Fire Chief Ales brewed individually by Rock Bottom brewers across the U.S. will be tapped Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. local time as a tribute to firefighters, with a percentage of proceeds from each pint going to support firefighting and fire prevention locally. The nationwide philanthropy event started in 1996. Brewmaster Liz Laughlin at Rock Bottom, 2801 Lake Circle Drive, reports the Pike Township Fire Department will benefit and firefighters will participate as guest bar tenders Thursday-Saturday throughout February. Laughlin brewed a hoppy American Red Ale. Call 317-471-8840 for details.

Meanwhile, downtown at the 10 W. Washington St. Rock Bottom, brewmaster Jerry Sutherlin brewed an American Red "that's not extreme hop-wise." Sutherlin will brew this recipe again in April when the annual international firefighters training conference convenes in Indianapolis and more special events will be announced. Call 317-681-8180.

The Fire Chief Ales event also includes a special menu promotion Feb. 19-March 13 with foods particularly paired to their specialty beer at each Rock Bottom.

World Class Beverages of Indiana describes American Ales as "bigger interpretations of the classic European Pale and Brown styles, featuring more malt and hops. American Ambers (also called Red Ales) are the most original style in this category and feature a strong but balanced combination of malt and hops." Just for the fun of it try all of the other American Ambers and Reds from Indiana brewpubs and breweries to compare and contrast balance vs. tilting to malt or hops. Share your findings with rkohn@nuvo.net.

And, speaking of hops -- anyone interested in growing them, before March 1, check out the nine varieties available at Great Fermentations, 5127 E. 65th St., Indianapolis, or log on to www.greatfermentations.com or call 317-257-9463.

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