"A delightfully complex Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA at Deanos Vino marked the first anniversary of the Hoosier Beer Geek Roundtable on Aug. 9. After 52 weeks of “dedication to drinking the finest beers available anywhere,” the six original “knights,” swelled to a crowd of about 30, toasted their growing conviviality, connoisseur-ship and philanthropic connections.
Jason Larrison, one of the original six, welcomed us at the door and proprietor Dean Wilson, tending bar, offered a snifter. It took a mere three sips to concur that Delaware-based Dogfish Head makes a fine IPA. James Bryant, Deano’s executive chef, appropriately paired it with a bountiful appetizer of riblets basted in his own IPA BBQ sauce and a soup of brown beans and prosciutto.
“I’m so happy to see this turnout,” Larrison enthused. “It shows we’re not the only ones for better beer. The demand means so many more [retail outlets] are carrying better beer. Even Kroger has upscaled.”
“There’s a vibrant part of Indiana and Indianapolis getting excited about good beer,” agreed Kelly Jordan, another original member.
“The Midwest is a great resource for excellent micro brews,” Larrison inserted.
“We’re not being Hoosier-centric. When Three Floyds [Brewing in Munster, Ind.] is being recognized internationally it speaks volumes about the quality of Indiana micro brewers,” Jordan concluded.
NUVO first met the group wearing black T-shirts with a distinctive white logo at the Indiana Microbrewer’s Festival at Opti-Park in Broad Ripple on July 21, where Chris Maples introduced himself as the originator of the loosely structured organization.
“It’s very democratic, un-autocratic; there’s no king. We’re not beer snobs but we do follow guidelines for styles of beer. We’re interested in what’s appealing about a particular craft beer, what makes it special and then individual taste kicks in.”
Postings of the weekly tastings on their blog site review each beer on a zero- to five-mug scale, according to aroma, appearance, flavor and palate with an overall evaluation.
Of the six, only Larrison and Maples knew each other beforehand.
“The rest of us are Indianapolis bloggers,” Jordan explained. “Through a blog we learned Chris and Jason wanted to start a group for beer afficiandos. We met and now we’ve met a lot of other people.”
“Originally it was an excuse to drink good beer and write and read about beer. We want people to have access to good beer,” explained Gina Rakes, another of the original group.
“But getting together, not just sitting at a computer, is the best part.”
Maples, however, bettered Rakes. He asserts getting involved philanthropically gives the Beer Geeks a higher purpose. Aug. 6 he was raising money through a raffle for Dads Inc. “We’re into Involvement 101 on a lot of levels. Does good craft beer lead to involved, caring citizens?”
The ancient Greeks thought so with colloquia that included food and beer in moderation prior to civil discourse.
*A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage, Random House, 2005, $25
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
A big beer with great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate; 9 percent abv. Tasting notes: brandied fruitcake, raisiney, citrusy. Wine comparable: Sauvignon Blanc. 12-ounce serving = 294 calories.
Fountain Square in the refurbished first home of Theatre on the Square
1112 S. Shelby St.
Indianapolis, IN 46203
Sunday-Monday: 4 p.m.-midnight
Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Friday: 11 a.m.-3 a.m.
Saturday: 2 p.m.-3 a.m.
Smoke-free; smokers enjoy outside tables
Free parking in rear of the building off Prospect Street
Live music with no cover every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
Free appetizer bar every Tuesday, 5-6:30 p.m.
Local artist featured monthly
Craft and Retro brews are paired with foods prepared to suit each beer style. Save room for the lambic brownies.