Man, what a day! Circle City Zymurgy had a great time at Union Jack’s Pumpkin, Cider, and Fall Beer Festival. The event was completely sold out and had about 650 attendees. There were around 40 different vendors pouring delicious beverages with a total of 76 different, unique beers being poured.
CCZ had a great presence at the festival. Along with myself, other attending members were Steve Kent, Wes Martin, Jeremiah Tyson, and Allen Brown. We brought 5 kegs of homebrew. Wes brought his “Great Horse Pumpkin Ale”, Jeremiah his “Jack ‘O’ Porter (served on nitro), Steve brought his PSL – also on nitro, Allen had his near 15% mead, and we had Jonathan Marting’s Pumpkin Roll Ale.
In the end, we poured a total of 25 gallons of homebrew. Everyone that came up for a taste wanted to try something different and I believe we had a great variety for everyone to have something to enjoy (I’m pretty confident in saying that based on the constant line we had!)
There were a total of 9 homebrewers that attended and we were all right next to each other. As you could imagine, we had great conversations discussing the hobby we love. This year, Union Jack also held a homebrew competition with the winner receiving a $100 gift card to Union Jack. A big congratulations is in order for our member Jeremiah for getting 2nd place for his Jack ‘O’ Porter!
The festival itself was a great time. We really could not have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect and really gave an exact feeling of what Fall is all about. As soon as you walked in you were given a choice of two neat glasses that you get your beer poured into. The festival had plenty of great food to keep you going during your beer trek. A few vendors such as Indiana on Tap were there as well supporting the hobby and offering free or discounted offers.
Elysian Brewing, based out of Seattle, Washington, had a great presence as well. They had their own little area where 6+ of their beers were served. Each of theirs had its own unique style and taste as well. With a big name like Elysian, I definitely had to try them all.
In conclusion, this was a very prosperous event for Circle City Zymurgy. I heard multiple attendees surprised that our beer was homebrewed, expecting it to be made at a professional brewery. I also had a few people walk up to me after seeing my shirt and asking where our beer could be purchased. You can’t get a much better compliment than that. This will definitely have to be an annual event for CCZ!
Cincy Winter BeerFest: On February 17th and 18th , Cincinnati held its 10th annual Winter Beerfest. This beerfest is unlike any that I have ever been to. There were over 500 beers from over 150 breweries, there was live music for entertainment, food trucks with anything from mac and cheese to barbeque to Asian small plates to a donut burger. If you could imagine it in either beer or food it was more than likely in the Duke Energy Center, including a silent disco. Unlike the Indy Winterfest, it was not nearly as cold nor did people have to stand out in freezing temperatures to get in and enjoy the fruits of so many brewers labor. The convention center was set up so that pre-banding occurred within the same building as the event, literally just upstairs from the main entrance. There was a plethora of security guards to check your ID’s and once you were proven to be worth (21+ yrs. of age), there were around 15 or so lines to let you through to the beer if you hadn’t been pre-banded. Overall the layout of the event and flow of people was astronomically better than Indy Winterfest and there was no need for discounted tickets to another event.
With this being my first beerfest outside of the state of Indiana I was shocked to learn that other states have odd and sometimes confusing alcohol laws and that we aren’t the only crazy state in the Union with some random blue laws. In Ohio, there has to be an exchange occur for alcohol to be served. For this event, everyone was given 25 little blue tickets to exchange for their beer. Interestingly enough, I still had a majority of my 25 tickets left at the end of the night and I didn’t skimp on drinking. If the pourers were from the brewery they really didn’t care about the tickets, they just wanted you to try their beer. The volunteers who were pouring for breweries on the other hand were more in tune with the law and kept asking for the tickets. But enough about how it was different from Winterfest and random state’s blue laws and on to the important stuff, specifically the people, the beer, and the event.
