Sunday, July 22, 2007

12th Annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival goes nutzoid.

Acknowledging an apparent reputation as an “enigma” (thanks JH), Saturday was my first full-day at the Indiana Microbrewers Festival since 2003, and besides that, it was the rarest of summer days in these overheated times, with temperatures barely nudging 80 degrees and very low humidity. Perhaps the confluence of these unexpected events conspired to boost overall festival attendance to the amazing figure of 30% or even more over last year’s total of 2,300, to something well above 3,000.

Or, it may have been the palate-provoking presence of so much fine beer, excepting of course the vile mockrobrews dutifully flogged by Anheuser-Busch’s dubious contingent. Why are they invited, anyway? They’ve nothing whatsoever to contribute to the revolution. In fact, they’re why we need a revolution. All politics, I guess, and if Tip O’Neill was right and all politics is local, then it’s another reason to boot the Buddies.

Cases of insipid canned Bare Knuckle Stout aside, yesterday’s bone-crushing turnout offered yet another example of how craft beer’s explosion in popularity and acceptance shows no signs of abating. These are the best of times, even if big ticket events like the Indiana Microbrewers Festival allow less opportunity for education than most of us would prefer. Education’s important, but there’s much to be said for bacchanalian revelry, too.

For the second straight appearance in Indianapolis, NABC brought as much or more beer as last time, and once again we were depleted long before the festival’s close. Yesterday we made it a full two hours; previously in June at the Phoenix Theater’s Brew-Ha-Ha, it took only an hour to exhaust supplies. What can I say? We’re a small brewery with minimal capacity … so come early and often.

As for the fest’s bounty, favorites are too numerous to mention, and there is no way to do more than skim the surface. A bottled ten-year-old Big Boris Barley Wine from Lafayette Brewing tops my list, followed closely by Brugge Brasserie’s Diamond Kings of Heaven and Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout. It smacks of favoritism, but I firmly believe that NABC’s Hoptimus and Thunderfoot also both deserve consideration when it comes to the upper echelon of Indiana-made microbrews. In concluding, know that of many beers nipped and a few guzzled, there were none I wouldn’t drink again.

After a brief break for recuperation, there are two events remaining on NABC’s summer road show calendar: The massive Great Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin on August 11, followed by Louisville’s biggest craft beer event, Brew at the (Louisville) Zoo on August 25 (both Saturdays). There is an outside chance that we’ll be able to staff the August 18 Southern Indiana Brewery and Winery Festival in Evansville, but no promises – yet.

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