Welcome to this month’s Brew Review, my beer amigos. Seems like we survived another January, that bleakest of months. As Yoda would say, cold and grey, January is. Day after day without seeing the sun can wear on you, and unless you’re fortunate enough to winter in warmer climes, all you can do is slog on, and endeavor to persevere. Yes, that’s another movie reference, and bonus points if you can name the movie!
In any event, take heart – the days are getting longer, and I have it on good authority that the sun does, in fact, still exist. Eventually it will break through the dismal grey, and spring will be upon us. But until it does, we must find comfort where we can, and I believe that it is for such times that beer was created. So, what say we order up a pint, and make the best of it? Are you with me? I reckon so.
Jumping in to local beer happenings, you may want to check out the Shelf Ice Brewfest, slated for Saturday, February 18th. This is the third year for this outdoor fest (so dress accordingly), which is held in the Uptown Arts District in downtown Michigan City. With over 40 participating brewers, fire pits, and hammershlagen (I had to look it up, too), this sounds like a fun event. If you’ve never been to an outdoor winter beer fest, trust me - they’re a blast. Not sure what it is, but there’s a communal vibe to everyone gathering outside, no matter the weather. Check out shelficebrewfest.com for info and tickets, which are on sale for $45 for General Admission and $10 for designated drivers. VIP tickets have sold out!
Keeping in beerfest mode, 3 Floyds has announced that Dark Lord Day will be held on May 13th this year, moving the bacchanal back two weeks from its traditional last Saturday in April date. No announcement as to when tickets go on sale as of yet, but in years past on-line sales were held around St. Patrick’s Day, so get your multiple device ordering platform in place to maximize your chances of scoring tickets!
In related news, the National Weather Service has announced its long term forecast, and it appears that a freak winter storm is anticipated for that weekend. I’m kidding, of course, but this event has been snakebit by the weather the last few years, so here’s hoping that the move brings with it a warm and sunny day. If you’ve never been to Dark Lord Day, it’s an event unlike any other, and one you should experience at least once in your beer life. Tune in to next month’s edition for an expanded look at Dark Lord Day, ok?
In response to Dark Lord Day moving into mid-May, Crown Brewing announced that their popular Crown Fest would be held on June 10th this year. Held in and around the Industrial Building at the Lake County Fairgrounds, Crown Fest attracted more than 3,000 people to last year’s fest, with more than fifty participating breweries in attendance. Tickets are available now, with VIP tickets (one hour private tasting and swag bag, among other perks) priced at $75. General admission tickets are $35, and designated drivers get in for $20 (and a DD is highly recommended!). Fresh Hops, a “Funk-Fusion-Jam” band will be back again this year, so it seems that another solid beer fest is in the works. Get more info at crownbeerfest.com.
One final note on local beer festivals – the Valpo Brewfest will be held September 30th in Central Park Plaza in downtown Valparaiso. Yes, that’s a ways away, but it’s worth mentioning here now because tickets go on sale February 13th, and with only 3,000 tickets sold, this fest sells out every year. General admission tickets are priced at $50, with VIP setting you back $90. DDs get in for $17; or $25 for VIP DDs. Check out valpobrewfest.com for ticket info.
Big things are happening at 18th Street – with the addition of four new 30-barrel tanks, brewing capacity for this once-small brewery will top out at about 16,000 barrels in 2017. Putting that in perspective, that’s about five times their capacity when they opened their doors in Gary just three years ago. Heady stuff! But the news doesn’t stop there –a new canning line is also in the works that will be capable of filling 90 cans a minute!
Word is also out that 18th Street’s new Executive Chef Andrew Dering is flat out killing it. In addition to the traditional pub grub menu that has been a staple at the Hammond brewpub, the pub will now offer fine dining (Mon-Sat 5-10 pm). The dinner menu is a gastronauts dream, with the menu including duck breast, smoked hangar steak, and octopus, among others. I’m also a big fan of their Sunday brunch (served all day) – stop in and sample the tater-tot poutine, it’s quite tasty!
Keeping it in Hammond, February 13th marks the one year anniversary for Byway Brewing. As with most brewery start ups, the first year is one of baby steps, and Byway was no exception. There is a bit of a learning curve with brewing with a brand new brewhouse, and it takes some time to figure things out. Wisely, Byway opted to take things slow, limiting their initial offerings to only three beers on tap at their grand opening. Fast forward to today, and their pub has eleven beers on tap, with their beer offerings expanded to include a variety of styles, including some higher gravity beers. In the near future, a batch of Belgian-style ales are in the works, so if you’re a fan of the style stop in and check them out. Byway is also now available in cans, with the rollout of their CHI.P.A last December. Plans are in the works to also package their Oat Street oatmail porter, Overdue DIPA, and Goldblatz golden ale. Keep up the good work!
Also deserving of mention, big congrats to New Oberpfalz in Griffith on their 2nd anniversary. Rumor has that it many jumbo shrimp were slayed during the celebration weekend. I’m also hearing rumors about “Batch 100”, an eponymous DIPA marking the 100th batch brewed at the brewery. This beer will be a hop monster, with huge hop additions in the boil, as well as in the dry hop phase. Also of note, NO’s beers are now available in sixers, which is a preferable beer delivery vehicle than a 22 ounce bomber!
Ok, that about does it for this month – keep the faith in light of the changes happening in this mad world we live in. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Oh, and if you didn’t know the movie reference, and I just about gave it away with the “I reckon” reference, it was taken from the Outlaw Josie Wales. Too easy?
Until next month, Cheers!