Indiana Over Beer, Part 1

Beer eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose. 

Two Fridays ago, we — Mark Mullins, Jason Amen and myself — drove to Indianapolis for the first leg of our Indiana beer trip. For the sake of this story, I'll split our trip into three legs: Indianapolis, Upland Brewing Co. and everything else we did while in Bloomington. None of us had been to either of the two cities.

We learned a few things driving to Indianapolis. First, there's a route with tolls and there's a route without. Take the route without the tolls. Second, if you do take the route with tolls, have exact change or pay for the tolls with your credit card. The change you'll get is going to come in dollar coins — Sacagawea, Eisenhower, Susan B. Anthony. Third, and keep in mind this generalization is made based only on three days of driving through the state, drivers in Indiana get in a lot of accidents... a lot. 

Indianapolis

Upon arriving to Indianapolis, we checked-in at our hotel and immediately took an Uber over to Indiana City Brewing Co., just west of Monument Circle and within walking distance of Sun King Brewing and Metazoa Brewing Company, two breweries we didn't have time to visit on this trip. Indiana City Brewing Co. is located in the old bottling warehouse of The Home Brewing Company, which operated in the space from 1880 to 1920. You can read more about the building's history here. There is a small exposed-brick taproom, with a view of their brewing operation, attached to a larger event space with a stage and an additional four taps. When the two big garage doors are open in the taproom, I imagine it would be the perfect place to grab a pint after work on a breezy summer day.

Our favorite brews at Indiana City Brewing Co.: Tribute Pale Ale and Shadow Boxer Oatmeal Stout, two out of the three beers in their core lineup. 

Our next stop in Indianapolis was The Hi-Fi, a chill little music venue in Fountain Square. Finding out Gold Connections and The Districts were playing a show here was actually what initiated this trip. Gold Connections (Will Marsh) has been getting a lot of attention lately, with production help from Marsh's former college classmate, Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest. If you dig Car Seat Headrest, you're going to dig Gold Connections.

The Districts have been around a little bit longer, releasing their first EP in 2011 and most recent album in 2015. About a week before our trip, the group released a new single called "Ordinary Day," which will be on an album releasing sometime later this year. It's a driving indie rock song, shifting from an acoustic lullaby into an emotional anthem about change and moving past what now seems ordinary in life. You can stream "Ordinary Day" and Gold Connections's song "New Religion" below. 

After Gold Connections' set was over, Mark posed the question, "if you were blindfolded and ended up standing here inside The Hi-Fi, without knowing where you were, what city would you think you're in?" It was a great question and something we really had to think about. The space is trendy, but not so trendy it felt the need to avoid displaying its draft list on a couple LCD screens. It's a place you probably wouldn't feel weird chilling in with the house lights on. Everything from the floors to the sound was super clean. For us, cleanliness was the sticking point.  

Would we find it in Austin? Nah. 

Milwaukee? Maybe?

What about Portland? I don't know. Never been.

Aside from determining this must be the vibe in Indianapolis, we ended up landing on either Evanston or Hyde Park. All this is to say, we were pleasantly surprised by how awesome The Hi-Fi was. The sound was perfect, the people were unpretentious and about ninety percent of the draft list was local craft beer. Right now, out of the twenty beers on their list, they are only serving two from out of state, Goose Island IPA and Yuengling. Think about it for a second. This is a rare and amazing thing.

Our favorite brews at The Hi-Fi: Upland Brewing Co. Champagne Velvet and Sun King Brewery Osiris IPA.

The rest of the night was a bit of a blur. A local couple we met walking out of the venue recommended going down the road to Thunderbird for late night food. We graciously took their advice and ended up chowing on grit fries and pimento patty melts. Everything was delicious. I'd love to tell you all about the craft beers we drank at Thunderbird, but the only thing I'm certain of is they were local and IPAs. Mark, being Mark, made sure we ended our meal with a shot of Fernet, and the three of us headed back to the hotel bar for a few more brews. Bets were made on the World Series, and it was time for bed.

The next morning, two out of the three of us (myself being one of them) woke up still wearing our jeans, hoping a pizza was sitting untouched somewhere in the hotel room. It wasn't. We missed the delivery driver's call and can only assume the front desk or hotel bar workers had an extra tasty night. Hungry and in desperate need of all the coffee, we grabbed brunch at the Yolk attached to the hotel and then made our way south toward Bloomington. 

To be continued... 

Written by Tommy Crawford

Photos by Jason Amen