10 Feb Two Pax Verum Stories: What Happens in Vegas, and What’s Going On With That New Beer Label
It’s no surprise that Pax Verum Brewing in Lapel has a lot going on. They have great beer, a gorgeous taproom and beer garden, good events and concerts, and the Cosmic Chrome Food Truck. Add all that up and it means that they’re going to get noticed. It’s no wonder that so many great breweries are signing on to come pour at Pax Verum’s first Way Out Beer Fest on May 9th (get tickets at WayOutBeer.com).
But today we’ve got two unrelated stories that also stem from Pax Verum’s growing presence, and add to the aura of good craft beer that surrounds them. They have a true Indiana inspired beer coming out next week, with Indiana ingredients and a label from local artists that celebrates all things Indiana. Add to that a trip Pax Verum is taking to Las Vegas to pour at the Beer Zombies Fest on February 29th and you get a good idea of the footprint that Pax Verum is creating. Let’s look at each happening in more detail.
Indiana Pale Ale. This is a well hopped pale that Pax Verum first made in the early part of 2019, featuring Cascade and Copper hops. Now it’s back and has taken on an even bigger Indiana feel, both in where its materials were sourced and in the Indiana tribute on its label. This 2020 version of the Indiana Pale Ale has malts from Sugar Creek Malt Company in Lebanon, IN.
Caleb Michalke and his team are producing fantastic classic, historic, and innovative malts and grains in more ways than you can count. Smoked, roasted corns, spelt, acorns, chocolate ryes….you name it, he can make it for you. Sugar Creek was recently visited by Scratch Brewing, Orkenoy Brewing, and Burial Beer, as well as by Good Beer Hunting to do a collaboration beer with no electricity and an article about the traditional Nordic sainnhus in which they can make smoked malts the way they were made hundreds of years ago.
The Sugar Creek malts in the Indiana Pale Ale include Pilsen and Ye Olde Pale. It’s important that our breweries here at home use all the Sugar Creek malts possible; we don’t want just the out of state breweries getting the credit and benefit of these lovely grains. Indiana breweries know quality ingredients and they know that the craftsmanship they put into their beer is aided by the craftsmanship of Indiana farmers and producers.
This concept is just as important for the hops in this beer as it is for the maltss, and this is where Crazy Horse Hops in Knightstown, IN comes into play. Ryan and Todd are using good old-fashioned Indiana hard work and ingenuity to create the largest hop farm south of Michigan. They’ve got more than half a dozen varieties of hops that are taking on Indiana terroir and flavors on their 100+ acres.
Breweries from around the state and country are realizing that these are quality products and have distinctive flavor and aroma profiles. That’s why they are developing their own program to promote Indiana breweries that always have a beer on made with Crazy Horse hops as well as shipping hops to breweries around the Midwest. For the 2020 Indiana Pale Ale at Pax Verum, the Crazy Horse Chinook hop takes center stage, with its distinctive pineapple and citrus notes coming over the top of the traditional resin and peppery flavors. Those traditional aspects are there, they’ve just gotten more complex.
This amazing pale ale isn’t just going to be on draft next week, which is truly how God intended beer to be drunk, but it will also be canned for the first time. The release party is being held on Sunday, February 16th in the afternoon, which is a refreshing change, a release on a Sunday. With canned beer comes a beer label, and Joey and Sarah Jean of the creative studio Guide & Anchor put much thought into colors and symbols that would come together as a tribute to the weird and wonderful of Indiana. Take a look at the label and see if you can recognize all the elements noted below (along with some trivia that will make you fun at parties).
Horse – This represents our pro football team and the trotter racing history of central Indiana. Plus, since you can’t tell the size of the horse, it could be a close up of Li’l Sebastian from Parks & Rec – the miniature horse from Pawnee that died at the end of season three. This inspired Andy to write a tribute song 5,000 times better than Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind.” Andy wrote, “5,000 Candles in the Wind.”
Wheat & Barley – They represent the local malts and grains that were used in the beer and the farming tradition of Indiana. Agriculture in Indiana contributes north of $32 billion to the state’s Gross Domestic Product, making Indiana the tenth most productive agricultural state despite being only 38th in area (36,419 sq. miles).
Cougar – An animal that definitely lives in Indiana even if it isn’t seen much. It’s also for the singer that lives here too – to think of it, he hasn’t been spotted much recently either. Brown County had a cougar sighting in March of 2019, just 10 miles as the crow flies from Seymour, the home of John Cougar Mellencamp. Sightings have been made in western, northern, and southern Indiana every year since 2010.
Black widow – This venomous spider is definitely present in Indiana, and lends a macabre note to the label. In the 1940s my great aunt and uncle used to give my father a nickel for every black widow he killed. Recent years have been a bit hotter and wetter, and these conditions have sparked movements of black widows in southwestern Indiana toward cooler, drier areas…. like homes. Subsequently, there have been more complaints from residents (2018 reports).
