This year, I finally made it to Brew Ha Ha, an annual beer festival hosted on the 700 block of Park Ave as a fundraiser for the Phoenix Theatre. For one reason or another, the stars never aligned in previous years (perhaps because this time of year is usually so overloaded with beer events). It rained a little on my walk over there and for about the first 30 minutes -- a nice light rain that cooled me off as opposed to soaking me. That didn't stop people from showing up and it was pretty packed about an hour in when the sun started shining.
There were tables for basically every micro brewery and brew pub in the Indy area as well as a few more from around the state. A couple distributor tables also showcased beers from around the country and world.
New Albanian was easily the star of the show (word is that they were last year as well, though I didn't go). They were about the only brewery that brought something really special, the kind of thing that's limited availability and given a special tapping time. What did they bring, you ask? A cask of "Flat Tyre", an amber ale aged for 3 months in a Calvados cask. Simply delicious, and I'm not generally a very big fan of amber ales. A couple new beer buddies and I talked them into giving us extra large samples of the Flat Tyre if we bought pint glasses from them (I was probably going to buy one anyway). I had their Hoptimus Double IPA when it was on tap last year at BadaBoomz, but across the board I was very impressed with their beers. New Albanian needs to start bottling pronto.
It seems that my camera also took the trip down to Evansville, so you'll have to see a photo of the cask over at Indiana Beer. Check out the rest of their collection as well.
Barley Island also had some of their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout on tap. Unfortunately, it must have either been a very limited quantity or very popular because it was gone when I went back for more later in the afternoon. They also had what was apparently their first attempt at a Double IPA on tap. It was quite tasty and well balanced, in my opinion the key ingredient to a good DIPA (no, not hops, hops, hops).
I ended the day by spending some time behind Alcatraz Brewing Company's table. Of the three brew pubs in downtown, this is the one I hit least often, which is a shame. Brewmaster Omar Castrellon is really doing some interesting things and the other employees I talked to -- including what I think was the general manager -- are very psyched about the future at Alcatraz.
Bring on the next festival!
(Secondary thoughts: I just reread this post and realize that some of it comes across very generically, as in very little about the taste of specific beers. Apologies, but that's the nature of the beast. If you can remember the details of a beer festival better than this, you've got a better liver than I!)
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