Brewing up a storm in Richmond

My latest guest post for the Visit Richmond blog went up this week! It’s all about Das Bier Big Dawg Brew Haus – a really cool microbrewing operation in conjunction with J&J Winery on the west side of town. Hubby and I can’t wait to revisit on our next trip to town:

http://visitrichmondin.blogspot.com/2011/11/big-dawg-bites-into-local-brewing-scene.html?spref=fb

Come on, get hoppy

Last night, hubby and I headed downtown to sample the wares at one of the more recent additions to the thriving Indianapolis microbrewing scene — Flat 12 Bierwerks.

We’re well familiar with Sun King and Thr3e Wise Men has become one of our regular Broad Ripple hangouts, but I must admit, I didn’t know a great deal about Flat 12 going in. Hubby’s enjoyed the beers on several occasions at pubs around town, but this marked my first taste of the product.

Flat 12 is located just east of downtown on Dorman Street, and you really have to know where you’re going to find it. It’s across the street from the new Goose the Market Meatery enterprise, but otherwise, there’s not much going on in this industrial neighborhood ‘cept for a couple of really cool-looking modern condo buildings. We saw a glut of cars angling for street spots before we’d actually glimpsed the Flat 12 building, and figured we must be in the right neck of the woods.

Flat 12 Bierwerks exterior

First impressions – the facility itself is really attractive, exposed brick walls, high beamed ceilings and good merchandising. Nicely done, y’all. You flash your ID when you walk through the door and get your hand stamped, then you’re given five free drink tickets for tastes of your choice.

the Flat 12 tasting room

On to the important stuff. They really had a decently big selection available to taste during our visit, including eight or nine year-round classics and nearly half a dozen seasonal/specialty offerings.

Flat 12 beers for the tasting

My favorite beer of the night was probably the Grain Wave American Wit, a straightforward wheat beer with a hint of citrus. A good all-around entry-level microbrew for a go-to domestic beer drinker like myself. I liked the Upside Down Blonde too, but found the wit a little more flavorful.

I managed to ask one of the busy servers what he’d consider the “signature” Flat 12 beer/s. He said the porter and the IPA. I usually find IPAs a little too hoppy for my taste, so I passed on the Half Cycle IPA and ordered a swig of the Pogue’s Run Porter, a dark but still mellow beer that I really liked. I was curious to try the Tangerine Porter as well to contrast and compare flavor notes, but alas, it had run out. Instead, I followed up with the Lacto-Matic Milk Stout. Wow, does this baby pack a punch. Imagine a beer-flavored shot of espresso and you’ve kinda got the right idea. It even looks like espresso in the cup. A little too much for me. I couldn’t finish it.

Flat 12's Lacto-Matic Milk Stout

My tasting concluded with a sip of Walkabout Pale Ale, made with Galaxy hops from Australia. Didn’t like this one, the flavor was just a little too funky for me.

Flat 12's Walkabout Pale Ale

The Flat 12 roster on the web site details several intriguing seasonal beers that I want to keep my eyes peeled for. Namely a German-style Karousel Kolsch (I learned to LOVE kolsch during our visits to Cologne within the past few years), the Bloody Blonde made with blood oranges and ruby red grapefruit (I enjoy fruity beers), and a Glazed Ham Porter (!) redolent with holiday spices.

One small complaint about the tasting room service… the guys who were pouring seemed a little on the gruff side. This being our first time at Flat 12, I’d kinda hoped to ask a few questions about the beers and the business. The answers I got were short and borderline curt. I guess maybe “serious” might be a better word to describe the personalities here. I’m sure they’re probably perfectly lovable guys when you catch them outside a tasting rush. In any event, one gets the feeling they don’t mess around when it comes to their beer.

Overall, we really enjoyed our Flat 12 visit. Good selling points— if you find a beer you really like while tasting, you can purchase a pint to enjoy on site (or a growler or half-growler to take home). And you can even grab some grub and make a meal of your visit thanks to the Byrne’s Grilled Pizza food truck parked outside in the side lot. We saw some of said pizzas flying around to the scattering of tables both indoors and out, and they looked and smelled damn tempting.

Glad to finally make your acquaintance, Flat 12. I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again.

For more information:

http://flat12.me/

I'd tap that

You can’t shake a stick these days without knocking over someone’s glass of locally brewed beer. The microbrewery scene has simply exploded all over Indianapolis in recent years, leaving plenty of grateful aficionados to enjoy the tasty fallout. If you appreciate local beer, you need to grab your empty growlers ($10 fills on Thursdays – woo hoo!) and get yourself down to Tomlinson Tap Room pronto.