The people, what can I say, the people were awesome. First, Lauren, Vicki, Mickey and myself were in attendance from CCZ (sorry if we missed anyone), and we had a great time hanging out and drinking beer. For a majority of the event it was a free-for-all and we dispersed like a rabid pack of dogs on the event. I went one direction, Lauren followed but headed to a separate table and Mickey and Vicki were off on their own escapades. As all of us had purchased VIP entrance tickets, we were given the 25 tickets and an 8oz glass. Needless to say, I do not need 200oz of beer let alone in a 5-hour period, so Lauren and I were able to split drinks and enjoy more samples without becoming so intoxicated that a small spark would have ignited us. We took the more casual approach to maneuvering the 500 beers and 150 breweries and set out to try beers we hadn’t ever had or breweries we hadn’t heard of. This allowed us to pick and choose the lines we wanted to wait in (not too many) and also spend time talking to the brewers who were more than gracious to talk to a couple of homebrewers who enjoyed their beer (thanks Wooden Cask). Vicki on the other hand had her lineup set with the have to have 30+ beers, the want to haves (another 20+) and then the ‘if I am still standing and want more’ beer list. This plan worked out quite well for Vicki as she was able to check off her entire must have list.
The Beer. Where do I even begin with the beer. Let’s start with the Beer List. There were breweries that were local to Cincinnati, there were regionally located breweries and then you had the giants of the craft beer industry. All of them were more than happy to provide a tasty beverage and some even produced some out of this world samples. My favorite sample was from the already mentioned Wooden Cask who is a recently opened brewery from nearby Newport. They had some spot on British beers with an English Brown Ale that was the perfect balance of malt and hops and an English Porter. I also found that Figleaf, a brewery out of Middleton, OH also produces a great English Special Bitter (ESB). I went into this event really excited to see that a lot of breweries were bringing their Kolsch’s to the event. However, in the end I only got to sample one as the rest of the breweries did not have it. The one I had was just OK, there were some off flavors not normally present in a kolsch. Overall, the beer provided was overall on the up and up and whatever type of beer suits your fancy, you could find it and then some.
The Event. This is an event that I will definitely go back and we are already making plans and trying to get a bigger group to go down and enjoy with us. The people who are volunteering are wonderful, the breweries provided great beer, the venue is set up great for an event and the people of Cincinnati are wonderful and were great hosts. At any point, you were likely to bump into someone, but everyone continuously was saying excuse me and apologizing for bumping into each other. This was a refreshing atmosphere when compared to many events where people get to intoxicated and manners go out the window. Overall this event is one that is a top recommendation for anyone wanting to go to a beerfest outside of Indiana and provides for a nice easy drive and weekend away. Also, see Jungle Jim’s, Ikea, and Bass Pro Shops but that is not beer related, except Jungle Jim’s. While there weren’t any homebrewers and homebrew clubs pouring at this event, we all enjoyed the fruits of many brew master’s labor and will likely be attending the 11th annual Cincy Beerfest.
‘Twas a blustery day in early February, when the Brewers of Indiana Guild chose to hold their 9th Annual Winterfest at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Who am I kidding? It was FREAKING COLD, thus the aptly named Winterfest. This year sported a selection of more than 100 Indiana micros and guest breweries from the Midwest, all pouring between two and six different styles to a sellout crowd of 6,000 thirsty Hoosiers and HooYaWannaBees! I overheard various guests mention their travel from nearby Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, and even as far away as Honolulu, Hawaii! I myself Uber’ed from the Residence Inn on the Canal in downtown Indy. That in and of itself should have been a sign of foreboding as the driver and I neared the intersection of 38th and Fall Creek PARKway. The parkway was a parking lot! The fairground was a spectacle of Biblical proportion. Like Pharaoh’s army chasing the Israelites through the desert, the swarm of humanity was exhausting.
Now, leave it to fairground management to schedule 5 of the largest events to hit Indy on the same bitterly cold Saturday in February, plus a minor-minor league Hockey game. All told, there was the beer festival, a Lumberjack wood working gala, Boy Scout Memorabilia auction, The Great Train Show and the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry! I heard that there was also a D-List Porn Convention being held in the Barns, but I cannot confirm nor deny its existence.
