The Brew from the Center

The Ultimate Indy Beer Tour


A while back some craft-beer fans from Upstate New York came to visit Amy (Mrs. Wenck) & I here in the Hoosier State. We took our pals, Jean and Lance, on a trip through Broad Ripple and SoBro to sample some faves and nosh along the way. We hit four pubs in five hours and took a cab home, and it got me thinkin’…
What if travel were no object? Well, not NO object – just not an object for Indy and her nearby suburbs? Suppose you could hop from pub to pub, only to be met by a barkeep at each tavern or taproom well willing to give you two or three ounce taste – suppose you could swing the perfect Indy flight of beer?
So here are the parameters: you’ve got your superhero superspeed, you’ve got accommodating pub owners, and you get to build the perfect flight of micro-brews from light to heavy. We’ll stick to the locally-owned joints (even though the northern Rock Bottom is slammin’). (I would love for folks to either comment below or send me their route and their picks via email ( or via Facebook. This is purely subjective and based on what I usually favor at each place.)
Okay, we’ll start with the most popular craft beer in Indiana, Upland’s Wheat – a wit, actually – at the Indy tasting room at 49th & College. Sales of this variety are off the charts and climbing, cementing Upland’s rep as a force to be reckoned with. A nice, citrus-y, entry-level session beer. Another fave of mine at this locale is Upland’s Preservation Pilsner.
Next we head south to Greenwood – Oaken Barrel’s Indiana Amber is about as accessible to a newbie as Upland’s Wheat. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m nearly certain this was the first craft beer served at Victory Field.
Now over to Broad Ripple proper – we’ll hit Indiana’s oldest micro-brewery, the Broad Ripple Brewpub. You could get a Lawnmower Pale or a cask ale, but the ESB here is What a Pint of English Bitter should taste like. These gents also were responsible for a dark German lager they named after me: Wenck in the Dark. (It was MUCH better than the name.) The bitter is so authentic it arrives like it was carried over from Yorkshire by a five-ounce swallow. (European.)
Barley Island used to save us a trip to Noblesville by installing themselves at the corner of College and Broad Ripple’s main drag. Alas, now that satellite operation sis gone – so north we hike. The wheat’s good, the IPA’s good, but Dirty Helen Brown Ale seems like the best representation of their talents.
Downtown now – Indy’s newest taproom is Flat 12 Bierwerks. I’d had their milk stout, which was my favorite, until I’d had their Glazed Ham – a dark with all the spices of an Easter Dinner – and that was my favorite…until they rolled out Tangerine Porter. This is candy in a glass for craft beer fans. Pretty amazing stuff, it’s an orange/chocolate/malt mashup that is utterly revelatory. A taste of the Half Cycle IPA would ruin you for everything else – its hops will murder the palate for an hour or more – so save it for another trip. Back north – there’s two potent picks at our next stop:
Brugge has a brilliant array of Belgians, The Black would be neat here, but we’ll go with Tripel de Ripple, a golden quaff of this variety that’s a little scary – in fact, Brugge limits the drinker to two per sitting. The ABV is monumental.
Downtown again. Still awake? Now we move into the hoppy stuff courtesy of Sun King. Indy’s taproom can provide a blast of Osiris, a hoppy, full-bodied pale ale. All of Sun King’s stuff is big and delicious, and if you want to bring your macro-drinkin’ friends along, toast them with a Sunlight, a cream ale that’s a nice sip on a hot day. Stop back for the Wee Mac, it’s a Scotch ale that’s won medals.
 Finish your tour with a Double IPA at Three Wise Men. Taking a cue from Bell’s Hopslam, the Wise Men cut their hops with honey to mellow out the bruising nature of this floral monster (whereas Flat 12 makes their IPA more palatable with a note of grapefruit). We bring you here to finish because you’re probably hungry now and there’s some nice pizza to be had – Three Wise runs a close third behind Some Guys and the heavenly Napolese for artisanal pie in Indy.
Ed Wenck

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