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B.I.G. Microbrewers Festival

A sign bearing the company's logo hangs in the...

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On Friday and Saturday I had the pleasure of volunteering with the fine folk at the Hoosier Beer Geeks in first setting up and then executing this year’s Brewers of Indiana Microbrewers Festival, the 15th such event which is Indiana’s largest beerfest and one of the larger in the entire Midwest. This year HBG and BIG had no problems selling out 5000 tickets and I know some people were disappointed to learn after arriving at Optimist Park that there were no tickets to be had.

This year the festival nearly doubled its geography which put additional burdens on two distinct aspects of the festival. The new area, behind the  Indianapolis Art Center is also situated along the Monon Trail, next to the White River and alongside an apartment complex. The property contains Artist-in-Residence bungalows. All-in-all, there are a lot of people who want to access this property for several non-beerfest related reasons. Perimeter control, while always a concern for outdoor festivals, was difficult.

Additionally there were problems in where people could or should enter, a problem I am certain will be solved for next year’s fest and that I don’t think affected too many people this year. No doubt there were some perturbed, if not angry, potential festgoers who found themselves in the wrong line after minutes of waiting; but, I think most people were able to follow the directions printed on their tickets to the correct gate and entered unproblematically.

Even after the heat, the sun, the blisters and being yelled at by a few such angry customers, my experience volunteering for the festival were very much on the positive side of the ledger. As a previous Microbrewers Fest attendee and having ran a food booth there in previous years, I was still shocked at how much work had to go into making it run as smoothly as possible.

Although I worked for most of the festival, I was able to enjoy a few brews there and maybe some others will clock their comments here so I can know what some favorites were. Here are mine:

Two Brooklyn Brewery beers were among my highlights. I have a great deal of respect for Brooklyn Brewery and am currently reading the book Beer School, but I’ve never been blown away by any of their beers. I enjoy them. They are solid performers in every category, but I can’t remember my eyes ever opening up in that “I’ve found something new” way that all beer lovers hope to do.

But this year Brooklyn offered their Brewmaster’s Reserve Blast! in the fest’s Hopapalooza tent sponsored by World Class Beverages. It was excellent and by far my favorite of the beers on offer. A quick note on that however, the Brooklyn beer was the only one that I had not had before and that gives it an unfair advantage in the “Impressing Me” category. Hopslam, Hop Wallop, Leviathan and the others are all excellent beers too.

At their own tent, Brooklyn was offering Sorachi Ace, a single hop beer that was awesome and reminded me I wanted to check out the single hops offerings from Indiana-based New Albanian, but by the time I got there, the single hops beers were gone.  Woe is the volunteer that does not plan his itinerary through the festival grounds!

I was able to get over to the Sun King booth too to try Cream Dream III. Like a few other breweries, Sun King has moved to a timed release at festival of different brews. So some, like their classic Osiris Pale Ale remain on tap all day, others like Grapefruit Jungle, Dominator Dopplebock and Cream Dream III didn’t arrive until a specified time and disappeared when the pin was gone.

I felt unlucky to have arrived (again) after Grapefruit Jungle was gone but lucky that Cream Dream III had just been cracked.

I’m not offering tasting notes because I didn’t take any while I was at the festival and I wouldn’t trust my memory to describe the beer at all accurately. However, I can safely say that all these beers are worth finding.

The Sun King booth operators were nice enough too to give me some beer/food pairing advice: To go with Redbox Pizza, choose Osiris Pale.


Found this photo gallery of the fest.

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Posted in Brewers of Indiana Guild Microbrewers Festival, Brewmaster's Reserve Blast!, Brooklyn Brewery, Cream Dream III, Festivals/Conferences, Grapefruit Jungle, New Albanian Brewing Company, Osiris Pale Ale, Sorachi Ace, Sun King Brewing.

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