BRBP's 25th, Taxman moves into Indy 


We were there Nov. 14 for BRBP’s 25th anniversary along with a continuous crowd coming and going and more coming—including Dr. Jeffrey Bowman, the first BRBP PAYING customer 25 years ago, Joe Brower, the only reveler present wearing a BRBP 10th anniversary long-sleeved shirt and Anna Carey who was one of the first in line at BRBP’s 20th anniversary to get John Hill’s signature in True Brew. Of course, brewers from around the State came to pay homage and it was a homey family reunion for catching up with personal happenings that thankfully don’t get splayed across social media. Just about everyone had a John Hill story to share, including the advice NOT to open at that location since in 1990 it was completely off the beaten track. “Everything was along Broad Ripple Avenue, we thought he and Nancy were crazy turning an old automotive shop into a restaurant and brewery. Well, who’s crazy now?” summarized the original naysayer who prefers not to be mentioned by name since he’s been watching people coming for 25 years.

And then there was mention of that very first first— William Wernweg and Walter Blake opened Indianapolis’ first brewery in 1834 at Maryland just off West St. It changed owners and location twice before the financial Panic of 1873 forced the closing of what became known as Indianapolis Brewery at 399 W. Washington St.

Throughout the day, regulars had a serious matchups of cornhole, a few gathered around the firepit on the north parking lot, many filled the tables inside and out and most hung around the tent –outside and inside, with music particularly enjoyed by kids who love a public space to showcase their spins and turns. Dogs, many foundlings adopted from being showcased at BRBP Ales & Tails, came with their owners to wag thanks to John Hill.

Indiana On Tap secured an informational spot at the south-east entrance to lure us into “Indiana’s First Craft Beer Membership & Rewards Program.” It’s a step beyond mug club memberships at individual breweries.

Since I’ve been sampling the celebratory lineup as Jonathon Mullens’ brews have been surfacing over the past few weeks, I opted to start with BRBP’s special offering of Wee Alec 2014, held back from its appearance last year, and brewed by John Treeter. “Every year we hold back some Wee Alec to compare with the next year, “ explained Billy Hannon, BRBP’s manager. I let the dark rose-tinged pour warm up to release the chocolate, coffee, caramel sweet honey nose. Being unfiltered, un-pastuerized and with very low carbonation gives Wee Alec its ‘heavy’ connotation, yet it’s satisfyingly smooth despite packing a huge punch and gifting a full mouthfeel. Mullens will be brewing the newest Wee Alec, a Scotch Ale on cask to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

Wee Alec was a good entrance into the brews from former BRBP brewers bringing their finest offerings to share on tap. Tres Mauvaise Chanton [Very Bad Kitty according to Brugge’s translation], created by Ted Miller, BRBP’s third brewer, following Greg Emig, who followed Gil Alberding, BRBP’s first. Miller’s cognac-barrel-aged sour ale offers a garden bouquet nose, bright amber hue and a taste profile starting with sprightly fruitiness and growing into cognac maturity—balanced and clean throughout. Word is that a portion has been kept back for special upcoming events at Brugge/Outliers.

Kevin Mattalucci, who followed Ted, brewed Love TKO, a Russian Imperial Stout pouring mocha dark with more toffee than coffee aroma and a profile of early Bourbon underlayed with mocha. Sipably lovely on its own it turned out to be a perfect companion for the homemade toffee shared by Rick Burkhardt [“Indy Beer Sleuth”]. You might find Love TKO up again at Twenty Tap. Burkhardt’s toffee requires a bit of personal persuasion from his next batch.

When Matalucci left BRBP to open Twenty Tap/Twenty Below in 2013, John Treeter came from Oaken Barrel and after a 2-year stint returned to OB. Treeter brought Superfly, a multiple award-winning American IPA greeting us with a clean grassy nose, sunny hue, huge snowy white head that leaves lovely lace as you sip down, and perfect balance between malt and hops for a taste that begs another sip. Superfly, generally available in bottles and on tap at OB, is a counterbalance to BRBP’s English Style IPA. It was a perfect close-out beer in the wake of Funky Boris, a huge Barleywine [maturing for 2 years] not yet making its way down from Lafayette Brewing by the time I left around 6:30 p.m.

