Beer Advocate Magazine named Deviate Brewing one of “33 of the best new breweries opening in 2015” nationwide in their January 2016 issue.
“I’m thrilled that Deviate is beginning to receive national recognition,” commented Kate Burkhardt, Hamilton County Tourism, Inc. Communications Coordinator, who sent the notice immediately after spotting accolade. “They deserve it for constantly innovating without sacrificing the quality of their beers. I look forward with anticipation to see what the future holds for Deviate Brewing.”
RELATED: More on Deviate's opening
By coincidence (or serendipity) Deviate Brewing is the first of the Indiana On Tap Bicentennial Pours & Pints locations. Just show up at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14 at 4004 W. 96th St. (the corner of 96th and Michigan Rd.) to meet Ortwein and Orkey.
For the record, 16 Hoosier breweries statewide are on the Beer Advocate 100 Best Beers in Indiana list that surfaced in 2014. Included are multiple or single best brews from Three Floyds, 18th Street Brewery, Upland, Sun King, Brugge, Broad Ripple Brewpub, New Albanian, Flat 12, Oaken Barrel, Shoreline, Daredevil, Bloomington Brewing, People’s, Tin Man, Figure 8 and Barley Island.
Through a Glass Brightly
On January 5 I tasted the newly-tapped “Bennett Pale Ale” at Broad Ripple Brewpub. The morning sun hue is so clear you can hold the glass up to a printed page and read it. The thin white head reminds me of the dusting of snow atop a frozen pond. The gentle aroma leans towards a promise of spring; the first sip opens with a kick of hops. Full drinking unfolds layers of balance between malt and hops for a clean close, and rows of lace on the glass.
This collaboration beer between BRBP brewmaster Jonathon Mullens and homebrewers Morgan and Neal Bennett is different from the 2014 version brewed with the Bennetts’ special strain of homegrown hops. As I recall, last year’s version was amber-hued with a kick more bitterness.
On December 2, 2015 — “Special Brew Day” at BRBP with Mullens and the Bennetts — I was learning about the ways weather conditions, harvesting and timing for brewing with fresh hops affects taste outcomes. For starters, 2015 was a lean hop growth year, harvesting time got truncated and December was very late for brewing with hop cones.
What Mullens and the Bennetts worked with for the 2015 brew, as a result, was a combination of hops from the Bennetts, in their sixth year of growth and hops from Mullens’ backyard in their second year of growth, with an addition of Centennial pellets (from BRBP’s regular stock) to boost sweetness. The homegrown hops were about two months past their newly picked green attributes, and even though the aroma still was distinctive, I was experiencing a much milder scent.
However, what really adds uniqueness to the 2015 Bennett Pale Ale is that it’s entirely brewed with malt from Lebanon-based Sugar Creek Malt Co. — Indiana grown Vienna Two-row Cenlon from Heneghan Farms and red wheat from Michalke Farms, and Pale Ale Six-row Thoroughbred from Walnut Grove Farms in Kentucky.
Mullens said, “It was awesome to have those two back there with me for the day and to get a chance to experience the Sugar Creek malt for the first time.”
Mullens created this photo essay from the eight-hour process to share with NUVO readers.
After brew day I checked in with Sugar Creek Malt Co. owner Caleb Michalke to learn how things are going since NUVO colleague Casey Parmerlee and I first visited in July of last year.
“Things are going great here,” enthused Michalke, despite reporting losing 75 percent of their two-row barley crop because of the flooding rainstorms in July.
“We are getting by this winter with what we have. That being said we still have some Indiana two-row, Indiana six-row, Indiana wheat, and Indiana rye available. And when we run out of two-row we are going to be bringing in some from out of state to get us by to next harvest, but we will still be malting it at our facility so it will still be local malt, just grown out of state. I wish we didn't have to do that, but this last year was the wettest growing season on record for 60 years. Hopefully we will have a great season next year and have a ton of beautiful barley to malt with.”
As part of their growth plan, Sugar Creek has added a second germination floor that allows them to double production, and is custom smoking malts for breweries and distilleries.
“We have over 40 woods, barrels and herbs to choose from,” said Michalke. “[Indiana] woods like oak, apple, pear, persimmon, lilac, maple, hickory, beech, peach, plum; imported woods like coffee, pimento, olive, orange, lemon; barrels that aged rum, bourbon, chardonnay, Tabasco and tequila; and herbs like rosemary, sage, spearmint and lemon balm. We even have Indiana peat for traditional single malt whiskeys and scotch ales. I am really excited to start bringing new smoked flavors into beers and whiskeys.”
