Crown Brewing, Crown Pointe, IN

Crown Brewing.

One of the many nice things about so many new breweries popping up, is if you decide to head out of town to check one out, you can usually find one or two more not too far away to make your trip that much more advantageous.  Since I tend to plan my out of town adventures just that way, on my recent trip to visit Three Floyds, I decided to check out Crown Brewing on the way back. 

 I was familiar with them through their one beer, Crown Brown, which had been on tap locally for a short time and was pretty well done. I wanted to check out more!

 The first impression of the bar at Crown was it was very cozy.  There is a nice display of their swag as soon as you walk in the door and a large chalkboard, which tells you which of the standards and specialty beers they currently have on tap. The bar isn’t overly large but very comfortable. A light made out of dozens of beer bottles carries most of the illumination duties, and casts a nice warm glow adding to the intimate ambiance.  In addition to the small bar, there is a very large family room that appears to be a local favorite hangout. There is also a good-sized outdoor patio that was beautiful when I was there this fall, and quite busy.

 The bartender immediately greeted us with a friendly hello, which is always the first step in winning me over. Despite serving the bar and the patio, she was very attentive and helpful in choosing beers. Staff is so key, I simply cannot stress that enough. I was extremely pleased with the service. 

 I decided to start off with a flight. I always find it interesting how different bars/breweries present their flights. Some are very creative, some resourceful, some with very little attention or presentation. Crown uses a simple tray with a laminate wipe off sheet to write the different beers. I really liked this! It made it easier for me to keep track and I liked that there wasn’t added waste of paper that gets thrown away.  Their flight was 6, 3 oz. pours.  I went with the IPA, Imperial Red, Saison, De Railer, Java Porter and Cream Ale.  I went with both styles I have a high bar for (Saison, Java Porter) and styles I’m more ambivalent about.  (Imperial Red, Cream Ale).

 I’ll start with the Saison. I’ve had some really top notch Saisons and they are one of my favorite styles.  My favorite is Saison Dupont, the flagship beer for Dupont Brewery in Tourpes, Belgium.  Saisons were originally brewed as a summer ale, with a much lower ABV than current styles (more likely in the low 3% range). Typically referred to as Farm House ales, these were often brewed in the fall and winter by farm hands as a way to keep them employed through the slower winter months, and in the summer months the beer was used in the field to keep the farm hands hydrated. A safer alternative, due to lack of potable water.

 The Americanized version tends to have a higher ABV (typically 7-10%) and are brewed with a more fruit and spice influence.  One of the best out there is Tank 7 by Boulevard Brewing.

Crowns version of the Saison was not bad. It wasn’t terrific either. Drinkable but without any kind of wow factor.

As I went through the rest of the beers, I kind of had the same feeling. They were all pretty good, none of them made me say “oh wow, now that is amazing”.  The Java Porter was probably my favorite and to me, the beer that was the most true to style and well crafted.

 That being said, one of the most interesting things to me is the sheer variety of beers Crown is brewing. If you follow them on FB they are really good about posting when a new beer is being released and a lot of them sound really intriguing.  Currently (based on their FB feed), they have a Pecan Pie Java Porter, a Milk Chocolate stout (which I’m assuming is different than a Milk Stout) and a Marshmallow Cream Java Porter.  I have to give some props to breweries that are willing to extensively experiment and offer beers that you simply aren’t going to find in a package store.  The counter to that is weather or not they are giving themselves the time to refine their beers. This is a line of thinking that gets talked about a lot. Brewing quantity of beers over a handful of beers really, really, really well. Some breweries do it well (Thinking of Drangonsmead in Detroit that brews close to 50 beers on site and they are all pretty amazing) and some are still refining the process. 

 Either way, I would definitely go to Crown again. I’d really like to go NOW after reading the new beers they have on tap.

 To me, one of the most important things to keep in mind, is that supporting your local brewer is important. Some are going to have outstanding beers. Some are going to have good beers.  Some are going to occasionally put out something less than perfect. But they are ALL better than a majority of what the macro producers are producing.  And you are supporting local business. So get out there, and explore what is available!

 

Crown Brewing

211 South East Street

Crown Point, IN  46307

http://www.crownbrewing.com

 

 

Nitro!

One of the things I love about craft beer, is it is always changing and evolving. I’m always constantly learning! I knew a little about Nitro and how it affect beer. But I had a hard time when pressed, to explain it well. I love CraftBeer.com, they do such great work. Here is a link to one of their articles that I found very informative! Enjoy!!

 

Good Beer Gas: Nitro Beers Explained

Three Floyds Brew Review – Whatzup

My review of Three Floyds for Whatzup Magazine. 

 

(Click Picture for Larger Image)

I was really, really excited to finally visit Three Floyds.

