Friday, February 03, 2006

Barley Island bottled beers available at local package stores.

Barley Island Brewing Company is located in downtown Noblesville, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis, and near Carmel and Fishers. The brewmaster is Jon Lang, whom I've met at various beer functions and found to be a good-natured, talented fellow typical of the good people you meet in this business.

My old friend Joe Brower, Indy northside resident, has tipped more than one glass at Barley Island, and generally provides good reports as to the quality and ambience of the brewpub itself.

Having not visited, my impressions of Barley Island's beers have been gleaned from the aforementioned fests and the fairly recent availability of bottled (12-oz; six-pack) products: Dirty Helen Brown Ale and Brass Knuckles Oatmeal Stout. There may be another that I've missed -- Blind Tiger?

Also, and for reasons that elude me, I've yet to try the bourbon barrel (Buffalo Trace distillery) version of the Oatmeal Stout, so if any reader gets hold of one, bring it in and I'll swap a beer for it.

They're doing the bourbon barrel stout (or porter) the whole year round, which is a good idea, and it would be even better if a Kentucky-based pub brewer did it all the time (BBC Beer Company recently announced a co-branded bourbon barrel rollout).

Technically, both the Brown and the Oatmeal Stout are true to style and hit squarely in the middle of the target, with Dirty Helen attractive and quaffable at 4.3% abv (English Mild territory, bringing to mind NABC's Community Dark), and the Oatmeal Stout sufficiently roasty and bearing the silken touch expected from the genre.

Barley Island's obviously using a small-volume bottling system; the beers I sampled were fresh and the carbonation fine. Labels are stylish and stand out on the shelf -- and when you get into bottling, that's crucial.

If I had the choice of Avery Ellie's Brown and Anderson Valley Barney Flats, and given that Browns and Oatmeals Stouts aren't personal favorite styles, I might opt for the Colorado and California microbrewed versions if the price point were the same -- but my guess is that Barley Island's beers are a bit below that, leaving them a more economical alternative than these competing microbrews, and certainly a better buy than imported Samuel Smith's.

After Gravity Head, I'll try to bring in kegs of Barley Island for the all-important multi-pint test.

Meanwhile, I know that Keg Liquors and Bridge Liquors carries these beers.

Has anyone seen them at Old Mill or anywhere else?

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