Tomlinson Tap Room in City Market

Located in downtown Indy’s historic City Market, Tomlinson Tap is, I believe, the only place in town that exclusively serves Indiana beers from a number of brewing establishments. And I’m not talking about just beers from here in Indianapolis (although there are certainly plenty to choose from in the Circle City). I mean from throughout the state. Don’t come in here thinking you can order any old bottle of Bud or Miller Lite. Tomlinson shows off 16 rotating taps of flavorful, full-bodied beers made fresh by Hoosiers for other Hoosiers. Nice.

Indy’s historic City Market

The décor is reason enough to visit. I’ve always loved City Market and sadly, don’t get down there very often now that I’m no longer working downtown. The market dates back to 1886 and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside the brick façade is a soaring marketplace filled with all sorts of distinctive food vendors and retail booths. Add in the bustling weekly Wednesday farmers market that lines Market Street outside, and you’ve got all the makings of a darn cool downtown destination.

Tomlinson Tap Room nestles into a sunny southwest corner on the mezzanine level of the building, offering a bird’s eye view of the marketplace below. You may not even know it’s here unless you’re looking for it specifically, which makes it feel like you’re in on a well-kept secret. It’s not big, just a nice long bar and a scattering of tables. The hours have been a little limited, but I see on the Tap Room web site that they are now open Monday through Saturday. If you work downtown, this would make a fabulous happy hour stop.

Tomlinson doesn’t serve food, but during the day of course, you have your pick of the City Market vendors for everything from ethnic food items to soups to pizza to sweet treats. Several even stay open into the evening to satisfy the tap room patrons with various munchies.

Hubby and I recently met a couple of new friends here for a beer, and it was a great, pub-style spot to hang out and relax. The servers and employees really know their stuff and if you ask nicely, may even let you taste a beer to see if you like it before committing to a full pint. You never know what you might find on tap any given week. During our visit, drinking options included offerings from Sun King, Flat 12, Three Floyds, Oaken Barrel, Crown, New Albanian and Big Woods (which we recently hit up in Nashville), to name a few.

tasty Tomlinson Tap Room beverages

The bottom line? You won’t go thirsty here. Cheers.

For more info:

http://www.indycm.com/tomlinsontaproom/

I’d tap that

You can’t shake a stick these days without knocking over someone’s glass of locally brewed beer. The microbrewery scene has simply exploded all over Indianapolis in recent years, leaving plenty of grateful aficionados to enjoy the tasty fallout. If you appreciate local beer, you need to grab your empty growlers ($10 fills on Thursdays – woo hoo!) and get yourself down to Tomlinson Tap Room pronto.

Tomlinson Tap Room in City Market

Located in downtown Indy’s historic City Market, Tomlinson Tap is, I believe, the only place in town that exclusively serves Indiana beers from a number of brewing establishments. And I’m not talking about just beers from here in Indianapolis (although there are certainly plenty to choose from in the Circle City). I mean from throughout the state. Don’t come in here thinking you can order any old bottle of Bud or Miller Lite. Tomlinson shows off 16 rotating taps of flavorful, full-bodied beers made fresh by Hoosiers for other Hoosiers. Nice.

Indy’s historic City Market

The décor is reason enough to visit. I’ve always loved City Market and sadly, don’t get down there very often now that I’m no longer working downtown. The market dates back to 1886 and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside the brick façade is a soaring marketplace filled with all sorts of distinctive food vendors and retail booths. Add in the bustling weekly Wednesday farmers market that lines Market Street outside, and you’ve got all the makings of a darn cool downtown destination.

Tomlinson Tap Room nestles into a sunny southwest corner on the mezzanine level of the building, offering a bird’s eye view of the marketplace below. You may not even know it’s here unless you’re looking for it specifically, which makes it feel like you’re in on a well-kept secret. It’s not big, just a nice long bar and a scattering of tables. The hours have been a little limited, but I see on the Tap Room web site that they are now open Monday through Saturday. If you work downtown, this would make a fabulous happy hour stop.

Tomlinson doesn’t serve food, but during the day of course, you have your pick of the City Market vendors for everything from ethnic food items to soups to pizza to sweet treats. Several even stay open into the evening to satisfy the tap room patrons with various munchies.

Hubby and I recently met a couple of new friends here for a beer, and it was a great, pub-style spot to hang out and relax. The servers and employees really know their stuff and if you ask nicely, may even let you taste a beer to see if you like it before committing to a full pint. You never know what you might find on tap any given week. During our visit, drinking options included offerings from Sun King, Flat 12, Three Floyds, Oaken Barrel, Crown, New Albanian and Big Woods (which we recently hit up in Nashville), to name a few.

tasty Tomlinson Tap Room beverages

The bottom line? You won’t go thirsty here. Cheers.

