After being in a long distance relationship for the past four years, I decided to do something incredible for Andrew this Valentine’s day. His favorite thing in the entire world is baseball, but since it’s a little too cold for baseball here in the Midwest, I opted for his second favorite thing: good beer.
Indianapolis is proud of their local beers and is always promoting the support of local breweries. After speaking to some colleagues who consider themselves beer and alcohol experts, I compiled a list of places I would take Andrew to. I was able to keep this beer tour a secret from Andrew for about a month, which is huge because I am usually awful at keeping surprises a secret.
Our tour started around 12 pm and our first stop was Flat 12. This brewery is fairly new, having only opened in 2010. The ambiance was very chill and it seemed like a great place to hangout during the summer, especially because you can bring your dogs (You know where we’ll be this summer, with our pup, Chipper ;)) Our favorites from Flat 12 were:
Lacto-Matic Milk Stout: Chocolate-y goodness with a hint of coffee. ABV: 5%, IBU: 28.6
Winter Cycle Double IPA: A super hoppy double IPA featuring 6 different hops, from 3 continents. ABV: 9.3%, IBU: 107
Hinchtown Hammer Down: Crispy and bright, this beer just made us dream of warm weather. ABV 5%, IBU: 27
Next, we went to Sun King, where we met a really cool couple – the man, was half Filipino (this is how our conversation started) and from California, and his wife was from Ukraine; how they met or ended up in Indianapolis, nobody knows. Here, we shared a sampler which included:
Sunlight Cream Ale: Probably our least favorite – it honestly tasted like water to me. But this beer has its credentials, having earned the silver medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup in the Golden or Blonde Ale category. ABV: 5.3%, IBU: 20
Wee Mac Scottish-Style Ale: This is one of Andrew’s go-to beers because of its hops balanced out with sweetness. ABV: 5.3%, IBU: 23
Osiris Pale Ale: Hops hops, and more hops. ABV: 5.6%, IBU: 50
Ring of Dingle: A February special and probably my favorite at Sun King, a classic Irish stout with a hint of pumpkin (I love pumpkin beer). ABV: 4.8%, IBU: 34
Winterfest: A winter special (obviously), a German-style lager, with hints of hops and a crisp, dry finish. ABV: 5.6%, IBU: 23
Malus Pi: Supposedly a fruit beer that tastes like apple pie, but I didn’t catch that. Pretty much tasted like any other beer. ABV: 5.3%, IBU: 14.5
Third, Chilly Water Brewing Company, which had a modern and cool vibe to it, located in an area I’d definitely like to return and hangout. However, this was probably our least favorite stop because the service was so awful – we had three different waitresses who didn’t once check on us, and we were just trying to give them more business by ordering more! Anyway, here, Andrew had one favorite, the White Room Cream Stout. He enjoyed it because of its odd texture of a milk stout but tasted differently compared to other milk stouts he had in the past.
Around 4:30 pm, we decided to have linner at Rook, an Asian fusion-type restaurant, which offers a mixture of flavors from all over Asia and Pacific Islands. Rook was also recommended to me by my colleagues at The Chef’s Academy (TCA), and the executive chef, Carlos Salazar is also a graduate from TCA. We were very pleased with our visit to Rook and here’s a breakdown of what we ate:
Pork belly steamed buns: We were thinking this would be like manapua – a local favorite in Hawaii. But it was quite different. The pork belly was similarly laid across the same kind of steamed bun but was flavored with pickled cucumber, peanuts, scallions, and hoisin. It was really interesting and quite different from what we’re used to. Personally, we didn’t like the added peanuts because it just seemed like too much. However, the pork belly was salted and seasoned perfectly.
Fried lumpia: The fried lumpia was probably Andrew’s favorite. Filled with pork and dressed with kimchi and date gochujang, this yummy appetizer had a savory beefy flavor and an opposing spice, which complimented each other very well.
Karaage: This dish reminded us of some of Hawaii’s favorites, Mochiko and Korean chicken. It was chicken thighs, flavored with a sweet chili sauce, onions, frenos, cilantro, basil, and mint, over rice. The mint really stood out like no other, and was a little overpowering at times, but overall, a delicious meal.
Pig face hash: Pig face, weird huh? I figured, I eat spam, so whatever. This dish was delicious to say the least. Probably a little too salty for those who don’t like salt as much, but for me, yum! It was served over white rice, with a fried egg on top of the pork, which was flavored with pork crackling, fresnos, and lime.
Our last stop of the day, (we unfortunately didn’t get to all of the breweries on my list) wasn’t even a brewery. Instead, we tried something completely new at New Day Craft, which specializes in mead and ciders. This was a swanky little place that I probably would have hung out at a lot during college, and it had fun events each week like massages, yoga classes, etc., but I did not particularly enjoy the mead. To me, mead tasted like a fruit juice trying really hard to be an alcoholic drink. Personally, I like wine, some beers, and drinks with rum (i.e., mojitos, yum), so this mead stuff was a little off base for me. So I won’t go into the details of everything I tried, but I will tell you about my favorite.
Shelby blue ribbon which was strawberry flavored, tinted with rhubarb. I liked it because it reminded me of a “guamosa,” a guava juice mimosa, aka delicious at any time of day. ABV: 8%, Sugar: 5%.
This concluded our Valentine’s day beer tour. We both had so much fun doing something new and enjoying each other’s company. Did we miss any must-drink breweries? Let me know! We were bummed that we didn’t make it to Fountain Square, but we can go some other time.