Fashioned along the lines of bigger is obviously better, Brewstone Beer Company, the first installment of a chain-to-be, occupies a cavernous and evidently expensively refurbished space in a prime location. Lovers of highly polished and varnished wood are going to love this place, with its vaulted ceilings, exposed stone, stained concrete floors and enough TV screens tuned to college basketball to satisfy the most obsessive of sports enthusiasts. With private dining areas and one of the longest bars in town, Brewstone could easily accommodate an invading army of beer lovers. If only there was better beer to love.
From its name, you would expect Brewstone Beer Company to be something along the lines of Tomlinson Tap, Scotty's or Twenty Tap, to name just a few. Don't be deceived. In spite of offering a vast selection of beers, most of these are national brands, with only seven local offerings, three of which are from the now widely available Sun King. Unsurprisingly, the out-of-state beers are tired and tested: you know who they are and could probably recite the list from memory without ever having seen it. It's not unreasonable to suppose that an establishment with this kind of ambition and financial clout could afford to hire a beer manager with a shred of imagination, but perhaps the corporate heads just underestimated the sophistication of the Indy beer scene.
So how is the food? Not too bad, as it happens. And if that seems to be damning with faint praise, well, it is a bit, because there's nothing on this menu which is going to blow your socks off, but at least it's decently prepared. And bloody expensive. I mean, when did burgers make that quantum leap to $12? Or an unspecified number of chicken wings scale the lofty heights of $10 for an appetizer portion. Similarly, an appetizer plate of three meatball sliders, topped with a sweet tomato sauce, a slice of mozzarella and a solitary (although strikingly decorative) basil leaf, topped out at a whopping $12. That's four dollars for a single meatball between bread. Really? Now I'm not generally known as a cheapskate, but a man has his limits. A dish of seared Ahi Tuna ($14), was of middling quality.
For these prices, one might expect something exceptional rather than just merely competent. The aforementioned burger, the Black and Bleu (when will they learn to spell?), ordered medium-rare because I suspected it would be over-cooked, came out medium. It was a solid affair, juicy and well-seasoned, with the minimum of embellishment, served within one of the better burger buns I've had for a while.
Try Brewstone once if you must, but expect to pay a lot for the décor.