Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rhino's First 'Aged Beer Nite' Shows Beer is Timeless

Last night, Alan and I joined some beer-loving friends at The Rhino, Missoula's premier craft beer bar for an incredible time enjoying the summer evening with great beer. The event was the first-ever 'Aged Beer Nite,' the brainchild and collaborative effort between Rhino co-owner, Kevin Head, and Summit Beverage's leading "beer guy," Mark Waiss.

"This was an idea Kevin and I were tossing around for about six months," says Waiss. "We had all these beers from the 1990s and early 2000s that just needed to be consumed." And consume we did (responsibly, of course). 

A $10 fee and proper ID were the only requirements to take part in the tastings. Participants were encouraged to bring out their own beers to share, but it wasn't required. 

What we enjoyed most, other than the fantastic beers, was seeing a mixed crowd of approximately 40 people from college seniors to seasoned craft beer geeks. Matt Long, long-time brewer with  Big Sky Brewing Co., contributed greatly to the cause by lining up an impressive vertical of Ivan the Terrible Imperial Stout - including some pre-release from the upcoming 2012 version. Matt also brought along a variety of specialty brews that were never released.  Eric Hayes and Mike Kelly of Blacksmith Brewing Co. were lucky enough to happen by while out delivering kegs. 

While the list of bottles was too long to capture, here's a recap of some of the bottles that were opened and enjoyed: 

Big Sky Brewing:
-MDX (10th Anniversary Moose Drool, an imperial version of Moose Drool from 2004)
-Ivan the Terrible vertical (08, 09, 10, 12, yes, we got a sample of the upcoming release!)
-Olde Bluehair barleywine (03, 04, 08)
-Two never-released bottles, including a single-barrel Bluehair aged in a Jim Beam barrel and a Belgian Dark Strong "Imperial Ale" brewed in 2005 and bottled in 2007
-Bottleworks XI

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 1995-1999

North Coast Anniversary X

Old Bawdy Barleywine (1997)

Old Boardhead Barleywine (1999)

JW Lees Harvest Ales (mid-90s to 2003)

09 Abyss, 07 Dissident

Thomas Hardy's Ale (1989-2000)

Sam Adams Triple Bock (1994)

Anchor Christmas Ale (1998)

Yeti Imperial Stout 2008

HOTD Adam (batch 21)

The majority of these bottles were graciously bestowed on the crowd by Kevin, Mark and Matt. Others trickled in from fellow beer devotees, and though a summer's eve may not seem like the most ideal and refreshing setting for high-ABV beers, it was a perfect evening to enjoy great beer with fellow fans.

"Isn't this great?" asks Kevin Head. "We're going to have to do this twice a year moving forward. People obviously like it." 

We say it all the time on Growler Fills:  Beer is Social.   So when it comes to beer, people like to share and that's why an event like this will always be a success.  Who's in for the next one? 

Missoula Library to Hold Program on Montana Beer History

The Missoula Public Library is in the midst of a year-long series of speakers called Know Montana and July's session is all about beer.  A history of beer making in Montana, to be specific.

On Monday, July 30, 2012 at 6:30 p.m., Montana beer historian Steve Lozar and Highlander Beer creator Bob Lukes will discuss that history and lots more about beer in Montana. 

Steve is the president of the board of trustees for the Montana Historical Society and has an impressive collection of Montana brewing paraphernalia (on display on the second floor of his screen printing business in Polson).  Bob, one of the creators of Celtic Festival Missoula, recently revived the 100+ year old Highlander Beer name with a Scottish Export style red ale brewed in collaboration with Great Northern Brewing Co.

This event is sure to be as entertaining as it is informative.  The presentation will be held in the large meeting room at the Missoula Public Library at 301 E. Main St., Missoula. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Highlander Beer's Celtic Festival Missoula is Saturday

If you're in Western Montana and haven't figured out what to do with yourself this weekend, let's review.  Tamarack Brewing Co. in Lakeside is throwing a big birthday bash.  The 18th Annual Bitterroot Brewfest is in Hamilton on Saturday.

Also taking place on Saturday is Celtic Festival Missoula, the annual celebration of Celtic culture, music, dace and food. And Highlander Beer, the Scottish Export reincarnation of Missoula's original beer.

