22 Apr Whale Ahead!!!
If you’re new to the craft beer community, you might hear some odd terms and phrases being thrown around, especially when you dive into bottle shares and trade forums. “ISO” (In Search Of), “shelf turds” (beers you can get on a shelf at your local shop) and “IP” (in-person trade) where some of the terms it took me a while to wrap my brain around, like a turn of phrase in any new language or culture.
One such phrase that’s easy to grasp though is the whale, aka the white whale, wale, or tongue-in-cheeky #whalezbro. Referring to Captain Ahab’s pursuit of the great white whale Moby Dick, a whale is a rare or vintage beer you’re hunting. They come from many breweries and in many forms: goses, bourbon barrel-aged stouts, trappist beers, annual releases, and more.
Think Hunahpu, Mexican Cake, or Jester King’s Encendia – beers that fly off shelves faster than negative reviews of Batman vs. Superman are published. (It’s fine people. Let it go.)
One of the big complaints about Indiana beer from within the community is that it doesn’t receive enough national recognition as being one that produces world class beer. Outside of the occasional Thrillist post about “Five Breweries You MUST See In Downtown Indianapolis,” (I feel like I’ve seen this headline a hundred times in the last six months alone), or the hype built every year around Dark Lord Day, Indiana beer doesn’t garner much nationwide attention.
Some of that can be contributed to arcane laws regulating out of state distribution, while I think some of it stems from us not shouting aloud how awesome and special some of our special release beers are. So here’s my list of what I think are Indiana’s whales. Shout it out, people.
Three Floyds’ Dark Lord
I mean, obviously. This is the most sought after Indiana beer out there. Many refer to it as the Holy Grail of Indiana beer. The standard version and its variants are big draws anywhere you go and command high asks in all the trade forums. If you didn’t get your ticket for Dark Lord Day 2016, be sure to scope the forums in the following weeks for anyone looking to trade some of this year’s haul.
Bare Hands Double ThaIPA
Double ThaIPA is the jacked up version of the Granger brewery’s house ThaIPA, an IPA made with Thai spices, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass and more. Double ThaIPA is released during the brewery’s annual ThaIPA Day festival (tickets on sale during Indiana Craft Beer Week!), and is an amazing take on the DIPA style.
Literally any sour from Upland. I’m not kidding. You can never go wrong with their lambics (the SO and I cracked a 2015 Persimmon Lambic for Easter dinner and, oh man, there were feelings had between me and this beer), but if you happen upon a Cauldron, Dantalion, or especially a Way Down Yonder, a collaboration with Shreveport’s Great Raft Brewing, you’re in excellent company.
Indiana City Crushin’ Roulette
Crushin’ Roulette was the beer I heard mentioned most as the “must-have” from this year’s Winterfest in Indianapolis, and for good reason. When they did the first ever bottle release of it in February, the bottles went and the keg was tapped within 45 minutes. Bottles immediately hit the secondary market (don’t do this people. Please.) and were going for insane asking practices the very next day. You can read our own Duane Jasheway’s write up on the beer here. The Russian Imperial Stout, aged for a full year in a Four Roses barrel, is silky smooth and velvety, with similar sweet bourbon notes of Goose Island’s ever popular Bourbon County Brand Stout. If you were lucky to get your mits on one, congratulations. If not? There’s always next year.