For more info:

http://www.indycm.com/tomlinsontaproom/

Nashville nosh

I graduated from Indiana University in the early 1990s, and Bloomington will always hold a special place in my heart, but I never really spent any time in nearby Nashville or Brown County except for an occasional drive-through on trips back home when I felt like taking the country route. When you consider how crazy scenic and charming the whole area is, this seems downright disrespectful. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to right my wrong.

beautiful Brown County State Park

Between stints of walking through the adorable shops of Nashville proper, horseback riding, journeying the annual artist studio and gardens tour through some of the most outerlying rural terrain, and an overnight stay at Abe Martin Lodge on the grounds of gorgeous Brown County State Park, I enjoyed some tasty meals.

Words that come to mind when I think of Nashville and Brown County: cute, small-town, old-fashioned, country, charming. Cutting-edge cuisine? Nope. But that’s perfectly ok. If you’re looking for fancy four-star meals full of frills and garnishes, keep on driving. If you’re in the mood for the kind of nostalgic, old-school eats you’ve probably grown up on (if you were born and raised in Indiana, that is), you’ve come to the right place.

Case in point — Hob Nob Corner is about as old-school as you can get in this neck of the woods. Literally. It’s housed in the Taggart Building at the corner of Main and Van Buren, the oldest commercial building in town and dating back to 1873 (the restaurant’s been operating here since 1973).

Hob Nob Corner Restaurant

These days, visitors flock for down-home breakfasts along the lines of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash, oatmeal and French toast. (I was surprised to see huevos rancheros on the menu, it was the only nod to ethnic food I noticed anywhere the entire weekend.) And of course, you can’t call yourself a real-deal breakfast joint in Indiana without serving classic biscuits and gravy. I’ll bet it’s good here, although I opted for the pancakes with bacon on the side.

Hob Nob pancakes

Hubby filled up on the basic breakfast of two eggs, toast and bacon, and added on a slice of country ham to boot cause that’s how he rolls.  (Hubby wants me to mention that he had just biked 70 miles from Indy to Nashville the day prior, and that’s why he needed the extra protein…) Everything was down-home delicious.

hubby’s Hob Nob brekkie

Hobnob Corner on Urbanspoon

For dinner, we visited Brown County’s hometown microbrewery, Big Woods Brewing Company. If we lived down here, I have a feeling this place would claim a lot of our time and money. Like most places in Nashville, the décor is all rustic wood lodge with high beamed ceilings. Big Woods is newer than most, open just since November 2009. The vibe feels a little like Thr3e Wise Men here in Indy, except Big Woods isn’t kid-friendly. The clientele is strictly 21 and up.

The food at Big Woods is probably the most new-fangled of any I saw in town. On the menu — a half dozen or so housemade microbrews (the refreshing Six-Foot Blonde was just our speed), along with a selection of pizzas, sandwiches and apps.

Big Woods Six Foot Blonde Ale

The spinach artichoke dip and Emily’s Garden veggie pizza we shared both arrived piping hot and loaded with super-fresh ingredients. Highly recommend.

Emily’s Garden pizza at Big Woods Brewing Company

Big Woods Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

As an IU grad, several people told me I HAD to make sure I visited that sandwich place… I thought they were speaking non-specifically, but no. The name of the restaurant is actually That Sandwich Place, and anyone with any amount of interest in IU basketball needs to put lunch or breakfast here on their Brown County itinerary.

Visiting this eatery is like worshipping at the church of Bobby Knight. The walls, counters, columns, ceilings — every possible surface is covered with memorabilia, some items ranging back as far as the early 1970s. Seems the restaurant opened around the same time Knight arrived in Bloomington and the owner remains a personal friend. Love him or hate him, Knight is an undeniably charismatic figure that demands attention. An oversized General doll in a glass case holds court (get it???) over the restaurant from its post by the register.

all hail, the General

Down a short flight of stairs, subterranean That Sandwich Place serves simple greasy-spoon breakfast and lunch fare. There’s not a ton of stuff to choose from, just a handful of sandwiches complemented by fries, cole slaw and deviled eggs, and a hi-calorie salad laden with ham, cheese and sunflower seeds. No joke, that’s what it’s called. They are not messing around with any diet food here. At least they’re upfront about it.

tenderloin platter at That Sandwich Place

Hubby and I split a Piggy Wiggy tenderloin platter. The thin crispy pork patty was obviously pre-formed, and reminded me of the kind of sandwich I grew up eating at the local drive-ins in Richmond. Good fries, too.

We ate with wide-eyed wonder, taking in the ambiance. Indiana, oh Indiana, we ARE all for you.

That Sandwich Place on Urbanspoon

Bon appetit, Brown County!

For more info:

http://www.browncounty.com/

http://www.browncounty.com/listing/hobnob-corner-restaurant

http://www.bigwoodsbeer.com/

(Can’t find a web site for That Sandwich Place. Guess you’ll just have to go there and see it for yourself.)

