I’ve been writing daily columns for the IDS from Bloomington Craft Beer Week. This is my last one, a dispatch from the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival. Check out my columns here and on stands.
There’s a certain amount of strategy necessary at a massive beer festival like the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival.
There’s no way you’ll have a chance to sample every single beer offered from the more than 50 breweries in attendance.
You can pick a single style and try all the offerings of that style. You can try to just pick Indiana breweries or just go for brews you haven’t tried.
A friend of mine properly described it as “the classiest power hour you’ll ever have.”
Here are some of my favorites from Saturday’s festival at Woolery Mill.
THREE FLOYDS BREWING CO. Toxic Wasteland Russian imperial stout
APPEARANCE Dark black with a thick brown head
AROMA Chocolatey, but with decent hop aroma and slight notes of pine
TASTE Roasted chocolate tones fade into piney hop flavor and bitterness
MOUTHFEEL Very smooth but heavy with a dry finish
OVERALL There were a few of beers at the festival that blew my mind. This was one of them. This is a very special beer.
NEW ALBANIAN BREWING CO. Black & Blue Grass spiced Belgian ale
APPEARANCE I was expecting this to pour dark, but ended up being a hazy golden, like an India Pale Ale
AROMA Very floral, lots of spices like coriander
TASTE Very flavorful, blue agave fruit in the beer comes through and makes it crisp, cool and surprising from the first sip
MOUTHFEEL The blue agave really comes through and gives this an almost menthol character
OVERALL This beer literally stopped me in my tracks with a “woah.” Every sip was a surprise. Novelty outweighed drinkability, but a nice brew nonetheless.
ZWANZIGZ Rauchbier smoked lager
APPEARANCE Dark amber with a nice head
AROMA Smoky with a traditional lager aroma
TASTE Hits the traditional German style on the head perfectly, well smoked and well balanced
MOUTHFEEL Easy to drink, great style execution
OVERALL It’s not often that I see an American brewery pull off a real rauchbier, and Zwanzigz out of Columbus, Ind., does this.
UPLAND BREWING CO. Champagne Velvet pilsner
APPEARANCE Light as light can be and crystal clear
AROMA Little aroma, but clean and crisp
TASTE A decent pilsner, nothing fancy, good “easy drinking” beer
MOUTHFEEL Heavily carbonated, very easy to drink
OVERALL This pre-prohibition revival from Upland will appeal to the macro-drinking audience. It’s a good bridge to introduce non-craft drinkers to the market.
CUTTERS BREWING CO. Empire Imperial Stout aged with bourbon and vanilla
APPEARANCE Dark black with a dark brown head, thick and sticky
AROMA Immediately get the complex flavors you would expect from a bourbon/vanilla combo, oaky, malty, flavorful
TASTE Pulled off the bourbon a little early, it could stand a little more bourbon flavor, but still very nice. Smooth vanilla balances the intense malt bill and oak from the bourbon makes it sing.
MOUTHFEEL Goes down much smoother than the normal Empire stout, otherwise uncarbonated
OVERALL Served on a five-gallon pin, so it was uncarbonated and unchilled, but very satisfying and complex.
BLOOMINGTON BREWING CO. Ruby Bloom amber ale aged in a Chambourcin wine barrel
APPEARANCE Dark red and amber, thin head
AROMA The aroma from the Chambourcin grapes comes through right away, makes it sweet and smooth
TASTE Amber ale characteristics with the grape flavors from the wine barrel and slight oak notes
MOUTHFEEL The wine flavors make BBC’s standard amber smoother than what you’d normally find around town
OVERALL A nice change of pace, smooth while still keeping a little bite from the Ruby Bloom base.