Squished between April's run of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast shows and June's month-long trek through breweries in Atlantic beach towns is May's return to the Midwest, hitting breweries in Indiana, Michigan, and a good handful in Ohio.
Friday night took us to Columbia City, IN which is a small town not far from Ft Wayne in the northeastern part of the state, where we visited again with Chapman's Brewing Company. I had originally played a Chapman's in Ft. Wayne on a cold night in early March, and was invited to play a few of their several locations in this corner of the state. I played the second Chapman's in Columbia City on May 10th, and I'll play another in Wabash, IN on May 17.
Chapman's Brewing Co. - Fort Wayne, IN (and other nearby locations)
Played: 3/2/19, 5/10/19, 5/17/19
I said about Chapman's in my blog about the first show, “Chapman's keeps their selection of beers short and to the point, I think there are 6 of their standards and two rotating selections, and each of the beers is well done and worth trying... so instead of offering like 20 beers, 10 of which might be experimental, they stick to the ones that work for them.” Visiting them now a few months later this certainly holds true, as most of the beers in the lineups were the same fine brews that I tried in March, and two new rotating taps that were new.
As such, I'll just repeat that their flagships remained true and consistent to the the quality level I tasted last time, and you can just reread that blog if you missed it or want to revisit the details of those beers. What is drastically different, is the atmosphere and vibe of the two taprooms, which really couldn't be much more different from each other... so I'll focus here on that aspect of my recent visit, as well as the couple of rotating brews I sampled this time.
The SW Ft Wayne taproom was in a big suburban shopping area filled with all the same stores and restaurants that you find in all the newer suburban shopping communities around the country... all cookie cutter, and then here was this brewery sharing a building with a Tex-Mex restaurant, with the restaurant in one of half of the building, and the taproom occupying the other half. At the time it struck me as an oasis offering refuge to a guy like me, who would much rather sip a few stouts than be dragged from Craft & Barrel to Yankee Candle by the wife.
The inside of the taproom was very much configured like a restaurant... there was a big bar, but then the rest of the room was tables for 4 or 6, like any dining room, and people definitely were there to eat just as much as drink beer. As for the music, it was a somewhat awkward space that we needed to shift around a bit to make work. At first there was a table so close to where I performed that once people were seated we quickly realized it was just uncomfortably close for me and the customer... it felt like I was sitting at their table as I played and sang. All of this is fine, adjustments were made and everything went fine, but the point is that the room was configured in a way that was a bit more conducive to people having dinner than coming to drink and hear live music.
Columbia City, on the other hand, was more or less the opposite. This taproom is located in the main city square of town, directly across the street from the court house/city hall/municipal building, and is configured more like a pub or bar. A long, narrower space with the bar at the back of the room, a proper stage area upfront near the main entrance, lots of open floor space, and lots of pub activities (several dart boards, a pool table, lots of board games, etc.). When I first arrived the people at the bar were having an animated conversation about the concerts they had seen over the years, and it was clear the crowd throughout the night had come to drink some beer, hear some music while shooting pool or tossing darts, and maybe even dance a little. There was a Mexican buffet offered, but it was outsourced and eating did not seem to be a priority for the crowd.
As I recalled from last time, Chapman's really does a good job with their stouts, and on this night their rotating taps were both variations on their flagship stout.... one was a stout infused with raspberry, and the other with cherry. They were out of the cherry, so I went with the raspberry. Now, preface by saying I'm one of the few people on the planet who does not particularly care for raspberries.... The raspberry was quite aromatic, and forward in the taste as well. The head had a hint of dark red hue to it, and while it didn't taste too strong in that artificial raspberry/perfumey sort of way, it did have a rather dominant raspberry flavor. Combined with the stout, which is a rather robust stout in it's own right, it made for a rather rich flavor combination.... much like a raspberry and dark chocolate dessert, which I know most of the planet would go nuts for, but just isn't to my tastes. So, if you (like most people) go nuts for raspberries, I bet you'll find this to be a fantastic dessert-like beer for the end of the night.
We had a lot of fun Friday night, and I look forward to seeing how the Wabash taproom fits into the mix this week!
NOTE- I forgot to take pictures Friday night, so the photos below of inside the taproom were sources from Google.
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