A sold out Winterfest was unanimously enjoyed Feb. 1 in the spacious Marsh Coliseum, where some 94 booths attracted attention for over 200 brews, brewing supplies and beer wear and gear. BeerBuzz concentrated on sampling excellent ReplicAles and Cask conditioned brews. Volunteers impressed with their knowledge of the brews they were pouring. Overall, a grateful thumbs up for all Winterfest volunteers.
Of special note: the unique "snack necklace" featured cheese sticks and chocolate coated pretzels, along with the ubiquitous string of salt pretzels.
In reply to "Where do you think Indiana craft is going," many mentioned that sessionable beers are bringing "new people to craft." Several others said the future is in cask brews: "It's taking us back to beer's roots."
Other answers to the question of Indiana craft's direction: "Making a variety of offshoots from a brewery's base beer." "Neighborhood and small town breweries making themselves known with specialties for the local people to support them." "Using local products, growing our own hops, grains. We're conscious of sustainability."
The biggest breaking news at Winterfest was Thr3e Wise Men's tastefully framed announcement naming Keely Thomlinson new head brewer and thanking Omar Castrellon for successfully launching their brewery operation. Castrellon is returning to his home base in Little Rock, Ark., to start up a new brewery. His impact on Indiana craft brewing remains with us while he takes with him our collective best cheer.
Gary-based 18th Street Brewery's Drew Fox being named "the Best New Brewer in the State of Indiana for 2013" by the internationally syndicated RateBeer was likewise headline news for the day. 18th Street opened in late 2013.
And, once again RateBeer cited Three Floyds with national awards in just about every beer style, awarding it "2013 Top Brewer in Indiana" and naming Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout (Bourbon Vanilla Bean) Indiana's Top Beer.
Along with 18th Street, other breweries opened in 2013 made their debut Winterfest appearance, including: Chapmans (Angola), Carson's (Evansville), Daredevil (Shelbyville), Four Day Ray (Westfield), Quaff ON! (Nashville), Norris English Pub (Liberty), Indiana City (Indianapolis) and Outliers (Indianapolis). A couple soon-to-open venues were also on site: Mashcraft in Greenwood and Cartel in Plainfield.