Quaff On! Drink Local Night A Reminder Of All That Makes Bloomington Hoppy

Quaff On! Drink Local Night A Reminder Of All That Makes Bloomington Hoppy

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By Writing Community Member Rod Myers

Loyal readers of this site might recall from my story about the Function Brewing Fall Beer Dinner that I love me some local beer, the localer the better. So when Quaff ON! Bloomington announced that they were clearing their taps for a Drink Local Night on Wednesday, Dec. 02, I likewise cleared my calendar and invited my wife out for a “date night.”

“Okay, who’s tapping what?” she asked, too savvy not to know that beer was the motivator. Elder tip to young men: if you marry a smart woman, be sure she’s also patient, kind, and has a sense of humor. Fortunately, she had been craving a burger for days, and the fact that Quaff ON! has a candied bacon option sealed the deal.

If you need further proof that I lead a charmed life, take note that on the very same day as the Quaff ON! event, Bloomington Brewing Company (BBC) tapped Krampus, an Imperial Black IPA that they release annually to kick off the Bloomington Krampus festivities. Needless to say, I was there for the 4:00pm tapping to celebrate with the BBC regulars at the bar. Local tip (I’m full of tips today): When BBC releases a special beer, your first pour is usually free. Tell them I sent you, and don’t forget to tip your server generously! At 9.1% ABV and 116 IBUs, Krampus was a big beer to start the evening. As I lifted the tulip glass for my first sip, I was bowled over by the huge hop aroma; my first impression was lots of Simcoe and Cascade. Sure enough, Brian Jennings at BBC confirmed that in addition to those, it has Falconer’s Flight, Amarillo, Nugget, Centennial, Equinox, and Mt. Hood hops, balanced by lots of dark, chocolate roastiness. I took my time and savored my first Krampus of the season, knowing that I had a few beers ahead of me that night and that Krampus would (probably, hopefully) still be on tap the next day.


PictureKrampus. Dark, delicious Krampus

I rescued my wife from work and we sped downtown to secure a table at Quaff ON! before the teeming masses of local beer aficionados could overrun the place. I took a photo of the draught menu but, worried that I might not be able to read it later, I started typing the beer list into an email to myself. I was nearly finished when my wife suggested I simply ask them for a copy to take with me. What a Luddite! Anyway, I was a bit disappointed to find that most of the local beers were standards that are almost always on tap around town. I was happy to see Function’s Tangent IPA and Upland’s Coast Buster Double IPA, but I was hoping for something new and exciting. Oh, how quickly we craft beer geeks have become so jaded. I need to remind myself more often how difficult it was to find really good beer just a decade ago. Here’s the local lineup:

QuaffON!

  • Busted Knuckle Porter
  • Bourbon Busted Knuckle Porter
  • Russian Imperial Stout 
  • Hare Trigger
  • Hoosier Red
  • Six Foot Blonde
  • Hesitation Point Apple Ale
  • Common Necessity Hazelnut Stout
  • Put a Fork in It! Pumpkin Ale
  • Cross Hare Double IPA
  • Yellow Dwarf Hoppy Wheat

Upland

  • Wheat 
  • Dragonfly
  • Coast Buster Double IPA

Bloomington Brewing Company

  • Kirkwood Cream Ale
  • Persimmon Ale
  • Amber Ale (Ruby Bloom?)

Function

  • Tangent IPA

I opted for Quaff ON’s Common Necessity Hazelnut Stout to accompany my Cuban Frita burger, a blend of ground beef and chorizo topped by crispy smoked paprika hash browns. As we were eating, Quaff ON! employee and fellow Hop Jockey Abel Garcia stopped by our table to inform us that Upland and Switchyard were pouring samples at the front of the restaurant. I decided to forego another pint and proceeded directly to the free samples, leaving my wife to settle the bill (see earlier tip about marrying well).

Caleb Staton, Upland’s sour brewmaster, had several familiar bottles arrayed near the bar. I immediately zeroed in on Way Down Yonder, a new collaboration with Great Raft Brewing of Shreveport, Louisiana that I hadn’t yet tasted. It’s a refreshingly tart blend of persimmons and pawpaws aged on Upland’s Sour Reserve. I have a couple of bottles waiting for me at the Upland brewpub as part of my final Secret Barrel Society purchase for 2015, so I’ve got that going for me. Caleb also had bottles of Bruxellensis and Lambicus, sours that are part of Upland’s experimental Fresh Oak Brett Project that also included Claussenii and Unison. Beer cognoscenti will recognize Bretts B, L, and C (as they are familiarly known) as strains of Brettanomyces, the wild yeast that creates the tartness, funkiness, and sometimes even horse-blanketiness in sour beers. Secret Barrel Society members were able to participate in a blind tasting of all four (Unison used all three strains) at the Sour+Wild+Funk Fest this past summer. Caleb confided that their next experiment involves wild yeast collected from four locations around Monroe County. Now that’s what I call local! I’m taking a tour of Upland’s sour brewery this weekend, so I’m planning to get more information about the construction of their new sour facility and their plans for the near future.

We ended the evening by sampling ales from Switchyard Brewing, a Bloomington brewery and restaurant slated to open late next year on South Rogers Street near the planned Switchyard Park. Switchyard recently raised over $40K through a successful Kickstarter campaign. According to co-founder Michael Korus, they are busy trying to coordinate construction of the brewery with purchase and delivery of their brewhouse. Meanwhile, they are perfecting their recipes and popping up at various venues (like GnawBrew this past summer) to serve their beers and spread the word about their brewery. The three beers they were serving for Drink Local Night were all solid. The Lemongrass Wheat was perhaps my favorite; the lemongrass, purchased at the Bloomington Farmers’ Market, was prominent and made for a refreshing beer that I’m sure would be even better on a hot summer day. The Porter had a medium body and featured lots of dark malt flavor. The Session IPA had a nice hop flavor and aroma (Citra and Amarillo) but was lacking bitterness, which was just fine with my wife. The brewers told us they’d had some problems with this batch and that it wasn’t representative of the kind of IPA they usually make.

Drink Local Night is a great idea, and I hope to see more nights like this celebrating the breweries around Bloomington. As I said, I was a bit disappointed that most of the brewers sent beers from their standard rotations, but it just makes me look forward even more to Bloomington Craft Beer Week, those magical seven days in April leading up to the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival, which will be on April 9, 2016, so mark your calendars now. I’m already anticipating a week of date nights!



No Comments
  • MaryLouise
    Posted at 15:46h, 04 December Reply

    Thank you for the kind article Rod. I’m the GM for QOB and wanted to let you know I was responsible for the draft line up. It was a tough decision with so many great offerings from each brewery. I decided to go with the classics for our first drink local event as way to show respect for to those who came before us. I agree with you on how fortunate we are to have such an awesome craft beer foot print in this beautiful community. I look forward to hosting more events like this one and will certainly consider your valuable feedback. Thank you for attending and getting your quaff on with us!

    • Rod Myers
      Posted at 10:25h, 05 December Reply

      Thanks MaryLouise, it was a fun event and I’m looking forward to more nights like it!

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