Bobby Yates inhabits a craft beer duality. Most days he’s the out-of-sight Twenty Below brewer at Twenty Tap; evenings he might be chatting you up at Indiana City, tending bar. NUVO got his story:
NUVO: What's been your personal journey into your "home" as head brewer at Twenty Below?
Bobby Yates: My first experience with hombrewing actually was before I turned 21. I made one batch of homebrew and it was the worst thing I have ever tasted, but we drank it. Years later my good friend Will Moorman, who was working for Sun King at the time, invited me to homebrew with him and I’ve been infatuated with brewing ever since. I came to Twenty Tap in May of 2012. I was hired as a dishwasher and prep-cook in the kitchen. Over the three years working in the kitchen I was also exposed to a lot of the craft beer culture, with which I wasn’t really familiar. I took a hiatus from Twenty Tap in the summer of 2014 and worked at Sugar Creek Hop Farm until after harvest, at which point Kevin invited me to come and gradually take over brewing for Twenty Below Brewing.
What's so unique/special about brewing at Twenty Below?
I’m very lucky to have Kevin showing me the ropes of brewing; his experience has helped me grow in this craft by leaps and bounds. The brewery, albeit a smaller scale, is still laid out in a way that it is obvious the person who set it up knew exactly the best way to do so. And being a smaller scale allows me a lot if freedom to do one-off batches and experiment a bit.
What should we be expecting from Twenty Below because of the expansion?
The brewery just received two new conical 3.5 bbl fermenters. Previously we had three uni-tanks and two dedicated serving tanks. With the new fermenters we hope to be able to sustain five Twenty Below taps that will rotate to some degree. Some of the more steadily produced Twenty Below "house beers" are a German-style Wheat Beer, a Chocolate Milk Stout and an American IPA, which we do a variation of with a large amount of mango.
What is special about being visible behind the bar at Indiana City when you're not out-of-sight at Twenty Below?
Yates: I do my best to keep Twenty Below and Indiana City separate. Being behind the bar does offer a lot of opportunity to talk with craft beer drinkers about what they like, dislike and want to see more of from the Indianapolis craft beer scene, which helps me when designing or altering Twenty Below beers.
What events are coming up to showcase new brews from the Twenty Below expansion?
Twenty Below will have a booth at the upcoming Pies and Pints event on February 26th; we’ll be doing more events throughout the spring and summer.
Pies and Pints, you say?
Indy Pies and Pints is a pizza and beer extravaganza featuring some of Indy’s best craft breweries and artisan pizzas at the IvyTech Culinary School and Conference Center, 50 W Fall Creek Parkway North Drive
Feb. 26, 7-10 p.m., $30; VIP includes a special tasting and brewery talk from Twenty Tap Brewers from 6:30-7 p.m. $40. All proceeds support Arts for Learning, Indiana's oldest and largest arts in education program.
Events that lured us out & about on a shirt-sleeve February Saturday
Indiana City Brewing Co. hosted a beer vs. beer homebrew tournament ruled by popular vote on Feb. 20. Sixty enthusiasts tasted their way to name southsider Dave Pennington the victor, winning the right to have a 7-bbl batch of his Imperial Coconut Stout recipe brewed at Indiana City and placed on tap in the brewery taproom [and shared at other locations TBA]. ICB’s Winter Homebrewer Battle 2016 theme was “Heavy Black Brews” with a minimum 8.0% ABV.
“I’m a big fan of Stouts,” said Pennington, who has been a homebrewer for 14 years and has a medal from Indiana State Fair. “I wanted to make a beer that would well in this Indiana City competition, “ he added. “A big stout is a meal unto itself — beefy, heavy.” On February’s nicest day the beer’s balance proved its worthy-ness as an all-weather sipping treat. The coffee aroma rises from the roasted barley, followed by layers of dark chocolate, a hint of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and close of coconut, with a clean finish. Pennington gets to choose a name and collaborate with designer Aaron Scamihorn for the label and poster art.
Founder/brewer Ray Kamstra alerted us to ICB’s Bourbon-barrel program with an expected new tapping every month alongside a new Seasonal debut. Feb. 20th’s tapping of the big Dbbl Uddercut is a foretaste of what’s to come. A bigger take on Shadow Boxer, ICB’s year-round Oatmeal Stout, it includes a healthy dose of lactose (milk sugar) to the brew kettle for added sweetness, body and creaminess. As a side note, NUVO staffer Casey Parmerlee’s large, evocative paintings are on exhibit through February.
Last year I got as far as the front door on the Saturday of Black Acre’s 3rd anniversary. BJ Davis remembers the huge storm because she slipped and ended up with a cast and crutches. On Feb. 20 this year BJ was a happy patron praising Black Acre’s celebratory brews while filling me in on the earlier-in-the-day Mashcraft “Local Bazaar” Bourbon-barrel inspired foods event from New Day, Smoking Goose, Bee Coffee Roaster and Simply Divine Cupcakes. Black Acre patrons filled the back and front patios along with the festive décor main room.
