Barley Island Restaurant & Brewhouse is open at 701 Broad Ripple Ave. The entry décor at the corner of College and BR Ave. is immediately inviting. Walk in to warm lighting and comfortable looking chairs and you feel like you've been here as a forever regular. Curves and circles bring you in; wood and mirrors entice you to the bars - a small island offering house and guest wines, a waterfront expanse dispensing draught Barley Island and guest beers. Original art and a brickwork fireplace surrounded by a pint-holder divider welcome you to seating areas. A small stage riser promises quieter music for conversation. No smoking is a gift for family enjoyment of the menu, a cut above brewpub fare yet paired to craft brews.
While the 2009 GABF Gold Medal is on display at the Noblesville location, the winning Dirty Helen Brown Ale is on tap along with the regulars. Especially noteworthy is BI's Stout, newly brewed with a return to its original chocolate malt. But the conversation at the opening event wasn't just about the 24 taps available to grow the Barley Island line-up that will continue to be brewed at the Noblesville brewery and to share guest beers. It equally touched on the Scottish Eggs, a staple at Broad Ripple Brewpub.
Scottish Eggs are a class unto themselves, hearty with multi-layerings and served hot or cold. A peeled and chilled hard cooked egg is rolled in finely sifted flour, then rolled in a finely ground sausage mixture, then dipped into a beaten egg, then rolled in breadcrumbs with spices to suit the cook's specialty, and finally deep-fried and sliced in half for a lovely presentation of colors and a taste sensation ranging soft to crunch.
It turns out there are Scottish Egg mavens among us whose palates relate back to the mother country. For them, each layer can be analyzed right along with the beer best suited to heighten the specialty. The jury is still out - will BI take on BRBP regulars or will each be allowed to have its distinctions without umbrage?
For those of us who bypass sausage, the definite appetizer hit is the spinach dip, divine with BI's unquestionably superb kettle chips. Call 317-257-5600 for more info.
Neighboring with Broad Ripple Brewpub, Brugge [and Great Fermentations, 5127 E. 65th St.] is Chef JJ's Backyard, 1040 Broad Ripple Ave. Featuring Sun King on tap, JJ's culinary uniqueness is a menu cooked entirely in the Big Green Egg Smoker/Grill. A recent lunch of small plates including chili, marinated shrimp and jalapeno corn bread and Sun King pints was extraordinarily satisfying, especially with a view of the White River on the patio.
Thursday, Chef JJ Boston is featuring a Harvest Brewer's Dinner at 6:30 p.m. pairing six Sun King beers with six small plate courses representing October's harvest from local farmers around Indiana. www.chefjjs.com for details and reservations.
And, Upland is opening soon at 4842 N. College Ave. [Uptown Business Center building]. Meanwhile, deliciously new on tap at Upland in Bloomington is Tom Walabank's UpCup Award winning "Sunday Morning in Bamberg Smoked Beer" and the newly released large malt character barleywine perfectly balanced between rich fruit flavors and aromas and a smooth hoppy taste and lingering finish. It earned Silver at the 2008 World Beer Cup.