Wednesday, February 01, 2023

519. Black Acre Brewing Company (Indianapolis, IN) - Arthouse Blonde

“An Indiana farmhouse blonde ale made in collaboration with Kan-Kan Cinema and Brasserie.”

This will probably be the last Black Acre beer that I ever post; their last day of business is this coming Saturday, which will also be the 11th anniversary of the day they opened. I’m not usually big on farmhouse beers, mostly because funky Belgian yeast just doesn’t seem to do it for me; but this one is bright and refreshing and thoroughly pleasant. The one I had in the taproom a couple of days ago had some pronounced citrus flavor up front, but this one (though they are from the same batch) is more hints of funky yeast and sweet grass, with maybe a little bit of unripe melon on the back end. The citrus begins to come up a bit as the beer warms, and I am liking this more and more with every sip.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

4. Black Acre Brewing Company - Natural Liberty

“Aggressively Citra hopped with plenty of bold citrus hop notes and a light pilsner malt body.”

It’s so warm up here in my aboveground lair that by the time I got to the end of this one, despite the fact that I had poured it into a frosted mug, it had warmed up to the point that the grapefruit notes from the Citra hops were quite prominent. So then I tried a cold one in the same now-warm mug to see if the grapefruit notes were there, and they were not. I detected more in the way of floral notes, and the beer, while possibly less complex, was more refreshing. Regardless of the temperature, it’s a little bit sharp for my tastes—but just a little. It’s possible that I am partial to Black Acre because they here in my 'hood, yo—but they are making some pretty good beer (and more of it now that they’ve moved the brewery into larger digs).

Originally posted on July 2, 2017

TAKE TWO (January 29, 2023): Black Acre will close its doors on February 4, 2023 - 11 years to the day after it opened. When Black Circle started closing after the holidays last year (by which I mean 2021), I started going to Black Acre to do my drink-two-beers-and-write-for-an-hour thing after work; and it proved to be such a better place for that than Loom or Black Circle ever were. This was the first Black Acre beer I posted, way back in 2017 when I started this odyssey. I no longer stand by what I said about this beer the first time. The one I am drinking now, out of a can - and probably the last of its kind that I will ever drink - is unremarkable. They call it an "American Pale Lager," but if they started brewing it today, they would call it a "Cold IPA." It's too dry and upright to be a genuine lager, but not quite enough of either to be a genuine ale. And you know what? That's kind of what was always magic about Black Acre. They brewed all kinds of nonsense that did not always fit easily into standard beer categories; and before the world shit the bed, they brewed some fantastic one-off IPAs. (I almost said that this beer is very approachable, but that's what Sun King says about their cream ale; and I don't want to be aping those cats.) It's light and dry and good...and it's Black Acre. You got six more days, people. Most of the good stuff is gone, but they're still tapping kegs; and you can still get a booth and sit there for an hour while you drink two (or three) beers and do some writing.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

518. Pax Verum Brewing Company (Lapel, IN) - Dark Matter

“Awaken your senses from a spellbinding conjuring of things that reach beyond. A stout conditioned on toasted coconut and sweetened with milk sugar.”

Don’t know that I would have guessed coconut, initially, if it hadn’t been in the description. The first sip, when it’s cold, is mostly lactose and chocolate, with a whiff of something on the back end that feels like a combination of chocolate malt and alcohol. Then it starts to warm up, and all kinds of interesting things happen. The whiff of alcohol is gone, and the taste of coconut seems to…I don’t even know…rise from somewhere past the back end, long after the sip has gone down the gullet. It pairs nicely with the chocolate malt and gives way to a surprisingly dry, lingering finish. I say surprising not because it’s so dry, but because there is any hint of dryness at all; the lactose is, unfortunately, overpowering. This is a good beer that I think could have been great if they had dialed down the lactose. Upping the alcohol from a modest 6.7% ABV might have done the trick, too.

517. People’s Brewing Company (Lafayette, IN) - People’s IPA

“American-style India Pale Ale. Our flagship IPA is well-balanced with American base malt and three caramalts for a reddish hue. Formerly named Moundbuilder IPA, we are excited to rebrand People’s IPA with respect and gratitude for the Indigenous American peoples who live in Indiana today. An aggressive use of Columbus, a high alpha hop with a full flavor profile, Centennial hops, and dry hopped with Columbus, lending citrus flavors with notes of pine and grapefruit. People’s IPA is a hoppy, yet smooth American twist on the English IPA.”

