Indy brews and beer news: Red Key lights up, Indiana Craft Beer Week Collaborations 

click to enlarge The Red Key sign in its former neon glory - MICHAEL THIERWECHTER
  • The Red Key sign in its former neon glory
  • Michael Thierwechter
Breaking News: Red Key Tavern iconic sign refurbishing is underway: “The amount to go is $1700. The sign is in process as I type,” emailed Mike Thierwechter.

Michael Thierwechter is Red Key's web master. “I did the gofundme because the sign wasn't working and it's an Indianapolis icon that I felt should be taken back to its beautiful grandeur. And I knew others would help. We raised $12,500 in six months. Still need about $1700.” Go to: or stop in at The Red Key, cash in hand.

Mickey Levy, owner of Sign Services, is on the job, according to Mike, who adds, “I also have two outstanding hand painters who will be helping with the process.”

Collaboration Brews Celebrating Indiana Craft Beer Week

Collaboration is a by-word in the craft brewing industry. It’s been part of the culture since 1965 when Fritz Maytag revived the almost-defunct Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco and established a business model with an emphasis on building an industry centered on fresh, local craft beer with brewers in comradeship with each other across the U.S. Fritz Maytag’s concept was in direct opposition to megabreweries in a dog-eat-dog mode of operation. John and Nancy Hill opened Broad Ripple Brewpub in 1990 predicated on camaraderie. A new generation later, the concept remains strong.
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Scarlet Lane Brewing and TwoDEEP Brewing have collaborated on a German Black Gose called High Castle that will launch the week of Indiana Craft Beer Week. High Castle Black Gose will be available at both breweries with a limited number of kegs available within the Indianapolis area and will launch the week of Indiana Craft Beer Week hosted by – April 27 and 28 at the breweries and April 29 at Twenty Tap in Broad Ripple,” reads the just received news release.

“All of us younger breweries have talked about doing more collaborations locally and this is our third collaboration for Scarlet Lane. Every time we do one we have a ton of fun and light a spark of creativity. We plan to continue doing a lot of collaborations with our industry partners,” said Elise Lane, co-founder of Scarlet Lane Brewing.

“The camaraderie of our industry is unmatched and it really shows when collaborating with other local breweries. It highlights to the public that we are truly in this together; to change the way people think about beer and what our industry stands for. We definitely look forward to bringing new and exciting collaborations to the market,” added Andy Meyer, founder of TwoDEEP.

“With us having a love of German-style beers and Scarlet Lane being focused on stouts, we thought this idea would be a unique and fun challenge … we also came up with this idea while drinking at Twenty Tap in Broad Ripple. So there’s also that,” offered Meyer.

Gose is a top-fermented beer that originated in Goslar, Germany. The flavor profile of the Gose includes some form of herbal characteristic, strong saltiness with slight lemon tartness. Typically, the grain bill is at least 50% malted wheat. High Castle Black Gose will take a classic Gose recipe and marry it with the American Stout beer, according to the brewing team. Of interest is the role of homebrewer Mark P. Schuss, whose home-brew sharing of Gose some ten years ago introduced the classic style to craft patrons in Indianapolis ad helped grow a palate for a brew not yet on anyone’s radar.

“At first I said, ‘what the hell are you guys talking about? Gose? Stout?’” said Eilise Lane, Scarlet Lane Brewing. “But the more I thought about it and talked with the TwoDEEP Brewing team the more the idea actually seemed doable. We worked together through some different recipe ideas and landed on one that is going to be really cool and different.”

April 28, BRBP brings us the newest version of their long-running annual collaboration with homebrewers—the 2015 Indiana State Fair/Brwers of Indiana Guild Best of Show Homebrew winner. 6 p.m. is the official tapping for Tim Palmer's malt focused Munich Helles, a German Lager with a subtle floral hop aroma and light bitterness creating a refreshing, easy drinking beer. BRBP head brewer Jonathon Mullens co-brewed with Palmer.

