24 Jun This Week On Tap: New Oberpfalz’s Toad Storm
There’s got to be something in the water. How else would you explain it?
For the majority of my life, I was told to avoid the areas of northwestern Indiana (not so affectionately dubbed “the Region”), all the way over to the South Bend area. Probably rightly so, to an extent. At least for a little while.
“If you’re going to Chicago this weekend, stop for gas in West Lafayette and just drive straight through,” parents would warn me.
“Lock your doors in Gary, even if you’re driving on the highway,” others would say.
“Michigan City? Gross.”
Okay I made that last one up. I didn’t know a lot about Michigan City until recently. But you get the point.
But folks, I implore you: take that trip to the dunes. Road trip to Merrillville, and Hammond, on over to Valparaiso and Chesterton. Stop and smell the roses, then drink the beer. Because this is where some of the best beer in the country is being made.
I had been hearing rumors of this for sometime, some of which were reaffirmed when I tried the ThaIPA from Bare Hands back at Winterfest, as well as Hunter Orange from Gary’s 18th Street a few weeks ago. But I never had the opportunity to really put these whisperings to the test until these last two weekends when a wedding took me to Valparaiso on June 12th and Burn ‘Em’s Grand Opening party June 20th.
I first stopped at Figure Eight Brewing in Valparaiso June 13th to help sift through my post-wedding haze, where I immediately fell in love with their brewpub (it reminded me of visiting Upland with my parents growing up) and their fish tacos. Pared with those was a #Dr. Rudi, an American Pale Ale and part of their Hashtag Series, a recurring series of beers built of the same grain base but hopped differently. A great way to start my road trip.
A quick dart across SR-12 brought me to the infamous Burn ‘Em Brewing, where my heart was broken, not for anything to do with their beer, but because their card machine was down and all I had was enough cash for a pack of Coconoats, their life changing oatmeal pale ale fermented with toasted coconut. I made up for it the following weekend though.
I followed up a quick round of golf in Granger with my college pal Chris with multiple pints at Bare Hands Brewery, where I also brought home three bombers for my personal enjoyment. To sift through that fog the next morning, we brunched at Evil Czech, which would have been worth if just for the amazing small plates they serve up in their Sunday Hangover Brunch buffet. But the beer? Also phenomenal.
The following Saturday brought Justin, Joel (also both from Indiana On Tap), and myself back up to the area for Burn ‘Em’s Grand Opening party, a gathering of friends and fans to drink good (great) beer, listen to live music, and celebrate the opening of their new To Go Shop (but not before a lunch break at Three Floyd’s, Justin’s and my first ever visit. Space Station Middle Finger and Sturm Truppen from the source? Gave me some hope for this world).
From their, you’re a short trip back to Valparaiso, where I made good on my promise to stop in at Ironwood and Four Fathers. The Commodore Porter from Ironwood is exceptional, and if you’re lucky there will be a BBQ truck out front for snacks. The Fathers Beer, a Belgian Pale at Four Fathers is excellent, and their intimate brewery setting is a nice place to share some free popcorn.
Now, on to This Week On Tap.New Oberpfalz Brewing, located in Griffith, is not a brewery I’d known much about outside of what fellow Indiana On Tappers had told me, so when I saw a bottle of Toad Storm, their DIPA, in a local store in Valparaiso, I snatched it up.
Boy am I a better man for it. Why did I only grab one???
An “unconscionable amount of German hops went in to this beer,” according to the brewery’s website, which I’m just going to have to take their word for. I notice a burst of citrus on the nose that turns to heavy melon flavors on the tongue. At 100+ IBUs and over 8%, some might find this beer too much to handle for them. I find that the melon covers a lot of the hoppiness, making this an incredibly accessible double IPA. If you find it anywhere near you, grab yourself a bottle (and two for me).
And PLEASE, readers: put away any biases or preconceived notions you may have about northwestern Indiana. You’re only costing yourself a great craft beer experience.