‘Indiana Breweries,’ a well-written guide to craft beer in the Hoosier State
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Indiana breweries have achieved a strong level of recognition in the craft beer world, and in the case of 3 Floyds’ Dark Lord, a cult-like following for the Russian Imperial Stout released on one day each year that draws hundreds of golden-ticket holders to the brewery’s Munster home on Dark Lord Day.
But the Hoosier State boasts dozens of other craft breweries and brew pubs, and John Holl and Nate Schweber profile 37 of them in “Indiana Breweries,” a travel guide recently published by Stackpole Books.
The authors divide the book by regions: Northern Indiana, Central Indiana and Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Southern Indiana. The sections begin with an overview of the region that highlights recreational activities, available lodging and local attractions. Other tidbits about Indiana and its brewing history are scattered throughout the book.
Holl and Schweber wrote a travel guide, not a manual for beer geeks. Readers won’t find specifics on International Bittering Units (IBU) or yeast strains. What they will find is a literary snapshot of each brewery, the types of beers brewed, available tours and the authors’ pick of what they think is the best beer to try at each spot.
Both authors are veteran journalists. Holl worked for The New York Times and Indianapolis Star. Freelance journalist Schweber’s work has been seen in The New York Times, Rollling Stone and the Village Voice, among others. The literary style used in the brewery profiles shows the authors’ skills.
An example of this is when the authors recount the back story for Jack the Bum’s Pale Ale in the profile for Power House Brewing Co. in Columbus:
“He lived and died by the banks of the Flatrock River in a shack built for him by grateful parents of children he taught to swim in the waters that ran under his old home, a railroad bridge in Noblitt Park known as ‘Jack the Bum’s Bridge.’
“A swimmer of surprising grace, Jack Miller, later ‘Uncle Jack’ to his students and ‘Jack the Bum’ to his immortalizers, was renowned for teaching youngsters how to paddle in those then-unpolluted waters. He even saved one boy from drowning.
“Though he passed away at the age of eighty-five, Jack the Bum still looks out at Columbus from a painting on the walls of City Hall. Below the words, ‘Childhood Friend’ and ‘Storyteller,’ the painting shows a snow-bearded Jack, clad in an old-time swimsuit, holding hands with kids and standing in the water with Columbus in the background.”
The craft brewing scene in the United States currently enjoys a period of enormous growth, which puts the immutable printed word in danger of becoming outdated. Holl has dealt with this possibility by establishing a website at http://beerbriefing.com/ that will be updated with new openings and closings in the Indiana beer scene.
Also, Holl said, any future editions of the guide will be updated before they are printed. He added that the book should soon be available on Kindle and other e-readers, which should make it easier to keep things current.
This is the latest in a series of regional brewery guidebooks published by Stackpole Books. Previous ones are “Pennyslvania Breweries” (now in its fourth edition) by Lew Bryson; and “Michigan Breweries” by Maryanne Nasiatka and Paul Ruschmann.
Road Trips for Beer highly recommends “Indiana Breweries” for anyone planning a Road Trip for Beer to the Hoosier State.
Indiana Breweries. By John Holl and Nate Schweber. Foreword by Roger A. Baylor. Introduction by the authors: Stackpole Books, 2011. 144 pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8117-0661-2