Peony flowers – This is the state flower of Indiana, even though it is native to China. It was designated as the flower to represent Indiana in 1957 – the zinnia was the state flower before that. In that year, the state legislature thought to change the flower again, perhaps back to the tulip tree flower (was the state flower before the zinnia) or to the dogwood flower. But as the legislation was carried over to House, Rep. Baker of Kendallville changed it to the Peony. Why? Because he was a commercial peony grower with farms in northern, central, and southern Indiana.
Bat – Specifically, this is the Indiana Bat which is designated as endangered on both the state and federal levels. Living mostly in southern and central Indiana, the Indiana bat hibernates in caves or mines during the winter and takes roost under pieces of peeling bark on trees in the summer. They don’t need much room because despite having a 9-11 inch wingspan in flight, they can fold up to about ¾ the size of a credit card and weigh only 0.25 ounces (about the same as three pennies).
Chain – This is what binds the image together in the shape of a horseshoe and represents unity and strength. Another image it brought to mind for Joey was more personal. He said, “To me, it represents car garages. My grandfather worked in the car maintenance industry, so I remember visiting him at a shop he worked at in Speedway and the chains that opened the garage bay doors.” That chain probably came from the Diamond Chain plant in downtown Indianapolis. This is the same company that made chains for Major Taylor’s bicycles and the Wright Brothers’ first aeroplane, but is closing soon.
Hand – The hand and flame with stars mimic the Indiana state flag. The stars are small, so they are part of the 18 stars of the flag that represent the states that came to the Union before Indiana; the 19th star is bigger and represents Indiana. Weirdly, the state flag wasn’t adopted until 1917, a full 101 years after Indiana became a state. Before that, the US flag was our state flag.
Blue and gold colors – The blue and gold colors bring to mind the Indiana Pacers, the Indiana Fever, and the state flag of Indiana. For the life of me I can’t find out why the Indiana state colors are blue and gold, but maybe it was so they could match the Pacers.
All Seeing Eye – At the bottom of the label is part of the Pax Verum logo, an eye with beams coming away from it. Joey said that to him, “This icon shows how opening ones eye to the world at large and realizing we are in this together. It visually helps personalize the Pax Verum meaning of Peace. Truth.” Many buildings in Indiana have the All Seeing Eye incorporated into the decorative architecture, like the Shelbyville Post Office and the Cornerstone Center for the Arts building in Muncie that was a Masonic Temple funded by the Ball Brothers (also the location of the Muncie Brewfest on April 25th, get tickets at MuncieBrewfest.com). Finally, a stylized all seeing eye was also a part of the previous Children’s Museum of Indiana logo (see image).
Beer Zombies Festival. The second story today for Pax Verum involves their travel to the Beer Zombies Fest in Las Vegas at the end of the month. Chris Jacobs is the Beer Zombie – he started the Beer Zombies Blog several years ago and became internet famous for reviewing beer and talking about craft beer in the West. Over time, the Beer Zombies name and reputation spread, and he started getting interviewed by regional and national entities in beer. But Chris isn’t just a beer blogger, he’s been a bartender in California and Vegas for years. He’s also an artist and muralist in Las Vegas, with the Beer Zombies iconography sometimes making an appearance in his art.
Starting in 2017, the Beer Zombies began holding a yearly beer fest, based on the relationships and people in beer he had met across the country. This year, the festival is at a SkinnyFATS location with a view of the Las Vegas skyline and space for all the great breweries and attendees. SkinnyFATS is also a part of the Beer Zombies newest venture, the Beer Zombies Draft Room and Bottle Shop (Nevada, like many states – not Indiana, allows for package stores to serve draft).
It’s the Beer Zombies Beer Fest that will take Pax Verum to Vegas at the end of February. Here’s how it came about. Scott Isaacs and Jason Watson of Pax Verum were at the brewers dinner the night before a festival last year. Chris Jacobs was there and was introduced to Scott. They hit it off and he introduced the Beer Zombie to Jason, and later, Doug. Not only did they get along personally – talking about each’s brand and philosophy – but the Zombie loved their beer!
He invited them to come pour at his festival and they accepted. Now they’re making plans to ship some beer and travel out to Sin City to pour with many bigger breweries for the Las Vegas crowd. I’d like to know how it goes, but Walter and I can’t afford to make the trip. Anyway, the large crew that Pax Verum is taking with them will probably prefer that most things remain within the group, outside of the industry networking that they’ll get to have. You know, what happens in Vegas….
As for the other breweries pouring on Leap Day, major players like Stillwater Artisanal from Brooklyn, Great Notion Brewing from Portland, Equilibrium Brewery from Middletown, NY, Prairie Artisan Ales from Tulsa, OK, will be there, along with producers like Superstition Meadery from Prescott, AZ, Cushwa Brewing from Williamsport, MD (Untappd score of 4.09), Pizza Port Brewing from Carlsbad, CA, Modern Times Beer from San Diego, as well as some other great producers.
Good luck to Pax Verum with their festival in May, their trip to Vegas, and the beer release on Sunday the 16th. Walter and will be present at 2 out of 3, but that Vegas miss is going to eat at me.
banner image credit: Pax Verum Brewing