Twenty-two Indiana breweries are using Sugar Creek Malts, “including The Guardian Brewing Co., making all of their beer with our malt and Red Yeti Brewing using mainly our malt for all of their beers,” reports Michalke.
Bear Wallow Distillery and West Fork Whiskey are using Sugar Creek Malts exclusively. Three other Indiana-based distilleries also are using Sugar Creek Malts as part of their production.
Great Fermentations is Sugar Creek’s exclusive home-brew market.
RELATED: More on malts in Indiana
Bob Ostrander, inhis book Hoosier Beer, writes that Jacob Salmon, who established a brewery in Madison in 1823, “As early as 1833…was buying hops and barley from local farmers, which he malted himself. Hops cost 12 ½ cents per pound and barley about 40 cents.”
Ostrander also reports malting operations in Fort Wayne, Lawrenceberg, Madison, New Albany and Evansville during the 19th century. Flaking corn was Indianapolis’ biggest grain processing operation after the company expanded from its start in Columbus, Ind.
As a step back into the way it was two centuries ago, the Indiana Grown Movement, recently developed by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, connects Indiana’s 60,000 farmers with businesses that use or sell agricultural products and promotes a growth in farming. Despite being the 10th largest agricultural state, “Hoosiers spend $16 billion a year on food, more than 90 percent of which comes from outside Indiana.” according to an ISDA report.
More info here.
While Indiana has a long history of malting operations using locally grown barley and wheat, growing and processing hops as a commercial venture is relatively new to Indiana. There’s a precedent of homebrewers and individual modern day craft breweries planting hops. Joan Easley planted hop plants in the 1970s that are still growing at Easley Winery at 205 N. College Ave. Homebrewers are invited to harvest what they need.
Since the mid-1990s Bloomington Brewing’s now-retired brewmaster Floyd Rosenbaum has been planting and adding hops plants at Loesch Farm, which also is a source for Lennie’s Restaurant fresh produce and meat.
“Each year, we produce one batch of beer with the organic hops grown at our Loesch Farm just outside of Bloomington. This year's harvest (Fall 2015) went entirely into the batch of Rooftop IPA brewed by our new brewmaster Nick Banks, with a bottling date of September 29,” reported BBC owner Jeff Mease.
#BBC #rooftopIPA #hops #bloomington#drinklocal #indianabeer
Since about 2010 we have witnessed statewide interest in growing hops for Indiana’s expanding craft beer industry.
Spencer Gray, President of Thorntown-based Sugar Creek Hops, LLC, also is vice president of the recently formed Indiana Hops Growers Association.
“The number of hop growers in Indiana sort of depends on the definition of 'grower', or 'farmer,'” offered Gray by way of definition. “Commercial cultivation of hops in Indiana is still in its infancy. What started with backyard hop gardens and 'nano' -sized hobby growers has finally produced a number of serious individuals who have been inspired by the impact of craft beer on Indiana's economy and community. For us at Sugar Creek, it began with a question: Do any Indiana brewers source their hops locally? And if not, why not?”
The Indiana Hop Growers Association was formed in 2014, “with a majority still in the experimental or hobby phase, seeing how it works and deciding if they want to take the full plunge,” reports Gray.
Ryan Hammer from Three Hammers Farm is the President of the IHGA. Growing under the name Crazy Horse Hops, Hammer has the longest running operation, supplying hops to Hoosier brewers for the past five years and with plans for a large expansion in the future. Hammer reports as of January 2016 there are about 25 members of IHGA.
With about 1.2 pounds of hops required for every barrel of beer brewed, it’s not likely Indiana hop growers will be supplying Indiana’s burgeoning brewing demand in the near future, so Gray hopes brewers will continue to create recipes with all Indiana grown products, as an incentive for patrons of craft beer to embrace the Indiana Grown movement as a consumer choice.
“Each relationship is a little different,” explains Gray, who has supplied locally grown hops to Indiana City, Noble Order, Twenty Below, Upland and Hoosier Brewing Company. “We have supplied many more brewers with hops we have imported from growers outside Indiana.
“There is an all Boone County beer being brewed by Noble Order out of Richmond that used our Chinook hops and malt grown and malted from Sugar Creek Malt,” divulges Gray. “We can't wait to see what the Boone County [product] tastes like.”
Noble Order reportedly plans to open a taproom in Zionsville spring 2016, hence the “Boone County” name.
