A Proposal to Indiana’s Breweries: A Bicentennial Collaboration!

(originally published August, 2015)

I am a big fan of collaborative beers. Not necessarily for the beer itself, though great, but I love the fact that breweries and brewers get together and combine their collective strengths to produce something special. I love the teamwork aspect in putting aside everyone’s own ego in order to achieve the synergistic result.

I’m a little surprised and just a tasting-glass size disappointed that we haven’t seen more collaborations throughout Indiana. We’ve seen Sun King pair up with Oskar Blues, Three Floyds and most recently the really good, “Emergency Hop Kit”, with Rhinegeist of Cincinnati, and there are others but seldom do we see intra-state collaborations.

There are about 30 Indianapolis metro breweries with more soon opening, so wouldn’t it be cool if the brewers were to put their sweaty, furrowed brows together to create a unified, authentic Hoosier beer?

Many states, including North Carolina, Oregon, Wyoming and even Alabama have done it and just last winter, the fifteen breweries of Cincinnati, partnered up to create a well done “BlackTart” stout. Cincy has a great beer history and community to be sure but while the Indianapolis beer scene actually is larger, maybe we’re a little under-appreciated and a bit under the radar.

There are about 30 Indianapolis metro breweries with more soon opening, so wouldn’t it be cool if the brewers were to put their sweaty, furrowed brows together to create a unified, authentic Hoosier beer? A collaborative beer produced to showcase central Indiana’s breweries and bring attention to them? I think they would be crazy not to!

I barely know a hydrometer from a thermometer but I once collaborated (insert blank stare, eye roll, air quotes) on a beer and it ended up taking home a “Best In Show” award. My friend Adam Burk (co-owner/brewer of soon-to-open Brew Link Brewery) and I went together on an English Brown Ale, and, now lest you think I’m suggesting this was the second coming of Lennon and McCartney, let me explain.

A few years ago I was in then-called Tuxedo Park Brewing Supply, telling Adam that I was thinking of brewing a more malt-forward beer, perhaps an English ale. As we talked, he asked me questions sort of like the eye doctor -“better?, worse?”- about what I wanted, and he came up with the recipe on the spot. My particular homebrew version turned out ok I guess, but Adam brewed a batch that ended up taking the top prize in an Ohio contest!

So, did I really do anything substantial to help create the beer and can I take any credit for it whatsoever? Uh, no. Did Adam create it? Oh yeah. If pressed, I guess you could say I “inspired” it and he graciously named that the new house beer “King Richard” after me, but I truly did nothing. However, being a part of this “collaboration” was really, really cool!

Back to my proposal. Certainly the Brewers of Indiana Guild would need to be involved so a self-designated point person(s) would have to arrange a meeting about who would be interested. Does this include all of central Indiana, or Indy metro, or just Indianapolis breweries? Perhaps some breweries already have something planned for next year, I dunno, but I’m in favor of being more inclusive than less, so let’s make it central Indiana. We good there?

Once those things are ironed out then they would have to agree on what kind of beer to make. Maybe this would go along with what time of year and how it would be released but this would be the best part. How fun would that be for the brewers to get together over each other’s beers, of course, to come up with some really great ideas. Sort of like an All-Star game of brewers. Talk about creative energy. (Unselfishly I offer to come and take notes.)

Now, would you want to go all midwest-conservative on the beer or be Hoosier-creative and really different? Locally sourced ingredients would be a plus.

But wait…even better. Next year is Indiana’s Bicentennial so wouldn’t it be grand (1800’s speak) if our breweries produced something really special?! What about a nice summertime Kolsch or Helles that pays homage to Indy’s German brewing heritage. No? Ok, well how about this. Let’s get the barrel rolling and brew up a barrel-aged beer, maturing just in time for the 2016 bicentennial.  

Moving on, production and marketing would need to addressed and whether the beer is  canned or bottled, and its container size, would have to be decided. Then after a huge buildup, you’d have several area release parties!

Now, to be even more inclusive, why don’t we just open this up to all of Indiana’s breweries and have each region brew their own beer, based mainly on their particular area’s heritage? And make it a competition for next year’s Indiana State Fair! Whichever way they choose is fine but going statewide would be awesome!

It would be a mistake not to mention that in addition to our 200th birthday, next year also will be the 100th running (not anniversary) of the Indianapolis 500, and the brand new Daredevil Brewing Co. facility is perfectly situated to host their racing guests. I’m pretty confident they already have some things planned but this is something else to keep in mind.

Let’s not underestimate how big the bicentennial will be for our great state next year and just think of the reverse hangover if we don’t take full advantage of this celebration.

There’s a lot going on in Indiana next year and though this is a very busy time of year for breweries, a lot of critical decisions would need to made soon. Perhaps they already are but I’ll bet there are a few owners/brewers that would be willing to take the reins on this. Just imagine the excitement and the buzz throughout Indiana!

Let’s not underestimate how big the bicentennial will be for our great state next year and just think of the reverse hangover if we don’t take full advantage of this celebration.

Announcing a statewide, Bicentennial collaboration would be a huge shot of adrenaline to all of Indiana’s breweries and I think Indiana is more than ready for it.

I think the time has come to really show off Indiana beer, and take it from me, beer collaboration is so damned fun.

Cheers!

Rick

Please follow me on twitter @indybeersleuth or chat with me at Indybeersleuth@gmail.com

 

 

 

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