Sure, Sunday alcohol in Indiana is no longer a plan-ahead situation. But cheers to the craft brewers who helped us kick off the week with a growler well before this year.
Boutique breweries for a plethora of palates were a silver lining to Indiana’s Sunday sales ban. The boom is on the Tipmont service area, with several upstarts joining emeriti tappers at Lafayette Brewing Company and People’s Brewing Company.
Teays River in Lafayette has a stacked food menu and a full slate of its own brews that should be ready by the time this runs. Crasian recently kicked off operations in Brookston. There’s also Crawfordsville’s Backstep Brewing Company and Escape Velocity, planned for Lafayette in 2018.
I’ll hit those up soon, but here’s a look at West Lafayette’s first-ever brewery. Brokerage takes its name from owner Brian Russell’s real-estate day job. Acknowledging a West Lafayette side street isn’t the place to expect a brewery, just look for the large CRAFT BEER HERE sign.
Brokerage is in full swing with its own brews, eight of which I sampled on my visit. Don’t worry: 4-ounce tasters, all sampled over two hours with water chasers. (The smart play: Sample five such tasters for $10, each with a descriptive card.)
Some hear “craft beer” and think bitter, hoppy, funky, fruity, nope. A light-bodied cream ale, Walking Ashland isn’t Brokerage’s most adventurous choice. But it’s one of the most refreshing, easygoing craft choices I’ve ever had. It’s both a great kickoff to a session there and a fine go-to for the friend who just wants “a beer.”
Ashland is available year-round; the rest rotate around seasons and styles. The Pumpy Brewster Irish red is a straight-ahead winner. Ditto the Beard Net Brown Ale, “the light beer drinker’s dark beer” so named for sanitary precautions required of impressive facial hair on brewmaster Corey Patterson – whom you’ll often find making his way around the tasting room.
Perhaps because it was almost tapped, the Lower Mid-Tier Petite Saison offered little to none of the fruity or peppery taste promised. The Charlie? Not my thing as a big, bitter Imperial Stout with thick chocolate and coffee overtones. But almost certainly someone’s thing. Maybe yours.
Home runs all around, though, on the pale ales – craft beer’s hoppy standard-bearers. Pre-Approval (get it?) has a light, sweet-and-spicy grapefruit taste. New Kid on the Hop throws pine in the mix. The best of the bunch, Marmoset Juice, follows up the Lemur Juice Double IPA with pineapple and candied fruit amid tropical flavors. (Be careful with that animal: It’s a sipper.)
Be sure to check Brokerage’s website or social media, as the taps rotate out. But no matter what they’re pouring, they’ve got something on the market for everybody.
Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.