My last run of shows in the Midwest was during the Polar Vortex, so I was pretty relieved to retreat to the relatively milder climate of my dates in the the Southeast. I was back at home in Cincinnati last weekend for a show, though, and luckily the temps were fairly mild most of the time, and the forecast didn't look too bad for his weekend's run through Indiana and Illinois. I packed up the tour van, pulled out of the neighborhood, and <BAM!>... snow.
It snowed the entire way to Indianapolis, and through most of my show, but then luckily the skies cleared... but man, it was definitely cold again. I probably sound like an old man (my old man, specifically) focusing so much on the weather in these posts, but I have definitely crossed a threshold where my dislike of winter and being cold has turned into something much deeper... and I am convinced that this will be the last year I expose myself to it. I digress...
MashCraft Brewing Co. - Greenwood, IN (and 2 other Indianapolis area locations)
The brewery's beers are available on tap and growlers to go at the taprooms, and you can find them on tap at restaurants and pubs
throughout the greater Indy area. No bottles or cans at this time.
On this night (Thursday) I played at MashCraft Brewing Co in Greenwood, Indiana. Greenwood is a community just south of Indy, and Mashcraft has two other taprooms... one in downtown Indy, and one in the NW 'burbs (not far from the amphitheatre formerly known as Deer Creek, which is a sort of music holy ground in the Midwest due to historic summer multi-night stands by the Grateful Dead, then Phish, Dave Matthews, etc.). The location in Greenwood is the original location for the brewery and their largest taproom, and has been doing a solid local business here for 5 years.
The location is a little different, as they are the corner anchor in an L-shaped shopping center. I have been to other taprooms in similar retail locations, but never one with such a large brewing operation on prem. You would never guess by the relatively small entrance how large of an operation was going on behind the scenes. In addition to their brewery and taproom, they also have a bustling new kitchen, which was serving up a steady flow of delicious looking and generous sized flatbread pizzas, paninis, pretzels, and wraps. The taproom itself was roomy, with two cozy bars, and various configurations of tables, all designed to encourage social interaction. There is also a meeting room for private events.
On Thursday nights the brewery features live music, focusing specifically on singer/songwriters performing their own material. The crowd was very attentive to the music, generous with their applause, and eager to talk about the brewery tour during my breaks.
MashCraft's beer selection is basically broken down into three sections: the house brews always on hand, seasonals, and specialty small batch brews. I started with Last Light (6.7%), a blood orange IPA, for two reasons: first, because I was really thirsty and a good blood orange beer really hits the spot, and second, because Centerpoint Brewing (another Indy brewery) has a fantastic blood orange flagship beer and I wanted to compare the two. I'm happy to report that the Mashcraft one was very good, albeit rather different from Centerpoint's. Centerpoint's has a very strong orange aroma, and the blood orange flavor is very forward (which is fine with me, as I love blood orange). MashCraft's had a more subtle orange aroma, and you got more of the IPA flavor up front, with a lighter orange flavor on the back end. It was interested how different they are, yet each quite delicious and successful at achieving the different balances each are striving for. My next selection was from the seasonal selection, the Long Black Train (8.7%), a Baltic Porter. This was a dark pour, almost black in color, with a tan head. This was the perfect beer for a cold, snowy night. Dark, heavy brew with a malty flavor and toasty finish. I sipped on this one throughout my set, and every sip was a pleasure.
I returned to the house selections with Jamaica Joe (5.5%) which is their MashCraft Red (also on their house standards list), “infused with creamy, caramely Jamaican Me Crazy coffee beans from local favorite, Strange Brew.” I quoted that from their menu because I really couldn't describe it any better. First, of all the coffee infused beers I've had over the past year (and if you have been reading along you know I'm a big fan, so it's been a lot), I think this might be the first amber, and honestly I'm not a huge fan of ambers. But this was so rich and dark, I could only even detect an amber hue when holding it up to the light, and even then it was a very dark amber. Jamaica Joe is an extremely well done coffee beer. Well balanced, the body is crisp yet also a bit creamy, the coffee they use is fantastic, rich and a bit nutty, and then there is an implied caramel hovering in there as well. I actually asked if they used lactose to cream it up (they don't), as there was a level of creaminess that just worked perfectly with both the coffee and caramel flavors. Very well done, this one is worth going out of your way for. I also did a little sampler of the Mashcraft Red (sans coffee) and they definitely started with a fine beer to begin with, but man that coffee really takes it to another level. Suberb.
MashCraft was a fun visit, and a place worth seeking out if you're in or visiting the Indy area. Very friendly staff and clientele, fantastic beer, and the food (which I didn't try) looked fabulous. When there's not music they also have TVs showing sports, and a good selection of board games and such to keep you (and the kids... it's a kid friendly room) entertained while you sample their magic.
By the time I packed up the van and hit the road the skies were crystal clear, and as I headed west into the extreme darkness of I-74 towards central Illinois the winter sky was popping with a million stars. Next stop, Door 4 Brewing Company in Decatur, Illinois...
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