The Great Brewery Tour is coming up on it's 1st anniversary. During this year, there have only been a small handful of breweries that I have played more than once. Chapman's Brewing is the only one that has multiple locations of which I have played several. Usually when I play a brewery more than once it is because they either have such a huge selection of beers that I can visit a second time and try a totally different batch than the first time, or because they are rather experimental and change up their lineup frequently enough that one visit's selection is wildly different than the last's. While Chapman's does have a selection of rotating beers, what sets them more apart is that they have a handful of taprooms, and each one has a vastly different setup/vibe than the others.
All Chapman's locations are in northeastern Indiana, roughly based around Fort Wayne. The first one I visited was in SW Ft. Wayne in a suburban shopping district, and definitely felt more like a restaurant. The second was in nearby Columbia City, and felt more like a pub or bar. This past Friday I played the Chapman's in Wabash, Indiana, and it was setup and had a vibe consistent with many of the micro craft brewery taprooms that have been emerging all over the country.
Chapman's Brewing Co. - Wabash, IN (and other nearby locations) http://chapmansbrewing.com The beer is available throughout much of Indiana in cans and on tap in restaurants and drinking establishments. Cans and growlers are available at the several taprooms in NE Indiana.
Played: 3/2/19, 5/10/19, 5/17/19
Wabash is a small town located between Ft Wayne and Muncie, IN (home of Ball State University), and the taproom is located in the heart of their small downtown area, across the street from a classic hotel, and surrounded by other little shops and restaurants. Inside, it's a fairly big space, almost a square, with two different sections of tables, a sizable bar to the rear and right, and the stage area just to the left of the front door, and the walls are lined with the works of local artists. A healthy selection of board games stock the room, and food is provided by food trucks (on this night it was woodfired pizza). The crowd was a good cross section of ages (only one family with younger children), and definitely seemed like they were there to drink beer first, with the food being a convenient bonus offering.
As I said in my last Chapman's blog, most of their beer menu consists of their flagships, so I'm not going to repeat myself by reviewing them again (they are all quite good), but focus on the few rotating brews that I tried on this stop.
First, let me note that of these are Imperial Stouts, and clock in at a hefty 11%. These are some serious brews, and are all based on the Chapman's RIOS Imperial Stout, which is a very good, bold, and extremely smooth stout. The first is their bourbon barrel aged variety, which literally makes you go “oooh!” when you try it. A rich tan head on a pour that is for all intents and purposes black, the aroma of the bourbon hits you right away, and lets you know that this is a bourbon aged stout where you will taste the bourbon. Now, I've had bourbon aged brews that were obnoxious, and I've had others that tasted more like the wood than the bourbon, but this is one fine, bold bourbon stout. The bourbon is definitely there, but it's balanced well with the characteristics of the stout, so it's bold and tasty. This would be a fantastic beer for sitting around a fire (whether that be on a cold night, or a late night campfire).
The other two are just a matter of personal taste and preference. The first is the Raspberry Imperial Stout, which I tried a sip of on my last visit, and had a more substantial sampling of this time. As I've said before, I'm not a raspberry fan (I know, I'm like the only one) so this beer just isn't for me, but again the imperial stout at its base is top shelf, and if you like raspberries you'll probably love it. Much like the bourbon stout, the raspberry is perhaps a little more up front than many other beers, but it works, as it still manages to be balanced well with the boldness of the stout itself.
The final one, which I had hoped to try at the Columbia City location but they were out of, was the Cherry Imperial Stout. I do like cherries, and as such even though it was just as up-front with the cherry flavor I did like this one quite a bit, despite my aversion to fruity stouts. The cherry was natural tasting (not artificial or perfumy), and again balanced well with it's rather heavy host stout. For me, a pint would be a bit much, but a snifter to sip on was enjoyable.
As with the other locations, the staff at this Chapman's was very friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable of the beers, and that is very important at a craft brewery. This was my last scheduled visit to Chapman's, but I look forward to checking them out again sometime down the line when they have another new set of brews in their rotating lineup for me to try. If you're up in northern Indiana, check them out.
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