Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big Ten Road Trips, part 2, Indiana University

So, for some inexplicable reason, you decide you want to go to a football game at Indiana. You just can't get enough Hoosier; or you figure it might be the only win on Illinois' schedule that year. And you want to stop and have a freshly brewed beverage on the way (or in the area), where are you gonna go?

In part 1, I listed some of the breweries that you'll find on the way up to Northwestern. Now, we'll see what's around Memorial Stadium (Indiana). From Champaign to Memorial Stadium, it's about a 3 hour drive. There's not a whole lot on the way. It's nice in Indiana with the 70 MPH speed limit, but that's on the interstate; the shortest trip takes you on some backwoods looking roads.

The main brewery in Bloomington is Upland Brewing Company. Once you find Memorial Stadium, Upland is about a 3 minute drive away. When I think of Upland, I think of their Lambics. Their sour beers don't seem as sweet as Lindeman's flavored lambics, but they have a really good taste. I've had some of their other beers, like the Wheat Ale and Bad Elmer's Porter. I don't remember them significantly, but don't remember them being horrible either. The B'ton Tap Room is open daily for lunch and dinner. Even though it's in Indiana, it's smoke-free; so you'll be able to fully enjoy your beer.

There's really nothing else on the direct route to Indiana. There's some wineries, but that's not my focus.

Now, if you take an alternate route to get to Bloomington, like say... Go around 465 on your way back, you've got some more options.

Your Saturday might start off with a trip to Bloomington from Champaign, and you go straight there. The game ends, and you head to Upland. But, it's still only about 4 pm and you want some more beer. You don't really have anything else to do, so you head straight east out of Bloomington, to I 65. Now, you've got choices.

The first choice is Oaken Barrel Brewing Company. From the Stadium to Oaken Barrel, it's about 45 miles (you don't have to go to I 65). Oaken Barrel puts out some good beers. Snake Pit is a pretty good porter. Gnaw Bone is a good APA. Indiana Amber is a good gateway beer. They are open from 11 am until midnight (m-th) 1 am (f,s) and until 10pm on Sunday. They have a full restaurant. I've heard good things about the place.

If you head into downtown Indianapolis, there are 3 brewery/brewpubs within a couple of blocks of each other.

The first one I go to is Ram Restaurant & Brewery. It's on South Illinois Street, in the same building as a large parking garage. If you are driving down Illinois Street, it's the building on the left that has a grain bin on the side. Ram Brewery is kind of like a slightly fancier TGIFridays. It's not Olive Garden-esque to me (not that I think Olive Garden is fancy); it might be like Cheddars (is that still open in Champaign?). Their beer is good, and their appetizers are good. They are a chain, like Rock Bottom, but aren't as well known, or available as Rock Bottom. Their beers are good, and the food is good.

Directly across the street is Alcatraz Brewing Company. Alcatraz is kind of a chain, except there are only two of them. One in Orange California, the other in Indianapolis. The food at Alcatraz is good. The beer is good. If you are wanting to try a lot of different beer in a day, and not have to travel very far, go to downtown Indy.

About two blocks away from Alcatraz is another of the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery chains. Again, it's a big chain. They do make some awesome specialty brews, but their regular daily brews (the ones that pay the bills) aren't the greatest. They are good/serviceable beers, but the usual suspects aren't the best. Look for a seasonal or brewers special if you go.

Since there's doesn't seem to be too much around the Lafayette area, we'll leave northern Indianapolis for the Purdue trip.

*When you want to know about Indiana beer, go to the experts. HoosierBeerGeek, they were the people at Three Floyds Dark Lord day at the Dork Lord tent. They sent me some info about some other places to go to.

Big Woods Brewing Company is located in Nasheville, Indiana. Nashville Indiana is about 20 miles away from the stadium on Indiana-46 E. HBG hasn't had their beer yet, so can't say how it is.

Further down 46E is Columbus, Indiana. Home of Power House Brewing Co. Columbus is 36 miles east of the stadium. HBG says they are a tiny brewery. Their website doesn't even mention their beer.

Another downtown Indy Brewery is Sun King Brewing Co. HBG says Sun King isn't open on Saturday nights; so you should get there early.

There's also a Scotty's Brew House in downtown Indy. Although HBG says they don't brew their own.

So, there's some more if you are coming up from Bloomington over to Indianapolis and back to Champaign Urbana.

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