Friday, March 24, 2006

Great beer in Broad Ripple

There’s not better beer destination in Indiana that Broad Ripple Village, where one hundred yards of Monon Trail pedway separates Broad Ripple Brewpub and Brugge Brasserie -- Indiana’s first and most recently established breweries, respectively.

We visited both yesterday while in Indianapolis for the Oasis concert downtown at the Murat.

There was a quick half-pint at Broad Ripple Brewpub, then a stroll around the neighborhood. Brugge Brasserie offered a pleasant interlude as the afternoon crowd shuffled in: Herring snacks and Belgian fries accompanied by house-brewed Pale Ale and The Black – the latter a quasi-Porter or Stout grist brewed with Belgian ale yeast, and something that needs to be attempted far more often than it is.

Back at BRB, the focus was on Scotch Eggs and D’s Salad with Grilled Portobello … with a hand-pulled Bitter first, capped off by the pub’s enduring ESB, which I’ve named the all-time Indiana signature microbrew (Alpha King being a very close second).

Elsewhere in the village, there are numerous imports and microbrews on tap to complement the English and Belgian brewing heritages celebrated at BRB and Brugge Brasserie.

From New Albany, take I-65 north into downtown Indianapolis and exit at Meridian. Follow Meridian north to Westfield Blvd. (the next cross street after 58th, I believe), and follow it straight into the heart of Broad Ripple. Both the pubs are to the north as you enter the built-up area. Park somewhere, get out – and walk!

1 comment:

David Litzelswope said...

I had a chance to make a similar trip this week to see Tab Benoit on Monday night at the Slippery Noodle. On Tuesday, my girlfriend and I went to Broad Ripple for the afternoon and Brugges was first on the list. I was a little suprised at how small it was, but liked the muted dark tones, art glass, and metal accents. The frites were crispy and tender in a way places like Penn Station try, but cannot master. We were not overly hungry so I orederd the Onion Soup. This kind of cooking does not exist very often. Good Cheese melted on good bread floated on a rich stock evident with with tell-tale gelatins and carmelized onions. Its all you really need to know that everything from this kitchen is gonna be great.

The beers (we sampled pale, saison, dark, and one other that was the lightest) were unlike any other pub-brewed I've run across. Belgian yeast was prominent and the Saison, being the driest, was my favorite. "French Fries and Beer" no way comes close to expressing the experience.

We didn't go to the BRB because, well, it wasn't a beer trip (we went to Rock Bottom the night before). Frankly, the size of the menu relative to square footage made me wonder if the food would be good: English favorites, Mexican Mole, multiple Italian raviolis, and a few Thai dishes thrown in could not compare to the more focused offerings at Brugges I surmised. (Scotch eggs on pizza! gotta be in Indiana!) I feel bad though, the BRB is where, a decade ago, I left behind my Bud Lite friends for solo nights of wheat beer and ESB.