I still remember my first Three Floyds beer. When you try as many beers as I do and remember one that distinctly, you know you are onto something. My first Three Floyds beer was Gumball Head. Described as American wheat, what I recall very distinctly was the aroma of hops and grapefruit. This threw me, as most American wheats are pretty, well, bland. This was quite a number of years ago and hoppy beers were still not exactly high on my list, so I was nervous to try this very floral-smelling beer. One sip and I was hooked. It was amazing. 

Since then I’ve tried most of Three Floyds’ beers, and my palate has expanded to enjoy even the really hopped up ones like Zombie Dust. So visiting this northwest Indiana Mecca of exceptional beers was, for me, akin to a kid visiting a really awesome candy store.

Three Floyds is a smallish brewery in Munster, just under three hours northwest of Fort Wayne. I had read on their website and heard from friends that sometimes the brew pub fills up quickly, so it was recommended we get up there fairly early for dinner. 

I was really nervous when we rolled in about 7 p.m. and the parking lot was full. Located in an industrial park, the place was very unassuming, with a simple FFF sign above the door and nice landscaping. Inside the energy is palpable. People areexcited to be there. The bar is dark but inviting, with lots of fun things to look at and a cozy atmosphere. We chose to sit in the dining room which was a bit more open and gave us more opportunity to look around.

I started off with the Drunk Monk, a hefeweizen. I was really surprised to see a hefe on their menu frankly and super happy about it. Hefeweizen’s are German wheat beers characterized by their high wheat content as well as the yeast, which produces a banana/clove smell and taste. Drunk Monk was expertly done, served in the traditional hefe glass.  It poured a nice cloudy, dark yellow with all the signature tastes and smells. So good. 

My next beer was the Moloko. I am a big fan of milk stouts. I love all stouts, but milk stouts have that creamy, sweeter edge that, to my palate, imperials lack. The Moloko was a dream – perfectly balanced, creamy and smooth. If you like milk stouts, this has to be one you put at the top of your must-try list.

My drinking companion is a total hop head and focused his attention on FFF’s line of classic hoppy beers. Not a single beer was a disappointment.

Since we were at the brew pub, we decided to try several items off the menu. We started with the brisket tacos and crudité. The brisket tacos were good, if a little dry. Topped with jalapeno sour cream, pickled radish and queso fresco, they were quite interesting. 

The crudité consisted of seasonal veggies, nice and crisp with an edamame hummus, and pita. I could not get over the edamame hummus and would have liked about 3 times as much on the plate. It was that good.

We wrapped up the dining portion of our evening with the loco-mojo pizza which, according to the menu, is roasted tomato sauce, cumin sausage, queso fresco, roasted peppers and cilantro. All I know is we devoured it in no time. I’m not a foodie, but everything was very fresh. (I learned later that they have an organic garden on premises.)

After eating, we got in line for carryout and grabbed some bottles and six-packs to bring home. The line really never ends. There had been people lined up before we went in, and it never let up all night. I have seen online a lot of complaints about Three Floyds being out of certain beers – primarily Zombie Dust and Gumball Head – all too frequently, and its easy to see how hard it would be to keep up with demand. Regardless, we scored some Zombie Dust and a bottle of Miloko, neither of which lasted long after I got home.

Not everyone likes all aspects of the bar, the types of movies on the TVs or the volume of the music. I found all of it to fit right in with everything Three Floyds is about. Plus, everyone on its staff was helpful, friendly and accommodating. Three Floyds is a funky, fun brewpub with an eclectic style and eccentric personalities. Anyone who truly loves beer and is there for the beer will not be disappointed. heathersaysbeer14@hotmail.com

http://whatzup.com/index.php?f=Brew&page=Floyds_130926

Acme Bar

The Acme Bar is one of those charming Fort Wayne landmarks that still embody the charm of the local watering hole, while being a friendly family restaurant. After it’s brief closing in 2009, it underwent some updating. Without losing any of its charm, it quickly reclaimed it’s ‘local favorites’ status.  

 

I was thrilled to see them introduce craft beer to their establishment. I don’t get over that way as often as I’d like, but I knew they carried a pretty extensive bottle list. Recently I headed over to see how it rated, for a beer snob like myself.

 

The bottle menu contained roughly 85 craft bottled beers to chose from and a handful of macro imports and ciders. That’s a pretty impressive selection!  After a selecting a few they were out of, I decided to start with the Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat. Wheat’s are a good beer to start off with as they aren’t over-powering and won’t kill my taste buds like an IPA might. After the first sip I knew something was very wrong. I’ve had this beer before and it’s excellent. The bottle was dated and past its serve by date. I love brewers who date their bottles, and for this very reason. My drinking companion pointed this out to the bartender and she very apologetically took away the beer.  Mistakes happen and don’t particularly bother me when it’s handled well.

