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Hop Notes: Celebrate Indiana's Bicentennial with a brewery tour around Hamilton County

This year the state of Indiana celebrates it’s 200th year, and there is a long tradition of brewing in the state. You can learn about some of that history in a book co-authored by Bob Ostrander and Derrick Morris: Hoosier Beer, Tapping into Indiana Brewing History. But if you prefer a more hands on approach, Hamilton County is offering Bicentennial Brew Tours every Sunday between now and May 22.

On each tour, The BrewsLine, a Hamilton County beer tour operator, will be visiting five craft breweries in the cities of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville and Westfield. Participants will sample beers named for or brewed with ingredients relevant to Hamilton County and Indiana history.

“Hamilton County has a long history with brewed and distilled beverages,” said David Heighway, Hamilton County historian. “There was a distillery at Strawtown (the area around Strawtown Koteewi Park, north of Noblesville) as early as the 1820s, and the first known brewery appeared around 1865.”

Bicentennial Brew Tour stops include Deer Creek Brewery, Deviate Brewing, Grand Junction Brewing Company, Heady Hollow Brewing Company and Sun King Fishers Tap Room.

During the tours, brewery representatives will meet with guests and share the backstory behind the beers. Grand Junction Brewing Company’s Squirrel Stampede Nut Brown Ale is one such historical brew. The beer was named for the fleet of migratory squirrels that destroyed crops across Hamilton County in the 1800s.

“We’re excited to put a unique spin on our traditional beer tours,” said Darryl Sopoci, owner of The BrewsLine. “There’s no better way to celebrate a major event than with beer, and the bicentennial is a huge event for us Hoosiers.”

The BrewsLine bus seats 12 people at maximum. Pickup locations include Brockway Pub at 12525 Old Meridian St. in Carmel; Scotty’s Brewhouse at 14741 Hazel Dell Crossing in Noblesville and Alleys Ale House at 13825 Britton Park Road in Fishers. Pickup location is determined upon booking the bus. Parties of 12 or more may request a custom pickup location. All tours begin at 12:30 p.m. and end around 4:30 p.m.

In addition to the Bicentennial Brew Tours, Indiana on Tap will host a series of Bicentennial Pours and Pints events throughout the winter and spring months. The Bicentennial Pours and Pints events will be hosted at one brewery per month, the first of which took place Jan. 14 at Deviate Brewing Co. The events will feature special deals, giveaways and pours of each brewery’s bicentennial-themed brew. Here is a schedule for events and what the breweries offer:

Jan. 14: Deviate Brewing in Carmel

Deviate Brewing is the first brewery in Hamilton County that is dedicated to deviating from standard beer styles and dispensing techniques. All brews are designed to deviate from the norm and to stretch and excite the beer connoisseur’s palate.

  • Bicentennial Beer Hop Supremacy – India pale ale made with Indiana grown hops
  • Assorted seasonal beers

Feb. 20: Sun King Fishers Tap Room and Small Batch Brewery in Fishers

Sun King Brewery is the second largest Indiana craft brewery and their products are sold only in Indiana. In 2006, Sun King was the first full-scale production brewery to open its doors since Indianapolis Brewing Co. closed in 1948. Sun King hosts the CANvitational, the largest canned craft beer festival in the Midwest. In recent years, Sun King was one of the first breweries in Indiana to can beer.

  • Sunlight Cream Ale: Originally brewed as Sun King Brewery’s first summer seasonal brew. It was so popular with patrons that it is now produced year-round. Most recently, Sunlight Cream Ale won a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival 2015 in the Golden or Blonde Ale category.
  • Wee Mac Scottish Ale: A house beer that continues to medal year-after-year in the Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup.
  • Specialty/seasonal brew

The cost of participating in a Bicentennial Brew tour is $40 per person. For more information, or to book your tour, visit the Hamilton County Bicentennial Brew Tour website.

March 10: Deer Creek Brewery in Noblesville

Deer Creek Brewery is Hamilton County’s newest brewery and the sister brewery of Barley Island Brewery, Hamilton County’s oldest brewery. The brewery is named for Deer Creek Music Center (now known as Klipsch Music Center), an outdoor amphitheater drawing music’s biggest names.

  • Cork County Red Cream Ale: A light cream ale, 5.0 percent ABV and 18 IBU, with a red hue due to CaraRed and crystal malts. An easy drinking cream ale considered an American version of the Irish red cream ales. It’s named after the largest county in Ireland.
  • DeerFly IPA: An American India pale ale with a big hop presence, consisting of grapefruit and tropical fruit flavor. Dry-hopped for extra aroma, complex malt backbone. 6.8 percent ABV, 70 IBU.
  • RyeFly: A unique twist for an IPA, spicy presence of malted rye blends naturally with the hop flavors. Focus is on Citra hops with their tropical fruit flavor profile. 6.1 percent ABV, 70 IBU.
  • Shady Amarillo Pils: A light, crisp German-style Pilsner beer. This lager is aged cold so the malt presence develops and the citrus-like hop flavor benefits from a distinct orange bouquet. 5.6 percent ABV, 45 IBU

April 9: Grand Junction Brewing Co. in Westfield

Built in the 1860s, Grand Junction’s building was used primarily as a blacksmith shop that handled wagon repairs, shoeing of horses, etc.

  • Squirrel Stampede English Nut Brown Ale: Hamilton County was overrun with migratory squirrels that destroyed cornfields as they trekked across Indiana in 1822 and 1845.
  • 1520 Hefeweizen: In 1520, the Reinheitsgebot law was amended to allow for wheat to be used as an ingredient in beer, and the very popular German wheat beer was born.
  • Black Hat Brigade Rye IPA: Named after a highly decorated Civil War regiment of with a number of the soldiers from Indiana, specifically Hamilton County.
  • Hop The Atlantic Double IPA: This seasonal beer pays tribute to the family history behind Grand Junction Brewing Co. and utilizes both American and English hops in the production of this beer.

May 21: Heady Hollow Brewing Co. in Fishers

Fishers settlers knew Heady Hollow — the area where 126th Street and Allisonville Road meet — in the 1850s as Devil’s Land. Many travelers reported being accosted by ghostly apparitions and hearing moans and screams as they traversed the steep hill that led to the shaded narrow hollow.

  • 1820 Pale Ale: Named for the year Fishers was founded.
  • 60 Horses Scotch Ale: Named after the settlement package of William Conner’s first wife. She left with their six children and 60 horses


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