Winterfest was bigger and better with more amenities for patrons — give-away water in cans with INbrew labels got multiple thumbs up. Expanded space between quadrants of tasting stations in two connecting buildings and the outdoor Firkin Tent allowed people to huddle and compare favorites of the moment.
For me, the best part is about people — reuniting with craft beer patrons who come every year, talking with brewers I don't often see and meeting new brewers, including Black Swan assistant Lindsay Perdue, who joins Indiana's handful of female brewers. Very special was seeing 18th Street founder/brewer Drew Fox and Bare Hands founder/brewer Christopher Gerard, who is the "comeback kid" from a devastating injury. His Thai-inspired lineup still awes, as do his fruit and food variations — peanut butter beer? Hey, why not?
Disclaimer: It is impossible to get to 80-plus brewery stations, and no, I will never name one Indiana brewery as the favorite. Why? No one sets out to make bad beer. Everyone showcases his/her best at Winterfest, and it's just plain fun to experience what everyone is doing and striving toward. I set out to learn if there's a trend regionally and nationwide. Standards remain constant, balanced brews are in the upswing, as are tweakings for unique combinations beyond the water-malt-yeast-hops paradigm. As always, I start with Bell's because it was here before BRBP started in 1990, and Larry Bell set a regional standard for me with Two-hearted and his faithful support of Indiana craft.
New Brews & other news
BRBP is getting a makeover as part of its 25th anniversary. It's closing Feb. 8-12 to install a floor in the bar, put new paint and art on the walls and redo the restrooms. Expect an expanded menu that still includes favorites. Publican John Hill invites all to "stop by the Brewpub to see the changes."
Report from Tristan Schmidt, who stopped in at Danny Boy the day after its grand opening. "Enjoyed the Keg Killer, a nitro Scottish Ale that tastes very smooth but packs a sneaky punch at 9%.
Bloomington Brewing: Ole' Floyd's Belgian Dark Strong, epitome of complexity and balance; proves quality comes from flavor, not overkill of hops.
Feb. 4, 8 p.m. Union Jack Broad Ripple bi-weekly Wednesday Soccer Trivia Night.
Feb. 4. Madison Ave Pub, TwoDEEP tap takeover.
Feb 4, 6-9 p.m. Twenty Tap, Bier tap takeover.
Feb. 7, 1-5 p.m. Michigan City's first Shelf Ice Brew Fest, located on Franklin Street (6th and 8th St.). $35, $ 55 VIP,