Pints In The Park Provides Ample Opportunity To Enjoy The Usual While Sampling The Different

Pints In The Park Provides Ample Opportunity To Enjoy The Usual While Sampling The Different


By Writing & Reporting Community Member Lance Ryskamp

With the sound of classic tunes and the smell of barbecue and Italian food in the background, craft beer lovers converged earlier this month to Wicker Memorial Park in Highland for the 2nd annual Pints In The Park. Weather issues somewhat dampened the inaugural event last year, but thankfully the weather held for this year’s festival.

This year’s event brought together fourteen Indiana brewers among the 39 participating breweries from around the country. Patrons to the festival had the daunting (and amazing) task of sampling over 140 different beers during the four-hour event. While sipping delicious beer, festival goers were entertained by Dick Diamond and the Dusters singing classic tunes spanning five decades and had a chance to nosh on barbecue from Munster’s True BBQ and Italian food from Schererville’s Pepino’s Italian Restaurant.

While my festival partner in beer, Brett (who contributed some of the photos for this post), was very systematic in his approach to beer tasting, I, on the other hand, was somewhat more random. As usual, I found myself gravitating to my favorite beers, those being IPAs and Double IPAs, with some occasional Porters, Stouts and other styles mixed in.

On my IPA/ Double IPA journey, I enjoyed some old and new favorites, such as Special Forces (Crown Brewing), LOIPA (Wildrose), Hesperidium (Saint John Malt Brothers) and Railsplitter (Triton). A new brew that I tried and I thoroughly enjoyed was Pokro Brewing’s Double IPA, named Monkey Assassin, which was delicious and definitely a beer I will be seeking out in the future.

When it came to the Porter/ Stout styles, I enjoyed an interesting range of fine beers, including tasting once again, one of my all-time favorite beers overall, the Neapolitan Milk Stout from (sorry!) across the state line at Saugatuck Brewing. But by far, my favorite new discovery of these styles was Evil Czech’s Voodoo Vanilla Rye Porter. While chocolate and coffee are far and away my favorite Porter and Stout taste notes, and when vanilla is done right, as Evil Czech did, it can be amazing.

I also made a point of trying to step out of my comfort zone a bit and, to that end, I also sampled a range of styles, including brown ales, barley wines, keller biers, and farmhouse ales. All were well made, full-flavored beers, which made for a good change of pace from the beer styles I had been focusing on the most. 

However, one of these (for me) “outside the box” choices, stood out above the rest and that was Upland’s Champagne Velvet. I have seen CV in stores for a while, and have always been a bit curious, especially since I have enjoyed several of Upland’s beers, especially Coastbuster and Campside. Frankly, I didn’t really know what to expect from this American Pilsner, but so when I saw it on Upland’s beer list, I jumped on the chance to try it. It was a very enjoyable beer, with a really nice flavor to it. I definitely will be looking to try it again, whether it is when I see it sold locally here in Northwest Indiana, at future festivals and hopefully, future visits to the brewery during trips to see my step-daughter at Indiana University.

Overall, the festival was a blast and everyone seemed to be having a really good time. As a lifelong resident of “The Region”, it was great to see Northwest Indiana so well represented, from established breweries such as 18th Street, Burn’Em, Crown and Bulldog Brewing, to the really good “new kids on the block”, such as Wildrose, New Oberpfalz, Pokro and Saint John Malt Brothers. I think, through the quality of the breweries attending as well as the fine beer offerings served, Pints In The Park did Indiana craft beer proud.

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