Brew Brackets Experimental IPA

IMG_0620I had long been eagerly anticipating the Brew Brackets latest version of beer tournament action, Experimental IPA, wondering what the eight mostly Indianapolis breweries would come up with.  The format was for the breweries to go head-to-head in tournament fashion, until a winner is declared by the thirsty patrons.

This was sure to allow the brewers to have some fun, let their collective beards down, and put some more personality into their beer instead of brewing with their otherwise daily concerns.

My wife and I, and several friends mosied up to the Tomlinson Tap Room in the City Market, and as it quickly filled up, the anticipation began to build. The BB crew opened the festivities and the orange-shirted BB crew spread out quickly, and began pouring the opening pairings.


Anonymous winners from each round were picked as voters dumped bottle caps into appropriately labeled buckets, and then beers moved on until a champion was declared by popular vote. It should come as no surprise that Bier Brewery stood alone at the end, having the history it does in producing “awesomeness” beers. As it turned out, it was their “DFG” base that created the winning beer.

In the end, I voted for every one of the winning beers, getting a full 100% score. That’s great, right? I picked ’em all! Well…

Ummm, maybe not. What exactly does this say about me and my tastes? This was billed as an “experimental” IPA battle, which was sure to raise the creative bar of the brewers.

Ok, I prefer vanilla ice cream over other varieties, I ride my bike with a helmet and am otherwise pretty predictable. However, I don’t use a pocket protector, I do sometimes extend the 5-second rule and I consider expiration dates a mere guideline. I’m maybe a little dangerous like the”Modern Family” character Phil Dunphy-“Scary movies? I’ve seen ‘Ghostbusters’ like seven times!”

After some reflection and replaying the tasting like Clayton Kershaw’s hanging curve ball, I wondered if I fully appreciated what the brewers did. It was, again, advertised by Brew Brackets as “experimental”.

So, in the world of innovative and style-busting beers, perhaps I could expand my creative curiosity and stretch my palate a bit to fully indulge some of these interesting beers. I vow to be more mentally prepared for Brew Brackets next contest.

Beyond Bier Brewery winning the BBXIPA, lets look at the some of the other entries that stood out:

MOST EXTREME-by far, the entry by Twisted Crew Brewing of Seymour, “Tropical Heat”, claims this award. Some quick heat was followed by a prolonged oral conflagration but with good taste. If you like heat/spicy, you loved this!

MOST INNOVATIVE-When the BB crew arrived with this beer, I figured this was fittingly, a black IPA. Poured into the cup though, the purple, or at least lavender colored hue caused our entire group to wonder what we were seeing. This made sense later when it was announced that Triton Brewery crafted this “Grimace IPA” (it took me a minute) with watermelon and black cherrryJolly Ranchers, and beet juice. So innovative and delicious, this gave me pause to vote for the eventual winner over this in round 2.

Falling into to this category also is MashCraft Brewing with their American IPA, “Taj”. This was a very nicely blended American IPA that was brewed with traditional Indian cooking ingredients.  I would drink this again.

MOST REBELIOUS-who brews a beer in an IPA contest without…hold on… hops? Huh? Absurd!  Uh huh, well Flat 12 Bierwerks did! I think a collective “wow” rang out from the crowd when the”Dead Rabbit” (ahem, no hops) profile was read out loud. A large amount of fruit peel and other adjuncts were used to confuse and entertain its audience.

SPECIAL MENTION-Runner-Up award winner Tow Yard Brewing produced a subtle spice and smokey version of their “Horse Power” Double Pale Ale. It continued through round after round claiming victims. A very well-done beer.

Hats off to the remaining breweries, Barley Island and Books and Brews, for their excellent offerings. We were all totally impressed with how friendly and pit-crew efficient the Brew Bracket folks were in providing a very entertaining and extremely well organized event. Can’t wait to see what they have in store next! Thanks also to the Brick Shirt House who was also there for some fun and high quality merchandise!