 

The next beer I tried was the Four Barrel Brown by Triton Brewing Co. When I see Barrel I automatically think Bourbon Barrel so my first sip was a bit of confusion . . .. my brain is thinking “man, if there is supposed to be a Bourbon taste it is REALLY subtle!” Well it’s a Four Barrel, not a Bourbon Barrel so I had to get my brain on another track. Once I readjusted I was able to take in the subtlety of the beer. It’s a nice well-balanced brown. Hints of malt, caramel. Not very dense, and a little on the watery side for my taste but I tend to gravitate towards really densely flavored beers. This is a 2013 gold medal winner of the Indiana Beer Cup, I would definitely recommend giving it a try if you like browns. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow my doors off. The server brought me a small 8 oz. glass to pour it in, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Not necessarily the worst way to serve a beer but I do prefer a proper pint glass.

 

Next up was the Sin-Bin Belgian Pale Ale, also by Triton. This beer is the official craft beer of the Indiana Ice, with Sin-Bin being a nod to the penalty box. I had no idea about any of that, but found their website very helpful.  I really want to LOVE Belgian Pale Ales. Belgian style beers are my favorite, but pale ales are my least favorite. Combine the two and my heart and taste buds are confused. The smell is all pale ale, and I LOVE the smell of pale ales and can at least appreciate one well done. This one seemed well balanced and not too over the top as some hoppy beers taste to me.  I did request a room temperature pint glass for this beer, and the bartender was accommodating and friendly which I appreciated.

 

The last beer of the night was my standby, ‘I-know-its-going-to –be-so delicious –so-how-can-I-pass-it-up’ beer. The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. We specifically requested the snifter glasses and split the bottle between two of us since this beer carries a higher ABV of 8.1. The first time I had this beer, I was in Kentucky for work and my client recommended it. There isn’t anything this beer is lacking. The nose is all soft bourbon with vanilla and oak. The taste is smooth and silky with a hint of bourbon flavor and a caramel back.  This beer is better as it warms and I strongly recommend letting it sit for 5-10 minutes if its pulled from a very cold cooler, as this one was. It was the perfect beer to end our evening.

 

Overall, the Acme is a great place to go for people who want to try different craft beers. The selection is indeed impressive. As someone who is really obnoxious about beer . . I would like to see all beers served in the proper glass all of the time. I’d like them to never be out of a beer I would like to try and I would like to never have a bad beer sit in a beer cooler. But we don’t live in a perfect world and the friendly staff more than makes up for any shortcomings.  I would not hesitate to recommend the Acme to someone looking to expand his or her beer knowledge. Though I might go with them to make sure they are putting the beer in the proper glass. Man, that really bugs me.

 

 

Belgian Style Beers – Info.

Last night I had a customer ask me a question I could not answer. He wanted to know if all Belgian styles used Coriander.  My gut response was that Coriander is used pretty heavily in American Style Belgian Beers. But that authentic Belgian styles are less heavy handed with the spice. I think my gut check was right, and wrong. Attached is an article that I found to be extremely helpful in breaking down some facts and myths of Belgian Styles Beers. Since this IS my favorite style, I found it very helpful and enlightening. Enjoy!

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Menuism/belgian-beer_b_1166350.html  

New Holland Brewing – White Hatter

~If you want to read real beer snob reviews, check out Beer Advocate. Those people are super serious about their beers and you can learn a WHOLE lot from them. ~

~Disclaimer number two: I don’t like ALL beers. That doesn’t mean that a beer I dont care for isn’t a good beer. Here is the deal. We all have different palates. Some palates take time to develop as well. 4 years ago you couldn’t pay me to drink a stout. Now I LOVE them. I’m going to talk about beers that I like, that rate like crap on Beer Advocate. I’m going to say I don’t care for some beers, that are probably ranked really high.  This is my blog. It’s here to hopefully entertain. Maybe educate. And simply my goal is for you to go out and TRY new beers. Simple. as. that. ~~

I picked up a 6 of the New Holland White Hatter for two reasons. One, its touted as a Belgian Pale Ale and Belgians are one of my favorite styles of beers. Two, I loved the label. I don’t know the history of the Hatter Series (yes, i looked. i havent found anything yet). But here is a link to  the Hatter Beers as a series: http://newhollandbrew.com/hatter-day-hatters
LOVE the labels.

Anyway, Pale Ales and Imperial Pale Ales (IPA’s) are my lest favorite beer styles. I was kind of hoping for more Belgian, less PA. That being said, it IS nicely done. It’s a pretty dark yellow, light orange color. With an aggressive pour, only produced a small head but even 20 minutes later there was nice carbonation going on and really nice lacing on the glass. (go ahead. say it . . .)

