Brew Bracket's Fall event on Sept. 28 will feature Oktoberfest style beers from eight Indiana breweries at Tomlinson Tap Room. A portion of ticket sales will be donated directly to King Park Area Development Corporation.
To mark Brew Bracket's eighth "21+ only" event since April 2011, Beer Buzz visited with Mike Sale, BB co-founder. "We want our events to introduce people to the depth and variety within a style and to highlight some of the "people's choice" four top beers within each featured style," Sale says. "We have kept that listing on our website as a reference tool." But the event is as much about fundraising as education; according to Sale, Brew Bracket has raised $8,700 towards 10 different local causes.
"We started out looking for 'the best beer' out of all the amazing local options," says Sale. "But it's become looking for 'the best beer for you.' We still do the votes and celebrate the beer that is preferred by the most people, but we really just want each participant to go home understanding more about the beer style and knowing what to ask about and look for in their future craft beer experiences. To that end, we've been involving [beer educator] Ron Smith to talk at the start of each event. His teaching is much more around the style guidelines of the beer, sort of providing some parameters to get people in the right mindset for the tasting."
Sale describes Brew Bracket "as a shared concept that Ryan Coyle and I pinballed around in the summer of 2010 while discussing some of our favorite beers in the rapidly changing Indiana landscape. We'd seen some a beer taste comparison executed in a bracket before (there are a few you can find online), but never coupled with the camaraderie of a live tasting event. We put together some 'rules' and met with some of the members of Brewers of Indiana Guild to discuss how we could bring the event to life. We kicked off featuring a style - IPA - with plenty of variety and enthusiasm." Stouts, Wheats, Ambers, Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers, Pale Ales and Porters followed.
"Because the majority vote wins the event, the winners are often a beer that is very 'true to style' with a small unique adder to differentiate it. Beers that are too extreme or too mild may attract some permanent fans through the blind, side-by-side tasting process," says Sale. "But the winning beers appeal to the masses. I loved the dry-hopped wheat from Triton at our Wheat event (along with about a hundred other folks), but the overall event winner was the delicious, ever so slightly spicy, Sheet Metal Blonde from Barley Island."
Sale adds "some random observations: RAM is arguably our most decorated participating brewer with two first place finishes and three top four beers outside of that. Rock Bottom Downtown is probably the second most consistent with one first place finish and two runner-up beers. Barley Island, Thr3e Wise Men, Bier and Twisted Crew have taken home first place medals.
Let our people drink
Lee Smith, Brewers of Indiana Guild Executive Director, reports that nearly 4,000 people signed a petition to "Bring Beer Back" to the Indiana State Fair during this edition of the fair. Smith expects the General Assembly in its upcoming session will consider a bill to allow the sale of Indiana beer in an adults-only area during the Fair. Indiana is one of only 15 states whose fairs do not include beer. The last time beer was available was during the 1946 Fair. Brewers of Indiana Guild is a trade association representing the 68 businesses currently brewing in Indiana.
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