Celtic Festival Missoula takes place at Caras Park in downtown Missoula.  Performances rotate between two stages beginning at 12:00 p.m. with the opening ceremonies provided by Celtic Dragon Pipe Band & Shining Thistle Pipe Band.   The Young Dubliners again headline the musical acts and are scheduled to get going around 8:30.  The Young Dubs are alone worth the price of admission.  Which is free, by the way.

For the full schedule and all the pertinent info, head to the Celtic Festival Missoula website.

18th Annual Bitterroot Brewfest is Saturday, July 28

Summer and beer go together like peanut butter and jelly* chocolate and peanut butter and a great place to enjoy both is at the 18th Annual Bitterroot Brewfest in Hamilton, MT, this Saturday, July 27, from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Presented each year by the Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce, the brewfest takes place across from Legion Park on Bedford Street during Daly Days, a celebration in honor of the City's founder, Marcus Daly.

Tickets are $20 and include a commemorative glass plus five beer tokens.   Live music is provided by Stan Anglen and Headwater from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. followed by the Tom Cats.

You'll have the opportunity to vote for your favorite beer and awards will be given in three categories:  Brewer's Choice, People's Choice and . . . uh . . . Chick's Choice.  Given the placement of the apostrophe, I assume this is someone special named Chick.  I could be wrong.

* Yuck.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tamarack Throws Olympic Sized Party on Friday

Tamarack Brewing Co. in Lakeside, MT, is turning five years old this week and is celebrating by throwing a gigantic party on Friday, July 27, 2012.  The brewery is located at 105 Blacktail Road in Lakeside, just off Highway 93.

With the Summer Olympics mere days away, Tamarack has adopted an Olympics theme for the party.  Come dressed as your favorite athlete with prizes for the best costume.  Word has it there's also a "Five Figure Adventure Race starting at 5:00 p.m. 

What's that you ask? The race has five legs: 1. a pint off; 2. a quarter mile sprint; 3. a 100 meter swim; 4. a 1 mile bike race; and 5. another pint off.   For more details and to sign up, head to Tamarack's facebook event page. 

Reverend Slanky fires up the live music at 8:00 p.m.  Tamarack's Barrel Aged Anniversary IPA is on tap all day and you can get a burger and a beer for only $5 up until 5:00 p.m.  I've had more than my share of those (burgers and pints) and can attest to that being a fantastic deal. 

Missoula friends take note.  The party is at the brewery in Lakeside, not at the Missoula location.  If you show up wearing a speedo at the Missoula Tamarack, expect strange looks.  Then again, it's Missoula so you might not even get those.

Save the Date: Draught Works "Chain Reaction" Fresh Hop Festival

Missoula's Draught Works Brewery is holding a Fresh Hop Festival on Saturday, September 8, 2012, that sounds like a heck of a good time in support of great beer and sustainable transportation.

Volunteers will pick hops at a farm in Corvallis and teams of cyclists will rush them to the brewery for use in a fresh hop ale.  Meanwhile, back at the brewery, other volunteers will pedal away at a human powered grain mill to get 1,000 lbs of grain ready for brewing.

During the day, Draught Works will have bike helmet giveaways, bike tune-ups, a fleet of wacky bikes, bike safety demonstrations, bike Polo, raffles and live music as they work to raise the profile of sustainable transportation.

More details coming soon.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Visit to Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN

Talk about going from 0 to 60 in record time.  Indianapolis' Sun King Brewing Co. crashed the beer world's party with an incredible eight medals at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival in only its second year of production.  After taking a tour of Sun King and tasting several of its brews following the 2012 Beer Bloggers Conference, it's clear they're not resting on their laurels either.

In 2010, one year after they started brewing, Sun King reached 5,000 bbls of production.  This year, they expect to produce around  16,000 bbls.  More 90 bbl fermenters are on the way and Sun King expects to double production in the next year or so.   Lest you think the rapid expansion is at the expense of quality, remember those eight medals.  They won three more at the recent 2012 World Beer Cup in San Diego.

And hey, I got to try the stuff.

Sun King generously opened their doors to beer bloggers following the Conference wrap up session and we grabbed a short ride over to take in some lunch, plenty of tastings and a tour of the facilities. Sun King is the collaborative project of brewers Dave Colt and Clay Robinson (and partners Omar Robinson and Andy Fagg). It was the first full scale production brewery to open in Indianapolis since 1948.