After a week of new brews, Black Acre’s final event filled a wall of announcements for two new brews launching hourly from noon to 8 p.m. The special anniversary Barrel-aged Scotch Ale delivered smooth, layered notes of seductive richness; the Blackberry Biere de Garde totally refreshed; the “Let’s make something up” collaboration with Michigan City-based Burn ‘Em Brewing offered sweetness of rye with a peppery finish; an infusion of Bee roasters coffee livened up the Stout; Gin Liberty Noxious Bees is an inspired marriage of Imperial IPA and Honey Braggot—and then it got too hard to hold pad, pen and sip tastes as just about everyone offered a cup with the invitation—“try this.” We met up with a longtime friend who had moved to Chicago and now is back, lauding Black Acre as a reason to return to Irvington. “Their attention to detail and creativity stand out,” offered Tom Lutholtz in assessing the entire scope of Black Acre as a brewery with an inviting pub.
Where we were not this past week was Martinsville for the Feb. 13 collaborative brew day at the recently closed Three Pints Brewery and newly acquired by QuaffON! As a venture to keep alive the Three Pints Brand, QuaffON! Owner Jeff McCabe quickly moved to work with Tom Hynes in the best interests of both companies and the communities in which they operate. Both QuaffON! and Three Pints brands are expected to come out of the Martinsville facility. The community of Martinsville currently also is in the news with Indiana Landmarks initiatives.
New brews & news
Big Lug Canteen owner Eddie Sahm reports, “We brewed a beer called "Bro Culture" with Central State Brewing. It will be the greatest beer ever brewed by the handsomest people in the entire world. It is a "Greco American Sour Imperial Dry Hopped Kolsch."
On tap now at Big Lug; sometime in the near future at Koelschip and Black Acre.
Big Lug Canteen menu specials with headline-grabbing names include a Donald Trout entre, followed by Texas Cruzin, Nacho Rubio and Bush League. Pair any with beers deriving names from a different realm representing an: American Wheat, Oatmeal Pale Ale, Coffee Stout; English Brown Ale, Double IPA, Farmhouse Ale, Bock and Red Ale.
Bier Brewery beer-inspired Secret Cheese Dip prepared by Shoefly is newly available in 4-oz. and 8-oz. cups “to enjoy in the Bier Taproom or take home with a growler,” according to co-founder Jerry Connor. Six-packs of PDG and Weizengoot are available at the Taproom.
Oaken Barrel founder Kwang Casey announced English Bitter on tap. It is a traditional English beer with a light malty taste and moderate hop finish to satisfy the hopheads. Its
recipe has its roots at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub, and John Hill who is known as the Godfather of the Indiana craft beer scene, brewed the ESB over 25 years ago. We brewed this beer paying tribute to John Hill, and for making many good memories at the Broad Ripple Brewpub.”
OB’s Java Stout with fresh roasted coffee from the Strange Brew Coffee Company also is on tap.
Half Moon added juicy peaches to their Stoplight City Red for a new refreshing seasonal.
Josh Hambright informs new at The Koelschip is a blended Uppers & Downers beer.
Scarlet Lane Brewing is expanding its reach into Northern Indiana. “We have doubled our capacity over the last few months and introduced package for the first time. Until now we limited our distribution to just a few distributor relationships with a small in-house distribution footprint. I am excited to bring our stout, Dorian, to all of Northern Indiana and to introduce our seasonal and specialty offerings,” said head brewer Eilise Lane.
Newest at Thr3e Wise Men are two re-appearing Seasonals: Snow Bunny Blonde and Rocky Ripple Pale Ale.
Patrick’s Kitchen in Zionsville is offering food pairing tips with Indiana craft, including: Bier 80-Schilling Scotch Ale, Roggensnizzle and Weizengoot; Daredevil JWP Stout; Flat 12 Upside Down Blonde; Peoples Abbot Belgian Dark; Scarlet Lane Tiberius Pale Ale; Three Floyds Back Masking Oatmeal Stout.
Fire Chief Ale is back at Rock Bottom downtown and College Park and a portion of the proceeds supports Indianapolis charities.
If you’re heading southeastward toward the Ohio River, Great Crescent in Aurora has a “true German-style Doppelbock based on a recipe from the Brewmaster at Weyermann Malting Co. in Bamburg, Germany,” says GCB brewmaster/founder Dan Valas.
Head brewer Shawn Byrnes is bringing us into The RAM seasonals with Rabbit Punch Irish Red. “St. Patrick's Day is getting closer, and it's time for a ruby red ale brewed with the finest biscuit and caramel malts with just a touch of chocolate malt. Combined with citra hops, this unique ale is sure to get you in the spirit of the season.” Byrnes says it’s easy to drink at 5.5% ABV, 30 IBU.
Tapping is March 3 at the Fishers location at 6 p.m. and will be featured at the downtown location along with the new Great Scots Scottish Ale and the Steel Cut Stout (American Oatmeal Stout). Maibock will be back around early April, says Byrnes.
Newest build out report from Metazoa on College Ave. shares a photo of a table made from repurposed bowling alley floor.
Brewer Jerry Sutherlin shared photos of Round Town Brewery build out-in-process at the Biltwell Centre on Indy’s Westside.
Granger-based Bare Hands Brewery let us know cans of Cascade Trip are available when you head their way.
Sun King brewers headed north to Fishers to brew Johan The Barleywine. We’ll await tapping date.
March 5 event at Mashcraft in Greenwood, 1 p.m. “In celebration of our release of our Imperial Stout “Mariana” we are inviting our friends from other breweries to compete in a Stout challenge Stout Bonanza. Taste 20 stouts from 20 of the industry’s best breweries as they duel it out for only one winner,” announced Mahscraft founder/brewer Andrew Castner. For tickets & more info about the breweries up for the challenge go to: mashcraft.com