All about Three Floyd's Corn King IPA, the first IN Beer Brigade specialty beer 

What's more local than corn?

click to enlarge Corn King - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Corn King
  • Submitted Photo

Three Floyds leads the charge with a cohort of 36-plus other northern Indiana craft breweries to conquer the first INBeer Brigade specialty beer. The brewing rout takes place Aug. 24 in Munster.

“Corn King IPA features intense citrus flavor with grapefruit, orange and lemon at the forefront. Citrus notes are balanced by pine, stone fruit, and berry flavors. Our local Indiana corn gives this beer a light body and a smooth finish making it an easy drinking IPA with ABV at 7.3% and IBU at 75,” according to specifications from Chris Boggess, Three Floyds head brewer.

“There’s nothing like it,” promises Brewers of Indiana Guild executive director Rob Caputo. “This is something that hasn't quite been done yet based on what I see other guild's doing in other states. Truly a unique project that supports our brewery members statewide under the Guild umbrella.”

Caputo “reached out to Three Floyd's regarding the project proposal via Kaitlyn Hendricks, one our board members who is the quality control head at Three Floyds. She connected me with Chris Boggess, their head brewer, and we talked through the scope of what the Guild wanted to do to create a unique opportunity for Indiana craft beer enthusiasts. Part of that scope was to also help promote the industry here in the State along with the collaborative nature of the industry regionally.

“Chris liked the Idea and took it to Nick Floyd for his blessing. Nick gave his approval so here we are getting ready to brew something truly unique, and one off, that will never be brewed again. From the top down, Three Floyd's has been a huge supporter of promoting Indiana craft beer and the guild, and their commitment and cooperation on this project is a good example of that commitment. All that I can really say is that they've been great to work with,

“We've had some good dialogue with the other brewers in the Northwest Region as we've tried to pull together the recipe, beer name, and what represents that particular region of the state. We're looking forward to getting the group together to brew the beer, and possibly once more to do a group tasting ahead of the regional events.”

Corn beer has been a traditional part of the Mayan and Aztec cultures and corn served as the main grain for 17th Century Europeans coming to the ‘New World’ and on into the 18th Century for settlers moving West from the Atlantic Seaboard. However, craft beer brewers have shied away from corn because macrobrewers have used it as a perceived way to "dumb-down" traditional European styles.

click to enlarge Corn King — once more for good measure - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Corn King — once more for good measure
  • Submitted Photo
NUVO reached out to Tristan Schmid, BIG communications director and Caleb Michalke at Sugar Creek Malt to learn why corn was chosen as the malt ingredient and what malting corn entails.

Tristan Schmid: Indiana is one of the top corn-producing states in the country, and it's a vital component of our state's history, as is brewing. Though Hoosier brewers don't typically use a lot of corn in their beer today, without its influence on the economy, our brewing industry might not be what it is today. This year being the Bicentennial, we're promoting the use of local ingredients by Hoosier brewers through our Bicentenni-Ale program, so we thought, "What's more local than corn?" Caleb at Sugar Creek Malt can provide more info on how he sourced the unique, locally grown corn that he malted.

Caleb Michalke:
I can give you some insight on to how the corn was made. About a month ago Chris [Boggess] asked me if I could malt some corn for them on top of the pilsner barley malt we have already been malting. I never have malted corn before, but I figured why not— let’s give it a shot. We ended up malting corn that was grown on our farm in Boone County, IN. We found out that malting corn is very different than malting barley. Mainly the temperature needs to be around 80 degrees fahrenheit for corn to germinate properly (barley is 60 degrees). Also it takes a 7-day germination for the corn to modify properly (barley only takes 4 days). So we had to stop all barley malt production for two weeks (we also made some white sorghum for 3F which also malts for 7 days at 80 degrees). Raking twice a day was not fun at all.... 80 degrees at 95% humidity turning 4000 pounds of wet corn by hand. The raking is much more manageable when it is only 60 degrees in the room. We ended putting a Pale Ale toast on it so it turned out to be a 3.0 SRM corn. The wort has a really nice golden color with a sweet toasted corn flavor. I can't wait to try a 3F Corn IPA brewed with Sugar Creek Malt Co.'s Corn malt and Sugar Creek Malt Co.'s Pilsner malt. 

