended some local flavor along with beers served via distributors from around the region and country.

After talking to the brewers and distributor reps, sampling the beers, comparing them, and learning about them – we started doing blends with Founders Rubaeus, their famous raspberry beer. Zacc Hutching’s peanut butter beer from Marshall County Brew Club blended great with Rubaeus, as did the Stosh.O Polish Pilsner from Byway Brewing and the hazelnut brown ale from 10-56 Brewing – we haven’t ever found a beer that doesn’t blend well with Rubaeus.

Rubaeus on nitrogen is the standard, both alone and in a blend, but basically any blend with Rubaeus is amazing and is called a “rub.” Adam Lepper, the Founders rep. for northern Indiana introduced us to his favorite; he calls it the “All Day Rub.” This is a 50/50 mix of Rubaeus and Founders’ All Day IPA. We’ve done kolsch rubs, amber rubs, even gose rubs – they all work well. It may not be that the blend is better than either beer alone, but the blend is NEVER worse.

Chilly Water taproom on Saturday. image credit: Walter

Our work to mix things up Saturday evening at Summer Sippin’ reflected our entire weekend of learning about and enjoying Indiana craft beer. We did a bit of this and a bit of that; we added them all together and came up with a very enjoyable time – we experienced five very different types of events over two days. We blended different kinds of people, different kinds of activities, and different craft beer and came up with a great mix – it’s a metaphor, get it? Each activity was significant in its own way, and helped us to learn and build friendships – can you think of a better way to spend a weekend?

Chilly Water Brewing 5th Anniversary. Our weekend started Saturday around noon at the 5th anniversary party for one of our favorite breweries. The Chilly Water brewpub was full early on and it continued so throughout the afternoon, evening and night. Twenty taps of Chilly Water beer were enough to keep people happy, but there were also bands, games, and food.

The front patio was the scene for the music, but we hung out inside since summer finally found Indiana. The lagers were great for the hot day, including the every fantastic helles lager, but we tried some of the special brews for the anniversary. The wood aged beers, like the BBA Dark Star porter and the Norwegian Wood – a lambic aged on virgin oak were amazing, as was the bottle release for the day, Up On Cripple Kriek, a cherry lambic made with Montmorency cherries. I am a firm believer that Montmorency cherries are absolutely the best choice for beers.

Owner Skip DuVall was behind the bar, slinging beers and talking to everyone that came in, and the regulars and not so regulars were having a great time. It was a good time to reflect on the big changes that Chilly Water has seen in the last couple of years, with the expansion of the kitchen, the opening of the event space, and the debut of the Chilly Water Taproom on Boulevard. There have been great bottle releases and many concerts – we can’t wait to see what the up coming year will bring.

The beer board is back at Brew Link! image credit: Walter

Soft open of new Brew Link Brewing Brewpub. It’s been months since we visited a Brew Link bar – too many for my liking. But take heart, the drought is over. Brew Link is opening as a full on brewpub next to the Oak Grove Golf Corse in Plainfield as of Monday, July 1. Moving the brew house and bar has been a labor (of love?), but Ruari and his team are ready to go now.

Saturday the 29th saw Ruari behind the new bar pouring beer and a select group of patrons (select only because it included us) sampling the beers for the new brewpub. There has been a huge following to get the brewery open again – the social media announcement that merely stated that Brew Link would soon make an announcement about the opening got 850 reactions on Facebook for gosh sakes! Now everyone can pile into the taproom and restaurant because it is a lot bigger than the old place.

There is still an intimate feel to the space, but there certainly is a lot more room. The bar is longer and there are several standup tables with stools, as well as regular tables. There is the full dining room with a view of the brew house, and an outdoor space with a garage door to give an indoor/outdoor feel. The menu is full, from tacos to burgers to flatbreads and sandwiches – but the menu I was most happy to see was the old beer list board, colorfully displaying the beers and the art. Seeing that means that Brew Link is back – check out the new place Sun-Thurs from 11am – 10pm and Fri-Sat from 11am – 11pm.

Summer Sippin’ Craft Brew Fest. This was our last stop on Saturday, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Yes, it was a 2+ hour trip from Brew Link, but the beer and the cause was more than worth the drive. The festival was two fold in design, seen as a way to showcase Plymouth for breweries but also to raise money for the Freedom Park in Plymouth, an all inclusive playground and park for use side by side by able bodied children and those with disabilities.

So many nice people to meet and talk to at Summer Sippin’ in Plymouth. image credit: Walter

This was a great way to connect community to beer, but I have to say in that we were just as happy to drink more Marshall County Brew Club beer. There were a bunch of northern Indiana breweries there, including some stunning stuff from Studebaker Brewing, South Bend Brew Werks, and 10-56 Brewing, but I just can’t get over how good the homebrew from Marshall County Brew Club was. Look for a full article on Zacc Hutchings and his efforts to open a brewery in Plymouth in the near future.