Our superb tour guide Owen, who's something of the HR guy at Sun King but could easily convince you he was an owner/brewer, showed us all aspects of the brewery's operations.  As is common with brewery tours, we started with the grain area before moving to the mash tuns, fermenters and the like.  Sun King cans their beers and the canning line is pretty cool.  Given the expansion plans it seems an additional canning line might be in order as well.
After checking out the cold storage room we headed over to a separate building housing the sour and barrel aged beers.  The sours are kept in a room at about 78 degrees where they're undergoing secondary fermentation in the barrels.   The barrel aged beers are held in a separate cooler at around 55 degrees.  In each case, barrels from different sources are matched to the appropriate style of beer - lighter styles like, say, a maibock, get a less intense bourbon barrel than an imperial stout.

Back in the brewery we sampled a number of Sun King's beers including Wee Mac (Scottish style brown), Sunlight Cream Ale, Osiris Pale Ale, Cream Dream V (a hopped up Cream Ale), Popcorn Pilsner (yes, it is brewed with popcorn, a first for me), and their 3rd Anniversary beer, a hoppy black lager, my favorite of this very good bunch.  Toward the end of our stay Sun King was gracious enough to break out some Mai Pappy, a maibock aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels.  Mmmm . . . goodness.

Here are more scenes from the tour and festivities: 

July Beer Run Returns to Its Roots

This Wednesday marks the 2nd Anniversary of the Run Wild Missoula Beer Run and to mark the occasion they're returning to where it all began, the Silver Dollar Bar.

It's probably fair to say the idea for a regular beer run took root at the first Run Wild Missoula UNite at Kettlehouse in June 2010, where an incredible number of runners came out to support the organization's fundraiser.  Now, 24 runs later, these monthly celebrations of running and beer are a regular staple for those seeking a active, healthy lifestyle and a love of craft beer.

So, this Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at 6:00 p.m. head to the Silver Dollar Bar at 307 Railroad Street West, Missoula, for a five mile run (all paces and abilities welcome) followed by plenty of socializing in a quintessential Montana bar. Well, head there before 6:00 p.m. or you might wonder which direction everyone went.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Craft Beer's Collaborations

We craft beer enthusiasts are quick to side with our favorite breweries and beers. Yes, we enjoy trying new beers when we have the chance, but we often keep our favorites tucked away in the backs of our minds, asking ourselves, "Do I want to take a chance on this one, or do I just want a glass of my favorite porter from XYZ?"

Luckily, craft brewers are always one step ahead of us, and that's why they routinely, and creatively, collaborate on new brews. This summer in Missoula we've been fortunate to see several inter-brewery collaborations come through our shelves. Right now, in fact, you can try the Deschutes/Hair of the Dog Conflux No. 1 (Collage), or the Sierra Nevada/Russian River wild ale (BRUX), or the New Belgium/Lost Abbey Brett Beer.

These efforts of collaboration should be encouraged because not only do they (mostly) bring about good beers, they increase brand awareness for breweries that normally don't make it into certain states. For instance, in all three collaborations mentioned above, each is with a brewery that doesn't get distributed in Montana.

Collaborations can take another direction as well, one that showcases how well beer pairs with...well, everything, especially music, which is also an expression of talent and diversity that brings strangers together to enjoy a common experience.

Last year, New Belgium Brewing collaborated with the band Clutch, stemming from a chance encounter, and the result was a dark sour ale aptly named, Clutch. For a beer that represented a "raucous and riotous" band from Maryland and showcased the talents of barrel-aging New Belgium possessed, I thought it was a success in terms of taste and execution.

This year, and a little closer to home, Great Northern Brewing is collaborating with Kyle Hollingsworth (of String Cheese Incident) to create a unique Earl Grey Pale Ale for their summer concert series at Depot Park in Whitefish on August 4-5.

Great Northern Brewing prepared the following video discussing the collaboration with Hollingsworth, who is an avid homebrewer:

So I leave you with this: beer can be a rich shared experience among friends, among family, and among strangers. From a pint on the porch of your favorite brewpub to an evening tasting party with your buddies, beer is meant to a collaboration of all sorts. If it's anything else, you're probably doing it wrong.


I'll Take Two Pallets to Go, Please

Walking into the Monarch Beverage Company warehouse outside Indianapolis, IN, for a tour during the 2012 Beer Bloggers Conference, I thought 1.3 million cases was a lot of beer.  That's until Bob Mack of World Class Beverages, a division of Monarch, told us it was only a three week supply for one of the Country's largest distributors.