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Then a terse notice came to my inbox from another ‘younger brewery’ : “April 30, Big Lug Canteen & Tin Man Brewing Company are throwing a party in Nora! Grilling out, live music, collaboration release! We will feature Circle City Royals from 1 to 3 p.m., Tripel (our good friend Dan from Chilly Water's Jazz / Funk band) from 5 to 7, and the Louisville band, Niles Foley from 8-10 p.m. On top of that Tin Man is bringing us 8 different beers to put on tap and we will be releasing our collaboration "Sexbot" a German Kellerbier. No cover charge! No reservations needed! Just come and party with us and Evansville's finest.”

I emailed back to Eddie Sahm, co-founder of Big Lug: tell me more about the collaboration—how did it come about?

“Scott [Ellis, Big Lug co-founder/brewer] and I are friends with Fred [Hillenbrand], Tin Man [sales manager] and we reached out to him about joining up with them to throw a party on our patio. We really like Tin Man's beers and branding and we share a similar disposition for brewing seriously but branding whimsically,” replied Eddie Sahm.

That led to more questions: Why this style? What does a patron need to look for in the taste profile? Where did you brew? Is it a one-off?

Eddie: “Scott from Big Lug and Jason [Hoffman] and Jack [Sramek] from Tin Man brewed here at Big Lug. It is a one-off beer, but we do plan on brewing with them again but next time in Evansville. We brewed a Kellerbier. No real reason, but we both wanted something really crushable for the patio and something that would balance out the rest of our lineup. We agreed on this style, especially with our love of the Urban Chestnut Zwickelbier we have been drinking. This style should be well received by all beer drinkers. It is a lager, but is stopped in the lagering process slightly early to give a more pronounced yeast spice and fruit profile. We do love to party. So I imagine we will probably party in Evansville too. Sara Davidson, co-founder at Tin Man, added, “We're pumped that we got to collaborate with Scott on this and Fred, Jason and Jack will be traveling up to Big Lug on the 30 to celebrate the release. We'll be releasing the beer in our Tasting Room on the same day as well, so those who aren't able to make the trip up can enjoy it in Evansville.” 

New Brews:

Kwang Casey reports, Oaken Barrel’s favorite Summer time seasonal beer the King Rudi is on tap. Served with a lemon wedge, this German Hefeweizen has up front banana nose with hint of clove taste. Brewed only during the spring and summer month, this beer has a loyal following at Oaken Barrel.

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Sun King
 new releases includes: Fistful of Hops Spring 2016 featuring Centennial, Mosaic and El Dorado hops, for balanced citrus and tropical fruit flavor. Maibock - a delicious golden lager that has a rich biscuit character with a kiss of honey. It's balanced with spicy German noble hops to make this big beer incredibly drinkable. Triptonic - a Belgian-Style Tripel in which creamy banana character is balanced with smooth caramel sweetness.

Next in Sun King King's Reserve Barrel-Aged Beers is Velvet Fog, a Gold Medal winning Belgian-Style Quadruple that parades the complex character of dark fruit and the brightness of fresh cherry over warming notes brought on by bourbon barrel aging.

Dan Valas, co-founder at Great Crescent in Aurora reports release of 2016 Blueberry Blonde Ale. “We flavored a keg of our very popular Blonde Ale with real blueberries. Orbit IPA will be tapped April 29 to celebrate Indiana Craft Beer Week. The festivities continue on April 30 with Pirates, Lolitas and Streampunks, Oh My! featuring the awesome Band of Pirates. Derby Pie Brown Ale will tapped May 5. We have your Kentucky Derby action covered with our Pints and Pencils theme "Run for the Roses" featuring a live model in Derby-day attire, big hat included. What is Derby Pie? Basically it's a chocolate pecan pie made with bourbon - pretty good stuff. So we held back a keg of Bourbon Barrel Brown Ale and added toasted pecans and dark chocolate to make this one of a kind beer.”

Half Moon has something very special for this week. We have aged some of the Blueberry Blast! Wheat, that was recently on tap, in a fresh Jack Daniel's Bourbon barrel for a little over a month. The Jack Daniel's aroma and flavor mixes well with the blueberry aroma and flavor leaving a mildly Jack'ed Up Blueberry Blast of a treat, and now it's time to release it for the Moonies of Kokomo! 6.5%ABV, 14IBU

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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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