Indiana Jones

A guide to get you itching for a beercation in Indianapolis.

10519200_10152187573072391_5069328225471275718_o_02Who says craft beer hasn’t taken hold in the heartland? To name just one, the state of Indiana is home to over 80 craft breweries and counting. Its capital Indianapolis alone (pop. 820,445) has 18-plus within city limits. Count one hour outside the city and double that.

With the popularity of brew buses, party bikes and tours rising, it is feasible to reach numerous breweries all in a few short hours. And thanks to a relatively recent ruling, you can get fresh beer and growlers direct from breweries on any Sunday, a work-around reversal of the longtime ban on cold beer sales from liquor stores on the day of rest.

With many of the best bourbon distilleries in Kentucky and Tennessee close by, nearly every established brewery in town now has a barrel-aging program, too. Sun King Brewing, for example, uses the legendary Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-Year-Old Bourbon barrels. Might I have… a single drop?

What’s your favorite beer from the Midwest? Tell us below.

And read on for some tips on breweries and beer bars to seek out in The Circle City.

The legendary Three Floyds brewery is about three hours away in Munster, Indiana, a bit too far for an easy road trip. But you can usually find their beers in town. Brews like Zombie Dust, Gumball Head, and Alpha King are all occasionally on tap at Shallo’s, MacNiven’s, Front Page Sports Bar & Grill, or the craft-only, Indiana-only Tomlinson Tap.

And don’t let the name fool you: popular hangout Twenty Tap in south Broad Ripple serves up a plethora of unique and hard-to-come by brews. They change their 36 taps nearly daily, host tap takeovers almost weekly, and brew their own beer on-site under the clever name Twenty Below. The city's largest beer bar, HopCat, just opened in Broad Ripple with a whopping 130 lines from local to international brews. Thirsty yet?

As for breweries, look for Flat 12 Bierwerks, whose innovative brews like Upside Down Blonde, Massive Retaliation and Purricane are bracketed by a busy seasonal release schedule. They also host several events a month from comedy nights to screenings of retro and local indie films. Sun King is truly the king of local Indianapolis beer. With at least one tap handle in nearly every bar in the city, they were the first to change the Hoosier beer scene.

Visiting on a Friday? Fill up a 64-ounce growler of one of their house beers to go for only five bucks. Scarlet Lane Brewing is a newbie in town whose female head brewer (booyah!) brings a West-coast approach with session-able beer styles including a rotating stout, red IPA and a saison. Whether you are looking for big hop flavor or a crisp, clean finish, MashCraft brewery (south of the city center, in Greenwood) will have a huge variety of styles available late-summer, including a Java Stout and a Scottish Session.

Photo Credit: Sun King Brewing Company

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