There were stacks of Coors Light bigger than my first house, but pallets of craft beer dotted the landscape like a beer geek's treasure hunt.

Monarch Beverage Co.'s facility was our last stop on day two of the beer bloggers conference, coming on the heels of a couple hours enjoying the 17th Annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival.  Before the tour, Monarch treated us to a tasty dinner with a very fine perk at the end: Bell's Brewery's Black Note Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout, a very limited, highly desired imperial stout.  Yeah, beer bloggers get the perks that matter.

The main reasons Monarch built the new facility three years ago was the ability to install a custom designed Vertique automatic picking system to handle the high-volume brands.  Full pallets of beer are placed in the system which sorts the individual cases into appropriate stacks for deliveries.  That's right, computers and robots.  For lower-volume brands, think most of the craft-segment beers, there is still quite a bit of automation, but beer loving humans are needed to break down the pallets to place them into the sorting mechanisms. 

The system not only organizes deliveries by store, but organizes the trucks so the deliveries come off the truck in the order of the stops.   Overall, it significantly increases efficiencies for Monarch's 600 employees who fill 80 delivery routes each day. 

My pictures don't do this system justice, but you're fortunately not stuck with my marginal photography skills. Here's a video of the system in action, courtesy of Monarch Beverage:


And now back to the inanimate portion of our programming.  Monarch also has a gigantic beer fridge.  It's the ultimate man cave (if you're keen on chilly temperatures) where stacks of kegs go on for days. Check it out along with more of the action:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Montana Weekend Beer Festivals To Quench Your Thirst

Thirsty?  There is plenty to do in Montana this weekend that will help take care of your thirst.

The MetraPark in Billings plays host to the 2nd Annual Montana Brews and BBQs on Saturday, July 21.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about those two things that go great together. Ryan over at Montana Beer Finder has all the details.

Historic Virginia City and the Bale of Hay Saloon host the 9th Annual Dog and Grog festival on Friday and Saturday, July 20th and 21st, 2012.  Friday Night is the Wee Dog Pint Night at the Bale of Hay with $2 pints from Butte's Quarry Brewing starting at 9:00 p.m. to go along with live music from Tom Susanj.

The brewfest gets started on Saturday at High Noon under the big tent next to the Bale of Hay.  Ten breweries are expected to take part including Lewis and Clark, Bitter Root, Bayern, Neptune’s Brewery, Madison River, Bozeman Brewing, Lone Peak, Kettle House, Quarry, and Blackfoot River. They've got a $16 package deal which includes a commemorative glass, a polish dog and eight beer samples of beer.  Comstock Lode plays classic rock throughout the day. Individual beer tickets and polish dogs are also available.

If you're in the Butte Area you can sign up to take a bus to and from the brewfest on Saturday by calling Quarry Brewing at 723-0245 or Tucker Transportation 723-4623.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Flathead Lake Brewing Co. Purchases New Building, Will Expand

The "little engine that could" has had to cross some pretty steep mountains, but it's now poised for a major expansion. That's how FLBC's Sandy Clare described it in announcing the brewery's purchase of a new location in Bigfork, MT, and plans for a major expansion.

It's hard to believe FLBC's brewery on the east shore of Flathead Lake temporarily shut down in early 2010.  In a little more than 2 years, they've reopened, added bottling, and wrung every bit of production space out of the Woods Bay location that started in 2004.  FLBC's comfortable feel, great brews, and superb views have long made it a worthy stop on the drive along the east shore. It's also entirely out of room.

That's all going to change over the next year as FLBC moves to a new location five miles north.  The building, located in Bigfork at the corner of  Holt Drive and Highway 35, previously housed the North Shore Bowling Alley.  The space is vacant now and FLBC is already working on plans for a total remodel.  Once work is done the site will house a much larger brewing facility and restaurant. If all goes according to plan, they hope to have the facility open by this time next year.

One thing that won't change is the superb view.  The building sits higher up than the current facility and offers incredible views of Flathead Lake. It's immediate proximity to the town of Bigfork will add a lot of convenience for tourists who flock to the town in the summer and the locals who don't want to drive in the winter.

Currently producing roughly 700 bbls per year, Sandy says the new location will provide plenty of room to steadily increase that number as demand continues to grow.  In fact, she says there's more than enough space to push through Montana's 10,000 barrel limit (for onsite tap rooms) and keep right on going.  All in good time.

