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Hop Notes celebrates six years with a week of giveaways

It’s hard to believe that six years ago, on February 25, 2009, I published my first blog post.

At that time the blog was named Beer Nuts and it was only online with The Elkhart Truth website. Now, many posts later, Hop Notes lives on Flavor 574, and is often published in the Monday print edition of The Truth.

There is no easy way to figure out how many beers and breweries that I have logged over that time, but I have figured out how many posts have been published.

In celebration, this week I will be giving away lots of glassware, stickers, books, bottles openers and a Iechyd Da growler and gift card.

If you think that you can figure out how many total posts I have published since Feb. 25, 2009, send your guess to with Iechyd Da in the subject line.  

The person who comes the closest to the exact number by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, will earn the Iechyd Da growler and $10 gift card for a fill. The winner will need to be able to pick up his or her prize at DIY Coffee and Ale Supply in Goshen.

While I was picking up the growler, I had a chance to enjoy a couple of Chip Lewis’ beers at Iechyd Da Brewing.

Dragon’s Lair (imperial coffee stout, 10 percent ABV, IBUs 70) is one of my favorite seasonals, and since it is best slightly warmer than draft temperature, I ordered it first to let it sit.

While I was letting it warm up a bit, I ordered a Syndicate Black Rye (5.1 percent ABV, IBUs 36). To my knowledge, this is the first appearance of this beer on the Iechyd Da menu.

The Black Rye poured a very dark black, with a one-finger head that dissipated slowly, leaving a nice bit of lacing on the glass.

The aroma consisted of piney hops, roasty malt, and spice from the flaked and crystal rye. There was a good amount of carbonation, with hearty roasty malt flavor, a spicy finish and a creamy mouthfeel.

The name is inspired from this bit of history found on the Martins Pet and Garden Center website:

The original two story section of Martins was built as the first post office building in Elkhart in 1868. The North End “Syndicate,” a group of businessmen, raised $14,000 to erect the building, and then leased it to the U.S. Government for $1 a year. A newspaper article from the Elkhart Review, in January of 1868, stated “there were 207 lockboxes and drawers fitted up with Yale’s patent lock.” Special agents of the Post Office Department pronounced the interior “the most conveniently arranged and elegantly furnished office in the west.” The Elkhart Review newspaper was located on the 2nd floor and another newspaper, The Observer, was printed in the basement. The post office remained at 116 W Jackson until 1886.

After my snifter of Dragon’s Lair came a little closer to cellar temperature, I dove into this coffee-lover’s beer. The aroma was not surprisingly full of coffee and bitter chocolate. The flavor alternated between sweet malt, and bitter chocolate and coffee. It was a full-bodied, viscous beer just right for these cold wintry days we’ve been having.

Since more wintry days are in the forecast, here are a few more choices that have recently arrived in Michiana.

On Black Friday, Flat 12 Bierwerks released its Pinko Russian Imperial Stout (10.3 percent ABV, IBUs 86.3).  It was my understanding, at the time, that this was to be a pub-only release, but bottles have made their way into Michiana distribution.

Flat 12 was pouring the 2013 vintage of this beer at the South Bend Brewfest, and there is a good possibility (I was not able to confirm this directly with the brewery) that these bottles in distribution are also from that 2013 vintage.

The heat from the alcohol is hidden well on this beer. It pours a very thick black with coffee, molasses and bitter chocolate on the nose. The flavor follows pretty closely with a strong, bitter chocolate flavor up front and a dry finish.

There was not a huge number of bottles that made their way to Michiana, so call ahead if you are searching for these.

Although I have not opened them yet, here are two other bottled beers that have landed in our area.

  • Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti (Imperial stout, 9.5 percent ABV) comes in 22 oz. bottles and is part of Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout series. It is brewed with Pablo’s coffee and aged on oak chips.
  • Dogfish Head 120 Minute (imperial IPA) is one of the epic beers from this brewery. The alcohol by volume is listed at 15 to 20 percent, so it is a bit of a monster. Not only is the beer very limited in our area, but bottle shops will most definitely have purchase limits per customer as well.

Whether it’s big stouts you are looking for or double IPAs, check out your local Michiana bottle shops. We are very lucky to have great selections in our area with helpful staff.  My recommendations are Chalet Party Shoppe and City Wide Liquors for the widest selections.

For more Michiana beer news and commentary from Eric Strader, subscribe to the Hop Notes email newsletter. Stay tuned all week for more giveaways celebrating six years of Hop Notes.

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