Of course I bought a 75 ml bottle of the Commemorative English Barley Wine to stash away for sharing at another special event.

Tristan Schmidt’s tribute to John Hill is posted on drinkIN; find it here.

New Brews & News

Nov. 14 also is the founding anniversary date of Great Crescent Brewery in Aurora in 2008. For their 7th birthday founder/brewer Dan Valis and his wife Lani offered Southeast Indiana patrons of craft beer Bourbon's Barrel Stout (9%ABV), Zeus/Southern Cross IPA, Dark Lager, Coconut Porter, Cherry Ale, American Brown Ale, Bourbon Barrel Brown Ale (7% ABV), Blonde Ale and a Barleywine brewed with Maple syrup (14% ABV) “Good Things Happen in Aurora!” enthused Dan Valis. The first brewery in Aurora opened in 1870 as Aurora Brewing and Malting Co, was renamed Great Crescent Brewery 1873 and shortened to Crescent Brewery in 1890 when it was sold to an English Syndicate. It closed in 1899.


Bargersville-based Taxman Brewing is moving their brews into the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Co-owner /COO of Retail Operations Leah Huelsebusch responded to a Q/A:

NUVO: Who are you targeting?

Leah Huelsebusch: We are really looking to expand our brand recognition and saturation on the north side of Indianapolis (Zionsville, Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville). In these areas, we are working to build relationships with liquor stores and locally-owned restaurants.

NUVO: How are you 'standing out' from all the other beers on the shelf?

Huelsebusch: Taxman is one of the few breweries in the Midwest focused on brewing Belgian style beers. [note: Ted Miller introduced Belgian-style brewing at Brugge Brasserie in 2005.] This product differentiation really helps us stand out from other beers on the shelf. Packaging is also really important; we currently offer 12 oz cans and 22 oz bombers so our product is accessible to as many customers as possible.

NUVO: How are you educating patrons to Taxman’s taste profile?

Huelsebusch: We schedule a lot of tastings in liquor stores. This provides a great opportunity for us to engage potential customers and educate them on our brand. Many new customers are not familiar or are only vaguely familiar with Belgian style beer, so having a dialogue with these customers is very important.

NUVO: What do you want someone tasting Taxman for the first time to experience?

Huelsebusch: The complexity imparted by the Belgian yeast and the emphasis on balancing the different flavors (malt, hops, yeast esters).

NUVO: What about the Taxman brews will bring someone back after the initial taste?

Huelsebusch: Taxman offers a fairly wide variety of Belgian style beers so almost anyone should be able to find a style to enjoy. Customers will be drawn back by the fact that Taxman beers are very approachable, pair well with food and are unique in the marketplace.

NUVO: Is there a Taxman flagship brew that will grow brand loyalty?

Huelsebusch: Taxman's house beer is La Maison, which is an American hopped dry Saison. Our best selling beers are Gold Standard, a very balanced, lightly hopped Abbey-style Blonde, and Deduction, a dark, rich, malt forward Abbey-style Dubbel. These beers are all good examples of the style and very different from the flagship beers offered by most other local breweries.

NUVO: Mile Square Coffee Roastery just opened a Café at City Market and cited Taxman. What’s that about?

Huelsebusch: We are big fans of Mile Square. We've partnered with them to create our own Taxman Brewing Co. blend of coffee that we use in our Bean Counter Belgian Coffee Brown Ale, now on draft and in 22oz bombers. We also have bags of the whole bean coffee available for purchase at Taxman and serve the Taxman Brewing Co. blend in our gastropub.

Scarlet Lane announced the launch of their two-pack Taxman Brewing collaboration Heaven and Hell 22oz bomber package paired together on draft throughout Indianapolis and in a two-pack 22oz bombers in package liquor and grocery stores.

Heaven Golden Ale is a high ABV unfiltered golden beer with Belgian esters, orange peel and Tahitian vanilla beans and Hell Imperial Stout is a four strain, triple fermented imperial stout filtered through charcoal. Ian Mcvay of Portland Oregon’s Jaded Soul Tattoo Shop hand drew the artwork for the Heaven and Hell Series.