What excites me most is brewer Tim Jacoby will now have plenty of room to add seasonals and specialty beers.  If you had the chance to try FLBC's Dirty Ginger or Tripel earlier this year you know we're in for a real treat.

I think maybe I'll celebrate by grabbing a Flathead Lake Imperial IPA out of the fridge.  I'd choose their espresso porter, but it's not bottled.  Yet (hint, hint).

Beer Glassware: Moving Far Beyond The Frosted Mug

Back at the beginning of June, Stan Hieronymus and Alan McLeod, two of the beer world's most followed and respected beer writers/bloggers, brought up the subject of the (then) forthcoming 2012 Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis, IN. 

Alan asked who planned to go and, in a round about way, why one might be drawn to it. Stan asked whether the conference content was sufficient to really improve the content of one's blog and wondered aloud what it is that bloggers should learn in order to get better at blogging.

I weighed in on the conversation with a half-assed answer, suggesting that the indirect benefits were more likely to be of value to me.  I threw in a line about the glassware session:
"I’m entirely curious at the comparative beer/glass tasting put on by Spiegelau, since I’m one to think different glassware doesn’t make much of a difference. Other than giving me content for a single blog post explaining my findings, that’s not going to do anything for regular posts." 
Stan commented back with this: "I predict you will declare the beer/glass tasting worth the cost of the trip. It could change future posts in many ways."

Although not convinced, I'll admit Stan's comment stuck with me as I approached the conference a month later.

On the Saturday of the conference we returned to the meeting room following an excellent beer lunch to find 100 sets of gleaming glassware lining the tables. The glasses were placed upon a paper place mat with labels for each of the glasses.  The four Spiegelau glasses - tall pilsner, wheat, lager and tulip - were pitted against the standard American bar pint glass. 

Spiegelau USA's rep (dapperly dressed, in stark contrast to us participants) gave the enthusiastic company schpeal on the 500 year history of Spiegelau, the superiority of the silica used in the glass, the optical purity of the glassware . . . . . . thank goodness the info was delivered enthusiastically . . . . . and instructed us on the tasting method.

To state the obvious, it helps to use great beer when comparing the effects of different glassware.  On that front we had the bases well covered.  Brooklyn Brewery's Brewmaster and authority on all things beer, Garret Oliver, was in the house pouring Brooklyn's brews:  Sorachi Ace (Saison), Weisse Beer, East India Pale Ale and Local 2 (Belgian-ish Dark Ale).

We were instructed to pour half the bottle into the standard pint glass and the other half into the glass designated for the beer.  We tested the aroma in the Spiegelau glass first, followed by the pint glass.  Next, the flavor in the Spiegelau glass followed by the flavor in the pint glass.  We repeated the process through the four beers, paying attention to color, temperature, head retention, and the like throughout the process.

One word sums it up:  eye-opening. Or does the hyphen make that two words?  Never mind.

Every aspect of the Spiegelau glass was superior to the standard pint.  No shocker there, but it was the extent of the difference which really caught my attention.  Bright, distinct aromas flowed from the glasses. The shape and thinness of the glass seemed to direct the beer right to the best spots for appreciating the flavors.  Head retention was excellent (not surprising given they were brand new, clean glasses).  Effervescence was distinctly noticeable and certainly contributed to those bright aromas and flavors. Though significantly thinner, the Spiegelau glasses kept the beer colder even many minutes after the pour.

When smelling the Weisse beer in the Spiegelau glass I immediately detected banana and smoke flavors.  I commented to a fellow participant that I must be missing something only to hear Garret ask if we were detecting the banana and smoke flavors.  Score!

Aromas were muted or difficult to detect in the pint glasses, colors were diminished, flavors were reduced or absent, and the beer warmed much faster. My ability to detect effervescence was much reduced. In contrast to the Spiegelau glasses, the pint glass actually got in the way of appreciating the beer. 

Just when we thought we were done, Garret motioned to the back of the room for another surprise:  bottles of Black Ops, Brooklyn's highly appreciated and crazy good barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout.  I didn't bother pouring any of this one into the pint glass.  It was all tulip.

Comparing the beer/glasses was like having the optometrist dial in your vision after squinting through old lenses for a couple of years.  Sure, you could see most of what's out there, but you were missing the gloriously fine details. 

Stan was right.  The comparative glass tasting event may very well have been worth the cost of the trip.