Beam me up, Scotty's

For the past month or so, hubby has developed a habit of taking the toddler out to the pub for a cold beverage and some daddy-son bonding so I can enjoy some uninterrupted work time. The Broad Ripple Brew Pub and Sahm’s have always been our go-tos, but they’ve lately been usurped by a newcomer on the Broad Ripple scene – Thr3e Wise Men.

Part of the Scotty’s Brewhouse enterprise, Thr3e Wise Men opened earlier this spring. We’d watched it slowly take shape in the old Sunflower Market building for months before that, with huge brewing vats nearly big enough to resemble farm silos. I finally made it to said establishment with my guys just a week or so ago to check it out for myself.

Inside, Thr3e Wise Men looks unfinished – light wood walls, exposed beams, views of the brewing apparatus through windows, beer barrel tabletops, picnic tables and silverware wrapped in hand towels instead of napkins (a detail that strikes me as slightly crass). On the upside, it’s airy, clean and family-friendly, which is great news for parents who enjoy beer.

For my inaugural visit, hubby and I visited alone, having snagged a brief babysitting respite from our generous neighbors. We were seated inside at a table in the corner. The menu isn’t big, mainly just pizzas and a few appetizers. This is, first and foremost, a brewing facility, after all. Food here seems to be treated as something to complement the beer. This isn’t to say the food is bad, quite the contrary.

The beer selection covers a good range of flavors and styles – everything from IPAs to an Irish stout and even a porter made with locally produced Hubbard & Cravens coffee. Interesting. I had my eye on the Naptown Nut Brown, but the server then told me they were out of it, along with a couple of the other offerings. So I narrowed my sights to the Two Lucys blackberry wheat and the Sanctaneous hefeweizen. The server was kind enough to bring me a small taste of each to help me make up my mind. In retrospect, I really should have just ordered a sampler. Maybe next time.

(A quick side note – I want to have a job thinking up names for microbrewed beers. This seems like the next best thing to working for a cosmetics company and coming up with cutesy call signs for nail polish and lipstick colors.)

Snow Bunny Blonde and Two Lucys Blackberry Wheat

I enjoyed my pint of blackberry porter, nicely light and refreshing with a bright tangy fruit flavor. Hubby’s partial to the Snow Bunny Blonde, and has been filling up growlers regularly to bring home ever since he discovered it. A small complaint, though, the pints here aren’t true pints. We have been spoiled in this category by the Brew Pub, which serves full Imperial pints as opposed to the smaller faux-pints you get at Thr3e Wise Men. Obviously, this makes the Thr3e Wise Men beer a little more expensive as well.

Hubby and I were only intending to have a drink, not dinner, but we ended up filling up on the snacky apps and calling it a meal. Every table receives a free bucket of fresh popcorn, for starters. The housemade thick-sliced potato chips are awesome and addictive, tossed in a salty house seasoning mix. And, you get a HUGE baking sheet full of them for a mere $3. If this isn’t one of the best deals in town, I don’t know what is. You can also order them loaded with bacon and blue cheese sauce for $6.

housemade chips and popcorn

By the time hubby and I had chowed our way through the chips, we were already more than halfway there to a full dinner anyway, so we went ahead and ordered a pizza as well. Hubby’s tried some of the flatbread pizzas here and pronounced them quite good, but something called a hummus pizza piqued my interest, described on the menu as a freshly baked pizza crust with roasted red pepper hummus and a cucumber relish. Of course, the cucumber relish contained onions, so we asked for it on the side. Yummy – this was really a full-sized pizza with some innovative toppings, and although hubby wouldn’t touch the cucumber topping, I loved it. Oh, and the whole pizza was only $7.

Other items rounding out the Thr3e Wise Men menu include wings, breadsticks, a tableside tossed chopped salad and fried pickle chips (I still can’t decide whether these sound tasty or horrifying). For dessert, a short list of choices includes carrot cake, German chocolate cake and elephant ears.

All in all, a great first experience. We even ran into our friends Bart and Pete at the bar, an added bonus!

We revisited Thr3e Wise Men yesterday around 4:30 p.m. with the whole family in tow, intending once again to just have a drink. This time, we sat outside watching the traffic go by on busy Broad Ripple Avenue (railings kept the boys safely contained so we could relax). The boys loved the lemonade served in little plastic astronaut cups, and again, by the time we’d all plowed our way through the popcorn and another platterful of chips, we’d filled up enough for dinner.

Thr3e Wise Men seems to have a good thing going here, and is a welcome shot in the arm to a Broad Ripple microbrewery scene that was really in need of a little healthy competition.

For more info:

http://www.thr3ewisemen.com/

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon