2011 Brew in Review

Scott Wise pulls the taps at his Thr3e Wise Men Brewery.

This year’s excitement centers around nine new Indiana craft breweries/brewpubs establishing a significant presence in local neighborhoods. The hoopla started a tad ahead with Flat 12 Bierwerks’ opening Dec. 30, 2010, in Indianapolis’ Historic Holy Cross neighborhood, with Rob Caputo as head brewer. The year rounds out with the Dec. 13 opening of Fountain Square Brewing Co. with Skip DuVall as head brewer and Bare Hands Brewery’s Winter Solstice opening in Granger, Ind., with Chris Gerard as head brewer.

In between we’ve welcomed Thr3e Wise Men in Broad Ripple, in January (with Omar Castrellon as head brewer); Cutters Brewing Co. in Bloomington, in May (Chris Inman); Four Horsemen Brewing Co. in South Bend, in June (Stephen Foster); MOBREKI Brewing in Madison, where Scott Stoner and Christopher Gibson began brewing early summer for their companion restaurant; Triton Brewing Co., at Fort Benjamin Harrison on Oct. 11 (Jon Lang); Bulldog Brewing Co., in Whiting, in Nov. (Kevin Clark).

Equally significant is the opening of Twenty Tap in SoBro, following the successful lead of Tomlinson Tap Room in rotating Indiana craft brews on tap. Continuing the trend for 2012 openings, underway in Indianapolis are Black Acre Brewing in historic Irvington and TwoDeep Brewing, which is reclaiming the Chateau Thomas Winery building at 501 S. Madison Ave. Also notable is burgeoning support for a brewery in tiny Rochester, Ind.

Quantity is matched by quality. A growing number of drinkers are recognizing that nuanced artisan beers made locally and enjoyed fresh is part of living well — and a growing number of experts are giving awards to said beers. Three Floyds retains its noteworthy RateBeer.com rankings with Alpha King and Zombie Dust as the two most highly rated American Pale Ales on their site. Sun King set a record at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival by earning eight medals, four being gold, the most ever in any one competition. Acknowledging this accomplishment, Mayor Greg Ballard proclaimed Oct. 28 Sun King Brewing Day. Sun King’s status equally helped Indiana gain the highest GABF State winning rate, which included Rock Bottom College Park, Brugge and Three Floyds taking home medals. And when The Ram as a corporate entity was recognized as Brewery of the Year at the GABF, that honor included The Ram in Indianapolis.

One might conclude Indiana is catching up with its pre-Prohibition status, so being aware of our past is good. Historian Bob Ostrander and beer memorabilia collector Derrick Morris provide the opportunity to get up to speed with the 2011 publication of Hoosier Beer: Tapping Into Indiana Brewing History.

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