Back to beer, or at least lines for beer. With an advertised sellout crowd, the festival planners failed miserably to execute the ingress of all 6,000 attendees in a timely manner. Many in attendance waited more than an hour to enter the West Pavilion to sample the carbonated concoctions from around the state. Much like the Israelites in the desert, it was a long, long walk. Except it was colder, much colder, and like the Israelites, the flock only had bread to eat. Okay, they had leavened bread in the form of pretzels hung around their necks with assorted jerky’s and beef sticks. Upon final entry into the pavilion, many of the adornments had already been consumed to fuel their warmth generating bellies while in queue. Back to this later, let’s get to the beer.
Once inside the hall, this year’s layout of the event was much easier to navigate than in years past, where the brewers were spread between two buildings. Having recently returned from GABF where the brewers are alphabetized by region, the haphazard positioning of Winterfest had no rhyme or reason. Now, don’t get me wrong here thinking that everything about this event was negative, it was a lot of fun and I tasted some crazy good brews! But let’s talk about the event from our perspective as homebrewers.
As a homebrewer, I enjoyed the experience of watching guests taste the fruits of my hard labor and hours upon hours of cleaning and sanitizing everything in sight. As a club, we were well represented by Tanner Andrew, Jarrod Otter, Nick Boling and myself. We shared our booth space with Wes and Bryan from Great Fermentations and together we represented homebrewers in a bright and shining spotlight! The first question after people tasted their beer for the first time was, “Where are you guys located?” My standard response was “Garages, barns, dark basements and spare bedrooms in our mom’s house around Indianapolis.” When people ask where they can get more of what you are offering, you must be doing something right!
From a style perspective, we poured a Milk Stout on nitro (Meeb’s Milk Stout by Nick Boling), a peppermint chocolate porter (Dark Mint Lord by Tanner Andrew and Jarrod Otter) and an East Coast IPA (Juicy Lucy by Robert Ecker). All three offerings were well received and fulfilled the needs of the thirsty public. Dark Mint Lord enticed those who kept swiping the leftover Andes mints in front of the table and asking, “Why the mints?” Tanner and Jarrod ran their beer through a Randall that contained a butt load of Andes Mints! What a brilliant idea and a perfect balance of the sweet chocolate mint flavor against the roasti-ness of the robust porter. Nick’s milk stout stood up against any number of stout offerings from other breweries. The creamy mouth-feel of the beer gas nestled among the residual lactose sweetness was tempered with just the right amount of acidic acrid roast we love in our dark beer. In an effort to introduce the New England IPA craze to Indiana, I created a simple yet extremely flavorful and aromatic IPA that was full of haze and flavor. Using flaked wheat and oats, as well as dry hopping during primary fermentation, and again four days later, this cloudy tang colored brew was loaded with Citra, El Dorado and Mosaic hops, but not the tongue turning bitterness that turn off many non-IPA drinkers.
Proudly supported by our CCZ brethren and sisters, adorned in their CCZ shirts, our club was loud and proud and could have poured much longer and pleased many, many more drinkers.
If you suffered through the long, long wait to get into the hall, the Brewers Guild has offered a gracious discount on upcoming events such as the Microbrewers Festival at Military Park or next year for Winterfest, where they pledge to have a more streamlined process in place to allow fest goers to enter in a more efficient and timely manner.
Upland Brewing sure knows how to throw a beer fest! When Circle City Zymurgy showed up early Saturday morning to the 5th annual Upland Sour + Wild + Funk Fest drop off point, there were already a multitude of vendors setting up tents, tables, fencing, and signage. Everything came together really quickly, and within hours the stage had been set for VIP ticket holders of the event. I cannot stress how many amazing sours were at this event.
CCZ and Great Fermentations brought the funk with our Berliner Weisse (paired with cherry, ginger, and raspberry Wilks and Wilson gommes), Templeton Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Flanders Red, Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Flanders, Persimmon Lambic, Brett Saison de Brawndo, and a random assortment of beautiful, beautiful, bombers. We had a really positive response from the people we poured for, and some even asked my favorite question “Where can I buy this?” For those of you that missed out this year, STAY TUNED. We definitely plan on attending SFF again next year.