I don't know that the experience will change future blog posts in many ways since I'm not one to do many beer reviews, but my personal beer world certainly opened up. I won't be throwing out my trusty 'ole British pint glasses any time soon, but when tasting a special beer or treating myself to a favorite, you can bet I'll reach for the Spiegelaus.

Are they the best beer glasses ever?  I don't know since I've only compared them against the standard bar pint and not against other specialty beer glasses.   I do know this: they rock.

And, hey, Spiegelau, if you're listening I recommend two changes to your presentation. First, don't label the place for the pint glass as the "joker" glass.  Before the beer even starts pouring, you're telling us it's an inferior experience.  We already presume that since you're taking the poor bastard on, but it reads like a cheap trick that devalues the presentation. Second, during the presentation, don't tell us what we're about to experience in the way of aromas and flavors before we take a drink out of each glass. Let us discover the difference on our own.  You were right, but it's more fun for all involved to experience it first and discuss it second.

Cheers to a great beer experience.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Buying Bias: Does Sponsorship Play Too Big A Role?

Yesterday I was told I'm biased because I received a free gift as part of a presentation on beer glassware at the 2012 Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis, IN. I wasn't asked if the sponsor's generosity played a role in my opinions. I was simply told that the gift had such an effect.

Mind you, no one called me out specifically by name.  The comment was made by a person who is not participating in the conference and did not take part in the presentation.  She doesn't know me and doesn't follow me. It's a person who has cultivated a rather brash personality in the beer world which serves her well, if not generally advancing the parts of the craft beer world that most of us beer writers seek to explore.

I have no need to name names because this post isn't about her, it's about the question.  When does sponsorship play too big a role and are beer writers smart enough to know the difference? 

There's a significant difference between asking the question and presuming the result. It's the difference between investigation and predetermination. It's the difference between digging deeper and being satisfied with the sound bite.

The collection of participants at the Conference is an interesting cross section of society.  There are a handful of professional writers, but there's also lawyers, accountants, security consultants, computer programmers, bottle shop owners and more.  As I've observed my fellow participants, one consistent theme has emerged.  Traditional marketing does not work with this group.

Some of the sponsors get this, some don't.  There's a wide range of craft beer sophistication among the participants, but universally they're an inquisitive group.  If anything, the main area we must work to overcome is an inherent bias against the sponsors.

While I didn't appreciate being told I was biased, I do appreciate being challenged to check my line of thinking.  Sure, the comment was intentionally antagonistic rather than naturally inquisitive, but I'm pretty good at keeping an open mind.

Oh, and the glassware is awesome.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Live Beer Blogging Brings Chaos to Beer Geekery

Always one of the best session at the Beer Bloggers Conference, the Live Beer Blogging session lived up to the hype yesterday afternoon on the first day of the 2012 conference in Indianapolis, IN.

Here's how it works.  Conference attendees sit around ten circular tables with laptops, ipads, cellphones, and cameras at the ready.  Ten breweries, each assigned to a table, have five minutes to tell the bloggers something about their brewery, pour a sample of their beer, describe it, and answer questions - all while bloggers frantically attempt to put their thoughts out to cyberspace. When the five minutes are up, the breweries rotate to the next table.

It's a mixture of frustrating and fantastic fun.  Fun, because of the frenzied, lively atmosphere.  Frustrating in the in sense that most of us typically take our time with a beer. But, hey, the fun part of it definitely carries the day.

Here's the list in the order we tried them at Table No. 6: 
  • Arctic Panzer Wolf Imperial IPA, Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN
  • Shift Pale Lager, New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO.
  • End Game Russian Imperial Stout, Big Horn Brewing Co. (Ram), Indianapolis, IN
  • Hazed and Infused IPA, Boulder Beer Co., Boulder, CO.
  • Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
  • Schlafly American IPA, The St. Louis Brewery, St. Louis, MO
  • Damien Belgian Golden Strong Ale, Barley Island Brewing Co., Noblesville, IN
  • Workingman's Pilsner, Fountain Square Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
  • Magnificent Amber, Triton Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
My favorite was Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, followed very closely with End Game RIS - not surprisingly since big stouts are my favorite style. The Arctic Panzer Wolf - an imperial IPA at the opposite end of the spectrum from the stouts - totally rocks, too.

I suspect the brewers/breweries feels a sense of relief when the ten lightning quick sessions are done, but they've gained a lot of fans in the process.  Here are some pictures from the fun.