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?