Saying farewell to mug 160 at Iechyd Da Brewing Co. was much harder than I thought it would be.
I have been a mug club member from day one and the stars must have been lined up just right because I got the coolest mug of the whole collection. Iechyd Da is one of my favorite local breweries, but with my schedule I just don’t get there often enough to make use of my mug. Because there are so many people that are much more regular than myself, I have decided to let my mug go to someone else who will get much more use out of it.
We are currently in the mug club renewal period when members can keep their mugs for another year by paying their renewal fees. However, there is a waiting list for all unspoken mugs at the end of the renewal period. Several weeks ago, a crowd stood in line for a long time to get their name on that list, and one of those lucky people will get my mug.
After more than three years in the club, I finally learned of the “beer it forward” program by receiving a card in my mug. I was previously unaware that several “beer it forward” tokens circulate within the club that are good for a free pint. After receiving one, a member can choose another mug on the wall to place the token. I gladly had a Breakfast Cookies (sweet stout, 6 percent ABV) served up and chose the next coolest mug to place the token.
That day I also met Mike and Peggy, a couple of regulars, and enjoyed a good chat with them. They live a mile away and often walk. Through the years they have visited many breweries, and Iechyd Da is definitely their favorite. “I am not a Breakfast Cookies kind of guy, but I like Gumption (imperial red ale, 8.8 percent ABV) and Murray The Hump (American pale ale, 6.1 percent ABV),” Mike told me. Peggy mentioned that she can consistently find four or five beers that she enjoys on tap on any given visit. Most Sunday afternoons you can find them at Iechyd Da with a group of their friends.
Another treat that I experienced for the first time on that visit was the sticky toffee pudding with a half pint of 1635 English Mild (dark mild, 5.2 percent ABV) on the hand pull. For some reason that I can’t explain (especially with my sweet tooth) I had never ordered the warm toffee with whipped cream served on a piece of proper English date cake. It was delicious, and the sweetness of the dessert paired nicely with the flavor of English hops, the slightly sweet dark-malt backbone and the touch of chocolate flavor of the beer.
Another favorite of mine is now currently on tap, Black Prince Schwarzbier (5.7 percent ABV). I recently had a chance to sit with Chip (owner/head brewer) at the bar, which is a rare occurrence. Usually he stays clear of up front and keeps to the back in the brewhouse. Although Chip did brew this beer last year, this was my first time to enjoy it. He changed up the recipe a bit to create a beer a bit more along the lines of a dark pilsner. This is a wonderful example of a beer that should not be judged by it’s color. There is some good roasted-malt flavor, but overall it is a nice light-bodied beer that makes a great beer for the patio on a warm summer day.
They usually have eight to 10 taps and one or two hand pulls featuring small batches of fresh beer. The food is excellent also. Order up a pizza or sandwich named after one of 600 castles in the Welsh countryside like Kidwelly, which was first built in the 1200s. It can be quite full during prime dinner hours, but grab a spot at their open seating and enjoy a beer and make a new friend.
For more Michiana craft beer news and commentary from Eric Strader, sign up for the Hop Notes email newsletter.