18 Aug ‘Region’ Beer Makers Brew Up Fans At State Fair
Figure 8 Brewing, of Valparaiso, and Michigan City’s Burn ‘Em Brewing were among four microbreweries and three wineries selling glasses and samples of alcohol at the fair’s new Indiana Beer and Wine Exhibition.
Despite little notice outside the Grand Hall that beer and wine were available inside, a steady stream of adult fairgoers made it to the building, past the age check station and into the large, air-conditioned exhibit space where beer and wine makers stood by their products ready to explain what makes them special.
Danny Moser, of New Carlisle, one of the seven Burn ‘Em Brewing owners who first met as students at New Prairie High School, said the reaction to his MPA India Pale Ale and Pale Alement beers – both poured out of skull-topped tap handles – was “awesome.”
He said the year-old microbrewery, which plans to open a Michigan City tap room this fall, also has been looking to break into the central Indiana market, and the opportunity to reach several thousand potential new customers went even better than he expected.
“It streamlines what we’re trying to accomplish down here. It makes about two months of work happen in about a day,” Moser said.
He can count Bob Glazier, of Greenfield, among the new fans of Burn ‘Em’s beers. After sampling both MPA and Pale Alement, Glazier declared them “very smooth” and “really good.”
“I wouldn’t drive up to Michigan City, but if … they distributed it in metropolitan Indianapolis then I might buy it,” he said.
Products from different Indiana wineries and microbreweries, including Munster’s Three Floyds Brewing Co. and Chesterton’s Butler Winery, have been featured every day of the annual 17-day fair, which ends Sunday.
A new state law ended a nearly seven-decade fair alcohol ban imposed after a rowdy 1946 crowd scattered empty beer bottles across the grounds.
That’s unlikely to happen this year with beer and wine having to be consumed in one building, a three-drink maximum and plenty of security to make sure no one gets out of line.
Monica Urick, of Carmel’s Urick Concessions, one of two vendors contracted to manage the beer and wine exhibit, said there have been no problems at all – even on Saturday when more than 6,000 fairgoers packed the hall over eight hours.
“It’s not that kind of an environment and it’s not that kind of a crowd,” Urick said. “People that come in are really looking to taste different wines or beers.”
At the same time, Glazier said he’d like to be able to have a beer with a meal at the fair, instead of being shunted into a single building without much to do besides drink.
Urick believes that might be a possibility at future fairs.
“I think we’re going to see how things go this year and maybe do a similar situation next year, and just really be safe and responsible in how we do things and see how it goes,” she said.