NUVO: Why is this big initiative unique within the regional and national  craft beer community? Who are all the breweries and brewers involved?

Schmid: Every state has a brewers' guild now, but the IN Beer Brigade is the only guild-led program of its kind in the country. Many have enthusiast programs, but none have gathered their member breweries together to produce collaboration beers available exclusively for enthusiast members. We're also looping the third group of Brewers of Indiana Guild members—brewing-affiliated businesses that don't actually brew beer themselves — to help out as well, so this program is truly bringing all elements of our state's brewing industry together: breweries, suppliers, and consumers.
And though other enthusiast programs exist locally and nationally, they're for-profit and/or they don't directly support our local industry. Just as ticket sales from our festivals support promotional efforts like the Drink Indiana Beer app and DrinkIN magazine, as well as legislative initiatives like Sunday growler sales at breweries and increased barrelage limits for small brewers, funds raised through the IN Beer Brigade directly support our non-profit's mission to help Hoosier brewers. We'll bring Corn King IPA to the Support Your Local Breweries pavilion at Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Oct. 6-8 this year, a showcase that will reach thousands of craft connoisseurs from across the world. 

NUVO: What is the hoped for the take-away from creating this one-of-a-kind beer for a limited patron base?

Schmid: The IN Beer Brigade is by local beer lovers, for local beer lovers. When I was hired by the Guild about two years ago, I brought a consumer's perspective to what the Guild was doing: I wanted more Indiana beer gear, more love for unique programs like the Cask Tent at our fests, and a loyalty program/beer trail that encouraged people to visit local breweries that they might not otherwise go to. As a fan of local businesses and local beer, I'd chomp at the bit to join the program we've launched—this kind of thing is the reason why I wanted to work for the Guild.

And before Rob became Executive Director, he shared his idea to get Indiana breweries together to brew small batches of one-off, one-of-a-kind beers as part of a membership program. So he brought the production side of things to the rather simplistic membership program that we'd been considering, and I brought the consumer perspective, so it's turning out to be a big and incredibly fun project. We aren't a for-profit entity, so we aren't doing this to fill the Guild's coffers: The Guild launched this program to benefit Indiana's breweries. 

NUVO: The loaded question—any hope for those who do not enlist in BIG INBrigade to ever gain a taste of "Corn King IPA"?

Schmid: There is hope. IN Beer Brigadiers who enlist at a premium level will receive two complimentary 22 oz. bombers of Corn King IPA at the release parties this October, so there's a chance you'll see the beer in some trades. And every release party (there will be one party on different dates in each of the 5 regions listed in the Drink Indiana Beer app) will have at least one or two kegs, where members can purchase pints of the beer. So if there's any left over, people who haven't enlisted in the Brigade might be able to buy a pint in the days following.

NUVO: Anything else NUVO readers need to know about Corn King IPA and BIG INBrigade memberships?

Tristan Schmid: Sign up now: October will be here before we know it, and 3 Floyds can't produce an unlimited amount of Corn King IPA, so we'll have to close 2016 memberships soon. I recommend getting a 2- or 3-year premium membership, because 1) because it saves you money compared to re-enlisting every year, and 2) it reserves your spot for next year's Sun King-hosted and 2018's Upland-hosted collaboration beers. Sun King's Central Region collaboration is to be determined, and Upland will brew a one-off sour beer with their South Central brewing brethren.

Also, every year that Brigadiers are enlisted, they'll receive a unique members-only tee-shirt, specialty glassware to compliment the style of that year's beer, and a sticker, in addition to bonus points in the loyalty program we're launching next month.
Join the IN Beer Brigade at the Indiana State Fair in the Beer, Wine and Spirits Exhibit in Grand Hall to receive exclusive member benefits and a die-cast bottle Drink Indiana Beer bottle opener while they last or register on-line. 


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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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