The Brew Pub craze is upon us! I am sobered by the thought of the casualties we shall soon see. Here’s what I mean: Six or seven years ago my friend and I decided to try and visit the 28 breweries scattered across the entire state of Indiana. We did pretty well, getting 90 percent of them or so over the course of a year, but here’s the thing: if you were to attempt something like that now, you would have to visit 28+ breweries just in the city of Indianapolis, not to mention the handful of breweries in Bloomington, the smattering down by the Ohio River, and the (let’s be honest) plethora up around Lake Michigan. Oh, and don’t forget Ft. Wayne. There’s 3 or so now and within the next two years that could easily double. The fuel bill and the miles on one’s liver alone discourage anything as optimistic as an exhaustive “State of Indiana” brew tour. And I haven’t even gotten to the local economies. How many delicious, homes of hand-crafted beer can any one populace support? (Here’s where the casualties come in.) Sure, the brew pubs in Ft. Wayne might double in two years, but in two more years, in 3? Buy those limited edition pint glasses now is all I can say, before the delightful ideas of local entrepreneurs meet with the reality of the locals’ unwillingness and even inability to purchase that many premium adult beverages. Some are gonna make it, some are going to bite it. This summer and next, however, I’m going to make the most of it.
Again, here’s what I mean. With so many brew pubs in so many places, so densely packed, it is becoming possible to eliminate one of the hurdles to the traditional “brew tour”; the fuel bill. Consider biking from pub to pub! Fresh air, aerobic exercise, and a hundreds-year-old beverage; quite the combination.
For starters you can travel two hours northwest to Goshen, IN and begin at the soon to be opened (should open next month, fingers crossed) Goshen Brewing Co. After a pint of their finest, stride out the door and mount your bicycle to bike farther northwest to Elkhart and the Iechyd Da Brewery, only 23 miles round trip via the combined powers of the Maple City Greenway and MapleHeart Trail.
Or…travel south to Indianapolis and down to Fountain Square. Visit the aptly named Fountain Square Brewery (I recommend the Preacher’s Daughter Amber), then scoot on over to the Pleasant Run Trail and follow the river up to Ellenberger Park. The nearby Black Acre Brewing Co. offers a reputedly pleasant watering hole experience and “sandwiches”. Only 5 miles. One way.
And, boy, if Trubble (or is it Trouble?) Brewing opens in Fort Wayne this summer (like they are saying they will), you won’t even have to leave town to do a bike and brew tour. Just start out at Trubble’s Broadway location, make a quick connection with the Rivergreenway at Foster Park, and roll all the way up and around to Anthony and Berry to stop in at Summit City Breworks, which has more taps than I care to shake a stick at.
Whatever you choose to do this summer (destination shopping, amusement parks, beer tourism) just remember you’re going to see a lot of new breweries popping up. Even if you don’t stop in and have a pint, try and absorb a little bit of the local color, the pioneering spirit, and the commitment to a good time that these establishments represent. And consider going around on your bike. There’s nothing quite like earning your vacation from the back of a machine that gives as much as it takes and turns whatever you’ve been drinking into something practical, even enlightening, like perspiration. Ask Roff Smith (see above). Cheers!