By Will Carroll
There’s a lot of new on the Indy beer scene, but there’s also a lot of old. Let’s talk about the older breweries first. Sun King and Oaken Barrel are two of the giants of the local scene, but have gone in very different directions over the last five years. Both will have anniversaries and celebrate them the way they know best — making beer.
Sun King’s annual anniversary party was a huge affair, led by alt-rock up and comers The Wild Feathers and several other bands, but the star of the show was their once-a-year rock star, Grapefruit Jungle. This heavily hopped beer is so citrusy that you’ll swear that there’s fruit in it. This year’s batch was smooth and not quite as bitter as in the past, which makes it even more refreshing on a hot summer day.
Clay Robinson and his crew also learned from last year’s huge party and huge lines. Cans of Jungle were available in several locations, more beer ticket sales were done, and while the event was once again sold out, it never felt claustrophobic.
While GFJ was the star of the show (and will be available until it quickly sells out), they also showed off several other beers. Sun King had Laverne and Shirley, two paired beers that were light and summery, as well as a take on GFJ with actual grapefruit called Mellow Johnny. It was nice, but a bit sweet, almost a shandy. It was a nice complement to Grapefruit Jungle, but paled in comparison.
Grapefruit Jungle is one of the three “rock star”beers in Indiana, once a year specials that bring out a crowd and for the rest of the year, just reminiscing and wishing that it was available more. Three Floyds have Dark Lord while Oaken Barrel has Apple Buzz.
Speaking of Apple Buzz, it will be the twentieth anniversary for the Oaken Barrel crew. It popped up on the south side not long after Broad Ripple Brewpub and has been making beer ever since. They’ll bring back some of their original recipes, including Meridian Street Lager and Irish Gold, to go along with Snakepit Porter and Razz Wheat to have all of their originals on hand.
The party will take place on the fourth of July. The OB usually does a “Pork of July” pig roast, but this year Kwang Casey expects to do it up bigger. There’s going to be 20th anniversary logo pint glasses and maybe t-shirts, so it’s definitely worth coming south to raise a pint in celebration later this week.
Chilly Water Brewing Company opened up last week in the Hinge Building in the booming Fletcher Place. While I haven’t had a chance to taste their beers yet, they appear to have a nice roll out set of basic beers. With a pedigree from Fountain Square and The Ram, they should be a nice addition to the local scene. With a hot location, they should get plenty of chances.
Two Deep Brewing Co., the Kickstarter-backed brewery, appears close to opening (finally) on Capitol. The brewery has been through a couple locations, including the one now occupied by Tow Yard, before settling into the intriguing location just north of some new development. They might not be close enough to Military Park to really take advantage of that, but I can see it being a good spot to stop by before or after a concert at The Lawn or a day at the Eiteljorg. I’m looking forward to trying both of these.
The Indianapolis Business Journal had an interesting writeup on the finances behind some breweries. There’s some big money in some of the local breweries, but just how much and how complex it can be is worth a read.
I’ve started using Untappd to organize my beer tastings, so you can follow me on there if you’d like to see what’s in my hand at any given moment. You can also follow me on Twitter for some beer (and a lot of sports.)