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South Bend Brew Fest 2015 celebrates beer, food and history this Saturday

The fourth annual South Bend Brew Fest is set to take place Saturday, Jan. 24. This year’s event includes some great additions, including a VIP area.

If you don’t already have tickets, sorry: The VIP part of the festival is sold out. However, plenty of general admission tickets are still available.

Food pairings will be one of the main draws for the VIP area of the festival. Century Center Executive Chef Marc Rossetti is working with each VIP brewery to create a specific food item to pair with each beer. I just received the VIP menu, and here is what you can look forward to from each of these eight hand-selected breweries:

  • Triton Brewing Hatch Blower IPA (IPA flavored with green pepper, chipotles and jalapenos during the conditioning process, 7 percent ABV, IBUs 70) paired with andouille sausage “Pig in a Puff Pastry Blanket” with Hatchblower whole-grain honey mustard.
  • Upland Barrel Chested Barley Wine (9.5 percent ABV, IBUs 50) aged in oak barrels previously used by the Willett Distilling Co., paired with Oh! Mamma’s goat cheese croquettes with aioli.
  • South Bend Brew Werks SB 150 Wild Ale (7.1 percent ABV, IBUs 40.7), paired with Oh! Mamma’s pepperjack grilled cheese and Oh! Mamma’s Gorgonzola grilled cheese.
  • Flat 12 Werks Pinko Russian Imperial Stout (10.3 percent ABV, IBUs 86.3) paired with local rabbit stew.
  • Chapman’s Brewing Co. Baltic Porter paired with Oh! Mamma’s buffalo mozzarella basil tomato caprese skewers.
  • Burn ’Em Brewery’s Red Dead Revelvet (hybrid style red stout brewed with lactose and cacao nibs and fermented with bourbon-soaked vanilla beans) with Mexican hot chocolate, paired with dark chocolate-dipped local smoked bacon on a stick.
  • Iechd Da Brewing Co. Revolution American IPA infused with blood orange. Summer Lewis from Iechyd Da told me that they are taking a limited-edition “one-off” beer to each festival they attend this year, and these brews will not be available anywhere else, including the brewery. This beer will be paired with caramel pretzel carrot cake.
  • Evil Czech’s Monk’s Trinity Belgian Stout paired with chocolate mousse.

All of the food for the beer parings is locally sourced, including cheese from Oh! Mamma’s cheese shop, which sells locally produced cheeses from J2K Capraio Farms near Walkerton.

Each VIP brewery will have its own table with the beer and food pairings together for sampling. I have sampled beer from all of these breweries except Chapman’s Brewing, which recently opened in Angola. From what I’ve tasted, they are all brewing really good beer. I am especially excited about the beer from Iechyd Da Brewing, Burn ’Em Brewing and South Bend Brew Werks.

Brew Fest will be honoring South Bend’s 150th anniversary by featuring over 150 beers, and the first 150 people through the door will receive a special commemorative gift. 

South Bend Brew Werks is doing its part to celebrate with a different style of beer each month this year. During January, it brewed an IPA with the name SB IPA 150. As a featured VIP brewery, it will be bringing SB 150 Wild Ale, which will be the featured beer for February at the brewery.

South Bend Brew Werks brewer Jason Nelson told me that he really wanted to brew a sour ale. Here is how he explains his wild ale.

“Basically, I cannot call it a Flanders Red or and Oud Bruin because I did not brew it in Belgium in the Flanders area. It also does not fit other style guidelines as a sour.”

He did, however, use Brettanomyces yeast, a wild yeast strain, and Lactobacillus bacteria, so it is a wild ale.

This complex sour ale includes aromas of tropical fruits, earth, black pepper, grainy malts and sour notes. The combination of Brettanomyces Claussenii and Bella Saison yeasts, as well as Lactobacillus bacteria adds distinctively earthy, fruity, black pepper flavor and a touch of tart to aroma as well as the palate.

He further explained his celebratory brew:

“I used flaked oats, wheat and rye in the beer that has some sugars that are otherwise unfermentable to Saccromyces yeast (the yeast that is used to normally ferment beer), but Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus will eat it and this is why the beer has those particular flavors. Flaked oats, wheat and rye (are) used in a beer normally to give it some body, plus other flavors that are wanted, but since the Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus can eat those sugars that are unfermentable, the beer is dry and has a light body.”

In the general admission area, South Bend Brew Werks will be serving Cascading White Water (wheat beer, 5.2 percent ABV, IBUs 21.3), 1865 Amber (5.3 percent ABV, IBUs 32.5), Colonel Eddy (oatmeal stout, 5 percent ABV, IBUs 30.6), 9 Aye (black IPA, 7.2 percent ABV, IBUs 70.1), Mr. Elegante (smoked porter, 5.7 percent ABV, IBUs 32.8) and Stargazer (IPA, 6.8 percent ABV, IBUs 66.9). 

Jim Moller of Michiana Extract and Grain Association (MEGA, South Bend’s local home brew organization), told me that they won’t be doing homebrew demonstrations as had been hoped. Instead, they will have several beers on hand for tasting, including a pale ale in mango, Russian Imperial Stout barrel aged on cacao nibs and coffee, Roggen bier (rye beer), Alt beer, Double Imperial Pale Ale and an English mild or bitter.

Some of these beers will be run through a Randall, a device credited to Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach, Del. This double-chamber device is connected to the tap and can fill the beer with flavor-enhancing ingredients such as hops, fruit and coffee.

Some of our great local brewers have their roots in MEGA, including Chip Lewis, Iechyd Da Brewing, Elkhart; Chris Gerard, Bare Hands Brewing, Granger; and Andy Walton, Crooked Ewe Brewery and Ale House (opening soon in South Bend).

As a 2015 event sponsor, South Bend Public Transportation Corp.  will provide free transportation on some of its routes between noon and 6 p.m. Check the Transpo website for exact routes. Riders need only to show their Brew Fest ticket for free transportation.

According to event organizer Crista Tompson, this year’s event is bigger and better than ever, featuring more breweries than in past years. No matter what your taste in beer, there is certain to be something to your liking. So, come celebrate 150 years of the city of South Bend, celebrate local food, and celebrate beer at the South Bend Brew Fest 2015.

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