August 6, 2010 · 9 comments

Well, the stars must’ve aligned Wednesday night. Perhaps a one-night constellation displaying a keg stand? Because I was FINALLY able to attend an event hosted by the up-and-coming, be-there-or-be-square, pink-shirt-clad group of craft-beer-loving women — Girl’s Pint Out.

And what better way to get acquainted with this group? A tour of SunKing Brewery in Indianapolis. SunKing has proven to be my favorite Indy craftbeer thus far (to be fair, we haven’t tried them all) — and last night I think I found out why: I love my hops, and it turns out, so do the guys that brew SunKing. They have a fantastic range of beers, and not all are hoppy — but the ones that do lean that way are fantastically so. Plus, how can you not like a brewery that has a $5 growler fill day, every Friday?

So our tour was very educational. It was me and about 60(ish?) other women, and we learned the ways of making beer in giant, stainless-steel tanks. We were given samples of barley and roasted malt grains, and encouraged to chew on them a little to get a sense of their sweetness (um, sorry guys, if you found a small pile of grains stashed in a recycling bin). We were given a good science lesson on starches, sugars, yeasts, and the like. We were even let in on a little secret: that it was women who discovered beer, many thousands of years ago: some weary housewife forgot her bowl of grains soaking by the river, and a few days (or weeks) later, someone else came by and decided it was a good decision to take a sip of the result. They figured out it contained alcohol, and that it made the stress of the day’s work roll off the shoulders just a bit. Beer was born (kinda wish I could write a thank-you note).

After the tour, we got to taste. We tried all four of their house brews, plus a specialty (Firefly Wheat). With each taste we were given a rundown on the makings of the brew, with tasting notes. As I sat, sipping, with Sarah and Angie, we got to talking about our personal histories with beer.

I was never a big Bud Light drinker — just never enjoyed the flavor. But I would, on occasion, drink a Rolling Rock. These days, I wouldn’t say I see much difference in the two — but back then it seemed like a big step up. I also have a vivid memory of sitting at a restaurant in Starkville, Mississippi, called The Grill, in the rural-hip Cotton District. I sat at a tall table with my friend Gwen, and ordered a Killian’s Red — and for about a year, that was the only beer I wanted to drink, and I thought it was an import. After someone informed me that it wasn’t, I felt like I needed something a bit more hip — so I moved on to Newcastle Brown (an import, right?).

Sometime in the mid 90’s, I was on a photo shoot in Florida, and found myself with a bunch of ad execs at a bar that specialized in microbrews. So began my craftbeer adventure, and for years I stuck to porters and stouts (mmm… chocolate… bread…). But just a few years later, I tasted my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. From that point forward, I was hooked on hops. It was clean and crisp, with this new and bizarre-intense flavor and a dry finish. I drank, and I wanted more. The rest is history. I still go back to my porters in the winter months (oh, Highland Oatmeal Porter — how do I love thee? Let me count the ways I want you to be available in Indy), but the IPAs and pales I want year-round.

But lest I get too full of myself with impeccable taste in beer: I was informed last night that drinking a wheat beer with fruit (i.e., a lemon) is frowned upon in brewmaster circles. Ah, well. You can take the girl outta the fake plastic biergarten…

What about you? Do you have a craftbeer story?

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Jennie Rader August 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Beer has grown on me over the years. As I started tasting really good beer, I started realizing I actually like it. ( I grew up having sips of my dad’s cheap pilsners…..) Medium color beers that arent too hoppy are my favs. My first trip to Bell’s in Michigan (where Im from) hooked me as a fan. Two Hearted takes the cake for me……its Soooo good.

katy August 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Don’t you think Two-Hearted is hoppy?

Rebecca Martin August 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I. Want. To Drink. Beer. Granted, I know I can . . . a bit. But I want the freedom to drink more than a bit and get all warm and happy. Come January, you’d better believe it’ll happen.

I, too, love hoppy the best. I, too, graduated from Killians to Newcastle and then to things I never new existed, mostly in Asheville. We had good experiences dining and drinking at Beer Run in Charlottesville, VA, with lots of beer options, well-informed staff, and the opportunity to sample whatever we liked till we found something we liked. But right now, I would take any of it – though Sierra Nevada sounds just about right at the (hot and muggy) moment.

Oh, how I want beer.

katy August 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Rebecca, I remember that feeling well. I, too, would have just a sip or two of Tim’s — but really missed that warm and fuzzy feeling from having my own.

And you know — it could have been Sierra Nevada that I craved most.

My only advice is to take it slow, when you finally have that first one… ; )

Jen August 17, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I love everything about this post.

katy August 17, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Are you a pale ale drinker?

Jen August 19, 2010 at 8:52 am

I’m not sure what I am…but I love beer, esp anything unfiltered…and if it comes from a small, local brewery, I’m happiest.

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