I’m not going to get into the whole renaming thing, for all kinds of reasons—except to say this: If you’re going to rename Moundbuilder out of respect and gratitude, then maybe you should think about changing the recipe altoghether. Three caramalts for a reddish hue, and two uses of Columbus hops (one of which is aggressive). Could you be more fucking tone deaf? These cats make some pretty good beer (the grapefruit version of this pedestrian IPA is actually kind of amazing), but they have apparently hired a Speak & Spell with low batteries to do their marketing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

516. Scarlet Lane Brewing Company (McCordsville, IN) - Myopic

“El dorado [sic], Simcoe, & Strata Hops.”

Pretty sure I’ve had this before, but apparently have not commented on it. Very nicely IPA-ish, smooth up front, with some indeterminate fruit and an equally smooth finish. None of the fruit ever really announces itself, though there is a hint of Creamsicle and some citrus shine on the back end as it warms up. Very drinkable.

515. Scarlet Lane Brewing Company (McCordsville, IN) - Gryla

“Featuring Spruce Tips, Cara Cara Orange and Nutmeg.”

Not much in the way of spruce or orange initially, but there is a nice, soft echo of nutmeg that lingers on the back end. I was hoping for more spruce flavor, thinking that this might be akin to the Spruce & Juice that Dan used to brew at Black Circle. Alas, no.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

514. Big Lug Canteen (Indianapolis, IN) - Hans Grubeer

“Everyone’s favorite Christmas movie villain now has a Christmas beer. A heavily hopped COLD IPA, basically a hoppy lager, that focuses on letting the hop flavors shine. Yummy Ki-yay. Yeah, we said it, not ashamed.”

Amy suggested Half Liter BBQ for lunch today, and if not for that suggestion, I might never have known of the existence of this beer. The name alone was enough to make me try it, and the one I had at the restaurant was okay—mild melon and papaya flavor up front and a pleasantly bitter finish (more like a straight-up IPA than a Cold IPA). Good, but not interesting.

Then I got a four-pack so I could try them at home, and just looking at the label on the can made me glad I had made the purchase. The Christmas tree on the can has the beer’s name in what looks like the font from the one-sheet for A Christmas Story, and it also has ornaments of Hans Gruber himself, as well as Nakatomi Plaza (pre-C4 and “Take this under advisement, jerkweed!”), John McClane’s lighter, and Karl’s chainsaw.
But wait! If you act now, you can double your pleasure and double your fun by turning the can over to look at what they stamped on the label just above the production date—it’s “Yippy Ki-Yay MF.”
And how do the one in the cans taste? A little bit different, actually. More like mixed fruit and vanilla up front, with a smooth finish that leaves a vague, lingering dryness on the back of the throat. Much more interesting than the one I had at the restaurant. I haven’t tried enough Cold IPAs yet to have an opinion, but if this is the kind of thing that can be done with them, then I’m on board.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

513. Sun King (Indianapolis, IN) - The Flying Cupcake

“The Flying Cupcake is a Collaboration Blonde Oatmeal Stout made with yellow cupcakes filled with mixed berry compote and iced with white chocolate icing.”

(And apparently it’s just understood that the collaboration is with a local outfit called The Flying Cupcake.) But I digress; and yes, those are probably cupcakes in there. And white chocolate. And icing. We can only hope that it’s buttercream icing and not that whipped cream shit that some people like. And it’s fine. Is it anything to write home about? No. Is it bad? No. Is it sort of extra creamy because of the oatmeal? We could go on and on about that. I have had both lovely and anonymous experiences with beers that use oat (or oatmeal) as the grain base; prolly the best I can say is that it don’t confront me none. The grain base doesn’t make my socks roll up and down; it’s mostly the hops that do that. (And you probably know that by now.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

512. Switchyard Brewing Company (Bloomington, IN) - Pecan Brown

“Brewed with roasted pecans and Vermont maple syrup [sic] the slight malty sweetness is balanced with flavors of maple, toffee and pecans for the perfect fall seasonal beer.”

Sadly, no. Amy and I are goofy for The West Wing—goofy to the point that “Vermont maple syrup” is an in-joke reference that always make us laugh—so the description made me want to try this one; but it ain’t much to write home about. I can’t even taste the 7.5% ABV, which should be impressive for a brown ale. There’s a nutty quality that I could probably ascribe to pecans, but if the maple is there (and it’s true that real maple syrup doesn’t taste remotely like that Mrs. Butterworth’s shit), it’s drafting in the marginal jetwash of the pecans. Surprisingly light for something that purports to be so big, and very disappointing.