Commenting on how hop farming impacts the local community and economy, Gray said, “I always first point to the same reasons why craft beer has been able to grow the way it has and that is the meta-trend of localization and de-consolidation of certain industries, especially food and beverage. Craft brewers obviously offer so much more to a community than fresh beer; they become public houses, meeting places, common ground, and to them the most important is the sense of pride for one’s own neighborhood and community.
“Pride pays dividends in how it inspires people in the community to be more involved with one another, whether that's giving back charitably or just being more connected to your neighbor. Growing hops in Indiana in many ways is just an extension of that. At Sugar Creek it's our way of being involved by bringing ingredients to our local brewers. Beer brewed with local ingredients allows for an even deeper connection. Not only will the aroma and flavor be truly local but the story is as well. For the brewer, often to distinguish their brew from another when competing for shelf of tap space, it's a story about the beer than can set some apart from the rest.”
Nevertheless, growing hops in Indiana is challenging. We don’t have the perfect conditions found in Yakima, parts of Oregon and parts of Idaho. The bottom line: Yield per acre will be lower, making the price point for brewers higher.
“But there is hope,” offers Gray. “Certain varieties are very resistant to mildews and grow well here. We have found indigenous hop growing wild that we have transplanted and have begun to propagate. We had some of these indigenous hops genetically analyzed and they are a truly native species that has adapted; we are going to be growing these varieties on a test plot this next year and will use the genetics to breed with. So in a few years we may have some true Indiana hops, not just hops bred for the Pacific Northwest we are trying to grow here.”
Purdue University is developing a hops yard at Purdue’s Meigs Farm near West Lafayette as part of a long-range research program.
“Why should consumers care?” Gray asks rhetorically. “It comes down to what consumers care about. I think it's how you live your life and the choices we all make. As long as consumers are conscious that whenever they buy something they are voting for the kind of world we want to live in.
“Decentralization of supply chains makes economic and environmental sense. Why eat a tenderloin sandwich made from pork raised and processed in Iowa when the pork could be from down the road? It's through apathy and ignorance that consumers have allowed our economy to be as consolidated and centralized as it is today.”
New brews and news
Rock Bottom downtown is celebrating their 25th anniversary through Feb. 10 by bringing back beer and food favorites at special prices.
Oaken Barrel owner Kwang Casey reports “achieving a record sales year” with a forward thrust to include a Gluten-Free menu. “We are planning to brew favorite seasonal beers from the past along with some new beers by our brewing staff.”
New on tap is head brewer Sara Galloway’s Double IPA.
BRBP 2013 Wee Alec and 2014 Wee Alec are now on tap along with the 2015 Wee Alec. “The Modest Englishman,” an English-style session beer, offers a sunny amber hue, sweet aroma and gentle layers of taste. A bar mate dubbed it “an all day ESB.” Brewer Jonathon Mullens says to let folks know to “keep an eye out for Dark Hero” expected on tap any day now.
BRBP’s menu is kicking up too, with something unusual planned weekly. On until Jan. 13 the feature is Harissa Burger with its namesake African chili as the spice spotlight. Poutine is a shareable platter of pub chips topped with Swissland curds handmade in Bern, Indiana. With a veggie gravy, it is a variation from the regular bacon and chicken poutine.
Upland’s Side Trail Series #1, Carpet Burn Oyster Stout, is on draught at all Upland Brewing Co. tap rooms and select craft beer bars in their distribution area. “Pours pitch black with a creamy, long lasting tan head,” reads the description. “The initial aroma is of rich dark chocolate with subtle roasted peppers. The flavor adds a mild sweetness, hints of dates, and roasted malt. It finishes with a slight lingering head with mild roast character and heat.” It clocks in at 7% ABV and 20IBU. Suggested food pairings include oysters, beef or venison, barbeque, spicy Mexican dishes, mellow blue cheeses, dark chocolate or chocolate cake.
Tristan Schmid, Communications Director of Brewers of Indiana Guild says to check
indywinterfest.com for daily updates leading to Jan. 30 8th annual Winterfest at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
“We're almost set with the brewery list: 87 Indiana breweries, 3 Hoosier wineries/meaderies, and 12 out-of-state guests with more to come. We're encouraging people to try the Cask Tent more so than ever this year. We're happy Tomlinson Tap Room will be joining us with some special beer. World Class will be there with a portfolio of out-of-state craft beers, as will Cavalier and Zink.”