Its got a nice citrusy, hoppy, floral smell to it. I tend to like the way PA and IPA’s smell more than how they taste.  It tastes like a nicley done, mild Pale Ale. A little hoppy, a little citrusy, with a bit of bitter bite on the back end. New Holland makes great beers and I can safely say if you like Pale Ales, you should give this one a try. But I probably wont pick up another of the White Hatter for myself. Image

Outer Banks Brewing Station

flight

Back in June my family and I traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for vacation. The OBX holds a special place in my heart and has been our go-to spot for a few decades now.

This year the kids and I joined my parentals and my sister and her kids and we all took up residence in one of the summer rentals on the beach. Of course what was one thing on my to-do list for vacation? Visit the local breweries of course!

Outer Banks Brewing Station was the third of three I was able to get to over the course of 6 days and it was by far the knock out winner on all counts.

When we first pulled into the parking lot, I knew we were going to be in for a solid wait. It was packed! It was high noon the first solid week of summer vacation and the tourist season was definitely in full swing. We put our name in with the friendly host and decided to wait out back for our table. The back of the brewery hosts a huge garden/outdoor entertainment area. There are plenty of picnic tables and what looks to be a place for bands to play outside. The kids stayed entertained on the wooden ship structure which I thought was ingenious. Probably my favorite part of the back area was the way they integrated the vegetable and herb gardens as part of the landscape. There were rosemary plants as big as large bushes and not only did it look really cool, it smelled fantastic.

Finally it was time for our party of 10 to be seated. The interior was charming! Big vaulted ceilings with a variety of oriental rugs hung from the ceiling, dampening the noise. There was a lot of hustle and bustle but it didn’t feel chaotic, it felt festive.
obb
The menu was pleasantly surprising. I’ve found that at a lot of breweries the food goes one of two ways. It’s either completely underwhelming, or very well done and super pricey. This was perfectly in the middle. Fresh menu options with really interesting choices and the pricing was very reasonable, especially located in such a high tourism area. Since I’m not a foodie and that’s not what this blog is about I’ll leave you with a link to the menu http://www.obbrewing.com/menus/ and tell you I had the Fried Green Tomato Caprese and it was awesome.

On to the beer. Since it was lunch time, I decided to go with a lower ABV beer and frankly, the one that sounded the most interesting. The Lemon grass Wit. Both my mother and my sister, who had tried other beers with me along the way, ordered it as well.

The LGW pours a beautiful cloudy lemon yellow with a pillowy white head. The smell of wheat and lemongrass were there, and not overwhelming. Perfectly balanced. And oh my gawd delicious. I couldn’t find fault with this beer. From the smell, body, look, taste and finish . . I really wanted another but we had more driving to do. It should be noted that my sister and mother both really enjoyed the beer as well!

I bought a t-shirt and made a note to come back. And I didn’t wait long. I talked my sister into going back that very evening. It was our last evening on the island and I really wanted to try the rest of their beers.
sister
The evening crowd seemed to be a larger mix of locals and tourists but the place was no less busy. We scored some seats at the bar and I ordered a flight. The flight prices at $7.50 were extremely reasonable for 4, 5 oz pours. Since at the time of vacation I hadn’t planned on starting a blog, I didn’t write down what I had, but I do know that the stout was amazing. I love a good stout and am super picky about them. Theirs was very flavorful and not watery, which is my bigget pet peeve with some stouts. The service was once again spot on, the servers all seemed very knowledgeable about what they were serving and were plenty attentive.

I did grab a growler of the LGW. It traveled 779 miles in the trunk over two days. And on the 3rd day it got re-chilled and opened. And it was still, fantastic. I don’t advocate beer abuse, but it held up well!
growler

Once I got home I read about the history of OBB, and the history of their wind turbine. The story behind the founders and how OBB got started in the first place is very interesting and very well written on their site. To be honest, I fell a little more in love with them than I already was just by visiting.
http://www.obbrewing.com/about-the-pub/restaurant-and-brewery-wind-powered/

I don’t get to the coast as often as I’d like, but knowing OBB is out there gives me one more reason to go visit and enjoy one of my very favorite places.

Andrew.

Andrew gets to be my first reader. Because Andrew was the second person to know about this blog.

Andrew likes IPA’s and has keys to lots of houses. Andrew travels for a living driving a very yellow van. Which is actually the color of a lot of IPA’s so it kind of fits. Rogue Brewing has a beer called Yellow Snow, which is an IPA. So look. there you go. a tie in.

Andrew also ate yellow cheese at the bar but I licked every single chip before he dipped,  so its like we know each other better than if I had only poured him beers and brought him fried beans.

Andrew is still at the bar but I am home posting my first post and he may or may not read this. But at least I have my first post. So there you go.

I’m drinking a vintage KBS from Founders and it is amazing and better than any double IPA Andrew drank tonight. How do I know this? Because I’m an asshole about beer, thats how.

Hey Andrew. Nice meeting you. I hope you enjoyed your night at Trion and made it home safely. And I hope you found this.

Most very sincerely,

Heather. Beer Asshole.