04 Dec Quaff On! Drink Local Night A Reminder Of All That Makes Bloomington Hoppy
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.
- 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
- Coast Buster Double IPA
- Kirkwood Cream Ale
- Persimmon Ale
- Amber Ale (Ruby Bloom?)
- Tangent IPA
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!