Oaken Barrel reports Apple Buzz is sold out on draft. “Even though we brewed more this year, it did not last three weeks,” emailed owner Kwang Casey. “It was a great batch and we had great reviews from Apple Buzz fans.” Apple Buzz in six packs for carry out purchase is available.

The RAM head brewer Shawn Byrnes announced the Nov. 19 tapping of their 1,508th batch since the downtown brewery’s opening in 2000. American Stout 1508 is a smooth, deeply roasted ale balanced with roasted barley, chocolate and caramel malts. Tapping at at the Fishers location is at 6 p.m.

Also newly on is Crossroads IPA, a hopped up Midwest IPA with a balance of malts at the crossroads. The hoppy aroma and orange, citrus and melon flavor come from Belma and Citra hops.

Imperial Rye IPA is on its way to close out 2015.

Blind Owl guest brews on tap: Daredevil Vacation Kolsch. Three Floyds Yum Yum, Bier Pumpkin Ale and Three Pints Citra Face Wheat.

St. Joseph’s Brewery & Public House lists ten brews on tap. Joining their four house beers are Seasonals: Altared Brown Ale, Augustine ESB, Kirche Weizen, Saint Joberfest, Pew Buster Double IPA, Prophecy Porter.

Nick Banks at Bloomington Brewing reports adding 24 pounds of cherry puree to Barrel Aged Sour that’s been aging in the barrel for 10 months. He hasn’t said when it’s ready for tapping.

Upland Barrel Chested Barleywine is now in 4-packs and on draught. The descriptions reads: “This complex strong ale pours a beautiful deep copper with hues of bright mahogany and a creamy tan head. The essence of rich caramel, biscuit, toffee, and fig are coalesced during a long maturation period in oak barrels previously used by the Willett Distilling Company which arrive at the brewery still dripping with bourbon (which our brewers didn't let go to waste). Over time, these barrels add their own flavor contributions of vanilla, toasted oak, and sweet bourbon undertones. This beer is a gentle giant with a seductive sweetness and intriguing complexity.”
Mad Anthony out of the BOX small batch series release Nov. 23 is Hopsquatch II.

Indiana City Dock 7 American IPA is an American IPA with strong fresh hop aroma and flavor, copper in color with a bright white head that creates beautiful lacing on the glass. “A hop-head’s dream come true,” says the notice.
Also new is Irish Hill Ale, a traditional Irish Red with sweet malt flavor and subtle hop bitterness “to honor the rich Irish heritage of the neighborhood we’re in,” said brewer Ray Kamstra. “Irish Hill was home to the hard working, blue-collar Irish immigrants who quite literally built Indianapolis.”

click to enlarge daredevil.jpg

Daredevil is bringing more of their beers to cans. Out now is Muse Belgian Golden Ale and J.W.P. American Stout. Rip Cord Double IPA surfaces in early December. For now these are for carry out from the taproom with statewide Indiana distribution expected in early 2016 for all of these beers.

Scott Wise announced his latest Brewhouse location will open in Champaign-Urbana, IL this upcoming Spring just one mile away from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.


The annual Indy Reads fundraising chocolate sale begins Nov. 20 with an invitation to pair The Best Chocolate in Town [founded 1998] with Indiana craft brews. We made suggestions based on the breweries at DigIN, but generally, Stouts will add to the same taste experience while an IPA provides total contrast
Lennie’s and Bloomington Brewing Company have a special bonus for patrons of IU Opera attending Die Fledermaus Nov. 20-21 and fans of IU basketball at Assembly Hall on Nov. 19. Check it out at

Girls Pint Out 3-course beer brunch at Big Lug Canteen, Nov. 21, Noon-1:30 p.m. includes a brewery tour with Head Brewer Scott Ellis after brunch. Tickets $30 here.

Ron Smith posted: Beer MBA Classes - Next Series Starts in January 2016 and planning is in process for the Belgium Beer Trip in July 2016. More information here.

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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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