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New local breweries making progress, and Bell's Hopslam arrives in Michiana

The title pretty much says it all. The much anticipated imperial IPA Bell’s Hopslam (10 percent ABV, IBUs 90) was released in Michigan during Kalamazoo Beer Week, and sold out within a few days.

I purchased my six-pack today at Chalet Party Shoppe, so I’m guessing that Hopslam is probably around the rest of Michiana as well — and trust me, it will not last long.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to update you about some local breweries around the area.

Goshen Brewing Co. is coming along well with lots of progress. I stopped in last week while Jesse Sensenig and Jesse Shoemaker were cleaning up some of the kitchen equipment.

Today, I stopped in to get a photo of the poured concrete bar, and found Sensenig setting up his seven-barrel brewhouse. He was very happy to inform me that the expected set of stairs entering the middle of the brewhouse is no longer necessary. This will allow more space for expansion when he is ready to add more fermenters to his existing five.

Andy Walton from Crooked Ewe Brewery and Ale House let me know that things are going well in South Bend. Construction continues at full speed ahead and the mug club Kickstarter should go live in the next few days. Watch Crooked Ewe’s Facebook page for further information on this.

Installation of Andy’s ten barrel system is complete and the first wave of brewing went better than expected. He told me, “I am working through my process, increasing my efficiency and becoming more comfortable with each brew.”

Currently the fermentors are full of “1167” Cream Ale, a light, easy to drink beer with Cascade hops; “Westfield,” an American wheat with a light-medium body brewed with Perle hops; an unnamed Scottish ale, with medium-full body and a malty sweetness, bittered with Goldings hops; and “Recneps,” Oatmeal Stout with a full body, rich and roasty, bittered with Goldings hops.

Later this week Andy will transfer the cream ale to a serving tank, and then the next round of brewing will begin. In the works will be an American amber with Columbus, Cascade and Centennial hops, and then “Vital,” an American IPA brewed with obscene amounts of Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe hops.

Once the big tanks are full again, he will transition to the one-third barrel system to crank out as many “beta” beers as he can before opening. He has a few used 15-gallon barrels from Journeyman Distillery that need to be filled for aging, so there will be plenty of big stouts and barleywines in the works as well.

Check out Crooked Ewe’s Facebook page to see Andy’s named fermentors. (Yes, both Andy and I got our mail order out last week for tickets to the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well tour this summer — more on that below.) So far, no opening dates have been announced, but keep your ears and eyes open. Crooked Ewe is going to be a great addition to Michiana.

Thomas Stieglitz Brewing is still on the horizon for Goshen. Gary has confirmed with me that federal and state permits have been approved and now he is waiting for approval of a food service plan from the health department.

The hope is to begin construction by the end of February and open sometime this spring. Check out Stieglitz Brewing’s Facebook page to see some photos of their recent chilly outside brewing of Ten Pin cream ale.  

You have probably heard that Hydraulic Ale Works is no longer considering opening in the Hawks Building along the Goshen Mill Race. They have not, however, given up on this area. I think it’s pretty safe to say that you will hear more from them in the near future.

Aside from Hopslam, here are a few bottled beers (and possibly draft for some of them as well) that will arrive soon in Michiana:  

  • One of my favorites, Dark Horse Plead the 5th (Russian imperial stout, 11 percent ABV) should land sometime next week. You can find the other four beers in Dark Horse’s holiday stout series around the area as well: One Oatmeal Stout, Two Cream Stout, Tres Blueberry Stout and Fore Smoked Stout.
  • Sixpoint Hi-Res (imperial IPA, 10.5 percent ABV, IBUs 115) 
  • Great Divide Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti (9.5 percent ABV)
  • Three Floyds Behemoth (barleywine, 10.5 percent ABV, IBUs 80) 

The craft beer specialist at Chalet Party Shoppe is working on a beer cellar expansion in the humidor at the Cassopolis Street location. It will not be as large as the cellar section at the Jefferson Street City Wide in South Bend, but almost half of the space will be dedicated to beer.

Also, Chalet will be receiving another shipment soon from Starlight Distributors, which will include Jolly Pumpkin’s version (Persimmon Ship) of their collaboration with Upland Brewing (Permission Slip) and Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze (6 percent ABV).

Lastly, people often ask me what I have been drinking. Here are three beers that I have recently enjoyed.

As a Grateful Dead fan, I am excited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this great band. Last year Dogfish Head released American Beauty (imperial pale ale, 9 percent ABV, IBUs 55), and they have released it again this year with a commemorative label. American Beauty was a limited release beer and I doubt there are any bottles left around anywhere.

The remaining original members of band will be reunited one last time for three shows at Soldier Field in Chicago. For those of you not familiar with the Dead, Andy from Crooked Ewe named his fermentors after some epic Greatful Dead songs. Both Andy and I have sent in our mail order requests for tickets and are now waiting for a miracle.

Global Beer Network, the US importer of Brouwerij Van Steenberge, sent me a bottle of its new Gulden Draak Brewmaster’s Edition (Belgian strong dark ale, 10.5 percent ABV). This special brew was created by seventh-generation brewmaster Jef Versele, as a tribute to his grandfather ‘Jozef Van Steenberge’ and the 230th birthday of Brewery Van Steenberge.

Brewmaster’s Reserve was created by aging original Gulden Draak in whiskey barrels. Over time, the aging process allowed the beer to take on the flavors of the barrel wood and the liquor that was previously housed in the barrel, resulting in a unique blend of rich flavors.

If you have some favorite beers that you have tried lately let us know in the comments. Whether from far away or purchased locally, there are many great beers out there to enjoy.

Gulden Draak Brewmaster’s Edition comes in a 750 ml cork and caged bottle and pours a beautiful golden color with a thin head. The aroma is full of Belgian candy sugar, caramel, whiskey and some vanilla. The flavor might be just a bit too sweet for my palate, but the alcohol very well hidden. It is a fairly drinkable beer with flavors pretty much following the aroma with notes of candy sugar, vanilla, whiskey, oak and fruit.  

I have yet to confirm whether this bottle will be available in Indiana, but it will show up in some parts of Michigan. Other Gulden Draak brands such as Gulden Draak (Dark Triple, 10.5 percent ABV) and Gulden Draak 9000 Quadruple (10.7 percent ABV) are available in Indiana.

Schlafly Brewing Co. distributes many of its beers to the Michiana area, and the St. Louis brewery is celebrating its 23rd anniversary with the release of Imperial Topaz (imperial IPA, 10.2 percent ABV). Imperial Topaz is the traditional stone to celebrate a 23 year anniversary, so it is not coincidental that Schlafly chose Topaz hops for this anniversary beer.  

Brewmaster James “Otto” Ottolini says, “This Imperial IPA is a light amber color, has a bold but elegant citrus flavor and delicious aroma.  We discovered the Topaz hop from a grower on the island of Tasmania, Australia, who supplies the hops for our much loved Tasmanian IPA. When I realized that the gemstone for the 23rd is Imperial Topaz, this became a perfect fit.”

This limited edition beer was released at anniversary parties at both Schlafly Tap Room and Schlafly Bottleworks in late December, and it is my understanding that it was not released outside of the St. Louis area. I am thankful to my cousin, who lives in St. Louis and recently brought this bottle on a visit.

The aroma provides some notes of citrus, peach, and earthy hops.  It has a well balanced flavor, with a good malt backbone and just a hint of citrus and fruity hops.


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