Mike Hemphill from 10-56 Brewing in Knox told us, “We love this area; the city wanted us to locate 10-56 here. We’ve had good relationship with Mayor Mark Senter for years (they were both Indiana State policemen), so we like coming to support Plymouth and this great project.” It was nice to see the local breweries come in to help out with the park, and the beer they brought was good too. Rick from Studebaker Brewing in South Bend has made great strides with their beer, and both offerings Saturday were excellent. We need to make another trip back to the brewery.

Likewise, South Bend Brew Werks had several nice beers on hand, as did the distributor-driven booths. We had a great time trying several of the beers that were new to us – and of course there were all those Rubaeus blends we tried. The crowd was enthusiastic and I think will provide a good home to any brewery that decides to call Plymouth home.

MotoGP race watch party at Cannon Ball Brewing. We got up on Sunday refreshed and ready to learn some more, and we didn’t have to wait long to get a crash course in MotoGP. What Walter and I know about motorcycle racing could fit into the small end of a single Bugle snack cone, but that doesn’t mean that we’re averse to learning. We had a good teacher since Mark Swartz, owner and brewer at Cannon Ball Brewing at 17th and Bellefontaine in Indianapolis, is a former motorcycle racer and airline/Air Force flight engineer. Given that the brewery’s name is derived from the motorcycle racer Erwin Cannonball Baker (go ahead and look him up, you’ll be amazed), is it a wonder that MotoGP racing is a draw at this brewery?

MotoGP is on at Cannon Ball Brewing! Luckily you can get two motorcycles in one parking spot because it was packed. image credit: Walter

We arrived at noon on a Sunday, just in time to see the Assen, Netherlands MotoGP race with at least a couple of dozen other hard core fans. We could see the evidence before we even walked in the taproom, there were motorcycles taking up a good portion of the parking lot. We entered the taproom and it was silent – weird. OK, we don’t expect a “NORM!” reception, but we do expect to hear some talking. But everyone was glued to the screen, giving the occasional “ooh!” or “aah!” for a good pass or hair-raising wipe out – these people are hardcore into their motorcycle racing.

Sunday the 30th was Walter’s birthday, so she did some of Erin Kem’s deviled egg and beet tacos with an Agostini Pale Ale while we googled MotoGP and tried to learn something. This is definitely a new subculture for us within craft beer, and we will be returning to learn more. Look for a full article on this as part of the phenomenon of Cannon Ball and motorcycles in the next three weeks or so.

Indy Pub Knitters at Centerpoint Brewing. We left Cannon Ball and headed over to Centerpoint Brewing on Brookside Ave. for our last stop of the weekend. Centerpoint pulls in people because they make good beer, but there’s so much more. Walter wanted to come this day because her Indy Pub Knitters group was meeting at Centerpoint, but when we pulled in we saw a line 40 people deep. Was it for Pub Knitters – no, it was for Southern Fried Vegan, a pop-up food vendor brought in from Los Angeles. The crowd for them was amazing – it was smart to invite them.

The line from 2pm to 4 pm was always at least three dozen people deep, and then they would come into Centerpoint for a beer (not a milkshake IPA) to go with their food. But I digress, we were here for the Indy Pub Knitters, an every-other-week group that started more than a decade ago as a meet-up group. On Sundays, they meet at breweries (first at Upland Carmel and then someplace else) to drink beer and knit.

The Pub Knitters at Centerpoint. image credit: Walter

It’s interesting, they can limit their intake of beer so the knitting still makes sense – or perhaps they just “tink” more (“knit” backwards, it means to take stitches back out – see what you can learn while drinking).  Walter has been with them for a short while, but everyone now is a second or third generation member, but they have been active over their entire history. Mote than a dozen people were there on Sunday, and at least 30% of them were Centerpoint mug club members – these are serious beer drinkers well as serious knitters/crocheters.

There was crossover between the two groups as well; there were vegan knitters, vegans buying food who asked about knitting, and knitters who went out to try vegan food for the first time. The topics of conversations were all over the board, yet their fingers kept working as if they had a mind of their own. The Pub Knitters hung out for more than three hours; meanwhile the line at Southern Fried Vegan got longer and longer, and the Centerpoint beer flowed like water. It never fails to amaze me the connections that craft beer can create.

Conclusion. This might have been my favorite weekend ever in craft beer ever. An anniversary, a re-opening at a new location after a difficult situation and much sweat equity, a local festival to promote the best of community and craft beer, a MotoGP race and another new connection between the community and craft beer, and a decades–old connection between crafts that showed how communities are brought together via craft beer. Can you say you’ve had as varied a weekend? The take home message for this week – craft beer, just like Founders Rubaeus – mixes with everything.

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