Beer Buzz: Thr3e Wise Men's new rice lager 

click to enlarge Viola Sour Ale, Upland’s first beer brewed with an edible flower.
  • Viola Sour Ale, Upland’s first beer brewed with an edible flower.

Thr3e Wise Men's golden-hued Cobra Mai Japanese Rice Lager offers an immediate floral sweet nose that lingers through sips that start with a touch of effervescence and refreshing tartness, then layers into malt sweetness balanced by the subtle tangerine flavor from Saphir hops. Hints of nutmeg and cinnamon lead to a dry finish. The brew’s delicacy sets it apart from other go-to beers we reach for when temps and humidity rise. At 6 percent ABV and 25 IBU, it’s easy drinking for a pint or even two.

That said, Cobra Mai could be a hard sell with patrons of craft beer because part of the malt bill is rice. Rice has gotten a bad craft beer name due to its extreme use by macrobrewers to lighten the body and flavor of traditional German lagers where a heavy malt body is a distinction.

Assistant brewer Ian Galloway was aware of the stigma as he researched the style and decided to create a Japanese Rice Lager as his first solo commercial brew for Thr3e Wise Men’s summer seasonal. It’s a style unto itself, explains Galloway. “It’s not an American lager. It has a history of its own.”

That history goes back to 17th Century Japan with the arrival of Dutch traders and the brewers who came along to supply sailors with beer, but fresh and local dictated the use of local ingredients—rice joined with the European grist bill of barley and/or wheat and has since become a category that even U.S. beer judges recognize for competitions.

“I kept wondering why haven’t other breweries in Indiana done this style?” adds Galloway. Three Floyds’ Supa Rice Ronin of Death has the national #1 Beer Advocate Rating, with their Sumari Gazebo and Gold Leader also earning high ratings. Three Floyds has been part of the West Coast movement to develop flavorful rice beers.

Galloway wanted to get out of his comfort zone and he succeeded with the help of Sun King brewer Adrian Ball, who shared Sun King’s special yeast from their California Common recipe. That’s the way things work with craft brewers—they help out, summarizes Galloway, who credits Tomlinson and Omar Castrellon, Thr3e Wise Men’s former brewmaster for giving him the training to be daring. Galloway started brewing as a volunteer with Barley Island followed by a year with the Bier brewing team. Butler student Alex Petersen rounds out the trio of Thr3e Wise Men’s brewers.

Brews a’plenty

Indiana craft brews are appearing in what most of us categorize as ‘unlikely places.’ A recent stop at the tucked-away Holiday Inn North at 251 E. Pennsylvania Pkwy. revealed seven choices at on-premises The Kyle Hoosier Grill. Interestingly, the list gives the name and style of the brew and location of the brewery, but not its name. But we recognized Upland for Dragonfly IPA and Wheat; Barley Island for Dirty Helen and Blind Tiger IPA [though Fishers, not Noblesville gets credit for its location]; Oaken Barrel for Indiana Amber; Flat 12 for Half Cycle Pale Ale and Fountain Square for Working Man’s Pilsner. According to the server, brewery name won’t mean much to travelers who simply like the beer choices. Any input on that from breweries?


July 9

Rock Bottom College Park, Summer Honey Ale tapping, 6-7 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from this event donated to the Pike Township Fire Department Safety Festival.

Bier dinner pairing with Aristocrat Pub; 7 Biers with 6 courses in the private dining room; reserve at 317-283-7388

Triton tapping Grand Citra Station IPA, at the brewery taproom, 5-10 p.m.

July 10

Bier at Carmel Monon Mixer, Carmel Water Park at Carmel Community Center 7:30-10:30 p.m.

July 11

Bier at Lino’s Coffee and Italian Food Experience, 5:30 p.m.

Scarlet Lane head brewer Chris Knott at DC's Pub, 6537 Whitestown Parkway, Zionsville, 4:30-10:30 p.m.

July 12

Indiana Bastille Day in Fortville, 4-11 p.m. free and open to the public; Scarlet Lane pouring in the beer garden.

July 15

Triton head brewer Jon Lang is at the Copper Still in Noblesville for an of evening of Meet the Brewer

July 19

18th Annual Indiana Microbrewer’s Festival at Opti Park in Broad Ripple, 3-7 p.m. 2 p.m. VIP and Early Bird. Tickets at http://www.brewersofindianaguild.com/events/details/19th-annual-indiana-microbrewers-festival

New brews out and about

Upland’s first beer brewed with an edible flower, Viola sour ale, gives their classic oak aged sour ale a new twist with fresh viola flowers, from the violet family. Word is, “The beer's enticing floral aromas and flavors are best enjoyed with seafood, sushi or dark chocolate.”

Great Crescent’s Aurora Belgian Whit Beer is brewed with orange peel and coriander this beer goes down smooth and is a perfect meal companion. $5.00 pints available in their downtown Aurora Taproom. Cherry Ale French Farmhouse style beer made with Montmorency Cherries is on Draft and in pint cans for carry out. Great Crescent also serves house made Sparkling Lime & Cream Soda and root beer on draft.

Half Moon in Kokomo creates Glacial IPA, an English-style IPA, with an abundance of Glacier hops. Its malty medium body is a caramel backbone balanced by a sturdy hop character to end with a smooth dry finish.



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