511. Switchyard Brewing Company (Bloomington, IN) - Chocolate Cherry Stout

“Velvety smooth with notes of chocolate and cherry from the addition of cocoa plant chaff and tart Monmorency cherries. Grab a sweater and celebrate cooler weather with us. Brewed with roasted Barley, chocolate malt, caramel 80, and flaked oats.”

Not as heavy and dessert-like as I expected. Light chocolate flavor up front, and then a rich cherry flavor that is very much like biting into a chocolate-covered cherry. The cherry flavor fades on the back end, and then rises again a little bit, in a very interesting way. The whole thing drinks very light, and is fine the way it is—but if it were just a little heavier and just a little richer, it could be great. I was extremely put off by their Covid paranoia (not to mention the soccer lunatics bouncing around like rabid squirrels on a half-cooked batch of crank) the last time we were here, but this time was much better. (And Amy was pleased with the non-beer selections she could enjoy, so this might well be our new go-to drinking spot in Bloomington.)

Sunday, December 25, 2022

225. Quaff ON! Brewing Co. (Nashville, IN) - Pineapple QTFO!

“Quaff ON!’s Pineapple QTFO! adds a twist of pineapple to our smooth-drinking IPA, enhancing and blending seamlessly with the tropical hop aroma.”

Today was our first foray back into the world of dine-in restaurant service, and we wound up at the Big Woods in Speedway; unfortunately, we were seated directly in the sun, and I had a little bit of trouble concentrating on the beer while my forearms were cooking. Noticeable shot of pineapple up front, and a smooth, dry finish.

Originally posted on June 14, 2020

TAKE TWO (December 25, 2022): This beer not only needs to warm up, it also needs to breathe. If you popped one open, took a sip immediately, and then ate a cracker and took a second sip of the same beer that had been poured into a mug and allowed to sit for five minutes, you might think you were tasting two different beers. Right out of the bottle, I get a shot of bitterness up front that almost completely masks the pineapple flavor; but boy-howdy...once it's been poured and allowed to sit for a few minutes, there's nice, ripe pineapple and papaya up front, and a dry finish that's just perky enough to make me want to say, "Good afternoon!" There are plenty of Big Woods restaurants, but not enough (read: any, at least in counties other than Brown) places where Quaff ON! beer is the focus—and I am at a loss to explain that, because their food is only mediocre (at best), while their beer is really, really good. They don't seem to do much of the fancy stuff anymore, which is unfortunate (and if it's a function of opening too many new restaurants, then it's definitely time for them to hit the brakes and come to a better understanding of where their strengths lie—hint: the answer is neither fish nor chips); but I would dearly love to have a place nearby where I could go to try more varieties of their beer on a more regular basis.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

510. Upland Brewing Co. (Bloomington, IN) - Bourbon Barrel Teddy Bear Kisses W/ Cacao & Hazelnut

“You guys like Nutella?! Well, brace yourself [sic], Hazelnut TBK is coming. The delicious flavors of chocolate and hazelnut are the inspiration for this beer. The rich chocolaty, roasty coffee, and molasses flavors that combine with the oaky, bourbon, and vanilla flavors of barrel aging are complimented [sic] by the subtle hazelnut to make a delicious treat. As is our custom with most variants, the hazelnut is present but not overpowering, allowing the barrel aged beer to be the forefront. Reminiscent of flavored coffee, Nut Goodies, or chocolaty Nutella, it’s a treat for your mouth. Special processes and special ingredients used: Boiled for 3 hours to increase gravity as well as caramelize sugars. Molasses and dry malt extract are added to the boil to increase gravity as well. Aged on Cholaca, a liquefied cacao nib product. After aging 4 weeks we transfer the beer into Willett bourbon barrels and age for 7 months and recirculated [sic] with hazelnut extract.”

The first sip is mostly alcohol, and it leads you directly to the strong flavor from the bourbon barrel. There’s a little bit of sweetness in there to round it out, but any other flavors that might be present are almost entirely buried in this disappointing bait and switch. They’re there, but they’re in the weeds—far to the east of subtle. (And if you can separate the molasses from the bourbon barrel, you’re a better beer taster than I am.) The alcohol is so strong (11% ABV) that it even overpowers their bad writing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Deep Thoughts #303

Georgia did well to re-elect Senator Warnock; but Herschel Walker got over a million votes. There are way too many stupid fucking Georgians.